Research body BloombergNEF said the next incremental gains in battery performance and cost are expected to come from emerging technologies in other components. This includes next-generation anodes, solid-state batteries and sodium-ion cells.
In a newsletter, it said sodium-ion batteries accounted for 3% of passenger car market battery demand in 2035 and 30% of battery demand in the two- and three-wheeler segment.
Sodium-ion batteries could help displace up to 7% of lithium demand in 2035, it said. That equates to more than half of all the lithium demand last year. The rate at which the market adopts emerging technology innovations could have a significant impact on demand for key raw materials like graphite and lithium, it noted.
There has been a shift away from materials such as cobalt towards chemistries with higher nickel content. Cathode innovation has enabled this, it said. The rush to secure lithium in South America and Africa will be eased by any technology that can help offset supply crunches.
It said in an even more aggressive scenario, where sodium-ion batteries are used in all small vehicles, lithium displacement will get to 37% by 2035. “This may be required if lithium supply cannot meet the significant ramp-up in demand, especially if the amount in batteries increases with the use of lithium-metal anodes enabled through solid-state electrolytes,” it said.
Such a situation would need a rapid expansion of manufacturing and supply. In 2035, there would need to be double the volume of lithium-ion in 2023 – and that took decades to reach.
BNEF expects technologies based on silicon, lithium and hard carbon will start to enter the battery market this decade. It estimates they could displace 46% of graphite demand in 2035.