Wholesale price for LFP cells in China has been stably below $100 per kwh for like 5 years.
The only problem is getting to those wholesale quantities.
All major LFP cell makers seem to run a cartel to cut off small distributors from preferential pricing. Anything you can buy in small wholesale is at least 2x the price of what companies making EVs are getting.
Once upon a time good offers like these https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=599076665397 come up, and then vanish.
I think people are also confusing manufacturing cost vs. price here. Obviously, those are not the same. The article is mostly talking cost.
The packaged products that e.g. Tesla sells (cars, battery packs for domestic/grid usage, etc.) include more than just the battery cells.
In any case, Bloomberg is being a bit vague. On one hand, they are predicting mid 2020s for the cost to drop below 100$ and on the other hand you have people guestimating that Tesla is close to that right now. You could of course argue average price, i.e. other manufacturers are not there yet.
Demand for batteries is going to continue to increase for a while. Tesla is talking about TW factories now. The giga in giga factory used to refer to GW. That's a good indication of what they are planning to do. At that scale, the average industry cost and their cost are going to be very similar unless others also grow production capacity at the same pace.
Haha, I never thought about that. That's actually a really clever way of quantifying the output of a battery factory. Battery capacity can be measured in watt-hours, so battery factory output could be measured in watt-hours of battery capacity produced over time, and power*time/time just reduces back to power (measured in watts).
Therefore, you could say that a factory which produces an average of 1 Gigawatt-hours of battery capacity every hour is producing 1 Gigawatt of battery capacity. I like it.
And yeah, a TW factory sounds like it'd be operating on a pretty ridiculous scale if it lives up to its name.
I think it was just meant to mean "a factory which produces 1-999 GWh of batteries per year" - not per hour.
edit: this newer 2019 source suggests a 35GWh/year as a "theoretical output". Still orders of magnitude away from a GWh/h. https://electrek.co/2019/04/14/tesla-gigafactory-1-battery-c...
Business-to-consumer, order size gets smaller, and consumer protection laws come into the picture, further increasing prices.
Is there even _anything_ that you can get in small wholesale/retail at prices lower than double of what companies ordering by the shipload pay?
Edit: consumer electronics might be an exception.
A salesman from the cell company comes to the maker of electric busses/trucks/LSEVs and says "resales of cells is strictly, strictly, strictly forbidden," and that they will unleash all torts imaginable if they found out.
And this is the prime reason why good offers popping on online auctions don't last long.
In comparison to margins of wholesale distributors of just any other industrial commodities in China, margins of large battery cell sellers look unbelievable.
In comparison, 18650 cells can be easily found in retail at under 125% of the wholesale price in China.
Because what invariably happens is the automaker rebins the cells based on their own QA and sells the crappy cells as automotive grade instead of sending back to the manufacturer. Next thing you know, Joe Hacker's total electric conversion uses all the imperfect cells in one poorly balanced battery and burns down a city block. I don't know if it has resulted in anything dramatic like that yet but most of the surplus cells I've bought on eBay that looked like they came from automotive stock were subtly out of spec, enough to be dangerous in high power/capacity configurations.
> In comparison, 18650 cells can be easily found in retail at under 125% of the wholesale price in China.
China doesn't have much in the way of consumer protections or a tort system that's as accessible to the general public as in the US/EU.
And you think manufacturers in China give a shit if that happens?
If Dell or Tesla is going to commit to a large number of cells per quarter, Panasonic or Samsung or whoever can install and operate that many winding machines (or, in Tesla's case, install an entire factory). If somebody wants less, they're buying excess stock that's not earmarked and it makes sense to pay more for that.
Biggest LFP cell makers have many factories the size of Elon's ones, and they all quietly omit their output figures for non-consumer cell businesses because... taxmen.
LFP manufacturing has been ridiculously profitable from 2010 to 2015, so even hand made cell shops were making millionaires.
Now, the party is over. Big manufacturers have crashed the margins using giant state handouts.
You could get a turnkey LFP cell line running in a garage for around $2600k-$3000k, but the time of good margins is over.
To make LFP under $100 per kwh, and still make money, you need 20-30+ lines, but with such volumes the only buyers will be EV companies, and we are back to square one with this.
You can still operate on garage scale, and try push your cells on online auctions, like many, many small makers still do, and live off small bites of distributor margins.
But you will be doing this knowing that you truly live in the shadow of biggest manufacturers, who, or whose distributors will start poaching your clients once you get big enough for them to get wind of you.
That sounds like an easy way to make money. Buy large quantities, sell them in smaller batches at only 1.5x the price.
They will figure out who you are, and you say bye bye to your EV business.
You could even pay them slightly larger prices and still make a profit.
Bingo not the clown oh. That's exactly how you get better pricing. That's also how you make sure you get product when supplies get tight.
This isn't unusual in enterprise software sales, but it does seem odd for industrial commodities. What I'm asking is why, if supply is so tight, the favoured customers get favourable prices rather than all prices creeping up.
If a customer commits to buying enough over that you expect to break even over the next N years after paying for equipment, labor and other expenses I'll give them that price because I know for sure that I have a factor for N years. I can make a lot of money now selling any extra batteries I make at market price. Even if I can't sell in any more for a profit next year, I keep my employees paid for all of N years (giving me opportunities to find new markets) which is worth a lot in itself.
If I know a customer is well known I might give them a discount just to advertise to others they are my customer.
If a customer is large enough that them leaving would affect my bottom line they get a discount to ensure they stay with me.
If they provide me something other than money in return they get a discount. Auto makers sometimes extend employee discounts to their suppliers employees. Auto makers often do supply management tasks many levels down (my materials are certified not coming from slave labor, and GM did the research to prove it, GM will do it anyway so it isn't a big deal to let me know).
If I expect someone to be a bigger customer I will give them a discount now to ensure they can develop there. If batteries never come down in price from 20 years ago electric cars are non viable so I'll give a discount now because the volume cars represent on a small profit is worth more than all profit at volumes of 20 years ago.
That is just a few honest reasons I can think of now. There are also dishonest reasons that I'll ignore, but sometimes they are real.
Or do you end up in the situation where ordering 3000 costs less than ordering 2500?
It seems to me like it kind of promotes waste since one ends up ordering components that they may have no use for, but maybe it is not that big of a deal since it is common to want to have some amount of spare components when doing a production run. Personally, even if I only need a single unit of some little surface mount resistor or ceramic capacitor I usually buy 100 since the price tends to be like $0.10 each for <10 versus $0.50 for 100, and I can just add the excess to my spare parts collection.
There's a huge plant being built in Dalian, China with 200MW/800MWh with Vanadium (for comparison Tesla Australia plant is 129MW/100MWh with Lithium-ion with plans to double scale this year, but currently only powers 30k homes which isn't much)
Wikipedia has a nice list of largest battery deployments in the world:
So you can't easily subtract gas from the equation.
Closed batteries have no inherent advantage on large scale stationary projects, only problems. The only gain they bring is that you can ride on the scale of mobile applications.
Redflow I believe costs as much as a lithium battery but claims to degrade less and be able to be 100% discharged. In practice they have proven hard to manufacture reliably or competively. They seemed better when they stayed theoretical. Share price is down about 95%...
1. lack of efficiency - only 80% roundtrip, much less than Lithium.
2. they go completely offline for periodic maintenance. This is done automatically by Redflow, but the loss of availability is problematic in some circumstances.
... and have had, since at least the 1990s.
I feel like this is the printer/razor model, where you sell the base item for cheap, but the consumables cost are extreme.
Although, for long lasting durable goods, you have to make money somewhere, as a good battery mower may last a very long time.
The battery you're looking at isn't just shrink-wrapped cells. I've seen 1-kWh e-bike batteries around $150 on AliExpress (shipped from China) that are just shrink-wrapped cells with a cable coming out where you're supposed to be knowledgable enough about batteries to make sure you use it safely and not catch on fire and such. This is in contrast to nicely packaged batteries that cost significantly more (like $800 for 1kWh at Luna Cycle).
This battery is available when you want it (rather than shipped from China with a month wait), you're paying for the retail availability and service/support/returns, you're paying for knowing that the cells are likely reputable cells from a major manufacturer like Panasonic, LG, or Samsung, and you're maybe paying a little for the fact that it's a product-specific adaptation to fit the lawnmower.
However, it doesn't look like they're marking you up much at all. E-bike batteries are a good comparison here. E-bike batteries are a relatively competitive market and the pricing sounds about right for something that's supported, has US distribution, decent quality, not a fire hazard, etc. - $350 for 420kWh. It doesn't really sound like you're getting over-charged. If you want a battery from a well-priced but reputable source, it's not $150 per kWh for batteries of this size. It sounds like they're charging you about what batteries of that size go for. You can certainly search around for ebike batteries and see that despite their being a competitive market there, you're not paying $150 per kWh. Doing a little searching, I can see 1 kWh for $800, 850 Wh for $620, 900 Wh for $600, etc. On Alibaba, I can see some cheaper things, but we're still talking $230 for 600 Wh, $400 for 900 Wh and who knows when they'll arrive or what quality they'll be. The lawn mower company might have a little margin on you, but they aren't over-charging a lot. From what I've seen for US-source e-bike batteries, it's pretty much in-line with my expectations. I've seen 420 Wh batteries a little cheaper (like $275 is the cheapest I've seen) which is cheaper, but you're looking at a slightly more niche product (a battery for a specific lawnmower) and likely looking at a bit more retail markup (like a big box store vs. a no-name online retailer), etc. $350 is pretty competitive and you're going to need to spend it once a decade so the possible $75 margin doesn't seem like much at $7.50 per year.
I mean, you could maybe buy an e-bike battery and get it to work with the lawnmower, but I don't see e-bike batteries that are that much better for pricing. I mean, if you buy the lawnmower and it lasts you a decade and you love it, I don't feel like a $75 markup for a second decade on it feels like taking advantage of you. That just feels like retail markup and, frankly, I'd probably trust Luna Cycle more than the retailer I'd never heard of with the $275 420Wh battery. Luna's $460 650 Wh battery would cost the same as a $298 420 Wh battery, assuming the same price per Wh. $50 just doesn't seem bad.
It's pretty well known that power tool buyers have to watch out for battery prices.
There are many variables that are not visible to the naive observer, even for batteries from the same manufacturing plant.
They also say, "competing on price is for losers, it's race to bottom and at the end we'll have no margins left"
Yes, that remains a big problem.
We need battery chemistries that don't have a thermal runaway problem. It's too bad that safe lithium iron phosphate batteries lost out due to lower energy density.
I just worry with the continual shedding of older technologies for better ones, that we fail to calculate the costs to replace these technologies and the costs to build new technologies as we get blinded by optimism and profit opportunities. The real rub on the environment more than anything else are our rampant consumerism and the globally extended supply lines needed to fuel that insatiable itch.
I used to be a groundskeeper, and as long as we kept the blades sharp and did basic engine maintenance like changing the oil and filter, we could just abuse a push mower all over the golf course for 50 hours a week summer after summer.
LiIon is a lot more expensive and more energy dense than lead/acid combo commonly found in car batteries.
Drag racer may drop the entire car battery, replacing it super capacitors to reduce weight.
My initial uneducated guess before I did any math or looked anything up was that the BOM cost for the battery pack would have been like $50, but $200 seems more reasonable. I guess a $150 markup isn't that unreasonable, but it is a bit of a sticker shock when you compare the cost of a mower bundle  to a bare battery pack . Still, the margin seems fat here. I really am of two minds on this, because I realize what the race to the bottom could do here. I don't want a battery pack that would burn my house down. I want a battery pack that lasts a long time (durable over usage cycles).
I'd love to hear about your experience with the system if you don't mind sharing.
0. $370 Mower + 5 Ah battery + Charger https://www.homedepot.com/p/EGO-21-in-56V-Lithium-Ion-Cordle...
1. $350 7.5 Ah battery https://www.homedepot.com/p/EGO-56-Volt-7-5-Ah-Battery-with-...
Indeed battery pack is where the tool companies make their profit with all of them being incompatible with each other, including Dewalt/Black and Decker (same company different brands) having just a small plastic notch to prevent interchange usage.
Edit: durability depends on max charge and min/cut off discharge voltage (something like 4.13v/3.3 would be decent) - you can test those with voltmeter easily, temperature the batteries are run at, and discharge current. At around 400 cycles they should be at ~85% capacity.
...now I am really curious what's inside. What are you using the pack for?
This guy has some teardowns and repairs.
However I’m worried about the availability of the mower’s battery 5-10 years from now. The battery packs have unique shapes, controllers, etc., which might be discontinued or become insanely expensive to replace in the future. If I were to buy a second mower battery as a backup, what would be the optimal strategy for maximizing the total life of my two batteries? Would it be best to:
- never use the second battery until the first one dies
- alternate between the two batteries
- something else?
The best you can do is never store it fully charged. Never discharge it fully. Modern tools never let you do that, but if you store a "discharged" battery it will fully discharge(by self-discharge) over time.
The best way is to charge it to 3.7V and then store it and check it at least yearly.
That’s $700 per kWh. It stands to reason that home charging systems will soon come down in price, even if they don’t end up largely being eaten by BEVs with bidirectional charging ;)
With lead acid, you can get much, much better bang for your buck - as low as €85/kWh, no problem - and big OPzS cells will last for decades. I just put in 42kwh of storage last autumn for €6500. More like €155/kWh with vent caps, interconnects, longer life rather than the cheapest cells, etc.
If you’re purely doing grid storage, a 5kva inverter/charger would set you back €1800 or so - and that’s basically it.
In our application, we rarely go below 20% DoD - but we could take them much, much deeper without unexpected implications for their life.
The other nice thing about OPzS is they they’re each a single 2V cell. Means you can monitor for and track down individual duff cells, rather than having a whole battery fail. After 9 months, ours are still perfectly balanced, gravities all identical when charged to when they were new, literally zero problems.
Monitoring is also a nice benefit. I wonder if at some point it would make sense to put bypass diodes on cells (like solar panels have) so that dead cells won't bring down a pack.
That gives some economies of scale, and keeps the amount of wiring lower.
- you become less vulnerable to short power outages
- the power companies can't ask much more for electricity than solar plus battery would cost you
- the grid might become more stable, as the battery can smoothe of sudden power demands, also grid fluctuations shouldn't affect you any more
- on the one side, you probably can shave off a few dollars of your energy costs by not storing surplus solar vs. sending it to the grid
- on the other side, home battery companies can't sell at prices higher than what the grid offers
So I think there will be a combination for both, working together to get the costs down and supply more reliable. The number and the size of batteries installed at home in a region depends on the parameters of that region.
The smaller the "unit" of storage, the more you need. Doing it at grid level makes it easier to be incorporated into grid stability systems too, collecting payments for "fast frequency response".
(Possible exceptions for crofters and islanders)
Plus in the case of a grid failure the batteries can last quite a while if you restrict wasteful usage.
Personally I'm on the old feed in tarriff scheme which gives me a fixed price for generation, regardless of export or usage ...
The truly wholesale market tends to be $0.01/kWh any time other than 11am-7pm and anywhere between "some more" and "lots, lots more" than that during the 11am-7pm window.
At some point it starts to become more economical to install extra solar to make sure I never touch the grid during the day. And eventually as battery prices come down and homes get more efficient it also becomes more economical to install batteries and even more solar to not touch the grid at night.
This may not be how retail power is priced everywhere but I suspect that wholesale power is priced similarly in a lot of places that get some sun and some wind so long as you're not really, really remote. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out over the coming 5-10 years.
Of course the above requires a large amount of management. Right now it isn't worth their while to take your power that way. However this is an opening, an standard system so that the utility can automatically take power from little guys opens up a lot of opportunities that don't exists.
Note that you should expect to pay about $10 a month for the above even if you are self sufficient. It should be worth that to you just to have the peace of mind that comes from utility backup when something fails. You can get that down, but probably at the expense of more equipment than you should reasonably buy and so your equipment costs are subsidizing someone else who doesn't spend as much on equipment.
This arbitrage is looking worse all the time?
Given that power cuts happen only for an hour or so every few years, I'm happy to buy a couple of LED torches and deal with it. There seems to be an ideological bias to getting off the grid for no good reason? While remaining on the water, sewage and gas grids.
> "But a battery electric car needs so much battery capacity—40 to 100 kWh, thousands of times more than a smartphone—that they've significantly increased the global demand for lithium-ion batteries. That has helped drive additional price declines, which have started to make it cost-effective to use batteries to improve the electric grid."
You need to know both demand and supply to forecast price effects when either or both change. The simplistic assertion that higher demand leads to lower prices is wrong on its face.
I'm no expert, nor an economist, but I think it'd be more correct to say that higher demand inspired investments that resulted in more supply, which grew faster than demand, thus driving price declines.
EDIT: Another inconsistency that bugs me:
> "Frith told Ars that a common battery technology in the last decade was "NMC 111" batteries with equal parts nickel, magnesium, and cobalt. Now companies are starting to move to NMC ratios of 811—with eight times as much nickel as manganese or cobalt. Nickel is two to five times cheaper than manganese or cobalt, so a formula with more nickel is cheaper to produce per kg."
So does the "M" in NMC refer to magnesium (as stated first), or manganese (as stated second)?
In the short-term, obviously higher demand increases prices if production is held constant.
But if there's no obvious constraint on production (e.g. on resources/land/employees/etc.) then yes, over the long-term higher demand usually generates larger-scale businesses/factories which can invest in more efficient production and produce lower prices, and pay off initial investments.
Of course, this won't apply if there aren't further economies of scale or investments to recoup.
The article seems to be quite clear that this is what it's talking about. I don't think it's making the "simplistic assertion" you're assuming it is -- it's just referring to the concept of economy of scale which most people are familiar with.
As for your first point, higher demand typically causes higher prices in the short term, then often lower prices in the medium term due to oversupply of investment, and eventually lower prices in the long term, due to economies of scale.
Between the tabless design patent, the maxwell dry electrode, and other chemistry improvements, I'm interested to see what the battery presentation boils down to in terms of improved density from the dry cathode and cost improvements from tabless and the various chemistries discussed.
That million mile reliability is nice, but I'm really hoping for under 100$/KWhr at pack level with improved density to enable 400+ mile ranges.
The Tesla prototype around the Nurburgring had me speculating about really dense batteries that enabled a much lighter racing car than what the Taycan was limited by.
Having a significant improvement in this area would have a magnificent effect on some industries. Making batteries last twice as long (e.g. from 2000 cycles to 4000) would basically reduce battery cost by a factor of 2 for trucks, public transport or grid energy storage (6y to 12y lifespan if cycled once per day).
Forecasters project the average cost of a kilowatt-hour of lithium-ion battery capacity to fall below $100 by the mid-2020s."
Haven't heard anything about that since.
BTW, speaking of seawater and dirt forming a battery, I recently needed a way to measure underground corrosion of buried copper pipe, and it went down a great little rabbit hole uncovering documents such as this . It was fun to go put a voltmeter across various ground-coupled conductors in my home to see what, if any, voltages were present, with the earth serving as part of a battery.
Pedant here:, but you can't get "six times cheaper." You can get one-sixth as expensive, but "six times cheaper" implies some sort of relative comparison being made about rates, not absolute values.
The same issue is apparent in the HN title ("costs fell six-fold."
There is a lot of lithium potential in places such as the lithium triangle in South America.
Main contributor to the cathode powder price is cobalt, and its unpredictable price: bad weather in Congo? Prepare to see the price increase n-fold within few weeks. Nickel comes second, to much lesser extent.
LFP cells use radically different cathode chemistry from common cell types, and use no cobalt, or nickel at all, hence the low price. We dump phosphates on in the fields by gigatonnes after all.
It won't help your average price (just the opposite), but it can take the unpredictability out.
Just waiting for some other country to start building enough battery factories. Because actually making anything in Australia seems to be impossible.
I keep hearing that. Could you expand on this bit? For those of who are are far away and have zero idea why. While I know labour cost and protection are high. I would have thought battery factory is now highly automated.
Same for the solar industry. If there was ever a place to build enough solar to power the planet, it's Western Australia. We could build the batteries, too, from local ingredients. But it's all too hard and too complicated and why do that when we can make enough money from just mining the lithium?
There's another odd perspective on this in Jared Diamond's book Collapse, in the "Mining Australia" chapter:
> Most of Australia's remaining agriculture is in effect a mining operation that does not add to Australia's wealth but merely converts environmental capital of soil and native vegetation irreversibly into cash, with the help of indirect government subsidies [...]
That is, similarly to how mining activity depends upon consuming non-renewable stocks of ore or fossil-fuel* that can be extracted with sufficiently low energy cost, the argument is that agricultural activity depends upon consuming stocks of high-quality soil at a much faster rate than the stock of high-quality soil can be being refilled. If the rate of consumption is much higher than the rate of production then high-quality soil is effectively non-renewable.
* i guess fossil fuels are also "renewable" in a literal interpretation of the word that it is possible to refill stocks, given a long enough time horizon (billions of years?) & a willingness to take a bit of a gamble that the conditions for large-scale fossil fuel creation will recurr, provided the rate of consumption of fossil fuel slows.
But recently, there's been much more of a move to less destructive practices. Lots of mediterranean-type farms (olives, wine, etc) more suitable to the soil and climate.
anecdata: in the late 80's I worked on an English sheep farm, at 100 sheep to the acre, and cut their toenails. I also worked on an Aussie sheep farm, at 100 acres to the sheep, and had to kill flyblown sheep being eaten alive by maggots. Crazy contrast.
Australia's high min-wages + high prices of everything sounds like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baumol%27s_cost_disease
I imagine it's a political live-wire to suggest heavily taxing the mining operations?
Aussies think that they're in competition with other mining countries to supply the Chinese. From a mining executive perspective, I get this. You need all that revenue now.
But from the country's point of view, it's a disaster. Non-renewable resources are being exported as cheaply as possible in as large a quantity as possible. The royalty system works on revenue earned, so the taxes are tiny compared to what they could be if the aim was to maximise the value of each Kg of ore.
So yes, suggesting that we tax the exports more brings cries of "making Australia uncompetitive" and that it'll destroy the mining industry, and then what will we do?
Crazy. Sad, too.
That article on the Dutch Disease is spot on
Germany can get packaged cheap labor from East of Europe when they need it.
Infact, a lot of German companies have their labor intensive units in East.
Only highly automated manufacturing and management/finance and R&D work in done in Germany.
Australia doesn't have the same advantage which Germany have had for years now:
What form would you be shipping the energy in?
One option is hydrogen. There's some amount of government & think-tank produced research arguing for australia to pursue a "hydrogen economy". E.g. https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-11/aust...
From skimming through the report, there are also applications to use directly use hydrogen as an input to produce ammonia, and also an argument that existing means of shipping ammonia could be used to ship hydrogen, conditional on research that can extract hydrogen out of ammonia with low energy input.
I don't have a handle on what kind of policies would be needed to encourage private investment in hydrogen vs coal, gas, oil (assuming it is even a good idea). There's a graph of estimated prices of hydrogen vs alternatives in various uses in the report (search for "breakeven"). It does not look price competitive in many applications, but I assume the comparison does not include price adjustment that account for the externalised environmental costs of one energy source versus another.
Regardless of hydrogen or solar or batteries or whatever, a carbon tax with a price set to help internalise the externalised costs of greenhouse gas emissions would be a great way to push activity in a better direction, regardless of if that is hydrogen or anything else that strikes a good combination of efficiency & low greenhouse gas impact. Perhaps the carbon tax could be rolled out nationally with tariffs put in place to penalise the import of goods & services produced in other countries that did not yet have an comparable carbon tax installed.
waves hands distribution is a different problem. Someone else will solve that.
I've seen more expensive plans started with bigger holes ;)
But it is possible in principle, just expensive using the technology of today.
And you save a bunch of money by using the brine left over from desalination. But you can find naturally occurring brines with higher lithium concentration, so why bother with ocean water?
...in other words, lithium is plentiful, and the cheapest is from places like South America where it is extracted from brines similar to how sea salt is extracted, so the process is cheap, too (which is why we don’t really do hard rock mining of lithium any more... sea salt like evaporation ponds are just much cheaper).
(Another interesting source is the brines from geothermal power stations... there are some at power stations I California that are rich in lithium and there are efforts to extract it... two birds and one stone. Example: https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1066 )