On this the last day of Early Bird registration for the NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting & Conference, I want to highlight some of the remarkable aspects of that upcoming program. We tout the NAATBatt annual meetings as thought leadership programs, and that is a boast we try hard to live up to. NAATBatt uses its annual meeting to highlight key issues facing the advanced battery industry and to help those charged with responsibility for shaping their company’s business strategy better chart the path ahead. The NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting will be no exception.
One of the biggest issues in the industry this year is the pace of innovation in manufacturing processes. New manufacturing technologies and processes have had a dramatic impact on the cost of lithium-ion batteries over the past few years and are likely to exert a continuing downward pressure on prices in the future.
Manufacturing technology innovation is in many respects the unsung hero of the advanced battery industry and the many applications it will power. Just a few years ago, with the price of an automotive grade lithium-ion battery cell hovering around $1,000/kWh, the hope was for some breakthrough in lithium-ion chemistry that would push lithium-ion battery cell costs downwards towards the seemingly insurmountable USABC goal of $150/kWh. Today, of course, major automotive OEM’s are credibly reporting (and perhaps even underreporting) cell costs in the range of $350/kWh. But despite tens of millions of VC dollars deployed over the last decade chasing a “secret sauce” in lithium-ion chemistry, very little of this dramatic price reduction is attributable to better lithium-ion technology. Success has come instead, not from a dramatic breakthrough in chemistry, but from 1,000 different improvements in how lithium-ion cells are manufactured. This is the story that has really shaped where advanced battery technology stands today and which will in large part determine how quickly that technology captures market share tomorrow.
NAATBatt 2016 will focus in part on some of these 1,000 manufacturing improvements and will discuss others that are expected to impact lithium-ion battery manufacturing costs in the future. Melanie Spare of Siemens Industry, Inc. will moderate a discussion among John Hart of Dexmet Corporation, Bernhard Stalder of Bühler AG, Naoki Ota of 24M, and David Woods of Oak Ridge National Laboratory that will touch on a range of new technologies, including solvent-based electrode drying techniques, continuous mixing of slurries, and metal current conducting foils. Delegates will come away with a better understanding of what can and will be done in the future to reduce lithium-ion battery costs through new manufacturing technologies. More importantly, delegates will better understand what the pain points are for manufacturers that other companies and entrepreneurs can help better address. This is the thought leadership that NAATBatt is talking about.
Please check the 2016 Annual Meeting website for regular updates on program content (which, I am sorry to say, we have been slow to post). Also check for other information about the 2016 Annual Meeting, which will make it one of the most unique programs this year in the industry, such as the golf and tennis tournament (not to be missed), the Energy Storage Innovation Summit, the NAATBatt Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2016 (soon to be announced) and the Spouses/Companion Program. The 2016 Annual Meeting website can be found at: http://naatbatt.org/naatbatt-annual-conference/