China exhibited strong and growing demand for Li-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage systems during the first half of this year. On other hand, the country’s demand for Li-ion batteries used in consumer electronics was anemic in the same period. Global market intelligence firm TrendForce notes that shipments of anode materials in China totaled around 500,000 tons for the first half of 2022, showing a year-on-year growth rate of 56%. TrendForce also projects that the total shipments in the country for the whole 2022 could surpass 1.15 million tons.
During the first half of this year, Chinese suppliers for anode materials were impacted operationally by a wave of COVID-19 outbreaks across their home country. The sharp hikes in prices of raw materials such as petroleum coke and needle coke also increased the cost pressure on suppliers. However, suppliers have strengthened themselves by rapidly raising production capacity and pursuing vertical integration. Moreover, the domestic demand related to electric vehicles continues to gain momentum. As a result, Chinese suppliers saw an increase in their respective capacity utilization rates in the first half of the year. The leaders among them were also operating at fully-loaded capacity. On the whole, suppliers have been in the full production mode while sales of their products have been very brisk as well. The leading Chinese suppliers such as BTR, Shanshan, and Putailai all posted a shipment figure of more than 50,000 tons for the first half of 2021.
Looking at the price trend in the Chinese market for anode materials, the upswing continues due to the tight supply situation. The supply chain section that is causing tight supply is graphitization. Specifically, prices are rising for graphitization on account of a capacity crunch. Currently, prices for graphitization in China have reached RMB 20,000-30,000 per ton, or up around 20% from the start of this year. Having sufficient graphitization capacity is now a key factor that influences individual suppliers’ ability to deliver products and release additional production capacity.
Regarding the second half of this year, Chinese suppliers will continue with their vertical integration efforts in order to address the capacity crunch for graphitization. They will also release more production capacity at an even faster pace. Prices of raw materials will keep climbing as well due to strong demand in the downstream sections of the supply chain.
On the subject of product development, the adoption of Si-based anode materials is expected to pick up in the market segment for high-end power batteries used in vehicles. The demand for Si-based anode materials is projected to surpass 30,000 tons for the whole 2022. Suppliers are also expected to have plans to for setting up and releasing more production capacity for Si-based anode materials during 2023.
Note: The orange line indicates the movement of the highest price for graphitization, and the blue line indicates the movement of the lowest price for graphitization.
Source: TrendForce with information from Baiinfo