Canada “has great potential” to become a leader in the global lithium-ion battery market, according to a new analysis by Roskill.
The research firm published the insight following the announcement by Lion Electric, a manufacturer of all-electric trucks and buses, of the construction of a $185 million battery manufacturing plant and innovation center in Quebec.
The project is expected to receive a joint $100 million investment from the federal and provincial governments and it is planned to begin operations in early 2023.
According to Lion Electric, the factory will produce battery packs and modules made from lithium-ion cells, which should translate into a considerable reduction in the cost of its vehicle manufacturing, with a particular impact on the development of heavy-duty electric transportation.
Annual production capacity is forecast to be five gigawatt-hours in battery storage, which means that the company will be able to electrify approximately 14,000 medium and heavy-duty vehicles a year.
“Building an EV battery plant in Quebec would be a crucial step in the advancement of the Canadian Li-ion battery ecosystem, stimulating the cell production in the country and further localising the supply chain,” Roskill’s report reads. “Across the Canadian Li-ion battery supply chain, cell and module production has been relatively weak. Based on the announced production plans by March 2021, Roskill’s analysis shows that Canada will account for only 0.03% of global Li-ion battery cell capacity by 2030.”
In the market researcher’s view, if projects like Lion Electric’s reproduce across the country, Canada could start gaining leadership in the EV revolution, particularly given its large mineral endowments and production capacity for key battery raw materials, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper, and graphite.
“As of today, however, Canada mainly exports these commodities in the form of mineral concentrates to Asia, with very little value added to produce Li-ion battery materials (precursor, cathode, and anode) retained in Canada,” the document states.
Were Canada to start working towards processing these raw materials, it would be in a privileged position to build a more sustainably powered EV battery supply chain, given the high proportion of clean power delivered to the country’s grid.
At present, Canada is the world’s third-largest producer of hydroelectricity, with 67% electricity coming from renewable sources and 82% from non-greenhouse gas emission sources.
“With accelerating global demand for lithium-ion batteries, Roskill believes that Canada has a unique opportunity to develop into an important Li-ion battery material and even cell hub in the North American EV supply chain, though there remains significant investment required to achieve this status,” the review reads.