In a momentous development, Bangladesh is venturing into the production of lithium batteries – a move that is poised to revolutionise the country's energy landscape by accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and enhancing energy storage capabilities.
Bangladesh Lithium Battery Limited, an innovative enterprise, is all set to establish a state-of-the-art plant in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Mirsarai, Chattogram.
The ambitious project comes with a substantial investment of Tk600 crore, with Tk332.6 crore being financed by a consortium of banks and non-bank financial institutions, led by Eastern Bank Limited.
This cutting-edge facility will boast an impressive annual capacity of 1 Gigawatt hour (GWh), making it capable of manufacturing high-quality batteries tailored for electric vehicles and energy storage applications such as IPS and UPS systems.
"We are planning to launch production in the first quarter of 2024 as we've already finished the factory's construction works," Mir Masud Kabir, managing director of Bangladesh Lithium Battery Limited, told The Business Standard on Monday.
Kabir said the plant will create a backward linkage to its concurrent electronic vehicle project and will effectively address the current market demand for lithium batteries for energy storage applications.
Lithium will replace lead-acid batteries, which are commonly used in IPS and UPS in Bangladesh.
"Lithium batteries are relatively environment-friendly and have 15 years life compared to one year for lead-acid batteries," said Kabir.
He said he will use global standard technology, a mixture of Korean, Japanese and Chinese in the plant.
Engr Md Kausar Ameer Ali, managing director of the Dhaka Electric Supply Company (Desco), who was present at the loan signing ceremony between the lenders and the entrepreneurs of the plant on Sunday, termed the move a milestone development.
"There are 30-40 lakh 3-wheelers that are run by lead-acid batteries in the country that can be replaced with lithium ones. We want to set up charging points at different places across the country," Ameer Ali told TBS.
He said the same battery-producing company has also established an electric vehicle manufacturing plant at the Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar, which will significantly cut the prices of an EV in Bangladesh.
Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director and CEO of Eastern Bank, which is the mandated lead arranger for the loan, said the establishment of Bangladesh's first lithium battery plant will not only strengthen Bangladesh's industrial sector but also aligns with the global shift toward clean and sustainable energy solutions.
The investment from various financial institutions demonstrates their confidence in the project's viability and potential, he observed.
How many electric vehicles can be powered by a 1 GW-hour lithium battery will depend on several factors such as the average battery capacity of an EV and the efficiency of the charging and discharging process, according to Kabir of Bangladesh Lithium Battery Limited.
If an average EV battery capacity is 50 kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is a common size for mid-range electric vehicles, the number of EVs powered by 1 GW-hour will be 20,000.
Some major applications of lithium batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are the primary power source for electric cars, bikes, scooters, and other electric vehicles. They offer high energy density, enabling longer driving ranges and faster charging times compared to other battery technologies.
These batteries power numerous portable electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, digital cameras, smartwatches, and portable gaming consoles.
Lithium batteries are used in large-scale energy storage systems, such as grid energy storage, to store renewable energy from sources like solar and wind. These systems help balance power supply and demand, stabilise electrical grids, and provide backup power during outages.
These batteries are commonly used in medical devices like pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps, and portable medical equipment.
Lithium batteries are utilised in spacecraft, satellites, and aeroplanes due to their lightweight nature and high energy density. They power critical systems, including communication, navigation, and emergency equipment.
World's largest producer of lithium batteries
China is the world's largest producer of lithium batteries as it has a strong manufacturing infrastructure and is home to many major battery manufacturers, supplying both domestic and global markets.
South Korea is another major player in lithium battery production. Companies such as LG, Samsung, and SK Innovation are prominent battery manufacturers.
Next comes Japan which has a well-established battery industry, and companies like Panasonic, Sony, and Toshiba have a significant presence in lithium battery production.