India looks towards South America for lithium for electric vehicles

With an eye on achieving an all-electric car fleet by 2030, India has started reaching out to the ‘Lithium Triangle’ in South America to meet the demand for the metal used in batteries for electric vehicles. The ‘Lithium Triangle’, comprising Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia, are also members of International Solar Alliance (ISA), an initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which fosters South-South Cooperation. India’s push for electric cars will help to cut its oil import bills.

The Indian Space Research Organisation and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are working on the development of low-cost lithium-ion batteries that can be used in EVs and other equipment.

According to a NITI Aayog report titled ‘India’s Energy Storage Mission: A Make-in-India Opportunity for Globally Competitive Battery Manufacturing’: “In line with its aspiration to achieve 100% EV sales by 2030, India can rise among the top countries in the world in manufacturing batteries. To do so, however, will require a strategy designed to overcome India’s relatively weak initial position in battery manufacturing while claiming an increasing share of total battery value over time. India’s market for EV batteries alone could be worth as much as $300 billion from 2017 to 2030.”

Talking to FE, ambassador of Bolivia to India Sergio Arispe Barrientos said, “With the largest lithium reserves in the world, Bolivia can partner with India in its electric vehicle park projects. In fact, Tata Motors is expected to travel to Bolivia to explore possibilities for sourcing lithium for its electric cars.”

Sharing his expertise with FE, Debajit Palit, senior fellow & associate director at The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI) said, “It is important for us to get lithium from the source countries, which are mostly in Latin America, if we are to succeed with our plan for electric mobility (storage being the key requirement).

“Though in the medium to long-run, other storage technologies will come in the market (e.g. hybrid cars can be made with flywheels instead of batteries), but in the short to medium-term, lithium batteries will have to be used,” Palit added.

Recently, Argentina approached Indian government and companies to invest in lithium mines in the South American nation.

“To meet India’s demand for electric vehicles, lithium will be needed in abundance to produce lithium-ion batteries. I am told India is planning to set up large lithium-ion battery plants. Argentina is ready to meet India’s growing demand for lithium,” Mario Osvaldo Capello, undersecretary of mining development, the ministry of energy and mining, Argentina had said recently.

Source- The Financial Express