The increasing role of electricity as an energy carrier in decarbonising economies is driving a growing demand for electrical energy storage in the form of battery systems. Two battery applications driving demand growth are electric vehicles and stationary forms of energy storage. Consequently, established battery production networks are increasingly intersecting with – and being transformed by – actors and strategies in the transport and power sectors, in ways that are important to understand. Most analyses of battery production adopt a supply chain approach, focussing on the flow and transformation of materials from primary production via manufacturing to final assembly. They pay only limited attention to organisational and geographical relations, and they overlook critical areas of intersection between battery production and OEM manufacturing for automotive and power sectors. As a result, supply chain approaches do not fully account for emergent properties of battery production networks. To remedy this, we deploy a global production network (GPN) approach that highlights the increasing intersection of battery manufacturing with the automotive and power sectors, informed by original research with key respondents in battery R&D and commercialization at the collaborative interfaces of academia, industry and government. Our GPN approach augments conventional supply chain accounts based on battery manufacturing in two ways: it identifies the economic and non-economic actors, network relations and multiple locations that constitute the global battery production network; and focuses on firm strategies of innovation, cooperation and competition through which this network acquires its organisationally and geographically dynamic character, (specifically increasing inter-industry intersections), and the multifaceted role of the state. The paper concludes by reflecting on the implications of this alternative account for understanding key areas of policy concern, and for analyses of the geopolitical economy of energy system transformation.
Bridge, G., & Faigen, E. (2022). Towards the lithium-ion battery production network: Thinking beyond mineral supply chains. Energy Research and Social Science, 89, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2022.102659