October 21, 2016

Cost of Lithium-ion Batteries One Major Reason Why RAN Won't Adopt Them

A friend, with a wide knowledge of submarine battery usage rates and pricing, advised in late September 2016:

JAPANESE CONTEXT

Japan is adopting new technology Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) for the two Soryu Mark 2 submarines (27SS and 28SS)(see SORYU TABLE  below)  as well as the new Japanese class submarines (29SS onwards).

LIBs represent a major future submarine technology, but Japan may be the only (or at least the first) country that is fully moving to LIBs for newly commissioned submarines (ie. 27SS from 2020 onwards). The increased cost of LIBs appears to be one of the major reasons other navies are not shifting to LIBs.

The budgets for future Japanese submarines (including 27SS, 28SS and 29SS) suggests that LIBs are AUS$130 million (for one 6 year replacement cycle) more expensive than the existing LABs per Soryu submarine.


According to cost calculations (by the Japanese government) of mass produced LIBs, the equipment cost accounts for around 15% of total cost. So the cost of a battery modules consisting of 10 LIBs for the Soryu Mark 2s (27SS/28SS) is estimated as 1.5 million yen. This is significantly less than the actual cost of around 20 million yen and suggests that in very low volume production of submarine LIBs, the equipment cost accounts for more than 90% of total cost.

AUSTRALIAN CONTEXT

In constrast the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN’s) appears to have rejected LIBs in favour of sticking with current Lead-acid Battery (LAB) technology. 

When increased LIBs/submarine costs are considered over Australian 12 Shortfin submarines  operating for 30 years, each with twice the quantity of LIBs than Soryus, and considering LIBs need replacing every 6 years, then you get the following estimate:

(+AUS$130 million per sub) x 12 subs x 2 (amount of LIBs per sub) x 5 (replacements) = AUS$15.6 billion higher than if the Shortfins used LABs.

Putting costs in context - assume DCNS proposed the LAB cost for the whole Shortfin program, over the Shortfin's 30 year lives, would total AUS$50 billion. Then assume the RAN used LIBs instead - then Australia would be pay the extra AUS$15.6 billion, hence totalling AUS$65.6 billion just for LIBs over the operating life of the Shortfins. Quite large figures.

But as the LIBs cost reduces with increases in production of LIBs, the adoption of a Japanese submarine by the RAN woud have considerably reduced price of LIBs (e.g. from 20 to 12 million yen per unit battery module).

SORYU TABLE (with earlier Oyashios) as at October 21, 2016

SS
No.
Build No
Name
Pennant
No.
MoF approved amount ¥ Billions & FY
LABs, LIBs, AIP
Laid Down
Laun
-ched
Commi-ssioned
Built
By
5SS Oyashio
8105 Oyashio
SS-590/ TS3608
¥52.2B FY1993
LABs only
 Jan 1994
Oct 1996
Mar 1998
 KHI
6SS-15SS
Oyashios
10 subs
8106
-8115
various
SS-591-600
¥52.2B per sub
FY1994-FY2003
LABs only
 Feb 1994
Mar 2008
 MHI
&
KHI
16SS
Soryu Mk 1
8116
Sōryū
SS-501
¥60B FY2004
LABs + AIP
Mar 2005
Dec 2007
Mar
2009
MHI
17SS
8117
Unryū
SS-502
¥58.7B FY2005
LABs + AIP
Mar 2006
Oct 2008
Mar
2010
KHI
18SS
8118
Hakuryū
SS-503
¥56.2 FY2006
LABs + AIP
Feb 2007
Oct 2009
Mar
2011
MHI
19SS
8119
Kenryū
SS-504
¥53B FY2007
LABs + AIP
Mar 2008
Nov 2010
Mar
2012
KHI
20SS
8120
Zuiryū
SS-505
¥51B FY2008
LABs + AIP
Mar 2009
Oct 2011
Mar
2013
MHI
No
21SS
No 21SS built
22SS
8121
Kokuryū
SS-506
¥52.8B FY2010
LABs + AIP
Jan 2011
Oct 2013
Mar
2015
KHI
23SS
8122
Jinryu
SS-507
¥54.6B FY2011
LABs + AIP
Feb 2012
Oct 2014
7 Mar 2016
MHI
24SS
8123
Sekiryū
SS-508
¥54.7B FY2012
LABs + AIP
Mar 2013
2 Nov 2015
Mar? 2017
KHI
25SS
8124
Seiyū
SS-509
¥53.1B FY2013
LABs + AIP
22 Oct 2013
13 Oct 2016
Mar? 2018
MHI
26SS
8125
SS-510
¥51.7B FY2014
LABs + AIP
2014
?
Mar 2019?
KHI
27SS First
Soryu Mk 2
8126
SS-511
¥64.3B FY2015
LIBs only
2015
2017?
Mar
2020?
MHI
28SS  Second
Soryu Mark 2
8127
SS-512
¥63.6B FY2016
LIBs only
2016?
2018?
Mar 2021?
KHI
29SS First of
New Class
?
?
¥76B FY2018
LIBs only
?
?
2023?
MHI?
Table courtesy of information provided to Submarine MattersLABs = lead-acid batteries,  AIP = air independent propulsion, LIBs = lithium-ion batteries. ¥***B = Billion Yen.


CONCLUSIONS

So, not only do LIBs present a new technology, with the RAN reluctant to take increased project and operating risks adopting them, but the substantial extra costs of LIBs are a reason the RAN appears to be rejecting the LIB option.

Put against the increased risks and cost of LIBs is the higher fully submerged range and higher fully submerged speed performance they provide, compared to LABs alone. See some related comparitive figures for Collins LABs vs TKMS Type 212A LABS+AIP vs Soryu LIBs. IF a future Australian submarine avoided imminent destruction because it had LIBs then the risks and costs of having LIBs might turn out to be worth it.

Pete  - Some translation and the Conclusions.
Friend – Most translation, all the calculations, data and views.

6 comments:

Josh said...

@Pete

If the cost is this high, what is motivating the Japanese to go in this direction? Shorter expected submarine lifespan (ie, less battery changes outs)?

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

According to cost calculation of mass production LIBs by Japanese government [1, 2], equipment cost accounts for around 30% of total cost. In this case, cost of a battery module consisted of 10 LIBs for 27SS/28SS is estimated as 1.5 million yen significantly deviating from actual cost of around 20 million yen and suggesting that in very low volume production of submarine LIBs, equipment cost accounts more 90% of total cost.

As equipment cost reduces with increase in production scale of LIBs, adoption of Japanese submarine by RAN woud have considerably reduced price of LIBs (e.g. from 20 to 12 million yen per unit battery module).

[1] http://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/tyousakai/juyoukadai/energy/12kai/sanko2.pdf
“Quantitative Research on Scenario for Realization of Low Carbon Society” by Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Feb/16/2016, reference 2, page 9.
[2] http://www.jst.go.jp/lcs/documents/item/s09_2-5.pdf]
“Construction of Technology Scenario based on Structuring of Basic Technology: Secondary Battery” by JST, page 36,
Figure 2-5-3 Relationship between production cost (yen/Wh) and scale for lithium ion batteries
(Bars mean labor, equipment, utilities (electricity, etc) and raw material costs from top to bottom)

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

[Reposted]

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the best battery discoveries that could be with us soon. From over the air charging to
super-fast 30-second re-charging, you could be seeing this tech in your gadgets sooner
than you think."

See:

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/130380-future-batteries-coming-soon-charge-in-seconds-last-months-and-power-over-the-air

Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

The co-author of the article can probably speak about Japan's motivations with more authority than than I.

But possible reasons could be:
- the higher tactical performance of LIBs over LABs
- Japan finding that the AIP "experiment" in current Soryus revealed many AIP drawbacks
- Japanese government encouraging Japanese LIBs industry development through defence spending on LIBs
- possibility that LIBs in Japanese subs will prove very successful, thereby putting Japan in a good position to sell LIBs (or whole Japanese LIB subs) to the worldwide submarine market.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

I've added the comments [at 22/10/16 1:42 AM] to the article.

Unfortunately source [1] didn't open.

PDF source [2] was in Japanese. This is noting long PDF documents are very hard to translate. Short HTML documents, in contrast, are easy to translate.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...


Hi Pete

Thanks to new data, we have more insight into price of LIBs. 12 million yen/battery-module for LIBs is reasonable price, though it looks very expensive. Both life period and energy density of LIBs are twice as much as those of LABs according to MoD, and price of LIBs actually corresponds to four times (=twice life period x twice energy density) the price of LABs.

Regards
S