Aside from powering electric vehicles, what do you know about lithium?
You’re probably also aware that laptops, cell phones and other electronics rely on lithium-ion batteries for power. But is lithium’s value subject to the latest Elon Musk tweet? Will Trump’s favourable oil stance hurt sales of electric vehicles? Guess again.
Lithium and Batteries
Today, green tech dominates new headlines. Electric vehicles (EVs) are more common on urban roads.
For these reasons and more, lithium is a hot commodity. As the world transitions to clean energy and batteries become more efficient, electric vehicle use skyrockets. Last year, sales of EV’s in Canada grew 68%.
Lithium extracted in South America and Australia isn’t exclusively used in car batteries
On the contrary, batteries account for less than 50% of global lithium use.
Even more surprising: less than half are for electric vehicles. Even in 2018, lithium is more widely used in consumer electronics than on the road.
Lithium is More Than Just Tesla
This misconception has shaped public opinion. The general consensus is that lithium’s value is tied to Tesla. This is a mistake on more than one account. First, Tesla accounts for less than 2% of global lithium demand.
Second, Tesla is not the current leader in the electric vehicles space
Renault-Nissan is the current leader. The auto-alliance sold over 12,000 more EVs than Tesla in the first quarter of 2017.
Closely behind is BAIC, a Chinese state-owned enterprise whose EC-Series city car was 2017’s best-selling electric vehicle.
Even out West, competitors like BMW and VW are catching up
These efforts will speed up the global shift to EVs. While Tesla’s importance is undeniable, it’s but one piece of a much larger puzzle.
Lithium Uses and Applications
In summary: lithium is about much more than batteries. From a global energy perspective, its importance dwarfs Tesla. But what else is it used for? You’d be surprised.
Lithium plays a major role in various industries
Among them: ceramics, glass, lubricants and polymers. Lithium can be cut by a kitchen knife and float on water. The stuff is malleable.
It’s also a mood stabilizer. Used to fight bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, lithium salts are also used to treat depression when other antidepressants fail.
Lithium’s Role in the Green Revolution
Lithium uses and applications are varied. That’s a good thing. If EVs don’t penetrate the global market at expected levels, consumer electronics will ensure lithium stays relevant.
Despite the market’s irrationality, it’s not likely the world will fall out of love with lithium anytime soon.
Huge markets including China and India have governments who’ve committed to banning combustion engines
The global Li-ion battery market is expected to reach $46 billion by 2022. Today, lithium’s value isn’t exclusively tied to EV sales. Expect that to change.