Tablet and smart phone sales reached 116 million and 675 million units in 2012, exhibiting a year-to-year growth of 43 and 94%, respectively. In contrast, desktop sales have declined. The market message is clear: consumers are demanding fully portable devices. This translates into a large and growing market opportunity for energy storage devices.
New report “Batteries & Supercapacitors in Consumer Electronics 2013-2023: Forecasts, Opportunities, Innovation” estimates that energy storage for the broad consumer electronics sector was a hefty $33 billion market in 2012 alone. This market, which includes laptops, mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras and eBook readers, is set for growth in the medium term with an approximate CAGR of 6%. The figure below measures the market size and growth in terms of total energy storage capacity, which is set to increase from 28 GWh in 2012 to 56 GWh in 2023.
Fig 1 – Market size and growth for total energy storage capacity (million Wh) 2012-2023
Portable devices are also increasingly becoming multi-functional. For example, a mobile phone today does much more than make phone calls; it also acts as a camera, watch, navigation system, internet navigation, multi-media player, etc. This is transforming their power consumption levels and patterns.
Indeed, this trend towards multi-functionality has accelerated the rate of increase in power consumption demands much faster than the main battery technologies have managed to improve. This has created a widening performance requirement gap between existing commercial solutions and consumer expectations. In turn, this is creating a global push to develop technologies that challenge current lithium ion batteries
The players in the industry have not stayed still. In fact, there is now a global wave of innovative technologies in the R&D phase attempting to reach the market. Innovation is taking place at every level ranging from electrodes, electrolytes and even device architectures and concepts. For example, in lithium batteries, disruptive technologies such as sulphur, silicon and lithium metal electrode chemistries are under intense research to overcome their shortcomings with promising results. Graphene and carbon nanotubes are being added to the electrode composition, in supercapacitors, aqueous electrolytes are closing the performance gap to compete with organic electrolytes, offering safer and more environmentally friendly supercapacitors. Moreover, thinness, flexibility and transparency are also being added to the list of drivers that shape innovation in the energy storage sector.
The industry is also taking a fresh look at supercapacitors as part of the solution, competing with other storage devices. This is because supercapacitors have better physical principles than alternatives for handling sudden bursts of power demands, which is consistent with how smart portal devices operate. This trend is shown in the pie-chart below, which depicts that supercapacitors are set to capture 4% of the consumer electronics energy storage market in 2023. This trend also reaffirms the growing importance of secondary batteries. They currently possess 63% of the market, but this is set to grow to 80% in 2023.
Fig 2 – Pie chart of primary batteries, secondary batteries and supercapacitors value sales in 2023
The report leads you from the basic concepts to understand the current different technologies in the energy storage industry, including their advantages and limitations. It then introduces the emerging and future technologies, such as thin film and flexible batteries. Along with details of the players from around the world it also presents ten year global market forecasts.