To achieve emissions targets, energy storage is forecast to grow to 1,028GWh by 2030, compared to 34GWh in 20201. Lithium is a major mineral used in the production of batteries. As Australia moves towards net zero emissions, lithium will be required for electric vehicles, residential and large-scale energy storage systems, as well as handheld devices such as mobile phones, power tools and laptops.
Australia and Chile have the majority of the worldwide lithium reserves, with 2020 figures showing that 49 percent of the world’s lithium came from Australia2. Lithium is most often found in the mineral spodumene, from which it must be extracted, processed and refined. In Chile the extraction of lithium is environmentally controversial as the lithium lies at the bottom of salt lakes requiring water and evaporation, thus disrupting the delicate balance associated with salinity. As the industry is in its infancy, now is the time for Australia to evaluate and plan how it can be instrumental in serving the battery industry.
The Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Resources has recently released the National Battery Strategy Issues Paper and is seeking feedback on how we can boost Australia’s battery industries. You can view the Issues paper at https://consult.industry.gov.au/national-battery-strategy-issues-paper. If you would like to make a submission, this consultation process closes Friday 3rd March.
It is anticipated that Australia will export AUD$16 billion worth of lithium in 2022 – 2023, with a range of value adding being completed offshore. Australia now has the potential to fully support the lithium supply chain based on our established mining infrastructure, world class technical expertise, plus entrepreneurs and climate change supporters willing to place Australia as a world leader.
Currently, EnergyLab and New Energy Nexus, two organisations who assist climate startups, have launched the Supercharge Australia Innovation Challenge. This is designed to bring together lithium battery startups, mentors, industry, and technical experts in an aim to drive local lithium battery innovation. There are some exciting projects already underway that you can read more about at Supercharge Australia Innovation Challenge.
Let’s hope that both campaigns can steer Australia in the right direction and allows us to prosper in the opportunity that lithium, batteries and the renewable energy focus offers.
1 National Battery Strategy: Issues Paper, Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources. Page 7
2 Resources and energy quarterly | Department of Industry, Science and Resources