The need for larger rechargeable batteries and more energy storage for 5G technology is expected to significantly boost demand for cobalt over coming years and potentially pit the sector against electric vehicle (EV) makers.
Cobalt demand for portable devices is expected to rise to 73,000 tonnes by 2025 from 45,000 tonnes this year.
Larger batteries, using lithium cobalt oxide chemistry (LCO), are needed in 5G phones because the antenna, used to transmit and receive radio waves, need more power than those in 4G phones.
Electric vehicles typically use cathodes made from nickel, cobalt and manganese. Down the road we are likely to see some aggressive bidding for cobalt from electric vehicles and mobile phones, where there isn’t really a chemistry that can compete with LCO.
“As the global transition to 5G technology gathers pace, growth in non-EV markets has significant potential to expand across two fronts: portables and energy storage systems,” analysts at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence said in a note.
Cobalt demand estimates mostly vary between 100,000 and 130,000 tonnes for this year, doubling to between 200,000 and 260,000 tonnes in 2025.
“Demand growth for energy storage systems has already overtaken electric vehicles, albeit starting from a much lower base, and Benchmark forecasts stationary storage demand to grow by 35 per cent per annum through the 2020s.”
Reference- BloombergNEF, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence website, InsideEvs, Reuters