Lithium-ion Battery Prices Rise for First Time Since 2010 to $151/kWh

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After declining steadily since 2010, average prices for lithium-ion battery packs across all sectors have risen to $151/kWh in 2022, a 7% rise from the year before, a BNEF report finds.

BNEF expects battery prices to start dropping again in 2024 when lithium prices are expected to ease as more extraction and refining capacity come online. Average pack prices are expected to fall as low as below $100/kWh by 2026.

The below $100/kWh mark is two years later than previous expectations.

The current price increase, recorded after more than a decade, is due to surging raw material and battery component costs along with rising inflation.

For battery electric vehicle (BEV) packs, prices were $138/kWh on a volume-weighted average basis in 2022. At the cell level, average BEV prices were $115/kWh.

It indicated that, on average, cells account for 83% of the total pack price.

Region-wise, battery pack prices were cheapest in China at $127/kWh, while packs in the US and Europe were 24% and 33% higher, respectively.

The report said higher prices reflect the relative immaturity of these markets.

Prices could have risen further if not for the higher adoption of the low-cost cathode chemistry of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and the continued reduction of expensive cobalt in nickel-base cathodes.

On average, LFP cells were 20% cheaper than lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cells in 2022. However, even low-cost LFPs have felt the bite of rising costs throughout the supply chain, and their battery pack prices rose 27% in 2022 compared to 2021.

Evelina Stoikou, an energy storage associate at BNEF and lead author of the report, pointed out: “Amidst these price increases for battery metals, large battery manufacturers and automakers have turned to more aggressive strategies to hedge against volatility, including direct investments in mining and refining projects.”

Prices are expected to increase at a similar level next year, defying historical trends. The average battery pack price will remain elevated at $152/kWh in 2023.

This will have a bleak impact on the ability of automakers to produce and sell mass-market electric vehicles (EVs) in areas without subsidies or other forms of support. Higher battery prices will also hurt the economics of energy storage projects.

Yayoi Sekine, head of energy storage at BNEF, said: “Despite a setback in price declines, battery demand is still reaching new records each year. Demand will reach 603 GWh in 2022 … scaling up supply at that rate of growth is a real challenge for the industry, but investment in the sector is also rising rapidly, and technology innovation is not slowing down.”

Continued investment in R&D, making improvements in the manufacturing process, and capacity expansion across the supply chain will help to improve battery technology and reduce costs over the next decade, the report said.

Additionally, BNEF expects next-generation tech, such as silicon and lithium metal anodes, solid-state electrolytes, and new cathode material, to play important role in decreasing prices.

In its 2H 2022 Energy Storage Market Outlook, BNEF saw an additional 13% of capacity by 2030 to its previous estimates, and it projected energy storage installations worldwide will reach a cumulative capacity of 411 GW by the end of the decade.

The cumulative lithium-ion battery capacity is likely to rise over five-fold to 5,500 GWh between 2021 and 2030, keeping in count the various pipeline capacities announced to meet the rising demand for batteries, according to Wood Mackenzie, a global research and consultancy firm.