How We Can Build Electric Vehicles With Renewable Energy
This mining technique is producing lithium and green energy at the same time
Electric Vehicle (EV) sales are growing at lightning speed. 2021 looks to be on track for more than 4 million fully electric vehicles old — more than 2019 and 2020 combined.
The environmental benefits of swapping a gas car for an EV are already massive. A study from the International Council on Clean Transportation found that EVs result in significantly less emissions in every region of the world even after taking into account emissions from manufacturing. In Europe and North America, an electric vehicle would reduce emissions by 60–69%.
However, the production of batteries for EVs still takes an environmental toll. And though the end result is cleaner than gas cars, mining for raw materials is one of the most intensive steps in the EV supply chain.
Finding a consistent supply of raw materials is also difficult for automakers — lithium in particular has doubled in price in less than a year, slowing EV’s steady march towards price parity with conventional vehicles.
Abundant CO2 Free Lithium
Luckily, production of raw materials is about to get a lot cleaner. As part of their expanding efforts in EVs, Volkswagen Group plans to bring a massive 240 GWh of battery capacity online by 2030 — enough to produce more than 3 million fully electric vehicles per year.
Volkswagen has already taken steps to reduce emissions from their supply chain — their European factories are already powered by 95% renewable energy, and they plan to be at 100% soon.
But to produce these batteries, VW needs a truly enormous amount of lithium, which is why they recently signed an agreement with lithium producer Vulcan Energy.
Traditional lithium production primarily uses hard rock mining, where lithium is taken from large open pit mines.
These mines create significant environmental disruption — according to consultancy firm Minviro, they emit 15,000 kg of CO2 per tonne of lithium in addition to occupying large tracts of land.