Electric Vehicles: 'Imminent Raw Material Shortage', Study Says

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Electric vehicles: “imminent” raw materials shortage, study finds

Workers assemble Volkswagen electric cars at a factory in Dresden, Germany.

Automakers will not meet the demand for electric vehicles unless governments and industry address a range of major issues, starting with the availability of resources to build batteries and electronics, warns of a large US mobility study.

In the document titled The Moving World Report 2023 Macro and Micro Trends in Mobility, published by transport investment firm UP.Partners [available at the end of this article], the authors anticipate an impending shortage of raw materials for batteries. These crucial parts require large quantities of minerals, the demand for which is already exploding around the world.

The report's authors estimate that demand for batteries for electric vehicles is expected to grow 10-fold or more by 2030, but a massive dislocation between demand and supply of key materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel is likely to drive up the cost of electric vehicles for consumers.

In Canada, this surge in demand has prompted the federal government to give a boost to the mining sector in order to develop and, above all, accelerate the extraction of so-called critical metals, including the production and transformation are mostly controlled by China and Russia.

The recycling of electric vehicle batteries is still underdeveloped compared to current battery production.

In addition to the availability of the resources needed to manufacture the millions, if not billions, of batteries that will replace the fuel tanks of cars, trucks and boats, the disruptions global supply chain are another factor leading experts to believe that consumer demand for these EVs may not materialize as quickly as expected.

This is already the case insofar as it is sometimes necessary to wait more than two years to take delivery of a new electric vehicle from dealerships. This situation should encourage consumers to keep gas-powered vehicles for quite a while, it says.

And the oil companies know it. British oil and gas giant British Petroleum, which doubled its profits last year – to $27.7 billion – also announced on Tuesday that it was slowing down its transition to clean energy and will continue to invest. billions in oil and gas by 2030.

“The future of zero-emission mobility will remain a fantasy , unless radical innovations are deployed.

— Excerpt from The Moving World Report – 2023 Macro and Micro Trends in Mobility

From a more practical point of view, the insufficiency of recharging infrastructures and their poor performance also constitute a major obstacle to the sustained growth of the electric vehicle fleet in the short and medium term, underline the authors of the study.

The Moving World Report study published by UP.Partners is based on dozens of interviews and technical and financial data from studies by the International Agency for Development. Energy, US Energy Information Administration, McKinsey, Silicon Valley Bank, Carnegie Mellon University and others.

The arrival on the market within a few years of millions of vehicles that will require electricity to recharge will also represent a significant additional burden on existing electricity networks, the 125-page report says. And it's not just cars that are going electric. The aeronautical and naval industry as well as the manufacturing industry in general are doing the same.

A problem that we are thinking about intensely in Quebec.

In a brief filed last week by Hydro-Quebec, the Crown corporation estimated that it would need to build no less than 13 additional dams – the equivalent of 23,000 megawatts – to meet all power demands. companies attracted to Quebec by the low cost of electricity.

Steam rises from the chimneys of the Jim Bridger coal-fired power plant in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Coal is still used to produce 20% of the electricity consumed in the United States.

Electricity generation capacities are indeed one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of electric vehicles that must be recharged from the grid, especially in regions where electricity is produced by polluting sources such as coal, gas or nuclear power.

In 2022, electricity generation in the United States was responsible for 31% of GHG emissions while transportation generated 37%. Ultimately, a massive shift to plug-in electric vehicles could significantly increase GHG production in the United States, rather than reduce it, if electricity production remains as polluting.

Not to mention that the path to the green energy transition remains strewn with pitfalls in the United States. Last June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not enact general rules to regulate GHG emissions from coal-fired power plants. , which currently generate nearly 20% of the electricity in the United States.

“Without practices aggressive innovation, and decisive government action on climate change, transport-related greenhouse gas emissions are expected to rise another 11% by the end of the decade, the authors predict of the study.

— Excerpt from The Moving World Report 2023 Macro and Micro Trends in Mobility

Such a scenario contrasts sharply with the necessary the at least 20% reduction the world needs to have a realistic chance of reaching net zero by 2050, the study authors add.

Beyond ground transportation, Up.Partners also looked at the electrification of aviation where it noted a dramatic increase in cargo deliveries by drone in 2022 and a potentially crippling shortage of pilots here. 2030 if the craze for these remotely piloted lightweight devices continues.

Several companies want to operate flying taxi transport in the next few years.

The electrification of aircraft also presents a major technical challenge insofar as conventional batteries are too heavy to represent a viable energy option for aircraft that must fly without polluting.

This is why we are turning more to hydrogen to power future electric planes. According to Cyrus Sigari, recognized as one of the world's leading experts on air mobility, hydrogen is the only rational way to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation industry over the next 20 years.< /p> Start of widget. Skip widget?

The Moving World Report – 2023 Macro and Micro Trends in Mobility by Radio-Canada on Scribd

End of widget. Back to top of widget?With information from Reuters