Peak Oil is You

Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)

Page added on January 12, 2021

Bookmark and Share

Batteries are made of rare, declining, critical, and imported elements

Alternative Energy

Preface.  Since oil and other fossils are finite and emit carbon, the plan is to electrify society with batteries.  But doh!  Minerals used in batteries are finite too.  And dependent on fossil-fueled transportation and manufacturing from mining trucks, to smelter, to fabrication, to delivery.

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer, Barriers to Making Algal Biofuels, and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Collapse Chronicles, Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report


Batteries use many rare, declining, single-source country, and expensive metals.  They consume more energy over their life cycle, from extraction to discharging stored energy, than they deliver.  Batteries are an energy sink with negative EROI, which makes wind, solar, and other intermittent sources of electricity energy sinks as well.

Minerals used to make batteries are subject to supply chain failures (stockpiles will eventually run out).

Depletion Peaks, Including Recycling, for Battery Minerals

Peak Year

There are four main components to a battery: the casing, chemicals, electrolytes, and internal hardware.  The main minerals used are cadmium, cobalt, lead, lithium, nickel, and rare earth elements.

The U.S. has a list of 35 critical elements essential for defense and other industires

Antimony (critical). 29% of antimony in the USA is used for batteries (35% flame retardants, 16% chemicals, 12% ceramics and glass, etc).

Arsenic (critical): the grids in lead acid storage batteries are strengthened by the addition of arsenic metal

Cadmium: Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries.  It’s also used in photovoltaic devices. China uses it in the lead-acid batteries used by electric bicycles. In 2005 1,312,000 pounds of cadmium were used in rechargeable batteries.

Cobalt (critical): 23,800,000 pounds of cobalt were used in rechargeable batteries (2005).

Graphite (critical).

Lead-acid batteries. These consume 86% of lead production. In just the first 8 months of 2012, 81,700,000 lead-acid automotive batteries were produced.

Lithium-ion batteries.  This article makes the case for lithium shortages coming soon “Back to Land Lines? Cell Phones May Be Dead by 2015

Manganese (critical): dry cell batteries

Nickel: 426,000,000 pounds used in rechargeable batteries (2005) with peak production in sight, this will also affect stainless steel


Rare Earth Elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium ytterbium and lutetium)

Zinc: dry cell batteries


One Comment on "Batteries are made of rare, declining, critical, and imported elements"

  1. Cloggie on Wed, 13th Jan 2021 8:44 am 

    Ah yes, Alice Friedman again, keen on “proving” that the renewable energy transition won’t work.

    If she knew what she is talking about, she would know that batteries will only play a minor role in the post-fossil fuel economy:

    Furthermore, it is possible that eventually we will mostly get rid of the energy-intensive privately-owned car, to be replaced by a much smaller fleet of corporate-exploited, autonomous driving van fleet. The Covid-19 lockdown gave a sneak preview of a largely car-free world, that doesn’t implode. Zoom and Skype can replace the Tesla.

    Hydrogen-based fuel cells could still win over batteries.

    And then are flow batteries, that function with non-depleting materials.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *