From imports to innovations - India's journey in battery material industry: Vikram Handa, Managing Director, Epsilon Carbon

From imports to innovations - India's journey in battery material industry: Vikram Handa, Managing Director, Epsilon Carbon

India’s battery material industry, which was valued at US $1.66 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach US $4.85 billion by 2027

  • By Vikram Handa , Managing Director, Epsilon Carbon | June 10, 2023

As the world moves toward a future powered by renewable energy and electric vehicles, the role of batteries in our lives has become more important than ever before. The battery material industry, which forms the backbone of this transformation, has seen significant growth in India. Every year, the adoption of batteries increases remarkably across the globe and this transition will require consistent, innovative, and high quality supply of battery materials.  

Battery Materials in India 

India relies heavily on imported battery materials. In 2018, we imported around US $1.23 billion worth of lithium-ion batteries, which accounted for more than half of the country's demand. To address this, the Indian government launched the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) battery to boost domestic manufacturing. This scheme reduced dependencies on imported battery materials and accelerated the rate of innovation within the country. This had a significant impact on the country's battery material industry, which was valued at US $1.66 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach US $4.85 billion by 2027, registering an impressive CAGR of 17.23% during the forecast period of 2022-2027. 

This unprecedented growth was amplified due to India’s strong manufacturing ecosystem, prowess in innovation, and a large pool of technical and engineering talent. The industry has gained significant momentum in recent years and has put us in a position of strategic importance in the global battery materials market.  

Scope of Growth 

The magnitude of demand for batteries is high, with the number of GWh (Gigawatt Hours) required increasing from about 700 GWh in 2022 to around 4.7 TWh (Terawatt Hours) by 2030. Additionally, there are looming concerns about supplies of key battery materials like cobalt and lithium that are pushing the search for alternatives to the standard lithium-ion chemistry. This is where India has a major advantage as a leader in the chemical industry to address this challenge. The chemical industry is a crucial contributor to the battery material supply chain, providing essential raw materials to produce batteries.  

In 2019, the Indian chemicals industry stood at US $178 billion and is anticipated to reach US $304 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 9.3%. It is one of the fastest growing sectors in India and is currently the 10th largest chemical trade partner for the US which is estimated to scale up to 7th by 2030. Herein lies an opportunity for India’s booming chemical industry to take lead and convert minerals into battery materials and reduce the dependence on China. 

India's Emergence as a Leader in Next-generation Battery Technologies 

India's advancement in innovation in the chemical landscape will contribute significantly to the global battery materials industry, making it a preferred destination for battery materials due to its efforts in developing innovative  and advanced battery technologies. 

The demand for higher energy densities was initially driven by the portable gadget industry, which led to the development of batteries with extended cycle life, smaller sizes, and higher capacities. However, the introduction of electric vehicles brought in new challenges and opportunities where batteries must be reliable, lightweight, and affordable.  

As our prowess lies in innovation, the next generation of batteries with different chemistries will be built in India. The innovation to keep an eye on is the solid-state lithium batteries, a promising breakthrough in the field of electric vehicles and energy storage, offering improved safety, and energy density, and packing more energy into a smaller space. Solid-state lithium batteries could potentially address the issues of range anxiety and long charging duration, making electric vehicles a more viable option for consumers. It has captured the manufacturer's attention with a promise of improving safety, and energy density, and catering to a wide range of electric vehicles. Instead of the flammable, liquid electrolytes used in conventional lithium-ion batteries, battery cell manufacturers install solid-state batteries with electrolytes in a solid form. 

India will also see growth in battery innovation, manufacturing Lithium-sulphur (Li-S) batteries and silicon-based anodes. The Li-S battery technology is based on the principles of green chemistry, which involves utilizing by-products from the petroleum industry such as sulphur, as well as agro-waste elements and copolymers like cardanol (a by-product of cashew nut processing) and eugenol (derived from clove oil), as cathodic materials. This innovation can benefit the energy storage and electric vehicle industry in India and the world. Among the new chemistries & materials being studied, silicon has a good potential as an anode material to be added alongside the commonly used graphite. 

The anode material determines how fast the vehicle battery can be charged and, with an increase in the energy density, helps to extend the driving range per charge. Even though graphite-based materials have been widely used so far for anode manufacturing, more and more battery manufacturers are trying to raise the silicon contribution, which will increase the energy density and reduce charging time. 

While there are still challenges to overcome in the development of Li-S and silicon-based batteries, the potential benefits are too significant to ignore. India can drive progress in this potential area by investing in research and development and fostering partnerships between academia, industry, and global governments. 

The battery material industry in India has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. It has moved from a heavy dependence on imports to investments in the manufacturing and innovation process. This transformation is a testament to the country's commitment to sustainable development and its ability to create an enabling environment for the growth of new industries. With continued investment and support, India's battery material industry is well-positioned to become a global power.

Register Now to Attend Agrochem Summit 2023 on Friday, 15th December 2023, The Park Hotel, New Delhi

Upcoming E-conferences

Agrochem Summit 2023

December 15, 2023

PetroChem Summit 2024

February 23, 2024

Other Related stories