SEOUL, South Korea — 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 lithium-ion batteries to grow to $2.3 billion in 2008, giving South Korea a global market share of 35 percent. That total is forecast to jump to $6 billion by 2012 as South Korea is expected to account for half the world battery market. with a market share of 50 percent. It's current share totals $900 million, giving it a 22-percent share.
The ministry said the project focuses mainly on development of the lithium-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 lithium-ion batteries by Sony Corp. that were 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 percent 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 percent, followed by Sony with 18 percent. South Korea's Samsung SDI accounted for 14 percent of the market and LG Chem ranked fifth with 8 percent.
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 $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 $82.5 million to the battery project.