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Lithium ahoy

The latest estimates by the US Geological Survey indicate there is 2.2 billion ounces of economically recoverable lithium reserves on Earth. Photo: ReutersPremium
The latest estimates by the US Geological Survey indicate there is 2.2 billion ounces of economically recoverable lithium reserves on Earth. Photo: Reuters

We’re behind the technology curve on lithium batteries, but we could try grabbing a lead someday with hydrogen fuel cells, seen as the next big thing for EVs. The budget’s outlay for a Hydrogen Energy Mission might help. But we also need big scientific breakthroughs

Our government has confirmed the discovery of lithium reserves estimated at 1,600 tonnes in Mandya district of Karnataka. Although small in global comparison, this find holds importance from the perspective of its enablement of local battery production. Right now, we import our entire requirement of this metal, a key input for the power-storage units that go into smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles (EVs).

The find should hopefully lead to further exploration so that we can create a domestic lithium mining industry and reduce import dependence, especially since a big shift from fossil fuel-guzzlers to EVs is part of the country’s agenda to fight climate change. China is currently among the world’s top lithium producers, along with countries like Australia and Chile. As we move towards cleaner sources of energy, we have plenty of catching up to do, not only to fulfil our own demand but also to compete with China in global markets. We’re behind the technology curve on lithium batteries, but we could try grabbing a lead someday with hydrogen fuel cells, seen as the next big thing for EVs. The budget’s outlay for a Hydrogen Energy Mission might help. But we also need big scientific breakthroughs.

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