The world scrambles to replace fossil fuels with clean energy.
As the world moves towards a low-carbon future, there is a growing range of technological advancements facilitating the transition away from fossil fuels. Transportation and energy production are two sectors that desperately need to reduce emissions, and developments in electric vehicles and battery storage are rapidly changing both markets. Lithium, sometimes referred to as "white petroleum", is a key component in energy storage and in recent years demand has skyrocketed .
Over the last ten years the lithium-ion battery has gone from an enabling technology for mobile electronics to play an important role in the world’s decarbonisation and reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). First of all as an enabler of electrification of today’s vehicle fleets such as cars, buses, trucks and ferries but also of new disruptive applications such as electric bikes, scooters and autonomous robots. The lithium-ion battery has also rapidly become the technology of choice for different energy storage solutions which are becoming more and more important when fossil fuel-based energy sources are replaced with cleaner but less predictable renewable energy solutions such as wind and solar which themselves are prerequisites for the
reduction of GHG.
Growth in electric bike and car sales is great news for the fight against climate change.
Invest more in green technologies
The report says the adverse environmental impacts could be reduced by investing more in sustainable mining techniques and technologies that can recycle more effectively the raw materials found in spent lithium-ion batteries.
UNCTAD also recommends that the industry find ways to reduce the need for mining in the first place. For example, scientists are testing the possibility of replacing graphite in the batteries with widely available silicon.
Reducing the use of the minerals found in only a few countries could lead to lower prices for the batteries, the report says, which could lead to even more electric cars on the road.