Geopolitics of Lithium

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Titel: Geopolitics of Lithium
Autor(en): Saalbach, Klaus
Zusammenfassung: Lithium is a silvery-white metal that plays a key role in the decarbonization strategy to fight climate change which includes the development and promotion of electric and hybrid cars with Lithium-ion batteries as energy storage medium. The decarbonization should also significantly reduce the massive capital transfer from the industry states to the oil and gas producers. The rapidly growing lithium demand for Lithium-ion batteries led to intensified exploration activities and an increase of known lithium reserves and resources. Currently, it seems possible to cover the rapidly rising lithium demand by production increases and exploration, but there are various uncertainties as batteries need very high-grade lithium compounds. New mining projects and extraction technologies are uncertain long‐term plans. The recycling quote of batteries is steadily increasing, but lithium recycling is still technically challenging and batteries made from recovered lithium might not have the same quality. In addition, the battery production is dependent from other critical metals like cobalt and nickel as well. The production of minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite will need to increase by nearly 500% by 2050 to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies. In the past decade, China has strengthened its geopolitical role by systematic strategic investments and meanwhile produces 60% of the world’s lithium products and 75% of all lithium-ion batteries. It is leading in refining, battery component production, battery assembly, large-scale production in Gigafactories and recycling. In a bigger picture, raw materials as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, copper, and rare earth elements are not only needed for electric and hybrid cars, but are essential for other clean energy products like solar panels and wind turbines as well. China produces more than 70% of the world’s solar modules and has almost 50% of the global wind turbine manufacturing capacity. Another critical strategic issue is the growing energy need for electric and hybrid cars and other clean technologies which may stretch the capacities and stability of electric grids. From the Western perspective, the decarbonization strategy aimed to reduce long-standing dependencies from oil and gas suppliers and to reduce the capital transfer. The situation on the Lithium market shows that the turn to renewable and clean energies creates new dependencies and capital transfers. In summary, lithium is a key resource from an ecological, technical, and geopolitical perspective with many uncertainties for the future.
Bibliografische Angaben: Universität Osnabrück, Department 1, Geostrategy and Geopolitics, 2023.
Schlagworte: Lithium; Geopolitics; Clean Energy; Electric Vehicle
Erscheinungsdatum: 10-Jul-2023
Lizenzbezeichnung: Attribution 3.0 Germany
URL der Lizenz:
Publikationstyp: Arbeitspapier [WorkingPaper]
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