The demand for batteries shows no sign of decreasing as the rise in electronic devices, and with electric mobility options in particular, continues. To create batteries quantities of lithium are required, and Germany has secured a large supply.
Those who control lithium deposits are strategically in a very strong position. Depending upon who is in charge, control can extend to varying supply and controlling market price. The lithium market is heavily skewed towards China, in terms of global supply; however, the most significant volumes of lithium are found in Bolivia.
A new Bolivian-German joint venture has been put into effect, with the aim of securing German access to lithium for the increasingly dominant German automotive industry. A key application will be with the development of electric vehicles, especially battery electric vehicles.
Battery electric vehicles are vehicles that use chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs. These electric forms of transportation use electric motors and motor controllers in place of internal combustion engines, deriving all of their power from battery packs.
Battery electric vehicles are seeing expanded sales, driven by advances with new battery technology (lithium ion). Newer generation of batteries boast higher power and energy density compared with what was available just a couple of years ago.
There is a side issues, raised by The Guardian, in relation to the increased use of batteries: there are unanswered environmental questions at the heart of the electric car movement: what on earth to do with their half-tonne lithium-ion batteries when they wear out?
This important issue aside, Germany has taken the view that it needs to ensure continuity of supply of lithium. This has led to a public-private joint venture between the Bolivian state enterprise Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos and the German ACI Systems Alemania GmbH Germany, who deal with coming up with production solutions for the photovoltaic, battery and automotive industries in the country.
This partnership will involve drawing from the world’s largest lithium deposit at Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, at 10,582 square kilometres. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, and it is exceptionally rich in lithium, containing up to 70 percent of the world’s known lithium reserves.