Supply chain environmental impacts of lithium-ion batteries production and future emissions

Main Presenter: Jorge Armando Llamas Orozco 

Co-Authors: Jon McKechnie Fanran Meng Gavin Walker

Battery electric vehicles are key to decarbonise the transport sector, but high market penetration requires material-intensive production (from mining to manufacturing). Understanding the current and future global environmental impacts of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) production is essential for the net zero emission target by 2050. In this study, we analyse the cradle-to-gate life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of current nickel/manganese/cobalt (NMC) battery technologies considering global material supply chain. Further, we evaluate the future greenhouse gas emissions of LIB production considering country-level decarbonisation of the electricity sector. We find around 60% of the total global LIB greenhouse gas emissions arise from just three countries: China (37%), driven by battery assembly and material refining; Indonesia (13%) due to dominating nickel production, and Australia (10%), due to dominating lithium, nickel, and aluminium production. Europe and North America, key growth markets for EVs as part of net-zero strategies, avoid the emissions burden of LIB manufacture. Anticipated decarbonisation of electricity generation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of future LIB production by up to 30% by 2040. The analysis offers a solid basis for supply chain optimisation towards minimised environmental impact of battery production.

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