NEW YORK, Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Form factor is becoming a major driver shaping innovation and transforming the energy storage industry globally. This is fueled by the emergence of new market categories such as wearable electronic devices and Internet of Things, which demand thinness and flexibility. These new market categories will help the market for thin and flexible batteries reach $300 million in 2024.
Thin, flexible or printed batteries have commercially existed for more than ten years. Traditionally, the micro-power thin and printed batteries were used in skin patches, RFID tags and smart cards. Today, however, the composition of the target market is undergoing drastic change driven by the emergence of new addressable market categories. This trend has enticed many large players to enter the foray, starting to transform a business landscape that was once populated predominantly by small firms.
The change in target markets is inevitably driving change in the technology landscape too. This means that the market in 2024 will look vastly different from that in 2014, both on the technology and market level. Technology and markets that are major contributes today will have a small role to play, while new segments and technology will grow to dominate this sector. This change is shown in the figures below.
IDTechEx provides detailed technology assessment and benchmarking, ten-year market forecasts segmented by application and technology type, and detailed interview-based business intelligence and profiles on key players and large end users.
In this study IDTechEx has drawn upon at least 35 direct interviews and visits with key suppliers and large end users from a variety of sectors and years of accumulated experience and market knowledge for the end use applications such as active RFIDs, smart cards, skin patches, smart packaging and recently wearables. Our team working on this project is highly technical, enabling it to fully understand the merits and challenges of each technology in this complex landscape.
Complex Landscape to Navigate
The market and technology landscape is complex. There are no black-and-white and clear technology winners and the definition of market requirements is in a constant state of flux.
Indeed, on the technology side, there are many solutions that fall within the broad category of thin film, flexible or printed batteries. These include thin lithium batteries, thin film lithium polymer batteries, curved lithium ion batteries, flexible supercapacitors, and printed zinc-based batteries. It is therefore confusing technology landscape to navigate and betting on the right technology is not straightforward.
On the market side, many applications are still emerging and the requirements are fast evolving. The target markets are also very diverse and not overlapping, each with different requirements for power, lifetime, thinness, cost, charging cycles, reliability, flexibility, etc. This diversity of requirements means that no thin film battery solution offers a one-size-fits-all solution.
In general, wearable electronics is a major growth area for thin film and flexible batteries. Conventional secondary batteries may meet the energy requirements of wearable devices, but they struggle to achieve flexibility, thinness and light weight. These new market requirements open up the space for energy storage solutions with novel form factors. Indeed, the majority of thin film battery companies tell us that they have on-going projects in the wearable technology field. High-energy thin film batteries have the highest potential here followed by printed rechargeable zinc battery provided the latter can improve.
The healthcare sector is also a promising target market. Skin patches using printed batteries are already a commercial reality while IDTechEx anticipates that the market for disposable medical devices requiring micro-power batteries will also expand. Here, printed zinc batteries have the highest potential but price needs to continue falling before a higher market uptake takes place. Here too, new form factors will be the key differentiator compared to the high-volume incumbents such as coin cell batteries.
Medical diagnostic devices, medical sensors and memory backups are also promising markets. Here, LiPON-based thin lithium batteries deliver most value as these applications require stable power sources with extreme safety, long life time and high capacity. However, the current thin battery technology is not mature enough yet to be applied straightaway. Wireless sensors/networks application is another important trend. Here, there is a trend to combine energy harvesting with thin batteries with superior form factors.
Active and battery-assisted passive RFID is also a potential target market although coin-cells are the main solutions unless there is a stringent requirement for laminar or flexible design such as in car plates. It is also in these small niches that thin film batteries might find place.
Smart cards also remain an attractive sector and several thin film battery technologies have been optimised to meet the lamination requirements for card manufacture. The price is however too steep and lifetime too low for primary batteries (and charging challenging for secondary ones) to enable widespread market penetration. The emerging of online and mobile banking carries a long-term threat of substitution.
IDTechEx provides a detailed assessment of all the key energy storage technologies that fall under the broad category of thin film, flexible or printed batteries. It provides a critical and quantitative analysis and benchmarks different solutions.
IDTechEx has developed detailed and granular market forecasts segmented by technology type as well as end use applications. These forecasts are based on (a) primary information obtained through our direct interview programme with suppliers and end users, attending conferences globally and also organising our own conferences on wearable technologies, RFIDs and printed electronics; and (b)a critical technical assessment of competing technologies.
The technologies and end use applications covered are:
• Battery-assisted passive RFID,
• Smart card,
• Wireless sensor(s)/networks,
• Smart packaging,
• Medical cosmetic disposable,
• Medical device,
• Interactive media, toys, games & cards,
• Backup power,
• Portable electronics,
• Energy harvesting
• Printed Zn based battery
• Thin Lithium Battery
• Thin Film Lithium Polymer Battery
• Curved Lithium Ion Battery
• Thin Flexible Supercapacitors
IDTechEx has interviewed and profiled 35 suppliers and end users. In addition, IDTechEx has also listed and described 60 companies.
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