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A Comparison of International Battery Exports – How America Ranks Globally in Being Green

Feb
07
2018

If you guessed America as the winner based on all the Tesla headlines from 2017, you’d be incorrect.

Blame it all on batteries—a good kind of blame. In 2017, battery power and technology were the good guys in countless stories, ranging from preventing blackouts for 1.7 million Australians to increasing the sales of electric vehicles in the United States by more than 25%.

Sure, the headline hog was Tesla. Elon Musk’s companies produced the top-selling EV—which has a hefty price tag of over $74,000—and partnered with a French company to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery for South Australia. But, it wasn’t all about Tesla. Here are some of the most current statistics. Keep in mind that information about 2017 is still being compiled.

And the winner is …

Who ranks as the global top producer of lithium-ion batteries based on the most current available statistics? You’d be incorrect if you guessed it was Tesla. According to the website World’s Top Exports, China exported the highest dollar volume of lithium-ion batteries in 2016.

Based on compiled sales information, the website reports that 15 countries shipped an aggregate of 91% of all lithium-ion batteries. Figures below these top 15 countries become less than a full percentage point. Based on the website’s ranking, the United States took 2nd place, shipping 13.8% of all lithium-ion batteries.

China took the top position, exporting 14.6%. While you could say that China didn’t beat the United States by all that much, we can put this into perspective by adding that China’s lithium-ion exporting activity has grown by 195.2% since 2012. Israel, which ranks #13 on the list, has increased exports by an amazing 2,046%.

While Tesla is helping the industry with great headlines, the truth is that the United States actually saw a 7% decline in sales of lithium-ion batteries in 2016. We weren’t the only ones. Exports by the United Kingdom decreased by over 40%.

In terms of sales figures

Global sales of lithium-ion batteries by these 15 countries totaled approximately $2.5 billion. About 59% of that was shared among Asian countries—about $1.5 billion. European exporters snagged about 23%, while the United States and Canada’s share came to a little more than 17%.

By itself, the United States exported 13.8% of all lithium-ion batteries.

Why lithium-ion?

These are the most common types of rechargeable batteries—not just for portable electronics, but for electric vehicles and the battery-powered equipment found in the construction and landscaping industries. There are 3 characteristics that make them superior to other types of batteries:

  1. Low self-discharge rate
  2. High-energy density
  3. Small memory impact

While we still have to wait a bit longer for the final 2017 statistics, do know that the year brought us some amazing discoveries. This continuing research will allow renewable energy sources to keep moving forward as batteries become even more safe, efficient, and cost-effective:

Safety

We’ve all seen the online videos of smartphones and hoverboards catching fire. It’s not that lithium-ion battery technology is unsafe—it’s just that there are now millions of more devices using this technology. One way to make batteries even safer is to find a substitution for the combustible electrolyte.

Researchers believe one possible substitution might be saltwater. Previous attempts failed to create an acceptable voltage, but new research into polymer coatings may make this extremely inexpensive and abundant source usable.

Faster, longer, and greener

It seems like it takes forever when you’re in a hurry and you need to recharge your smartphone battery. Most heavy-duty equipment using battery power—like our extremely popular mini skid steers used in construction—need an overnight charge to do a full day’s work.

It’s why fast charging lithium-ion batteries are the Holy Grail for the industry. Large manufacturers like Toshiba and Samsung are developing new materials that store lithium ions more efficiently, which allows batteries to charge considerably faster.

Other organizations, like Rice University in Houston, Texas, are exploring newly discovered ways to increase capacity by helping lithium shed the byproducts it makes that hinder performance.

Silicon is one of the most important products needed for electronics manufacturing, so it’s no surprise that the silicon sawdust created when sheets are cut is a byproduct of considerable proportions.

Two Japanese universities have found a way to create a new type of battery anode using silicon sawdust, creating for the first time a lithium-ion battery made with recycled materials.

It was a big year for batteries—even if you removed the Tesla-related headlines from the equation. Battery-powered equipment has made huge strides toward making construction sites safer for people. It’s also helped with the bottom line. Fuel costs are often one of the biggest operational costs for construction and landscaping companies and it’s an expense that simply disappears by switching to battery-powered equipment.

The global adoption of battery power, as well as continuing technological development, will make it even more practical and inexpensive to dispense with equipment still using internal combustion engines.

At Triple E, we’re passionate about keeping pace with an evolving construction industry. For more information on the benefits of battery-powered construction equipment, you can call us at (954)-978-3440 or reach us through our contact form.

February 7, 2018 By Alex Berg in Blog