Will Lithium Ever Become the New Oil?

In an article for PBS news, Vikram Mansharamani discussed the future of the lithium market, and the potential for lithium to “eclipse oil as a source of geopolitical and economic power.”

As quoted in the publication:

The devices that allow us to function would themselves not function without our trusty portable sources of power. Lithium is a crucial ingredient in these batteries and may one day eclipse oil as a source of geopolitical and economic power.

Unsurprisingly, with the proliferation of consumer electronics, global lithium production has been growing at a rapid clip, doubling in the decade leading up to 2012. Some expect the amount of lithium used in batteries could quadruple by 2020. And 2014 was also the first year in which over 30 percent of annual lithium output was directed toward consumer battery production. The price for a ton of lithium has tripled to $6,500 over the last ten years, even as the price of lithium batteries has fallen every year since 2007 by almost 15 percent.  Were it not for consistent innovation, I suspect lithium prices would have risen higher faster.

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