Roskill White Paper: East Asian battery giants fight for electrification of water transport

Since 2019, China, Japan and South Korea have started to speed up the electrification of water transportation in an on-going effort to improve their transport systems and reduce dependency on fossil fuel vehicles. In 2020, despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the electrification of vessels has not shown any signs of slowing down in East Asia. Over the coming years, China, Japan and South Korea have all revealed ambitious plans for the electrification of waterborne vessels.

Roskill’s White Paper reviews the latest developments in the electrification of water transportation in China, Japan and South Korea and analyses the reasons behind East Asian advances in electric vessels. The success of electric transportation is very dependent on advancements in battery technology. The paper presents valuable insights on lithium-ion battery systems and chemistry types suitable for electric vessels.

In the long term, 60% of Chinese civil shipping vessels could transition to electrification. Roskill estimates this would create potential demand for roughly 150GWh lithium-ion batteries. Concomitant demand for cathode materials is expected to total 0.4Mt, requiring 62kt LCE of lithium products. Roskill’s policy analysis also identifies potential policy options that could reduce barriers to entry into this sector and contribute to faster and safer adoption of electric vessels.

Based on Roskill’s primary research and forecasting models, the paper outlines:

• Recent developments in the electrification of water transportation in East Asia
• Motivation: Why East Asian countries have sped up electrification of their water transport fleets
• The race for battery manufacturers to develop appropriate lithium-ion battery systems for the sector
• Changes in battery technology and battery materials demand
• Implications for rare earths demand
• Future development trends


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