Recent news articles have indicated that the production of iPads may be jeopardized by shortages in the markets for lithium, a key component of rechargeable batteries. Although there are no indications of current deficits, analysts foresee a strongly growing market for lithium.
The battery market today covers 30% of the total demand for lithium. Besides the use of lithium for rechargeable batteries in iPads, its application in the automotive industry has already been discussed in a previous blog. Demand for the metal will become further inflated because China is rolling out a program to replace current lead-acid batteries with lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. Trials are also being performed with the storage of grid scale electricity in enormous batteries. These contain relatively large amounts of lithium.
In the short to medium term, no replacement for lithium batteries is foreseen, so that demand for the metal will remain very robust. According to analysts the battery market in 2020 will consume 50% of the total lithium production, and annual demand will increase by 8%, an increase comparable to the most promising of the rare earth metals.