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South Korea aims to become top battery supplier

Posted: 05 Dec 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:South Korea  battery  battery supplier  Sony  Sanyo 

South Korea aims to become the world's top supplier of rechargeable batteries by 2012, surpassing current leader Japan. The government said it has assembled the infrastructure and key materials needed to boost production.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy announced the ambitious plan Friday (Dec. 1) to develop next-generation secondary battery technology. The government said it expects exports of Li-ion batteries to grow to Rs.10,469.60 crore ($2.3 billion) in 2008, giving the country a global market share of 35 per cent. That total is forecast to jump to Rs.27,312 crore ($6 billion) by 2012 as South Korea is expected to account for half the world battery market with a market share of 50 per cent. The current share totals Rs.4,096.80 crore ($900 million), giving it a 22 per cent share.

The ministry said the project focuses mainly on development of the Li-ion batteries for use in the mobile devices, hybrid electric vehicles, robots and in the power storage sector. The move follows a massive recall of Li-ion batteries by Sony Corp. used primarily in laptop PCs.

If the South Korean battery initiative unfolds as envisioned, the country would become the top supplier of secondary batteries used in mobile devices by 2012. Japan currently holds 60 per cent of the global battery market, according to the ministry.

As of June 2006, Japan's Sanyo was the world's top secondary battery supplier with a market share of 32 per cent, followed by Sony with 18 per cent. South Korea's Samsung SDI accounted for 14 per cent of the market and LG Chem ranked fifth with eight per cent.

The ministry cited a government-led R&D effort designed to localize production of four key battery components: cathode-electrode active materials, anode-electrode active materials, electrolytes and separators. Domestic development of the four elements would provide an import substitution boost of more than Rs.728.32 crore ($160 million) a year, the ministry added.

A government-backed task force consisting of about 800 members from 62 industrial, academic and research institutes has been working since 2003 to develop secondary battery technology and build infrastructure. The government contributed Rs.375.54 crore ($82.5 million) to the battery project.

- Sean Shim
EE Times

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