Europe’s quest for home-grown lithium – by Paul Krantz (The Parliament Magazine – July 20, 2023)

Lithium is the driving force behind our new battery-powered world, but can Europe ensure its supply keeps pace with demand? 

Earlier this year, the European Parliament approved the Fit for 55 package, the European Union’s ambitious plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Increasing use of electric vehicles will be essential to this plan – and to power those vehicles, Europe will need to significantly shore up its lithium supply.

According to a briefing prepared for the EU Parliament in 2021, Europe will need access to 18 times more lithium by 2030 and 60 times more by 2050, to meet projected demand for electric vehicles, which predominantly use lithium-powered batteries.

“Almost all demand for lithium comes from batteries,” Leonard Buizza, lead analyst for clean energy supply chains at the Energy Transitions Commission, tells The Parliament. Laptops and mobile phones using lithium-ion batteries will “keep on being a part of demand in the coming years,” he says, “but it’s going to get dwarfed by this very rapidly growing demand from electric vehicles”.

Buizza thinks sourcing enough lithium for electric vehicle production is possible, but cautions that doing so presents a number of urgent challenges. Among Europe’s challenges is ensuring manufacturers can get enough of it. Rapidly rising demand for lithium has already driven its price to exorbitant levels, and supply gaps are expected to intensify.

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