INDUSTRY BULLETIN: Electric transport technology takes to the seas

August 31, 2020

A report recently published by IDTechEx explores the emerging trend of ocean-going vessels powered by clean energy, and what this could mean for future lithium demand. While most people are aware of the growing use of lithium-ion rechargeables in electric cars and trucks, the potential for lithium batteries powering large ships has not received much publicity. This could dramatically increase future lithium demand beyond current forecasts, which are largely based on electric vehicles.

The IDTechEx report points to the Ellen Ferry, or E-Ferry, prototype as a prime example of the effectiveness of electric ships. The E-Ferry has the biggest battery capacity of any ship currently at sea at 4,300 kWh. (In comparison, the typical battery capacity of an electric car in the United States is 67 kWh and a long-haul truck is in the range of 600-1000 kWh.)

The E-Ferry operates in the Danish part of the Baltic sea, and cuts travel time of a single trip to 55 minutes, down from the 70 it takes a fuel-powered vessel currently operating on the same route. A mechanical arm plugs in and recharges the batteries in less than 25 minutes with clean energy supplied by local wind turbines. This means the E-Ferry is powered by a considerable amount of non-carbon sources. This is another major step away from fossil fuel-based transportation.

Though roughly 40% more expensive to manufacture than a conventional diesel ferry, its running costs are a quarter of that of a diesel ferry. The ship was a four-year, €21.3 million project funded by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.

The ocean shipping industry is responsible for around 3% of global CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization set new targets to reduce these emissions by "at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008" levels. Ever-advancing lithium-ion battery technology has proven to be an effective method to decrease emissions and use of fossil fuels by the industry. For example, the E-Ferry is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 2,000 tonnes a year. Other countries are also now looking at electrifying ocean-going vessels.

Lithium-ion battery technology continues to advance, as do practical applications to decrease emissions in all transport. Demand for lithium compounds from the rechargeable battery industry has displayed strong growth throughout the last decade. In 2019, rechargeable batteries accounted for 54% of total lithium demand, almost entirely from lithium-ion battery technologies. Longer term scenarios continue to show strong growth for lithium demand over the coming decade, with Roskill currently forecasting demand to exceed 1.0Mt LCEi in 2027, with growth in excess of 18% per year to 2030.

Avalon Advanced Materials Inc.’s advanced Separation Rapids Lithium Project is well-positioned to participate in the creation of this new lithium battery materials supply chain in North America, with the ability to sustainably produce the high-quality lithium products needed to fuel the energy storage revolution.

For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.AvalonAM.com; or, for questions or feedback, email Avalon at [email protected].

About Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (AVL:TSX)

Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. is a Canadian mineral development company specializing in sustainably-produced materials for clean technology. The Company now has four advanced stage projects, providing investors with exposure to lithium, tin and indium, as well as rare earth elements, tantalum, cesium and zirconium. Avalon is currently focusing on developing its Separation Rapids Lithium Project near Kenora, Ontario while looking at several new project opportunities, including re-activating its 100%-owned Lilypad Tantalum-Cesium Project in northwestern Ontario. Social responsibility and environmental stewardship are corporate cornerstones.

i LCE is lithium carbonate equivalent, a common industry method of measurement of quantity of lithium