A global energy revolution is unfolding before our eyes: ever-growing numbers of electric vehicles on our roads, laptops that last all day on a single charge and solar panels on our roofs, all reliant on lithium-ion batteries. This revolution is happening at breath-taking speed, with the potential to completely transform key industries and the way we live.
For the first time in history, we can now actually store this green energy we talk so much about. Often referred to as 'the new oil', lithium allows large amounts of energy to be squeezed into a very small space. Demand is soaring, and the lithium business is full of drama: bitter rivalries, shady deals and exceptionally talented visionaries such as Elon Musk, who is building lithium battery giga-factories across the world.
This book travels from the salt lakes of the Tibetan plateau, where Chinese government–linked companies extract lithium, to Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, which hold the world's biggest resources of the mineral. It reveals superpowers' struggle to secure strategic supplies, and the astonishing efforts of lone-wolf inventors and entrepreneurs. Lithium also explores the environmental impact of lithium extraction, the limits to battery electrification, and lithium battery recycling as the way forward.
Lukasz Bednarski is a battery materials analyst, founder of the lithium industry portal Lithium Today and a former commodity trader.
"Lukasz Bednarski has captured the zeitgeist of the battery revolution in a deep and visceral manner, by laying out the complex geography of lithium, which will drive the future digital and broader economy. From Kinshasa to Beijing to Western Australia, Bednarski traces the messy and now supercharged race to lock up the energy source that will power the future, Lithium is an accessible and gripping read."
– Paul Triolo, Global Technology Policy Lead, Eurasia Group
"Engaging and expertly told, Bednarski's book ably shuttles the reader from an EV company in China to the salt brines of Chile to discover lithium's effects on global markets, geopolitical competition, and local economies. This book reveals how the renewable energy economy is being made, from the mine to the manufacturing jungles of Asia."
– Damien Ma, Founder and Managing Director of MacroPolo
"An indispensable guide to the most critical resource that makes our technology green. Bednarski's insightful narrative illuminates the dark corners of a little understood market for a metal that will increasingly determine the fate of a warming planet. His extensive research from China to Latin America vividly explains how the market for one of the lightest elements developed and how it feeds the critical battery market. It is a great read for anyone looking to understand energy markets for the coming decade."
– David S. Abraham, author of The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age
"With Lithium, Lukasz Bednarski has embarked on a masterly work that makes the world of batteries interesting to everyone. He deftly brings around the world and shows how lithium – once inconsequential, is reshaping technology as we know it."
– Geoffrey Cain, author of Samsung Rising: Inside the Secretive Company Conquering Tech
"Just in time, Lukasz Bednarski has produced the most up-to-date, globe-trotting survey of a nascent boom economy to which the world is only now awakening. His granular, eye-opening sections on China alone are worth the cover price."
– Steve Levine, author The Powerhouse: America, China and the Great Battery War