Chinese largest battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) [300750:CH] announced on May 21 that it will release sodium-ion batteries around July, according to Caixin on May 25. The company also said that the price of the new sodium-ion battery will be slightly higher than that of lithium-ion batteries because of its still-developing supply chain. Apart from this, CATL did not disclose details of its new battery product.
Despite similar technologies, the research progress of sodium-ion batteries has been relatively slow compared with lithium-ion batteries. The first generation of sodium-ion batteries for consumer use came out in 2015. Compared with lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries still have shortcomings in energy density and cost of production. Besides, the current production cost of sodium-ion batteries is also higher than that of lithium-ion batteries. Due to these limitations, it is currently difficult for sodium-ion batteries to replace lithium-ion batteries in the application in passenger vehicles, and lithium-ion batteries will retain the dominant position in the new energy vehicle (NEV) battery market. It is expected that the market scale for lithium-ion batteries will reach 400GWh in 2021 and hit 1400GWh in 2025.
On the other hand, compared with lithium-ion cells, sodium-ion batteries have an obvious advantage in terms of raw material reserves on earth. The content of sodium in the earth’s crust is 2.4%, while the lithium reserve is only 0.0065%. At present, 70% of China’s lithium resources relies on import. Some experts believed that the main driving force of the research and development of sodium-ion batteries came from the rise of lithium prices. Several investment research institutions suggested that in the future, sodium-ion cells could be a supplement to the NEV battery market, mainly used in areas with low energy density demand.