Batteries are the social and industrial game changers of our time. I have followed the tracks of it’s core component, lithium, from mining to final products.
Electric cars, smart phones, solar panels, robotics – they are all driven by batteries, causing the market for lithium soar. But the world will soon be in short supply, which in turn can cause serious geo-strategic consequences. The photographic project follows the path from the mining of this raw material at Salar de Uyuni high up in the Bolivian Andes, Bolivia holding the largest confirmed lithium reserves in the world, through the lithium rush in the USA, all the way t o the manufacturing of the final products like electric cars and the lithium ion batteries around China. China is a leading global producer as well as a rapidly growing market for the lithium-battery driven products and e-mobility.
As the need for effective climate protection gets stronger, the development of cleaner energy is gaining momentum. At the same time, a key part of the solution, lithium, and the production of the material, is not without its own hazards and sins. Lithium pollution is an increasing problem wherever lithium is mined, and also there are threats to local communities that are totally taken control over by mining companies. Also, as the supply of lithium is not fast enough to accommodate the demand, signs of the bottleneck effect are already manifesting, with Chinese, Australian and American corporations buying lithium mines in various countries around the world to ensure the reserves for the future. The project is talking about the story of the future unraveling in front of our eyes, trying to raise awareness about how the transition from fossil to electric actually is happening, with all its wonderful possibilities but also how it’s affecting geo politics and how clean energy also comes with a price and some risks.