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Lithium Deficit Threatens EV Sales and Energy Transition


June, 2022

This whitepaper provides S&P Global Commodity Insights' analysis of the global lithium deficit, threatening EV sales and could put the brakes on the energy transition. Lithium prices shot up by more than 500% in the past year due to the short global supply. The soaring prices and a continued lack of supply through 2030 may decelerate the energy transition and threaten EV sales and adoption, despite markets expanding in the Americas and Australia to meet growing demand. In the past year, EV sales jumped into hyperdrive, accelerating globally much faster than expected. Consequently, lithium demand, essential for EV batteries, is growing much quicker than lithium supply, leading to a market disconnect. The primary battery metal is essential for not only electric vehicles but also electric-grid battery storage systems and portable electronics.

As demand continues rising, lithium producers are announcing expansion projects and new plans, but financing and permitting are notable hurdles. Smaller producers often encounter financing hurdles, and new projects can take ten years or more to reach production. EV sales face a threat if lithium supply does not increase and battery metals costs do not lower significantly in the coming years. The paper examines the key countries for current and future supply, including Australia and countries in the Americas, such as Chile and Argentina, and China’s critical role in refining lithium.

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