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Energy storage

Lead surplus no more?

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Lead supplies could fall into deficit for the first time in five years.  Recycling of car batteries has stunted demand for raw resources but, with a growing market in Asia for electric bikes, industry demand for lead is rising.  

The 2012 global lead market is set to record a surplus of 144,000 metric tons. The price has declined in recent years due to this surplus, with value falling from US$2 700/t to $1 900/t from last year.

Demand for electric bikes should reduce the surplus and push prices up, lead producers would welcome this as prices have fallen steadily since 2007 when it was valued at US$3 890/t on the London Metal Exchange.

With lead producing factories closing in China and environmental concerns hindering expansion, the demand for lead is outstripping supply. 

Samsung and Bosch end partnership

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

South Korea's Samsung SDI and German auto-parts maker Bosch will be ending their four-year old joint venture of SB LiMotive, an electric car battery manufacturing unit due to . Samsung will acquire the 50% stake in the venture held by Bosch, but both firms will continue to maintain close business relations.

Samsung will take full ownership of the lithium-ion battery unit while maintaining a collaborative working relationship with Bosch.  Samsung and Bosch had jointly established SB LiMotive in July 2008 under an equal ownership arrangement, where each partner held 38 million shares. SB LiMotive currently operates a battery cell production line in Ulsan, South Korea with a monthly capacity of 200,000 battery cell packs. Production at the plant will be raised to 400,000 packs per month by 2013 and 1.5 million packs per month by 2015.

From the outset of the partnership, Samsung was in control of the research & development and production, while Bosch took care of the battery management system and sales.  Bosch has recently shown an interest in running its own battery cell production line.

Bosch is working with German chemicals firm BASF to build a pilot line for lithium-ion battery cells. Test production will start this year, and the plant will produce up to 200,000 cells by 2015.

Japan losing out in the supply chain game

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Japan is losing out to Chinese and South Korean competitors in supplying lithium-ion battery components around the world. In the 2011 financial year Japan supplied less than half of these key parts.

Global shipments of cathode and anode materials, separators and electrolytes are estimated to have grown 11.2% to US$70.2 million last fiscal year. Japanese firms' share fell 5.7% points to 46.6%, dipping below the 50% mark for the first time since 2008.

The Japanese Yano Research Institute believes Japan’s dominance was weakened following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that halted the supply of some essential parts around the country. This, combined with the strong yen cutting into Japan’s competitiveness, meant a demand for cheaper materials grew.  Another factor is the shift in South Korean battery manufacturers to use domestically made parts over imports.

 

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