SHANGHAI, Jul 26 (SMM) - At the 7th China International New Energy Conference in 2022—Japan, South Korea, Europe and US New Energy Industry Chain Development Forum, jointly organised by SMM and Shanghai Futures Exchange, Tanamachi Yuji, President and CEO of IRuniverse Co., Ltd. explained the battery industry, government policies and battery recycling in Japan.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Japanese battery industry occupied most of the global market share. Sony is the leader in lithium-ion batteries, and Mr Yoshino has made important contributions to the development of lithium-ion batteries in Japan. At the same time, Chinese and South Korean enterprises also play an important role in this field.
The fields of semiconductors and rare earth magnets have been mainly developed by Japanese companies before, while Chinese and South Korean companies are now beginning to occupy some market shares in this field.
The form of the Japanese battery industry
Mr Yoshino said that Japan's battery industry has come to an end. However, Japanese enterprises still bear an important responsibility in the industry today, that is, supplying key materials for battery manufacturing, such as cathode materials of Ni-Co-Al and Ni-Co-Mn. Battery separators and electrolytes are still produced in Japan.
At present, China is still the largest producer and will further expand its production capacity in the future. In addition, Europe is also expected to expand its production capacity rapidly, while Japan's production capacity growth is relatively small.
In this situation, last November, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan produced a report on the strategy of the Japanese battery industry. Recently, battery manufacturers in China and South Korea have become more and more active.
SWOT analysis of the Japanese battery industry
Japan's advantage is the development and security of solid-state batteries and their supply chain, while its disadvantage is that the country has no strategic support for battery-related industries. In addition, the shortage of resources leads to higher electricity prices compared with foreign countries. Japan's opportunity lies in the fact that technology development will nourish new pure electric vehicles and related markets, and create new jobs. Workers with related skills will be highly valued.
Tanamachi Yuji believes that the threat faced by Japan is the over-reliance on overseas resources. In such cases, Japan's supply chain can hardly function, and both supply and prices will be affected. In addition, many competitors may take strategic actions, such as trade wars or price wars, to destroy the Japanese market with prices or make knowledge and technical personnel flow overseas.
With regard to liquid lithium-ion batteries (liquid LiB) and all-solid lithium-ion batteries, it is expected that liquid LiB will be cobalt-free in the future, and the prices may be high, but it still accounts for about 1/3 of the manufacturing cost of pure electric vehicles, and the battery life will be shortened to about 500 times. As for all-solid LiB, it is estimated that it will be commercially produced around 2030, and people will be more concerned about battery life and natural problems.
The graphite is mainly imported from China, and other battery materials of good quality are supplied by Japan itself. Chinese battery manufacturers have a large production capacity and good quality, so their prices are competitive. China's battery technology has continuously improved in recent years.
Battery Management System (BMS) is considered the key technology that affects safety performance. Tesla is in a leading position in this field, and Japan is also following suit.
In terms of battery investment, Chinese and South Korean companies have invested in Gigabit battery factory projects, which can maintain market control more than Japan. Gigabit battery suppliers are also increasing in China.
The green growth strategy (self-driving cars and battery targets) speeds up the popularisation of self-driving cars and pure electric vehicles and achieves green growth by strengthening electric vehicle-related technologies, such as batteries and supply chains.
Recently, in response to the battery policy and specific measures, the Japanese government will invest 120 billion yen. The government expects that by 2035, the proportion of electric vehicles in domestic passenger cars will reach 100%. The specific goal is that the battery manufacturing capacity will reach 100GWh, and the prices of the battery pack will be lower than 10,000 yen/kWh. In the fixed equipment, the prices of household batteries will be 70,000 yen/kWh, and the prices of commercial and industrial batteries will be 60,000 yen/kWh, reaching the cumulative goal of about 24GWh.
The Japanese government hopes to obtain more overseas resources and materials for manufacturing batteries through direct investment, thus reducing the prices of batteries.
Chinese and South Korean companies have accelerated the pace of mining battery metals, and Japan will follow suit.
With the development of batteries, the government is speeding up the research and development of solid-state lithium-ion batteries, new batteries and storage battery materials, pursuing high-speed, high-quality and low-carbon, and increasing investment in power supply and technology of fixed storage batteries. With regard to the accelerated development of battery reuse and recycling, the government will actively develop recycling procedures for waste electric vehicles and waste battery materials, and participate in the formulation of international standards for the performance and safety of fixed energy storage systems including reusable batteries and international standards for reusable batteries.
Recycling and reuse of batteries in Japan
Japan will develop the technology of recycling lithium-ion batteries, which must be cost-competitive. In the quality of recyclable battery materials, 70% of lithium, 95% of nickel and 95% of cobalt can be used, thus contributing to reducing the risk of rapidly increasing battery resources and improving sustainable development.
Japan will choose different carbon neutral systems from foreign countries, for example, not only electric batteries but also systems that use hydrogen as energy in fuel batteries, etc. Japanese companies have affirmed hybrid vehicles.
Japan is facing challenges in the field of battery recycling. To further produce new batteries and obtain the materials needed for regeneration, the only way is to establish a battery recycling system. For this reason, the EU has established a production line ecosystem and made responsible purchases in the region to ensure that the production process is neutral.