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Lithium-ion batteries and the transition to electric vehicles

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) reduces vehicle emissions to combat climate change. EVs raise concerns regarding the production of lithium-ion batteries and related emissions; while batteries can also provide energy storage services for the electricity system.

C. Xu
21 December 2022
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Here we use the material flow analysis method to quantify the future material demand for lithium-ion batteries and the prospective life cycle assessment method to quantify future emissions of battery production. Further combined with battery technology modelling, future energy storage potential of EV batteries is evaluated. Results show the demand for battery raw materials will increase by a factor of over 15 in the next three decades, which requires a drastic expansion of battery supply chains. The increasing utilization of renewable energy and improved mining technology of raw materials for battery production will result in a 50% decrease in emissions per lithium-ion battery production between 2020-2050. Renewable energy transition contributes largely to this emission reduction, but EV battery storage can provide short-term grid services for complementing variable renewable generation. EV batteries alone could satisfy short-term grid storage demand by as early as 2030. This research reveals environmental challenges and opportunities for EV batteries as well as options to improve EV battery sustainability.

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