The Global Lithium Shortage: How Concerned Should Your Business Be?

Business threats are many but perhaps few cause such significant short-term delays as the current global lithium shortage. Back in October 2020, SpaceX founder and Tesla, Inc. product architect Elon Musk said a global shortage of battery cells was preventing Tesla from ramping up production of its Semi range [1]. The Semi is an all-electric battery-powered Class 8 semi truck still currently in development. The concepts were revealed back in November 2017. However, production has been pushed back to late 2021.

So what about your business goals? Demand Power understands you want to get better, more reliable power at a cheaper price in a timely manner. Given this global battery shortage, there’s even more reason to take advantage of the currently available global supply. We help Commercial & Industrial enterprises stay ahead of their competition so they don’t get left behind. Learn more about the global lithium shortage and what your business can do to sidestep its widespread impact.

WHY IS THE WORLD EXPERIENCING A GLOBAL LITHIUM SHORTAGE AND SUBSEQUENT BATTERY SHORTAGE?

In March, a Rystad Energy analysis confirmed some worrying statistics. The global market share of electric vehicles (‘EV’) is set to rise so quickly that battery manufacturers will not be able to meet production requirements. The share of EVs in global new passenger car sales is set to quadruple in 2026 from 4.6% last year. Additionally, it will exceed 50% from 2033 onwards. [2]

This situation has been fuelled by a large U.S. government push for more electric vehicles. This has meant all major global car manufacturers have committed to EV production. For example, General Motors (GM) has made the commitment to be ‘putting every driver in an electric vehicle on a scale previously unseen and bringing the world to an all-electric future’ [3]. By 2025, GM will offer 30 new EV brands. This EV production commitment is simultaneously paired with the construction of an EV infrastructure to charge these new fleets. This trend, while welcoming for the environment, is having a large impact on global battery supply. In short, demand is drastically outstripping current production levels.

WHAT IS THE SHORT-TERM OUTLOOK FOR THIS BATTERY SHORTAGE?

Compounding the battery shortage issue is the fact North America relies on the rest of world for our supply. The majority of completed lithium-ion batteries are sourced from South Korea and China. Moreover, the raw material processing is concentrated in China, and battery cell ingredients are primarily located in Australia and Chile.

Simultaneously, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence estimates that the USD$50 billion lithium-ion battery market will grow to USD$200 billion before the end of the decade. China currently has almost 100 battery mega manufacturers whereas North America has less than five. In conclusion, this means the effects of the global lithium shortage will last for a while yet.

Earlier this year, James Nicholson, a partner with consulting firm EY-Parthenon, referenced another deep-rooted issue. He said: “There’s plenty of lithium around in the ground. There’s not a physical shortage of it. But there’s an economic shortage of it, which is [that] lithium prices don’t support the mining investment that’s required to get it out of the ground profitably.” [1]

HOW DOES THE GLOBAL BATTERY SHORTAGE IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS?

Firstly, the energy storage market utilizes the same battery technology as the electric vehicle industry. These are the aforementioned lithium-ion battery cells. Therefore, this has resulted in longer order lead times for energy storage projects.

It’s not total disaster however, far from it. This new reality has resulted in a more proactive approach between Canadian energy storage companies like ours and our battery suppliers. Demand Power has reached out to them, developed stronger relationships, and communicated exactly what we need so they can deliver to our specific requirements. This new approach means we are more confident that the battery supplies required will be available when needed.

HOW IS DEMAND POWER OPERATING IN LIGHT OF THE LITHIUM SHORTAGE?

The short-term solution for Demand Power’s energy storage projects is to plan ahead. We are becoming more efficient in our processes as we are working many functions in parallel. Moreover, we are working some initial engineering tasks at the same time as we are initiating permitting conversations while conducting ongoing contractual talks with customers. Carefully and meticulously working with customers to manage timelines and expectations, the current global battery shortage only encourages customers to move expeditiously to take advantage of the current global supply.

DON’T GET LEFT BEHIND! CONTACT DEMAND POWER TODAY.

If you’re a business owner, the question to ask yourself is, can you really afford to stand still and waste this opportunity? With Demand Power, you don’t have to settle for poor, interrupted power. Instead, we’ll serve you on a first come, first served basis. This way, you can avoid further delays to your project while avoiding wasted energy savings. If you have any questions, please call 855-336-2638 and the Demand Power team will be happy to field them.

[1] Sourced from Inside EVs on April 20, 2021

[2] As sourced from Rystad Energy on April 20, 2021

[3] Sourced from General Motors on April 20, 2021

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