Energy storage products are trapped in "homogeneous" competition
2024-05-11 17:42

Since the beginning of this year, major energy storage companies have released new energy storage products with larger capacity, higher energy density and longer life. The mainstream cell capacity in the market has moved from 280Ah last year to 300Ah+, and even iterated to a larger capacity. For the same 20-foot container, the capacity of the energy storage system has been upgraded from 5MWh to 5.5MWh and 6.9MWh to achieve better performance, less footprint and lower cost.

It is worth noting that in the fierce market competition, the "expansion" of battery cells and system capacity has become the unanimous force point of new products of various enterprises. More than that, the products on the market are converging in terms of appearance design, performance characteristics, marketing selling points, and even the direction of technological evolution, and the risk of homogenization is becoming more and more prominent. In the critical period of a new round of elimination of energy storage, how to find differentiated competitive advantages is becoming the key to the survival of enterprises.

The direction of technological evolution is converging

As the scale of China's single energy storage project moves from the MWh era to the GWh era, large-capacity batteries are a major direction for the upgrading and development of the industry. Since 2024, the large-scale implementation and application of 300Ah+ large-capacity energy storage cells will be accelerated, and at the same time, leading companies in the industry have released 500Ah+ ultra-large-capacity energy storage cells of different specifications. In the field of systems, the 5MWh-level system has not yet been applied on a large scale, and the 6MWh+ system is coming one after another, and nearly 10 companies such as BYD, Honeycomb Energy, and Ruipu Lanjun have successively launched 6MWh+ energy storage systems.

With the increasing capacity and power of energy storage systems, heat dissipation has also become a key consideration in system design for safety reasons. The cooling technology of the new products of mainstream enterprises has also switched from the previous air-cooling technology to liquid cooling technology. In addition, in the context of Tibet, Xinjiang and other places to encourage or force new energy projects to be equipped with grid-based energy storage, grid-based energy storage technology has also become a popular field for enterprises to compete for the first layout.

"At present, energy storage products are rapidly iterated on a half-year cycle, but on the whole, the products are highly homogeneous." Industry insiders said that technological innovation should be cautious, if the capacity expansion goes too fast, many standards are not supported, there are certain safety risks, and the industrial chain, supply chain, and process tooling are not supported.

Zheng Hua, a professor at North China Electric Power University, pointed out to the "China Energy News" reporter that on the one hand, the speed of technology iteration, personnel flow, and manufacturing technology upgrading has been greatly accelerated, and the gap between the manufacturing processes and marketing methods of various leading manufacturers is getting smaller and smaller; On the other hand, the criteria for judging the "good and bad" of energy storage are not perfect, or even missing, and the problem of "building but not using" has led to the use or commercial value of energy storage not being effectively verified and played. This will lead to the problem of "bad money drives out good", resulting in huge investment waste and harming the high-quality development of the energy storage industry.

Further intensification of market competition

In recent years, the new energy storage industry has flourished and become one of the most popular hotspots. At present, there are more than 100,000 enterprises in the field of energy storage, and the number of newly registered energy storage-related enterprises in a year is as high as tens of thousands, and listed enterprises including food, liquor, real estate, toys, and ceramics have also crossed the border for energy storage. Energy storage system technology threshold is not high, many cross-border enterprise technology precipitation is not enough, product positioning fuzzy, lack of channel resources, coupled with the energy storage equipment to build but not use, the investor pursuit of low-priced distribution of storage to reduce costs.

Hyper Strong Chairman Zhang Jianhui believes that the reason for the homogenization of energy storage products, lies in the equipment development and manufacturing process only from the supply side point of view to consider the simple stacking of hardware, the lack of the whole chain of data closed-loop management. Equipment manufacturers lack effective feedback of field operation data, while investment and operators lack front-end system modeling. Equipment R&D and manufacturing is an open-loop system, and the data is completely cut off from each other.

The direct consequence of product homogenization is to exacerbate the price competition among enterprises. Over the past year, energy storage core prices fell by more than half, from 0.9 yuan / Wh down to 0.4 yuan / Wh below, the average price of energy storage system from 1.3 yuan / Wh down to about 0.7 yuan / Wh, has fallen below the cost line of some enterprise products, and the price continues to fall.

From the latest disclosure of 2023 energy storage listed companies’ annual performance report, although some companies showed high growth in performance, but revenue, profit double-dip, or increase in revenue does not increase in profit is a common situation. This is also consistent with the energy storage system, energy storage battery prices are rapidly declining trend, enterprises in the vortex of price competition deeper and deeper.

According to the analysis, in 2024, the overall supply of China's new energy storage market exceeds demand, energy storage system integration link is more brutal than the electric core link competition, more than 50% of the energy storage system enterprises (including large storage system, industrial and commercial storage system, household storage system and other enterprises) will be eliminated from the game.

Ultimately, it will be tested by the market

"Each business energy storage core roughly looks as if the same, but a closer look at the differences that exist, the indicators are similar but not quite the same, but the use of the user is not essentially different." Zheng Hua pointed out that homogenization is not the same as standardization, but it is often a prelude to standardization, technological breakthroughs, or new ideas breakthroughs. Therefore, homogenization is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for consumers or users to buy higher-performance products at a lower cost under the premise of safety. Commodity production is to use, lasting innovation is the enterprise in the homogenization of competition in the invincible key "weapon".

Industry insiders also pointed out that homogenization is the appearance of competition in energy storage products, in fact, the core yield, cycle times, fixed costs, etc., each enterprise's technological innovation and data performance is not the same. With the real energy storage up, more frequent participation in grid scheduling, product authenticity will be tested by the market.

"As digital intelligence technology continues to improve, product iteration accelerates and upgrades, and homogenized competition has no future." Liu Yong, secretary-general of China Chemical and Physical Power Supply Industry Association Energy Storage Application Branch, pointed out to the China Energy News reporter that in the current fierce market competition, enterprises ultimately rely on cost-effective products, leading technology, rich domestic and foreign channel resources, and quality services. To carry out healthy competition and mutual empowerment in the energy storage industry, the leading enterprises should play a leading and aggregation effect, develop, and innovate, and lead the upstream and downstream industrial chain to jointly create cost-effective products to meet the real needs of the market.

"The industry urgently needs to introduce a series of access standards." Sun Wei, president of Trina Energy Storage, shared its competitive thinking that all products must correspond to market segments. Our approach is to make the underlying hardware products as uniform as possible, reduce product classification and variety, and realize large-scale production and cost reduction. Configuration, especially some software intelligent configuration, according to the user's needs continue to develop, become a future add-on or optional, to achieve the maximum economic value of each segmentation scene.

Source: ESCN

Tags:battery , energy storage