By Sara M. Bradford, Principal Consultant Energy & Power Systems Group
Historically, battery manufacturing has transitioned away from the U.S. and Canada towards regions that offer lower production and capital costs, and higher governmental incentives. Such regions include Southeast Asia (China, India), South Korea, Japan, and others. For several decades, this has been the typical trend for North American-based battery volume manufacturers such as Energizer, Duracell, Spectrum Brands (Rayovac), Exide Technologies, and EnerSys.
North America has been cultivating battery innovation and advancement for years; however Asia still remains the central of the energy storage manufacturing process. This trend could shift as advanced secondary batteries are beginning to hit the market. These batteries are key to the next-generation hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and battery-electric powered vehicles. With the much needed U.S. federal government support in the form of loans, grants, and tax incentives for advanced battery research and manufacturing, the North America region could witness a renaissance in global battery manufacturing.
Advanced Battery Development
The U.S. has introduced significant advances in battery materials, packs, and battery monitoring systems since 2005. However, a majority of battery start-up firms opt to either license the technology to established battery manufacturers or employ contract manufacturing in Asia. This model enables start-up firms to control production costs as well as service customers more directly. For example, Japan emerged as a firm manufacturing player for lithium-ion batteries in the early 1990s. This was partly a result of the close proximity to the electronics industry in addition to a high level of government support to initiate manufacturing processes in the country.