We'll need a 20x increase in lithium for energy transition
Breakneck demand for batteries in everything from EVs to grid-scale storage will require a huge increase in lithium mining by 2050.
Why it matters: Mines take a long time to bring online, especially in the U.S.
Driving the news: "The world will need more than twenty times the amount of lithium than was mined last year to meet demand by mid-century," Benchmark Mineral Intelligence reported in a note last week.
- Energy storage to support intermittent renewable assets like wind and solar will drive two-thirds of the demand.
- The other big driver: electric vehicles.
Context: Opening a new mine in the U.S. can take more than a decade, in part due to permitting challenges.
Yes, but: Elon Musk may have declared this summer that supplying lithium is a "license to print money" — but that's far from clear.
- A range of startups are racing ahead with new technologies aimed at reducing or wholly displacing lithium.
- Meanwhile, lithium mines are in remote locations, the mining process demands expertise, and the logistics of bringing it to market are filled with hurdles.