SHANGHAI, Nov 21 (SMM) – Lithium battery demand in China will receive a boost in the years ahead with the advent of the 5G network era, as the upgrading and construction of 5G base stations will require much more power supply.
SMM expects the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which boast higher energy density and better cost performance than lead-acid batteries, to account for the majority of the rising demand, as requirements are elevated for the size and weight of batteries for powering the new-generation base stations.
According to SMM database, LFP material production in China is expected to reach 98,000 mt in 2019, up 51% from a year earlier. Greater demand will extend the increase in output in 2020.
Official data showed that some 86,000 5G base stations have been deployed in China by the end of September. By the end of the year, more than 130,000 5G base stations will be activated to support the 5G network, authorities said.
Going forward, 2020-2021 will be the peak period for domestic investments in 5G deployment.
First-tier cities, such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, have announced plans to reach full coverage with 5G technology by 2020; Beijing, Guangzhou and Wuhan targeted 5G coverage at urban areas by 2021.
Compared with 4G base stations, more 5G base stations are needed to cover the same area, and a 5G base station is expected to consume much more power than a 4G base station, SMM learned.
State-run carriers China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom estimated that there are at least 14.38 million base stations needed to be constructed or upgraded in the coming years. This is expected to add demand for 155GWh of backup storage battery capacity.
SMM learned that major carriers have already shifted from lead-acid batteries to lithium batteries for power supply.
Telecoms tower operator China Tower has stopped procuring lead-acid batteries and adopted cascade utilisation of lithium batteries since 2018.
As the domestic top consumer of reused batteries, China Tower took advantage of 1.5GWh of lithium battery capacity through cascade utilisation methods in 2018. Consumption in 2019 is expected to rise to 5GWh.