The communication market of lithium iron phosphate battery is as high as 800 billion Yuan

APR 15, 2019   Pageview:56

Due to the higher efficiency and energy saving than lead-acid batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries are gradually entering the field of vision. At present, lithium iron phosphate batteries are mainly used in electric vehicles, and have gradually entered the communication industry in the past two years. Among the three major operators, China Mobile has relatively more applications for lithium iron phosphate batteries, while China Telecom and China Unicom are more cautious. The reasons for the large-scale use of lithium iron phosphate batteries are mainly due to high prices and concerns about reliability.


The prospect of mobile first tender is broad


From the performance point of view, the life of lithium iron phosphate battery is much longer than that of lead-acid batteries. The average cycle life of lead-acid batteries is about 300 times of charge and discharge, while that of iron-lithium batteries can reach more than 2,000 times. In addition, the iron-lithium battery is safer, does not explode, and can achieve rapid charging and discharging of large currents. At the same time, the lithium iron phosphate battery is more resistant to high temperatures, and the electric heating peak can reach 350 ° C to 500 ° C. In practical applications, the use of the battery incubator can be eliminated.


At the end of 2010, China Mobile Group Henan Company launched a centralized procurement tender for lithium iron phosphate batteries, which is the first centralized bidding for this product within China Mobile. According to Zhang Le of Henan Mobile Network Operation and Maintenance Department, Henan Mobile has already conducted a small-scale trial of lithium iron phosphate battery, “the effect is good”. It is understood that the bidding for lithium iron phosphate battery is actually carried out by China Mobile and commissioned by Henan Mobile. The purchased products will not be limited to mobile applications in Henan.


This is a big fat.


Relevant institutions said that according to their previous market research, if China Mobile's existing ordinary lead-acid batteries are all replaced with lithium iron phosphate batteries, the market size is as high as 800 billion Yuan.


“At least 2-3 years of trials have to be conducted.” A person in charge of the battery manufacturer who was shortlisted for Henan Mobile’s bidding said, “If the trial effect after China Mobile’s centralized procurement is good, then it will start large-scale in 2-3 years. Application; if the trial effect is not ideal, then it will be dragged back."


Insufficient time for high-priced online application


At present, the primary factor affecting the large-scale application of lithium iron phosphate batteries is price. The current price of mainstream lithium iron phosphate batteries on the market is two to three times higher than that of lead-acid batteries, and even more than five times. If the iron-lithium battery can achieve a 10-year service life, the return on investment can be ok with respect to the 2-year life of the lead-acid battery. But in reality, operators still feel that the current price is too expensive.


"If the price is twice as high as that of a lead-acid battery, it will not be worthwhile," said Du Min, product support division of China Telecom Group's network department. China Telecom has several provincial companies in the trial of lithium iron phosphate batteries. Relatively speaking the scale is not too large. From a few hundred to one thousand groups each group capacity does not exceed 50 Ah.


In addition to the price, there is no sufficient actual data support, which is another important reason why operators are temporarily reluctant to use lithium iron phosphate batteries on a large scale.


Du Min said that a new product should be put into large-scale use, at least through three stages. The first is that there can be no problem in theory. Second, there is a need for data support for aging tests. Third, it takes a certain amount of time and scale for the live network trial.


In theory, lithium iron phosphate battery is safer and more reliable than lead-acid battery. And the cycle charge and discharge life can reach 10 years, which can solve the problem of high pollution and short life of the latter. However, in terms of data on aging tests, lithium iron phosphate batteries currently do not provide sufficient reliable data support. As for the current network application, the longest trial time of the lithium iron phosphate battery in the communication industry is about two years, and it is not possible to conclude that it can be used on a large scale.


Mingjun Chen does not agree that the lack of sufficient data support is the main reason that affects operators' use of lithium iron phosphate batteries. "The reason why they are not willing to use it is actually because of the 'political' reason." Mingjun Chen pointed out, "What should I do if a new technology is used? If the old technology is used, there is no responsibility for the problem."


Mingjun Chen is the chairman of Shenzhen Shanmu Battery Group. Shanmu Battery is the first enterprise in China to realize mass production of lithium iron phosphate battery. At present, the daily output can reach 100,000 ampere hours. Mingjun Chen also considers the battery industry that “listens to the first line of artillery” authority. He said that there is sufficient data to prove that the performance of lithium iron phosphate battery is far superior to that of lead-acid battery, which can completely replace lead-acid battery.


As for the concerns of operators that "prices are much higher than lead-acid batteries," Mingjun Chen believes that it is not a problem. "The price is twice as high as the lead-acid battery. It is not a problem. If you give me a big order, I can achieve 0.5 times higher." Mingjun Chen said.


It is understood that although the domestic lithium mine reserves are very rich, the raw materials required for lithium iron phosphate batteries are synthetic materials, and the domestic suppliers' production equipment and processes cannot keep up. Good lithium iron phosphate battery manufacturers are imported from abroad raw materials. At present, the price of imported raw materials from abroad exceeds 120,000 Yuan per ton. The domestic raw materials are relatively cheap, only 70,000-90,000 Yuan per ton, but the quality of the produced batteries is not as good as the former.


In addition to raw materials, the prices of production equipment vary. Taking a coater as an example, this is the second step in the production of lithium iron phosphate battery. The price of a set of domestic coating machines is about one million, and if imported equipment is used, the price will be tens of millions.


Waiting for electric car


Shuzhi Zhang, a professor-level senior engineer at the China Mobile Group Design Institute, believes that lithium iron phosphate batteries are difficult to be widely used in the communications industry in the short term. Although Henan Mobile has started centralized procurement, Shuzhi Zhang pointed out that this is still a tentative application. "The price of centralized procurement is relatively strict, and it is still impossible to purchase on a large scale." Shuzhi Zhang said.


In fact, at present, operators have not even tested the standards for incoming lithium iron phosphate batteries. The lack of standards, from another side, also confirmed that no matter which operator, there is no intention to introduce lithium iron phosphate battery on a large scale.


At present, the eyes of lithium iron phosphate battery manufacturers are mainly focused on the electric vehicle market. The state's support policy for electric vehicles has been quite obvious. The draft plan for the “12th Five-Year Plan” for electric vehicles has been drafted, and various localities have also launched pilot projects for electric vehicles. At the just-concluded Tianjin International Automobile Forum, the Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang made it clear that the next five years will be a crucial period for the transition of electric vehicles from scientific research to industrialization, and whether China can make this strategic emerging industry bigger and stronger. The key is 5 years.


For the communications industry, this may be a good thing. The large demand for iron-lithium batteries in electric vehicles will promote the rapid improvement of related processes and the rapid decline in prices, and the number of manufacturers entering this field will also increase significantly. At that time, the communication industry has accumulated sufficient experience in the trial of lithium iron phosphate batteries, and the price of suitable iron-lithium batteries and a large number of optional manufacturers will be "at your fingertips." After all, for the potential market of hundreds of billions or even trillions of communications in the communications industry, savvy vendors will not give up anyway.


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