Date September 18, 2023

The U.S. international solar exhibition RE+ unveiled this year at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas on Sept. 12, local time. Dr. Yuan Fang-wei (袁芳偉), senior analyst at InfoLink Consulting, shared his views on "Large-capacity Cells Trend Driven by Booming Energy Storage" upon invitation from lithium battery manufacturer REPT BATTERO.

Dr. Yuan pointed out in his speech that by the end of this year, the global cell production capacity is expected to reach 2,500 GWh, with the energy storage capacity accounting for 15% to 20%, enough to supply the projected annual energy storage cell shipments of 2,100 GWh. Additionally, the price of energy storage cells in China is moving towards below RMB 0.5/Wh.

With the development of standalone energy storage and the emergence of PV charging and storage systems, as well as the integration of traditional and renewable energy grids, the operation mode of energy storage is diversifying, highlighting the need for digitalization and intelligence to increase power scheduling and efficiency. 

According to InfoLink’s research, global energy storage demand will experience the fastest growth in the C&I sectors from 2023 to 2030, followed by front-of-meter (FTM) markets, with the Chinese market contributing to the former’s growth momentum. 

Such estimated growth is based on the relatively low base period of the C&I markets, coupled with the policy-driven, manufacturing-oriented industrial structure of China, which is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 50%, compared to 30% to 35% for Europe and the U.S. The FTM market, on the other hand, is projected to reach a CAGR of 25% for the same period in three major markets of China, the U.S. and Europe. 

Compared to the residential energy storage market, the FTM market and the C&I market combined will account for as much as 85% in 2023 and is expected to increase to 87% by 2030. In the long term, Yuan believes that medium- and large-scale energy storage will continue to lead the development trend.

On the supply side, Yuan estimated global cell shipments to reach 210 GWh in 2023, a growth of 72% compared with 122 GWh in 2022, with large-capacity cells accounting for nearly 85% in large-scale storage. 

However, this year's estimated installed capacity will only amount to 100 GWh, leaving excessive inventory, which, coupled with significant expansion by manufacturers, could slow down overall cell shipments significantly.

With the rapid decline in the utilization rate of most cell manufacturers in the first half, Yuan estimated cell shipments for the next two years to be 250 GWh and 295 GWh, marking a significant drop compared to 2022 and 2023.

Large capacity cell is also a demonstration of manufacturers’ capability. Apart from reducing cell production costs and the complexity of BMS and EMS, it requires manufacturing ability to optimize safety, efficiency, heat radiation, and cycle life, Yuan said. Moreover, large-capacity cells are also applying to the residential storage products. Currently, there are more than 30 types of cells with a capacity of 300Ah or more available, such as REPT BATTERO's Wending 320Ah cells, indicating the market’s intensified competition.

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