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[Conference Takeaway] China International New Energy Copper and Aluminium Battery Materials Forum
Jul 22, 2022 16:09CST
Source:SMM
However, SMM believes that the development of energy storage, digital home appliances, and new energy vehicles will drive the demand for copper foil higher, therefore the lithium battery copper foil industry still has great potentials.

SHANGHAI, Jul 22 (SMM) - The 7th China International New Energy Conference 2022, hosted by the SMM (Shanghai Metals Market), has come to a successful end last week. Over 2,000 industry experts and guests participated in the conference, and people provided their perspectives on a variety of topics regarding the most recent trends in the new energy industry, including new energy batteries and their materials, power battery recycling, new energy equipment, and technologies as well as international new energy industry chain.

Speech topic: Global copper foil industry development and price forecasts 2022-2025

Speaker: Yu Shaoxue, senior copper analyst of SMM

Yu introduced the status quo of China's lithium battery copper foil industry by introducing China’s current lithium battery copper foil production capacity, production status and processing fees. She also analysed the prospect of China's lithium battery copper foil industry from 2022 to 2025. The expansion of capacity and the rapid growth in the lithium battery foil industry has led to increased pressure on the supply side. The processing fee of lithium battery copper foil to fall owing to poor terminal automobile industry chain caused by the pandemic, weak demand, and the high prices of the battery-oriented raw materials.

However, SMM believes that the development of energy storage, digital home appliances, and new energy vehicles will drive the demand for copper foil higher, therefore the lithium battery copper foil industry still has great potentials. According to SMM statistics, China's lithium battery copper foil market in 2022 is expected to see a surplus of 27,000 mt, while at present, the processing fees of some enterprises have already fallen to the level in 2020. However, the installed capacity of downstream batteries will rebound significantly in the third quarter. Overall, the downstream demand will pick up significantly at the beginning of the third quarter, and the processing fee is expected to stop falling and stabilise.

From a long-term perspective, the newly expanded capacity on the supply side will be continuously released, and the development of ultra-thin copper foil will disturb the consumption of copper foil. The surplus is expected to increase year by year before 2024, but considering the capacity replacement and that more and more companies will march into overseas markets, the domestic oversupply will ease by 2025.

It is also worth pointing out that the bottleneck is yet to be broken through since the current PET composite copper foil is beset with many problems, such as immature technology. At the same time, the current domestic conditions are not mature enough for it to be industrialized, so the product will remain at the trial stage for some time. In addition, the production cost suffers from uncertainty, and the scope of application in the future is also relatively limited. Therefore, SMM believes that the application of PET composite copper foil in the NEV battery sector will still has a long way to go.

Speech topic: Market analysis and outlook of China's lithium battery aluminium foil industry during 2020-2022

Speaker: Qu Jianhui, senior aluminium analyst of SMM

Qu introduced the current distribution of production capacity of lithium battery aluminium foil in China, and gave a detailed analysis of the supply and demand in the downstream market. He also made some predictions for future development and explained the cost and pricing of lithium battery aluminium foil from the perspective of raw materials.

The battery foil is used as the cathode material carrier in the lithium battery. With the rapid development of the NEV industry, China's battery foil output stood at about 128,000 mt in 2021, up 83% year-on-year. It accounted for 2.8% of the total output of China's aluminium foil with a higher growth rate than other aluminium foil products. According to SMM survey, the growth rate of battery foil production capacity in China will peak in 2022, and is expected to amount to as high as one million mt in 2025.

The battery foil can be used in the power battery of NEVs, energy storage, and electronic products. SMM believes that in the coming years, the supply and demand will remain tightly balanced in the aluminium foil market. Although the power battery production is growing rapidly and its growth rate is higher than that of battery aluminium foil production capacity, the supply of battery aluminium foil is still expected to be higher than its demand in 2025, which is sufficient to meet the development needs of the new energy industry. At present, the production lines of battery foil and light gauge foil in large domestic aluminium foil enterprises can be switched easily. With the rapid development of the retail industry for commodities such as beverages, tobacco, alcohol and dairy products, the demand for light gauge packaging aluminium foil continues to be strong, which also hedges against the risk of overcapacity in aluminium foil production. Therefore, the packaging industry is expect to provide strong demand support for aluminium foil in the future.

In addition, the cost of battery aluminium foil are subject to many factors such as the cost of the raw material, namely the aluminium metal, the processing fee of billets, waste cost, fuel cost and labour cost, and the changes in which could somehow affect the prices of battery aluminium foil. Based on market research, SMM believes that in the short term the yield of battery foils will not rise significantly, and the cost of waste will maintain the largest share of the total costs. However, since the processing fee of billets and other costs are expected to increase slowly, the total cost of battery foil is expected to rise in the coming years, and the cost structure is expected to basically remain the same.

Although the cost of battery foil may be stable, the processing fee of battery foil is climbing steadily in recent years. The main reasons behind are the continuously rising production costs such as labour and power, and it is also not easy to cut costs by reducing the scrap rate in the short term. But most importantly, the strong demand in the downstream lithium batteries has offered strong support to aluminium metal prices, which remain high and thus leads to increased financing costs. SMM believes that the three reasons for the increase in processing fees will be relatively stubbron, so there is still room for battery foil processing fees to rise in the future.

Topic of the speech: Master the technical direction and promote the development of copper and aluminium foil for the application of high-quality functional current collectors

Speaker: Liu Fuhai, General Manager from Foshan SSNTM New Materials Co., Ltd.

Liu provided an in-depth introduction of how technology could be applied to promote the development of copper and aluminium foil for the application of high-quality functional current collectors. He explained that energy storage is the key and core to support the new power system based on new energy. As an important part of energy storage projects, the current collectors enjoyed a slightly different directions of development in China and abroad. Foil is an important material to manufacture new energy batteries, and copper and aluminium foil has a greater application value than ordinary foil and carbon foil.

Speech topic: Development and application of lithium battery copper foil for new energy vehicles

Speaker: Chen Yubi, Executive Vice President from Nuode Investment Co., Ltd.

Chen shared with the audience the current development trend of new energy vehicles, as well as the overall current situation and future forecast of the lithium battery and copper foil market. He also predicted the penetration rate of copper foil with different thickness and specifications from the perspective of downstream application of copper foil, and offered an in-depth analysis about the current technical direction of copper foil current collector and the difficulties and challenges it presents.

Speech topic: Preparation technology and future prospect of aluminium alloy plate and sheet for power battery shell

Speaker: He Feng, the director of technical quality department from Chinalco Southwest Aluminium Strip Co., Ltd. 

He talked about the preparation technology and future prospect of aluminium alloy plate/sheet for power battery shell in his speech. He introduced the current development of the power battery industry and suggested that the demand for aluminium alloy plate/sheet increased during 2020 to 2022, as the output and install capacity of power batteries both increased. Next, he demonstrated the detailed production process with the technology of using aluminium alloy plate/sheet as power battery shell, which included the acceptance check of aluminium ingot, hot rolling, cold rolling, etc. He also introduced the method to earing control, and offered future prospect of the development the aluminium plate/sheet industry. He predicted that the aluminium alloy plate/sheet development in the future would focus on high strength, high thermal conductivity, greater flexibility and low earing ratio.

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