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Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

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The World Will Run Out Of EV Batteries By 2025

In many ways, the world is not ready for the EV revolution. While electric vehicles are an absolutely invaluable and essential component of the clean energy revolution and combating climate change and imperative which grows more urgent with each passing second, the world has been unable (or, in some cases, unwilling) to keep up with the necessary infrastructure installations and investments to prepare for the kind of wide-scale adoption which is both necessary and imminent.  For one thing, even in some of the most developed countries in the world, aging power grids are entirely unprepared to handle the onslaught of increased energy demand as more and more of the country leaves their gas guzzlers behind and plugin. This problem is far from insurmountable, and can indeed be all but completely solved by making our energy use and production more efficient, but it needs to be addressed in a big hurry in order to make the EV revolution viable. 

And then there’s the issue of those pesky car batteries. While you can cut down your carbon footprint by a massive margin by switching over to an EV, you just can’t get away from using finite resources completely. EV batteries contain a litany of expensive and finite rare earth metals and minerals, most notably cobalt and lithium, which cause tricky negotiations with global supply chains and which are not without their negative environmental externalities thanks to sometimes messy mining operations. 

The energy revolution’s dependence on rare earth metals, which is only set to intensify, has inadvertently put a huge amount of control into the hands of China, which controls around 90% of the market for some of these resources, and has shown that it is not afraid to use that power to sway international politics and diplomacy. In fact, it has been posited that China’s dominance of these supply chains, and other countries’ reticence of that dominance, could potentially lead to a new clean energy resource war if world powers don’t tread lightly.

Related: Could This Be The Most Promising Oil Play Of The Decade? 

And now, according to a new Bank of America Global Research report, the global EV battery supply is in danger of running out completely as soon as 2025. “Our updated EV battery supply-demand model suggests the global EV battery supply will likely hit [a] ‘sold-out’ situation between 2025-26, with its global operating rates reaching above 85%,” the report reads ominously. The supply shortage will be largely a product of rapidly increasing demand in a market that is simply unprepared for the levels of EV adoption coming down the pike in the immediate term. 

As world leaders feature incentives and imperatives for electric car adoption in their post-pandemic recovery policies and economic stimulus packages, and the private sector leans further into Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment principles, the transition away from gasoline and diesel combustion engines is expected to go into overdrive. “We forecast the global operating rates of EV battery will rise to about 121% by 2030, based on announced capacity so far, implying another round of substantial CapEx cycles will likely kick in the next 2-3 years,” the BoA report went on to say.

The world needs to ramp up its EV battery production, and it needs to do it essentially overnight. But the EV battery issue, as big as it is, is only a microcosm of the much bigger and more pressing issue of a general lack of foresight into the world getting serious about the energy revolution and green energy transition. In many ways, COVID-19 catalyzed the growth of clean energy in ways that we couldn’t have seen coming, to be sure, but the need for this kind of wide-scale adoption of EVs and clean energy has been pressing, known, and all but ignored for decades now. It’s far past time to get serious about policy, incentives, investment, and R&D at a pace that reflects the urgency of the imperative set by the looming threat of catastrophic climate change. 

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com 

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  • Hugh Williams on July 23 2021 said:
    Rare earths are plentiful in the ground. The problem is in mining and purifying which are messy and create a lot of pollution. China got control of rare earth production because they did not mind the mess.
  • David Anderson on July 26 2021 said:
    Haley is correct about the difficulty and pollution of mining for EV batteries.
    She wrong about the rest. The grid is not old and tired, it is being destroyed by the un-reliables, wind and solar that at best produce 30 percent of their nameplate, fail at random times, often when most needed, and greatly increase the cost of energy. No grid can handle the un-reliables without conventional steady state backup. And making that coal and NG backup subservient to wind and solar, greatly reduces their revenue while increasing their costs.
    China, India, Africa and Asia are building many hundreds of new coal plants. Even if the economy destroying green energy policies of the west were fully implemented, it will not make one measurable difference in the Global Mean Temperature by 2100.
    Additionally the benefits of CO2 are massive and will continue to increase on a linear bases, growing more food with no more land or water required.

    And the purported harms of CAGW are MIA. There is zero GLOBAL increase in droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or the rate of SL rise, which according to tide gages ( where we live) is unchanged since the earth came out of the Little Ice Age, and mild at about 2.4 mm per year.

    EV cars can be fun and all, and if we allowed third and fourth generation nuclear generation they would even be viable. But with the unreliable generators percentage of grid production increasing, we simply will not be able to move more then 10 percent of cars to EV, and that may prove undoable with the grid problems manifesting now.
  • John Tucker on July 26 2021 said:
    The limits on cobalt and on lithium supply have been better publicized ....but the largest element by weight in any lithium-ion battery is nickel ...nickel is pretty common in the earths crust, mostly in the form of nickel sulphides, but the onoly form pure enough for batteries has to come from nickel laeterite ores ...and the existing nickel laeterite mines are quite constricted even now... Vale SA, large mining copany based in Brazil, produces most of the worlds supply and although the spot price of nickel is hitting all time highs Vale has no ambitious plans for expansion, at least not public .....
  • william papke on July 26 2021 said:
    I knew it was coming. More fear mongering. "It’s far past time to get serious about policy, incentives, investment, and R&D at a pace that reflects the urgency of the imperative set by the looming threat of catastrophic climate change."
  • John Smith on July 27 2021 said:
    The head of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Mr Daniel Westerman, has set an ambitious target for the use of renewable energy in Australia. Mr Westerman wants main grids to be capable of handling 100% renewable penetration by 2025.(source:kalkinemedia.com) Mr Westerman stated, stronger transmission infrastructure, big batteries, hydro and gas plants providing on-demand energy would be required as a backup during the wee hours of the day. He further said there are periods in time when renewable contribute more than 50% of the total electricity supply. So, it is not a major hurdle for a grid to reach up to 100% renewable capacity by 2025.
  • emmanuel ozon on July 27 2021 said:
    Oh yeah, just like the world will run out of oil by the year 2ooo (Club of Rome), and we'll all be starving to death due to over population (The Population Bomb), and the arctic will be free of ice by 2010 (Al Gore).
    Well, I'm almost 70; I don't think I'll see any of it.

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