Lithium is the essential component of the batteries needed for electric mobility, for all types of electronic devices and for energy storage systems that will ensure a constant supply of energy from renewable sources.
These relevant applications make lithium one of the most strategic elements in the global economy of the coming years, being a key factor in the energy transition and the global objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite having 14 active projects in the exploration phase, the European Union has not yet started a stable lithium production, which generates a negative trade balance not only in the acquisition of lithium, but also in batteries trading. On the other hand, the European Commission aims to lead both the markets of electric vehicles and the energy transition, making our economy highly dependent on lithium imports.
In this context, the European Commission is taking measures to achieve a stable production of lithium ore and centralize the manufacture of batteries in European territory. Another series of measures are aimed at ensuring that batteries both manufactured and imported by the EU meet the highest environmental requirements, including the use of lithium from sustainable and environmentally friendly mining techniques.
In this regard, last December the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, warned that the European Union will ban the commercialisation of batteries that do not meet the most stringent environmental standards in their manufacture. This includes the condition that the lithium extracted must come from a responsible source, respectful of the environment and the local communities.
In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the EC has just approved € 3.2 billion in grants for projects to be developed in European territory. Šefčovič estimates that this amount will attract another € 5,000 million in private investment. Only Germany aims to inject more than € 1 billion in various battery projects, followed closely by France with an investment of € 960 million.
Battery Alliance is currently defining the environmental standards for batteries. The batteries market could reach a market share equivalent to € 250 million in 2025 in the EU. This future list of environmental criteria will place particular emphasis on the sustainability of lithium extraction in European territory. There are currently up to 10 lithium mining projects that, if further developed, could lead the EU from 1 to 30% of the global lithium production in 2030.