Forget peak oil! Worry about peak lithium!

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By: SGN Staff

By Jesse Berst

 

The Peak Energy blog has just reported on the purchase of an Australian lithium mine by a U.S. group as evidence of the skyrocketing demand for the silver-white metal used in a variety of batteries.

 

The story of the Australian-based Talison Lithium company is interesting, but the eye-opener is at the bottom of the story. A graph illustrates that demand for lithium has been growing 20% per year since 2000 – and that the real growth will kick in starting in 2015.

 

Here at SGN, we've been carefully monitoring the progress of electric vehicles and grid-scale storage and related topics ranging from China's drastic reductions in lithium exports to DOE's attempts to find a workaround for the rare earths shortage, as well as the ups and downs of the EV battery industry.  But the future of energy storage may depend on whether or not we're already nearing the peak of available lithium, or whether we can find new supplies.

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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.