As demand and requirement for lithium-ion cells and batteries continue to rise, it’s no surprise that industry has expanded and evolved to match those highly specific needs. The result is the megafactory – a term coined by Benchmark Minerals as a way to describe the facilities that produce vast amounts of battery cells to meet that demand. These factories are not an isolated few by any means; with more than 91 factories in the pipeline ready to produce vast quantities of these mineral-based power sources, that demand and capacity is only going to rise.
What is a megafactory?
As the name suggests, a megafactory is a factory on a vast scale. While the concept of the megafactory is not exclusive to the creation of battery cells, it is often the first association – and just about every country is leaping on the chance to enter the current battery race. Prompted by the development and implementation of EV – electric vehicles – there has never been a higher demand and more considerable market opportunity in the field of mineral batteries before.
Tesla has been at the forefront of the megafactory, with the introduction of their Gigafactory in 2014, and plans to produce the world’s output of lithium-ion batteries within a single year under one roof. However, Tesla are not the only names in the game, with China aiming to swiftly dwarf the output of Tesla and other battery megafactories with the creation of their own factory. As a country that has the largest market for EV, it should not be a surprise.
What megafactories mean for the lithium-ion industry
As with many industries, megafactories are an example of large-scale businesses attempting to corner the market and become the ‘go-to’ for electric vehicle power sources worldwide. Similarly to past races for petrol and other energy resources, battery-powered cars are set to be a common household item over the next decade. Megafactories are aiming to precede that future demand, and meet the goal of ultimately replacing petrol and diesel with electric power completely.
As for what this means for resources, Tesla has already reported a potential shortage in the essential materials used for lithium-ion batteries shortly. While this is attributed to lack of mining investment for specific resources, this also means that megafactories – like the Gigafactory – are contributing to a potential global shortage. With industry on such a vast scale, especially for an industry that is only just finding its feet, it is not a surprise that there’s a disparity between supply and demand.
The future of batteries
With the concept of EVs only becoming more popular – and the UK Government aiming to have the roads petrol and diesel-free by 2030 – it’s no surprise that business is booming when it comes to the creation of lithium-ion batteries. While shortages are expected, research is underway on a bigger scale than ever before to resolve concerns and create ever more powerful batteries from a range of resources – including calcium. Batteries may be one of the first industries to utilise the megafactory in such an extreme way, but they likely won’t be the last.