The path to net zero emissions and decarbonizing the planet has become one of the hottest topics dominating global politics.
At the centre of that discussion has largely been electric vehicles, which are widely considered to be the first true point of traction and mass adoption for the clean tech movement.
But with the rapid rise of the EV era, there has also been one looming question: where will all the lithium come from?
The Energy Transitions Committee, compromised of some of the brightest minds in clean energy and climate tech, recently revealed new research which outlines what needs to happen in critical metals in order to hit the net zero climate goals laid out by the United Nations.
Simply put: right now, there is not nearly enough lithium supply to support the transition.
The big picture:
- In order to keep pace with demand, yearly investment into energy transition metals needs to go to $70B USD, which represents a large increase from the current $45B a year
- Global demand for lithium may not be able to be met unless large mining operations are able to begin reaching scale significantly faster
- Direct lithium extraction technology has breakthrough potential, accelerating lithium extraction from months to days or even hours
- Innovation is needed in the recycling of clean energy metals, which is one of the only opportunities to decrease the need for net new supply from mining operations
Who is making moves:
- Chevron recently stated they are considering pursuing lithium mining as a core focus
- Exxon Mobil recently acquired the drilling rights to a lithium deposit in Arkansas, with plans to build one of the world’s largest facilities
- China is on a record setting pace of deploying capital into energy transition metals, nearly doubling their investments on a year over year basis
By the numbers:
- Last year was a record setting year for publicly listed lithium companies, which raised a total of $4.6B USD in new capital across listing in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia
- Outsized winners, such as Patriot Battery Metals (TSXV: PMET) whose shares are up +2300% since the beginning of last year, just recently closed a $109M CAD financing from Albemarle Corp (NYSE: ALB)
- Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos backed company KoBold Metals, which uses AI technology to bring more precision to the exploration of lithium and other metals, recently raised $200M at a $1B valuation
- General Motors led a $50M Series B financing into EnergyX, a direct lithium extraction technology company focused on making EV production more sustainable
Why it matters:
- There is a global battle forming around lithium supply, which is causing an influx of innovation, both in the discovery, extraction and recycling of lithium
- Public markets and venture capital are both taking notice, deploying record amounts of growth capital into lithium and energy transition metals
- Legacy mining companies, as well as incumbent oil and gas companies, are likely to begin allocating capital towards lithium and energy transition metals at a much more aggressive pace
- The global push towards net zero emissions creates a clear dependence on energy transition metals and by default, a surge in entrepreneurial opportunities to accelerate the rate of adoption