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Lithium availability and future production outlooks
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Global Energy Systems. (Global Energy Systems)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Global Energy Systems. (Global Energy Systems)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Global Energy Systems. (Global Energy Systems)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6379-7104
2013 (English)In: Applied Energy, ISSN 0306-2619, E-ISSN 1872-9118, Vol. 110, no 10, 252-266 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Lithium is a highly interesting metal, in part due to the increasing interest in lithium-ion batteries. Several recent studies have used different methods to estimate whether the lithium production can meet an increasing demand, especially from the transport sector, where lithium-ion batteries are the most likely technology for electric cars. The reserve and resource estimates of lithium vary greatly between different studies and the question whether the annual production rates of lithium can meet a growing demand is seldom adequately explained. This study presents a review and compilation of recent estimates of quantities of lithium available for exploitation and discusses the uncertainty and differences between these estimates. Also, mathematical curve fitting models are used to estimate possible future annual production rates. This estimation of possible production rates are compared to a potential increased demand of lithium if the International Energy Agency’s Blue Map Scenarios are fulfilled regarding electrification of the car fleet. We find that the availability of lithium could in fact be a problem for fulfilling this scenario if lithium-ion batteries are to be used. This indicates that other battery technologies might have to be implemented for enabling an electrification of road transports.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 110, no 10, 252-266 p.
Keyword [en]
Peak lithium, Electric vehicles, Lithium production, Lithium supply, Resource-constrained modelling, Lithium battery cars
National Category
Geosciences, Multidisciplinary Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Environmental Sciences Energy Systems Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Global Energy Resources
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-199784DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2013.04.005ISI: 000321601900024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-199784DiVA: diva2:621281
Projects
Stand
Available from: 2013-05-14 Created: 2013-05-14 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Global energy transitions: Renewable energy technology and non-renewable resources
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Global energy transitions: Renewable energy technology and non-renewable resources
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The global energy system is dominated by the use of fossil fuels. This system suffers from several problems, such as different environmental issues, while the long-term energy security is sometimes questioned. As an alternative to this situation, a transition to a global energy system based on renewable energy technologies, to a large extent solar and wind energy, is commonly proposed. Constructing the technology needed for such a transition requires resources and how fast this could happen is somewhat disputed. This thesis explores methods to assess the potential constraints for realizing such a transition by looking at potential technology growth rates and outlooks of production of the required natural resources.

The thesis is based on three papers presenting case studies that look at growth rates of wind energy as well as future production outlooks of lithium and phosphate rock. Using different types of growth patterns reaching proposed installed capacities of wind power, annual commissioning requirements are investigated, taking account for the limited life expectancy oftechnology. Potential outlooks of mineral production are explored using resource constrained curve-fitting models on global lithium production. A more disaggregated model looking at individual countries are used on phosphate rock production to investigate new perspectives on production outlooks.

It is concluded that the growth rates of individual energy technologies affect the resource requirements and prospective constraints on energy transitions. Resource constrained modelling of resource production can provide spans of potential outlooks for future production of resources required for anenergy transition. A higher disaggregation of the modelling can provide new perspectives of potential constraints on future production. These aspects should be further investigated when proposing alternative future energy systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Geotryckeriet, 2015. 29 p.
Keyword
energy transitions, natural resources, renewable energy, sustainable development, growth curves
National Category
Energy Systems
Research subject
Natural Resources and Sustainable Development
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-245307 (URN)
Presentation
2015-02-05, Norrland I, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 14:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-03-02 Created: 2015-02-26 Last updated: 2016-04-13Bibliographically approved
2. Natural resources and sustainable energy: Growth rates and resource flows for low-carbon systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Natural resources and sustainable energy: Growth rates and resource flows for low-carbon systems
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Large-scale deployment of low-carbon energy technologies is important for counteracting anthropogenic climate change and achieving universal energy access. This thesis explores potential growth rates of technologies necessary to reach a more sustainable global energy system, the material and energy flows required to commission these technologies, and potential future availability of the required resources.

These issues are investigated in five papers. Potential future growth rates of wind energy and solar photovoltaics, and the associated material requirements are explored, taking the expected service life of these technologies into account. Methodology for assessing net energy return and natural resource use for wind energy systems are analyzed. Potential future availability of lithium and phosphate rock are also investigated.

Estimates of energy and materials required for technologies such as wind energy and photovoltaics vary, and depend on the assumptions made and methods used. Still, it is clear that commissioning of low-carbon technologies on the scale required to reach and sustain a low-carbon energy system in coming decades requires significant quantities of both bulk materials and scarcer resources. For some technologies, such as thin film solar cells and electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries, availability of materials could become an issue for potential growth rates. Future phosphate rock production could become highly dependent on few countries, and potential political, social and environmental aspects of this should be investigated in more detail.

Material and energy flows should be considered when analyzing growth rates of low-carbon technologies. Their estimated service life can indicate sustainable growth rates of technologies, as well as when materials are available for end-of-life recycling. Resource constrained growth curve models can be used to explore future production of natural resources. A higher disaggregation of these models can enable more detailed analysis of potential constraints. This thesis contributes to the discussion on how to create a more sustainable global energy system, but the methods to assess current and future energy and material flows, and availability of natural resources, should be further developed in the future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. 49 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1414
Keyword
low-carbon technology, renewable energy, energy transitions, critical materials, energy metals, material flows, net energy, EROI, life cycle assessment, LCA, growth curves, curve fitting, resource depletion
National Category
Energy Systems Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources and Sustainable Development
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301930 (URN)978-91-554-9671-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-10-14, Hambergsalen, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-09-22 Created: 2016-08-25 Last updated: 2016-10-11

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Davidsson, SimonHöök, Mikael

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