Will the raw materials be enough for the electromobility revolution?



Will the raw materials be enough for the electromobility revolution?

The world is increasingly being shaped with electric mobility. Be it e-cars, e-busses, e-bikes, and much more. However, sufficient raw materials must be available to meet the steadily growing demand. Especially lithium, cobalt and rare earths are needed. Experts say that the availability will not be the problem. Worldwide are enough raw materials available to complete a full change to electricity. Nevertheless, a bumpy development is to be expected when the request is high. Temporary shortages and problems in the value chain are to be expected. It is irrelevant whether this concerns processing or the actual extraction of the raw materials. These problems could arise in particular with lithium. Currently, the raw material is primarily extracted in Australia and Chile, but also China plays a role. However, it is important to note that no geopolitical upheavals are expected in Australia and Chile, so confidence in the supply chain should be maintained. There are few other countries where the occurrence of lithium is secured. Nevertheless, so far only Portugal is extracting small amounts of lithium, but there are further extraction opportunities in Finland, Austria, Serbia, Spain, and France. And optimally, rich, hot deep waters could be exploited in Germany and Italy. Recently, a company called “Vulcan Energy” announced that a lot of lithium-containing thermal water can be extracted in the Upper Rhine, which should be quite abundant.
If the entire car fleet and some commercial vehicles are powered electrically, the energy demand will still not be as high as assumed. It is realistic that the total electricity demand in Germany will increase by about one third, especially since there is still a great potential for savings. However, as industry also has a steadily growing electricity consumption and electric heat pumps are increasingly being installed, time and urgency must be kept in mind. A lot of time has been wasted and now it is important to act as quickly and thoughtfully as possible.
However, a good alternative is not supposed to exist now. Scientists speak out against e-fuels and claim that their efficiency is completely inefficient. The focus should be more on battery production. Currently, this is primarily taking place in Asia - but 30 gigafactories are planned in Europe. Of course, huge investments are necessary for this. For example, huge amounts of material are needed for battery production. For example, components for battery cells such as cathode and anode material or permanent magnets, which in turn are necessary for the production of electric motors. Permanent magnets in turn require rare earths for their production. Europe has a huge need to catch up in this area and must take action. They have to take action precisely because the time pressure in Germany is very high. From 2035, only emission-free new cars will be sold and by 2045 Germany wants to be climate neutral. In short, this means that Germany must take action and be positioned to have the appropriate materials available and to be ready for the corresponding demand.

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