BU-103: Global Battery Markets

Learn about different battery systems, explore future trends and discover which chemistries are most promising.

According to The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm, the world demand for primary and secondary batteries is forecasted to grow to 7.7 percent annually to US$120 billion in 2019. Hybrid and electric vehicles will fuel the consumption; China will remain the largest market while India and South Korea will grow fastest.

The real growth lies in secondary (rechargeable) batteries. According to Frost & Sullivan, secondary batteries account for 76.4 percent of the global market, a number that is expected to increase to 82.6 percent in 2015. The demand for secondary batteries is driven by mobile phones and tablets. Earlier estimations for the electric vehicles may have been too optimistic and the figures have been adjusted downwards for now.

Secondary batteries will outpace primary (non-rechargeable) types. In 2009, primary batteries made up 23.6 percent of the global market and Frost & Sullivan predict a 7.4 percent decline by 2015. Non-rechargeable batteries are used in watches, electronic keys, remote controls, toys, sensors light, beacons, and military devices in combat.

An Overview of Battery Types

Batteries are classified by chemistry and the most common are lithium-, lead-, and nickel-based systems. Figure 1 illustrates the distribution of these chemistries. At a 37 percent revenue distribution, Li-ion is the battery of choice for portable devices and the electric powertrain. There are no other systems that threaten its dominance today.

Revenue contributions by different battery chemistries

Figure 1: Revenue contributions by different battery chemistries

Courtesy of Frost & Sullivan (2009)

Lead acid stands its ground as being a robust and economical power source for bulk use. Even though Li-ion is making inroads into the lead acid market, the demand for lead acid batteries is still growing. The applications are divided into starter batteries for automotive, also known as SLI (20%), stationary batteries for power backup (8%), and deep-cycle batteries for wheeled mobility (5%) such as golf cars, wheelchairs and scissor lifts. 

High specific energy and long storage has made alkaline more popular than the old carbon-zinc, which Georges Leclanché invented in 1868. Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) continues to hold an important role as it replaces applications previously served by nickel-cadmium (NiCd). However, at a three percent market share and declining, NiMH is becoming a minor player.

An emerging battery usage is the electric powertrain for personal transportation. Battery cost, longevity and environmental issues dictates how quickly the automotive sector will adopt this new propulsion system. Fossil fuel is cheap, convenient and readily available and alternative modes face stiff opposition, especially in North America. Government incentives may be needed, but such intervention distorts the true energy cost, shields underlying problems with fossil fuel and serves select lobby groups with short-term solutions. (See BU-1002: Electric Powertrain, HEV, PEV.)

New markets that further boost battery growth are the electric bicycle and storage systems for renewable energy of which homeowners, businesses and developing nations are benefiting. Large grid storage batteries collect surplus energy during high activity and bridge the gap when the input is low or when user-demand is heavy. (See BU-1001: Batteries in the Industrial Market.)

Advancements in Batteries

Batteries are advancing on two fronts. These developments are reflected in increased specific energy for longer runtimes and improved specific power for high-current load requirements. Improving one may not automatically increase the other and often there is a compromise. Figure 2 illustrates this relationship between specific energy in Wh/kg and specific power in W/kg.

Specific energy and specific power of rechargeable batteries

Figure 2: Specific energy and specific power of rechargeable batteries.
Specific energy is the capacity a battery can hold in watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg); specific power is the battery’s ability to deliver power in watts per kilogram (W/kg).

The best performing battery is the secondary lithium-metal batteries (Li-metal). An early version was introduced in the 1980s by then Moli Energy, but instability with metallic lithium on the anode prompted a recall in 1991. Solid lithium tends to form metal filaments, or dendrites, that cause short circuits. Further attempts to solve this problem by other companies ended in discontinuing the developments. 

The high specific energy and good power density of Li-metal is prompting manufacturers to revisit this powerful chemistry. Taming the dendrites and achieving the desired safety standard may be achieved by mixing metallic lithium with tin and silicon. Graphene is also being tried as part of an improved separator. Graphene is a thin layer of pure carbon with a thickness of one atom bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb. (See BU-309: How does Graphite Work in Li-ion?)

Multi-layers separators that prevent the penetration of dendrite have also been tried. New experimental Li-metal batteries achieve 300Wh/kg and the potential is much higher. This is of special interest for the electric vehicle. (See BU-212: Experimental Rechargeable Batteries.)


*  All references to dollar ($) pricing are in US dollars at the time of writing.

Last updated 2015-07-31

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On March 25, 2011 at 7:12pm
Khawaja Ayaz wrote:

Excellent article. Please write on Lead acid battery.

On April 25, 2011 at 4:57am
Solar Power Queensland wrote:

..the batteries are very important.and i am thankful to those people discover this such thing:)

On April 30, 2011 at 7:49am
limeiyun wrote:

i plan to do a survey about the market of different types of batteries,so this web has a great help. thanks

On July 15, 2011 at 1:25pm
royce wrote:

In the first paragraph under “Advancements in Batteries”, is “pacific power” supposed to be “specific power”?

On October 10, 2011 at 1:10pm
Chase wrote:

Does anyone happen to have any raw data on the amount of AA batteries pour into Africa?

On November 29, 2011 at 5:55am
Godfrey wrote:

Hi, just recently bought your book; it wonderful!
I have a some questions for my school project: First, who holds the Lithium-ion patent and how come many companies do manufacture using this technology? Did the patent owner issue the manufacturing companies of this technology some kind of non-exclusive license?  Second, which is the biggest company that manufactures the Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries?

On December 16, 2011 at 5:11am
Steven wrote:

Very interesting question, Godfrey…
Did you find other sources (website) where these questions are answered?

On February 14, 2012 at 3:13pm
Keith wrote:

Please be more specific what is meant by a primary and secondary battery.

On December 11, 2012 at 2:40am
NEXcell wrote:

Battery recycle becomes a big issue when the market is bigger and bigger.

On April 22, 2013 at 1:25pm
David Eisner wrote:

1. I agree with Keith: “Primary” and “Secondary” should be defined here, where they are

2. You write “Government incentives may be provided, but such intervention distorts the true cost of energy”. I would argue that because externalities (primarily anthropogenic climate change) are not reflected in the market price of fossil fuels, government incentives, by increasing the relative cost of fossil fuels, result in market prices that more accurately reflect the “true cost” of energy.

On November 18, 2013 at 6:45am
Daniel wrote:

Is Fig 2 (or 1-8) correct? It looks like it has been redrawn from Tarascon & Armand, Nature (2001), but the values on the y-axis should then correspond to volumetric energy density (Wh/l), not power density (W/kg). Should the differences in power density be this large?

On January 8, 2014 at 3:40am
Pradeep Chandra Pant wrote:

There have been talks about NaS, Zn air and Vanadium redox battery now. All claim better performance ans cycle life. Kindly throw some light on these vis-a-vis to Lead acid, NiMH and Li ion technology.

On January 8, 2014 at 7:14am
John Fetter wrote:

The pie chart shown above depicts the value of the batteries. Alkaline cost twice the price of lead-acid, lithium-ion cost ten times more. Expressed in ampere-hours, if starter batteries are 20 percentage point units, alkaline would be 7.5 and lithium-ion 3.7. Stationary lead-acid plus deep cycle adds up to 13, hence the lead-acid total, at 33, is still way ahead of the rest.

On January 13, 2014 at 11:20am
Charles Whitehead wrote:

l found the pie chart of battery sales interesting. Over which types of batteries are these taken and are they considering units sold, Ah, or $ sales volume?

On June 19, 2014 at 4:33am
Bhaskar Bachhav wrote:

Interested in Battery Information being an Electrical Engineer

On August 4, 2014 at 6:28pm
Edward wrote:

I am the battery engineer, i like battery

On October 22, 2014 at 2:09am
Daniel wrote:

Please insert references

On October 22, 2014 at 6:53pm
Edward wrote:

Bhaskar Bachhav let keep in touch,  I am working in a battery company for many years.my email is zzrm316@163.com   Edward

On October 29, 2014 at 1:27pm
Mahdy wrote:

this website has alot of good stuff in it, it helped me with my reasearch task that i have to do for SQA

On February 10, 2015 at 9:47am
David wrote:

Hmmm… quite enlightening, may be there should be more companies advertising on this site, especially those that provide materials for setting up battery manufacturing

On March 17, 2015 at 8:46am
Kamill osman wrote:

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