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PhD defence

Lithium-ion batteries and the transition to electric vehicles

  • C. Xu
Wednesday 21 December 2022
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) reduces vehicle emissions, which is one of the most effective ways to combat climate change. EVs raise concerns on the production of lithium-ion batteries and related emissions that show harmful effects to the environment; while can also provide energy storage services for the electricity system, which is beneficial to the environment. Here we use material flow analysis to quantify the future material demand for lithium-ion batteries, prospective life cycle assessment to quantify future emissions of battery production, and further combined with battery technology modelling to understand future energy storage potential of EV batteries. Results show that the demand for lithium, cobalt, nickel, and other battery raw materials will increase by a factor over 10 in the next three decades, which requires a drastic expansion of battery supply chains and additional resource discovery. The increasing utilization of renewable energy and mining efficiency of raw materials for battery production will result in a 50% decrease of emissions per lithium-ion battery production in 2050 compared to 2020. Therefore, the emissions of global lithium-ion battery production will increase but at a lower increasing rate than battery demand. The emissions reduction of EV batteries requires renewable energy, furthermore, we cannot ignore that EV battery storage could complement variable renewable generation by providing short-term grid services. We find that EV batteries alone could satisfy short-term grid storage demand by as early as 2030. This research reveals options to promote EV battery sustainability, including sustainable material supply and low-carbon energy transition.


  • Prof. A. Tukker

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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