Lithium is the driving force behind electric vehicles, but will supply keep pace with demand? New technologies and sources of supply can fill the gap.

Despite expectations that lithium demand will rise from approximately 500,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in 2021 to some three million to four million metric tons in 2030, we believe that the lithium industry will be able to provide enough product to supply the burgeoning lithium-ion battery industry. Alongside increasing the conventional lithium supply, which is expected to expand by over 300 percent between 2021 and 2030, direct lithium extraction (DLE) and direct lithium to product (DLP) can be the driving forces behind the industry’s ability to respond more swiftly to soaring demand. Although DLE and DLP technologies are still in their infancy and subject to volatility given the industry’s “hockey stick” 1 demand growth and lead times, they offer significant promise of increasing supply, reducing the industry’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) footprint, and lowering costs, with already announced capacity contributing to around 10 percent of the 2030 lithium supply, as well as to other less advanced projects in the pipeline.

However, satisfying the demand for lithium will not be a trivial problem. Despite COVID-19’s impact on the automotive sector, electric vehicle (EV) sales grew by around 50 percent in 2020 and doubled to approximately seven million units in 2021. At the same time, surging EV demand has […]