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China’s 5G construction turns to lithium-ion batteries for energy storage

2021-07-05

The battery is the core equipment to ensure the continuous power supply of the communication base station. When the mains power supply is normal, the battery can help smooth filtering and improve the quality of power supply. When the power supply is abnormal or faulty, the battery can be used as a backup power supply.


According to Bu Haigang, the network operation center of China Mobile Shandong, according to different powers, 5G base stations are mainly divided into macro base stations, micro base stations, pico base stations and femto base stations. Micro base stations, pico base stations, and femto base stations generally use city electricity for direct power supply, and no power storage equipment is installed. The macro base station has the highest power and the widest coverage. It is usually deployed outdoors and needs the support of energy storage battery equipment.


"5G belongs to the mid-to-high frequency band, which is about 2 to 3 times higher than the existing 4G signal frequency. The signal transmission distance and penetration effect are relatively weakened. Therefore, the construction of base stations needs to be more intensive. To reach the coverage level of the existing 4G network, 5G The total number of base stations will be 2 to 3 times that of 4G base stations." Bu Haigang said.


China Tower Chairman Tong Jilu recently publicly stated that up to now, China Tower has built a total of 200,000 5G base stations. According to the plans of the four major operators of China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom, and China Radio and Television, 600,000 5G base stations will be opened by the end of 2020, and the market gap is still large. “The sites that overlap with the 4G network can be upgraded on the original basis, and new sites need to be equipped with new resources, and the demand for energy storage batteries will greatly increase.” Bu Haigang said that with the widespread deployment of 5G, this demand will increase. Sustainability over a long period of time.


2020 is a critical year for my country's 5G network construction. In the recent "new infrastructure" intensively deployed by the central government, 5G networks have also become a key area mentioned. According to incomplete statistics, nearly 20 provinces have included the promotion of 5G industry development as a key task in 2020.


The Advanced Industry Research Institute (GGII) analysis believes that as the four major operators and China Tower start bidding for base station lithium batteries, the demand for base station energy storage will be further released in the future. It is conservatively predicted that the energy storage demand of newly built and renovated 5G base stations will exceed 10GWh in 2020.


Lithium batteries accelerate the replacement of lead-acid batteries


For a long time, the base station backup power supply mainly uses lead-acid batteries, but the batteries have short service life, low performance, frequent daily maintenance, and unfriendly environment. "Compared with 4G base stations, the energy consumption of 5G base stations has doubled, and it is becoming smaller and lighter. Energy storage systems with higher energy density are required, and requirements for expansion and upgrading of power systems are also proposed." Bu Haigang said, "Iron Phosphate Lithium batteries have the advantages of high safety, long life, low cost, and continuous breakthroughs in energy density, which just fits this demand."


In addition, industry insiders pointed out that the high energy consumption of 5G base stations brings high electricity bills. Lithium batteries can make full use of the cycle characteristics, reduce dependence on city power expansion and transformation, and reduce electricity bills through time-sharing peak and valley power prices, thereby further reducing the network. Construction and operating costs.


The reporter learned that China Mobile had previously purchased lithium iron phosphate batteries for communications. Official data show that in 2015, China Mobile’s centralized procurement of lithium iron phosphate batteries was 240 million Ah, and the total scale of procurement from 2017 to 2018 was 241 million Ah, which will increase to 610 million Ah in 2020. At the same time, China Tower, China Unicom, China Telecom, Huawei and other communications and equipment companies are increasing their demand for lithium iron phosphate batteries in the communications field.


China Tower stopped purchasing lead-acid batteries in 2018 and purchased lithium batteries used in tiers in a unified manner. As of the end of 2018, China Tower has used about 1.5GWh of echelon lithium batteries in about 120,000 base stations in 31 provinces, municipalities, and municipalities across the country, replacing about 45,000 tons of lead-acid batteries; in 2019, China Tower's base station backup power supply newly used iron phosphate The lithium battery is about 5GWh, and the replacement of lead-acid batteries is about 150,000 tons.


The Advanced Industry Research Institute pointed out that with the mature application of lithium batteries for communication base stations, lithium iron phosphate system batteries will occupy a dominant position. With the acceleration of the construction of 5G base stations, the demand for both new batteries and cascaded batteries will be greatly increased. Among them, the demand for new batteries will increase more than the cascaded use of batteries.


Battery companies usher in development dividends


The huge market space brought by 5G base station energy storage has attracted the attention of many battery companies. At present, the domestic battery companies that have been deeply involved in the field of communication base stations for a long time mainly include Haistar, Topband, Narada Power, Shuangdeng Group, and Vision Power.


In addition to traditional battery companies that are deeply engaged in communication backup power, other power battery companies have also begun to join this field and hope to get a share of it.


In November 2019, Guoxuan Hi-Tech signed a 5G new energy industrial base project with Tangshan City, which mainly produces 5G lithium iron phosphate batteries for communications, with a production capacity of 7GWh. After completion, it will form a total production capacity of 10GWh with the previous projects. It is expected to be comprehensive in the third quarter of 2021. Built.


Ningde Times, Yiwei Lithium Energy, BYD and other leading power battery companies have also stepped up their deployment. The reporter learned that since last year, CATL has increased its energy storage business and launched a variety of special energy storage batteries, covering power and energy storage application scenarios. On March 11, CATL announced the development of a zero-attenuation battery. The battery is a lithium iron phosphate battery for energy storage that can achieve zero attenuation within 1500 cycles. It has been applied to the Jinjiang energy storage project; previously, CATL issued a decision. The increase plan and investment announcement involve a total of about 30 billion yuan of funds, of which 17.5 billion yuan is invested in projects related to energy storage. At the same time, Defang Nano, a lithium iron phosphate upstream material company, announced that the company will invest 1 billion yuan in the construction of a "lithium iron phosphate cathode material production project" in Qujing.


According to industry insiders, in the context of the high demand for 5G base station energy storage, more and more battery companies will be influx, future competition will become more intense, and the market structure may undergo adjustments and changes.

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