(Ecofin Agency) - Within five years, 5G technology will be one of the major consumers of cobalt, with demand expected to grow from 45,000 t this year to 73,000 t in 2025. According to several analyses relayed by Reuters, 5G could become the leading consumer of cobalt over the years, exceeding the electric vehicle sector which currently holds the largest share in the market.
5G station antennas require more powerful rechargeable batteries, capable of storing enough energy to ease operations. Also, the batteries used in laptops operating with 4G will not be sufficient for the antennas receiving 5G, resulting in a need for more powerful batteries. However, all these batteries are made with lithium and cobalt oxide and there are currently no other alternatives.
“As the global transition to 5G technology gathers pace, growth in non-EV markets has significant potential to expand across two fronts: portables and energy storage systems. Demand growth for energy storage systems has already overtaken electric vehicles, albeit starting from a much lower base, and Benchmark forecasts stationary storage demand to grow by 35% per annum through the 2020s,” said analysts at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
More than half of the world's cobalt production comes from the DRC. Higher demand is expected to lead to higher prices, generating increased revenues for the Congolese government in the coming years.