Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

India’s Lithium Dependency Worries


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Solid-state lithium ion battery

Mains level : Read the attached story

Lithium has been among the most sought-after mineral during the past few years, largely on the back of its usage in battery manufacturing.

India is at odds with a major import source for the mineral, China.

About Lithium

  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3.
  • It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable and must be stored in mineral oil.
  • When cut, it exhibits a metallic lustre, but moist air corrodes it quickly to a dull silvery grey, then black tarnish.
  • Lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.
  • It is a crucial building block of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile phones.

Lithium-ion batteries

  • A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery.
  • They are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles and are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications.
  • A prototype Li-ion battery was developed by Akira Yoshino in 1985, based on earlier research by John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Koichi Mizushima during the 1970s–1980s.
  • In 2019, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to this trio “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”.

Global producers of lithium

  • Australia and Chile have swapped positions as the world’s leading lithium-producing country over the past decade. In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium producers were:
  1. Australia – 52.9% of global production
  2. Chile – 21.5%
  3. China – 9.7%
  4. Argentina – 8.3%
  5. Zimbabwe – 2.1%
  • The U.S. ranked 7th with 1.2% of the world’s lithium production.
  • In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium reserves by country were:
  1. Chile – 55.5% of the world’s total
  2. Australia – 18.1%
  3. Argentina – 11.0%
  4. China – 6.5%
  5. U.S. – 4.1%

Why is India looking for lithium?

  • India has been scouting for lithium reserves since the Centre’s push to boost the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.
  • The ₹18,000 crore production-linked incentive scheme for advanced chemistry cell (ACC) battery storage, a flagship incentive scheme for the industry has kicked off.
  • However, the supply of lithium, which is largely an imported product, has declined.
  • With India being in a diplomatic tussle with China, the supplies from the neighbouring country have declined and India too is looking for other import avenues.

Why has the supply of lithium declined?

  • The supply of lithium has not been in line with the surge in demand from electric vehicle makers across the world.
  • China also is witnessing a mismatch between demand and supply, which has led to a rise in prices.


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