According to a study by MIT, in the near future the production of batteries will not be limited because of shortages in the raw materials they require. However, without an appropriate plan there may be noticed short-term slowdowns in their production.
After professor Elsa Olivetti was requested to explore the possible shortages as battery production is growing, she and her partners gave attention to lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel and carbon in the form of graphite
From these five, nickel and manganese are utilised widely and they are not expected to cause limitations to battery production, Olivetti notes.
The ingredients that may cause shortage are lithium cobalt, she adds.
As far as lithium is concerned, its produced through mining and processing of brine. Olivetti mentions however that albeit lithium’s possible limitation, it is unlikely to pose serious problems in battery production.
The same can’t be said for cobalt, as it is a source of conflict and corruption in its main source, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because cobalt is a byproduct of other mining activity, it does not contribute to a mine’s revenue the way that nickel does, Olivetti says.
However, the study shows that the possible limitation that may occur, will not come from the materials’ shortage, but from the inability to open new mines. For this reason, are attempting to use materials that are less dependent to cobalt.
Over the course of the next 15 years, no serious delays will be notice in batteries production, according to the study, as in most cases the supplies will be reasonable.
A recent article, tackled the environmental impact of batteries.
The Maritime Battery Forum in cooperation with Grenland Energy, ABB, and DNV GL for the Norwegian NOx-fund published a report regarding the life cycle assessment of batteries used in ships. The study tried to determine the environmental costs of creating the battery system compared to the emissions savings of using the battery and calculate an environmental payback time.
According to this report, for an electric ferry, the environmental impact of producing the batteries can be counterbalanced by emission reduction in the ship within 1.4 months. Furthermore, in the case that batteries are used in a typical offshore supply vessel as a partial replacement for a main engine, it will take 1.5 months.
The study mentions that the environmental repayment period is short and that marine electrification is environmentally friendly, as well as profitable for ship owners.
Finally, the report uses data by a DNV GL study which said it is not possible to educe emissions from domestic shipping by 40%.
For that reason, alternative propulsion such as the use of fully electric vessels is crucial in order to achieve the emission reduction goals, the report concludes.