Tesla has announced that the sales of Powerwall (lithium ion) units in Australia will begin in early 2017.
A solid lithium polymer metal battery — when it arrives commercially — will allow electronics designers to be more creative, because they will be able to use a plastic-like material (the polymer) that allows smaller and more flexible packaging, and requires fewer complex safety mechanisms.
The Breakthrough Energy Venture Fund (BEV) headed by Bill Gates lists energy storage as one of its key investments. The fund is specifically in place to take ideas from laboratories to early stages of commercial viability, with ultra-low cost electricity storage cited as one of the quests.
Australia has 14 listed companies in the lithium space. Of these 14 listed companies, only four have JORC-compliant* ore bodies. Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production, lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries. These uses consume more than three quarters of lithium production.
While there is a lot of interest in lithium as mineral of the future, it is already in wide use and readily available, meaning supply equals demand at this point in time. Lithium never occurs freely in nature, and instead, appears only as a compound. There is some work to do to extract the lithium substance. Enter, the four Australian JORC compliant lithium miners.