CATL Announces Difficulty in Solid State Battery Mass Production in Light of Technical Challenges – EQ Mag Pro
In stark contrast to the liquid-based electrolytes found in tradition li-ion batteries, the next generation of solid state batteries likely represent safer operating environments. CATL unveiled samples of solid state batteries manufactured in-house in 2021, although commercialization remains a distant possibility.
Recently, however, a string of bad news emerged regarding technical barriers involved in solid state battery development, thereby impacting CATL’s mass production goals.
In 2021, CATL garnered much attention for its private placement fundraising efforts. The activities, undertaken for the sake of capacity expansion, aimed at RMB¥58.2 billion (about NT$252.7 billion), which set a record at the time but was later revised down to RMB¥45 billion (about NT$195.3 billion) due to controversy. According to some sources, in order to ensure a feasible pathway, SZSE demanded CATL explain its technology roadmaps for solid state batteries, NIB, and hydrogen fuel cells, in addition to potential risks involved in the operation and production of these aforementioned batteries. In response, CATL claimed that, despite technical advantages and characteristics, solid state batteries and hydrogen fuel cells still contain various unsolved technical barriers and mass production challenges.
Such challenges include economy of cost, performance index, and “industry chain”, etc. Only by spending enormous time to overcome technical barriers, obtain client approval, and achieve a certain scale of production can mature commercial applications be achieved. CATL also quotes Chinese Academy of Sciences member Minggao Ouyang as claiming that solid state batteries will not influence the market for another 10 years.
CATL indicates that the first-gen solid state batteries are relatively similar to current li-ion batteries with respect to capacity. Solid state batteries will likely make their first appearance in 2025, with a 1% penetration rate in the market in 2030, after which the company plans to release its second-gen solid state batteries featuring new diode materials. Following that, the next generation of solid state batteries is expected to see market availability in 2035.
At the same time, SZSE fears that CATL’s capacity expansion efforts may result in the company ending up in the red, although CATL still forecasts a 430 GWh capacity shortage for 2025 despite its capacity expansion. CATL’s production capacity for batteries across the January-September period last year reached 106.41 GW, which will likely increase to 220-240 GWh once the newly installed production lines become stable. Unless a further capacity expansion takes place, the abovementioned 430 GWh gap in 2025 appears inevitable.
CATL indicates that the aforementioned funding will be used to expand its production capacity for li-ion batteries by 135 GWh in accordance with business demand, though a capacity shortage of 295 GWh will still likely emerge in 2025.