How Lithium Is Powering the Renewable Energy Revolution

Discover how lithium, the powerhouse behind energy storage systems, fuels the renewable energy revolution.


The global transition towards renewable energy sources is gaining momentum as we seek to mitigate the impacts of climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. While generating power from renewable sources such as wind, geothermal, solar, biomass, and hydro is crucial, energy storage is emerging as a vital component of this transition. Lithium, in particular, plays a pivotal role in enabling efficient energy storage and supporting the integration of renewable energy into our grids. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between lithium, energy storage systems, and the five major renewable energy sources.

Table of contents:

The Importance of Energy Storage in the Green Energy Transition

Renewable energy sources are known for their intermittent nature, fluctuating based on weather conditions and natural variations. To ensure a stable and reliable energy supply, energy storage systems are essential. These systems allow excess energy generated during peak production periods to be stored and then released during times of high demand, smoothing out the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources. Energy storage also helps address grid stability, providing backup power during outages and facilitating the optimal utilization of renewable energy resources.

The transition to renewable energy sources, supported by efficient energy storage systems, is essential for achieving environmental sustainability and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The renewable energy transition offers a more sustainable and environmentally friendly path forward by reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, conserving resources, preserving land and water, and protecting biodiversity. Embracing renewable energy and energy storage technologies is crucial for addressing the urgent need to combat climate change and create a healthier, cleaner, and more resilient planet for future generations.

The Renewable Energy Transition

Environmental and sustainable aspects of the renewable energy transition.

Renewable energy sources are crucial for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, combatting climate change, and promoting environmental sustainability. As we transition away from fossil fuels, energy storage systems play a vital role in maximizing the environmental benefits of renewable energy. Here are some key environmental and sustainable aspects of the renewable energy transition.

  • Carbon Emission Reduction

    Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydro, produce electricity without relying on fossil fuels. Renewable energy significantly reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by replacing conventional power generation, which often involves burning coal or natural gas. Energy storage systems further enhance the environmental benefits of renewables by ensuring efficient utilization of clean energy, reducing the need for backup power from fossil fuel-based sources.

  • Air Quality Improvement

    The combustion of fossil fuels for energy production releases pollutants into the atmosphere, leading to air pollution and negative health impacts. Transitioning to renewable energy sources and energy storage helps improve air quality by reducing emissions of harmful pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Cleaner air translates to better public health, reduce respiratory issues, and a lower incidence of pollution-related diseases.

  • Resource Conservation

    Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources are inherently sustainable and abundant. Wind, solar, and geothermal power rely on continuously replenished sources, making them virtually inexhaustible. By harnessing these renewable resources, we can reduce our dependence on finite fossil fuel reserves, which are both environmentally damaging and subject to price volatility. Energy storage systems ensure that the power generated from renewable sources is effectively stored and utilized, optimizing the use of these sustainable resources.

  • Land and Water Preservation

    Generating electricity from renewable sources often requires less land and has a smaller environmental footprint than traditional energy sources. Solar panels can be installed on rooftops, deserts, or other non-agricultural grounds, while wind turbines can be situated in open or offshore areas. Biomass energy can be derived from agricultural waste or dedicated energy crops, utilizing existing resources without excessive land use. Furthermore, hydroelectric power utilizes the natural water flow in rivers and dams. Energy storage systems facilitate the integration of renewable energy into existing infrastructure, minimizing the need for additional land or water resources.

  • Biodiversity Conservation

    Conventional power generation often destroys habitats and contributes to biodiversity loss. Renewable energy technologies have a lower impact on ecosystems, allowing for biodiversity conservation and preservation of natural habitats. By reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we can protect fragile ecosystems, safeguard endangered species, and maintain the ecological balance crucial for a healthy planet.

Battery Storage and its Significance

Battery storage is crucial in harnessing renewable energy, encapsulating the essence of capturing electrical energy in batteries for subsequent use. Central to this endeavor are Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS), which seamlessly address the intermittency hurdles posed by renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

At the core of BESS functionality is its ability to store surplus energy generated during periods of low demand, releasing it during high-demand intervals or dips in renewable energy generation. This dynamic capability not only fortifies the reliability of electricity supply to consumers and commercial entities but also nurtures an ecosystem of sustainable energy utilization.

Beyond mere storage, BESS plays a pivotal role in maintaining grid balancing. By storing or releasing energy in tune with grid demands, these systems act as bulwarks against blackouts and other grid disruptions, thereby nurturing a robust and resilient energy infrastructure.

The vanguard of storage technology in large-scale BESS installations is spearheaded by lithium-ion batteries. Their ascendancy is attributed to their superior energy density, which translates to an impressive storage of energy within a compact, lightweight framework. Coupled with a long cycle life, lithium-ion batteries stand resilient through numerous charge-discharge cycles without a discernible dip in performance, showcasing their merit as a stalwart in the renewable energy landscape.

Furthermore, as the global thrust towards renewable energy intensifies, the evolution of lithium-ion technology and subsequent integration into BESS is poised to be a catalyst in the renewable energy domain. By fostering a reliable and efficient energy storage solution, the synergy between lithium-ion technology and BESS catalyzes a paradigm shift towards a sustainable and resilient energy future.

Battery Energy Storage

Types of Battery Chemistries Mainly Used for BESS

As the world pivots towards sustainable energy solutions, battery storage systems are becoming pivotal in managing the intermittent nature of renewable resources like solar and wind power. These systems, admired for their modularity, support a broad spectrum of applications ranging from residential backup to large-scale utility use. Mainly driven by the drop in costs and technological advancements, installations of battery storage have nearly tripled in less than three years. Currently, lithium-ion batteries, known for their efficiency in short-term energy storage, dominate the market, comprising over 80% of all battery capacity. This surge underscores the growing role of batteries in enhancing grid flexibility and ensuring a steady energy supply.

  • Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Batteries

    Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) and Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) are the leading lithium-ion battery chemistries for energy storage applications (80% market share). Compact and lightweight, these batteries boast high capacity and energy density, require minimal maintenance, and offer extended lifespans. They charge quickly and have a low rate of self-discharge.

  • Lead-Acid (PbA) Batteries

    A staple in the automotive sector and for grid and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) applications, lead-acid batteries are affordable, highly recyclable, and perform well in diverse temperatures. Nonetheless, their lower energy density and slower charging rates are becoming more noticeable with advancements in lithium-ion technology.

  • Sodium-Sulfur (Na-S) Batteries

    Operating with molten salt, sodium-sulfur batteries are noted for their high energy and power density, durability, and ability to function reliably at extreme temperatures of 300 to 350 degrees Celsius. Mainly used in large-scale stationary grid storage, their drawbacks include sensitivity to corrosion and the hazardous nature of sodium, which is highly flammable and potentially explosive.

  • Flow Batteries

    Distinguished by their liquid electrolyte storage method, flow batteries like the Vanadium Redox Battery (VRB) are favored for applications requiring long-duration energy storage of up to 8 hours or extended operational lifespans. While they have lower energy capacity and slower charge/discharge rates, flow batteries are responsive and have a reduced fire risk due to their use of non-flammable electrolytes.

  • Zinc-Bromine Batteries

    Zinc-bromine batteries utilize the reaction between zinc metal and bromine to generate electricity, with an aqueous zinc bromide solution serving as the electrolyte. Developed as an alternative to lithium-ion for stationary power needs, these batteries feature a water-based electrolyte that minimizes fire risks and overheating.

  • Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) Batteries

    Nickel-cadmium batteries' advantages include their long cycle life and lack of need for ventilation or cooling. However, they are challenged by low specific energy, risks of thermal runaway, and the environmental and health hazards posed by cadmium.

The Connection between Lithium and Energy Storage Systems

Lithium is pivotal to advancing battery storage systems, boasting exceptional energy density, long cycle life, and rapid charging capabilities. Predominantly utilized in portable electronics and electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries are increasingly preferred for renewable energy storage. This preference stems from their ability to efficiently store electrical energy as chemical energy, facilitating robust storage and seamless power retrieval. The decline in lithium-ion battery costs—propelled by manufacturing scale economies and technological enhancements—has significantly bolstered the adoption of renewable energy storage solutions.

Growth in Installed BESS Capacity

The installed capacity of BESS is projected to increase from 125 GWh in 2023 to 610 GWh in 2030. This expansion translates into a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of approximately 25.4% over the period. Such robust growth underscores the accelerating adoption of energy storage solutions as integral components of modern power systems.

Lithium Demand for BESS Installations

Correspondingly, the demand for LCE in BESS is expected to surge from 85,000 tonnes in 2023 to 414,800 tonnes by 2030, mirroring the growth rate of BESS capacity with a CAGR of about 25.4%. This parallel rise indicates a direct correlation between BESS capacity expansion and lithium consumption, reflecting lithium's critical role in producing lithium-ion batteries for storage applications.

Increasing Share of Lithium Demand from BESS

The share of total LCE demand from BESS installations is also on an upward trajectory, increasing from 9.4% in 2023 to an anticipated 13.4% by 2030. This growth not only underscores the increasing significance of BESS in the overall lithium market but also presents a promising opportunity for investors, suggesting that as the energy storage sector expands, it will consume a larger portion of the global lithium supply.


The data points to a significant increase in the adoption of battery storage technologies, driven by the growing need for flexible and sustainable energy solutions. This trend is expected to exert substantial upward pressure on lithium demand, emphasizing the need for advancements in lithium extraction and processing technologies to meet future requirements. As the energy storage sector continues to expand, it is poised to become an ever more crucial component of the global energy landscape, with lithium at the heart of its growth.

Growing Global Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) Installations
Which Will Translate To Growing LCE Consumption In Manufacturing Of Forecasted BESS

The Five Major Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy sources and their relation to energy storage and batteries.

Discover how renewable energy sources like wind, geothermal, solar, biomass, and hydro revolutionize the energy landscape. While lithium is not integral to their generation, explore how energy storage systems with lithium-ion batteries optimize their utilization, ensuring a consistent and reliable power supply.

  • Wind

    Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy of wind into electrical energy. While wind energy does not require lithium for its generation, lithium-ion batteries can be utilized to store excess energy from wind farms and ensure a consistent power supply.

  • Geothermal

    Geothermal energy harnesses heat from the Earth's core. Although lithium is not directly involved in geothermal energy production, energy storage systems with lithium-ion batteries can help optimize the utilization of geothermal power by storing excess energy for peak demand periods.

  • Solar

    Solar energy systems convert sunlight into electricity. While solar energy generation does not inherently rely on lithium, lithium-ion batteries are commonly used to store surplus solar energy for later use during periods of low sunlight or high demand.

  • Biomass

    Biomass energy is derived from organic matter and can be used for heat or electricity generation. While biomass energy production does not directly involve lithium, energy storage systems can play a role in optimizing the use of biomass by storing excess energy for continuous power supply.

  • Hydro

    Hydropower harnesses the energy of flowing or falling water to generate electricity. Hydroelectric power does not require lithium for its generation; however, lithium-ion batteries can be used for energy storage in hydroelectric systems to improve grid stability and balance supply and demand.

The Future of Renewable Energy and Lithium

The combination of renewable energy generation and efficient energy storage systems, including lithium-ion batteries, is paving the way for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. As energy storage costs continue to decline, renewable energy storage solutions are becoming increasingly economically viable. This shift towards large-scale adoption of renewable energy coupled with energy storage systems holds tremendous potential to transform our energy systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerate the global transition to a greener future.

Lithium, primarily through lithium-ion batteries, is a critical enabler of the renewable energy revolution. Energy storage systems powered by lithium-ion batteries allow for the efficient integration of intermittent renewable energy sources into our grids, providing stability, reliability, and backup power. As the world increasingly embraces renewable energy generation and storage technologies, combining lithium and energy storage systems will play a central role in achieving a sustainable, decarbonized energy future. We can accelerate the transition toward a greener and more resilient energy system by harnessing the power of wind, geothermal, solar, biomass, and hydropower coupled with sustainable and advanced energy storage solutions.

A Sustainable and Holistic Approach to the Renewable Energy Transition

In parallel with the rapid growth of renewable energy and energy storage, it is imperative to ensure that the extraction of lithium, a critical component for energy storage systems, is conducted sustainably. As the demand for lithium rises, it is crucial to prioritize responsible mining practices that minimize environmental impact, reduce carbon emissions, and protect local ecosystems.

Sustainable lithium extraction methods, such as those employed by Lithium Harvest, play a vital role. By implementing innovative technologies and practices, Lithium Harvest and other sustainable mining companies strive to minimize water usage, optimize energy efficiency, and reduce the carbon footprint associated with lithium extraction. These initiatives contribute to a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible supply chain, fostering a holistic approach to the renewable energy transition.

Learn more about our sustainable lithium