Lithium availability in the EU27 for battery-driven vehicles: The impact of recycling and substitution on the confrontation between supply and demand until 2050

Jan H. Miedema*, Henri C. Moll

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    The adverse impacts of climate change are widely recognized as well as the importance of the mitigation of carbon dioxide (CO2). Battery driven vehicles are expected to have a bright future, since GHG emissions can be reduced. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries appear to be the most promising, due to their high energy density. Recently, the discussion concerning adequate lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) resources is resolved. The current challenge is the needed increase in flow rate of Li2CO3 into society to foresee in forecasted demand. This research determines ten factors which influence the availability of Li-ion batteries for the EU27 in the coming decades. They are used in a system dynamics analysis. The results of this research show that undersupply can be expected in the EU27 until 2045 somewhere between 0.5 Mt and 2.8 Mt. Substitution of Li2CO3 in other end-use markets and recycling can relieve the strain on Li2CO3 supply to some extent. In 2050, 20% of the vehicle fleet in the EU27 can be battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The lack of resources in the EU27 and the geographical distribution of lithium in politically sensitive areas suggest that the shares of lithium available for the EU27 will be less than assumed in this research. The increase in flow rate shows to be the bottle-neck for a transition to (partly) battery driven vehicles in the EU27, at least when Li-ion batteries are used. Focusing on large-scale application of BEVs with Li-ion batteries in order to substantially mitigate CO2 emissions in transport is a futile campaign. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)204-211
    Number of pages8
    JournalResources policy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2013


    • Lithium supply
    • Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery
    • Substitution
    • Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)
    • Plugin hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)
    • Security of supply

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