Batteries Not Included

The world is moving toward electric vehicles and clean energy, but a green future doesn’t depend on wind turbines, solar panels, and Teslas alone. It will also require a vast supply of advanced batteries. As a result, global demand for lithium—an essential battery ingredient—is outpacing supply, with the gap expected to grow in the years to come.

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Frank Fannon
    Managing Director, Fannon Global Advisors
  • Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran
    Global Energy & Climate Innovation Editor, The Economist

Show Notes

Lithium is a lightweight metal used in most rechargeable batteries, from the pocket-sized batteries found in iPhones and computers to the heavy-duty ones that power electric vehicles  and home energy storage. This makes it a critical resource in the new energy economy. But there isn’t enough usable lithium to meet growing demand, and some experts fear that the trend threatens our ability to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F) by 2030. 

Corporations, lawmakers, and entrepreneurs are attempting to ramp up capacity, but problematic supply chains and China’s market dominance present significant challenges. Plus, lithium extraction is a messy business, and debate is growing about whether to mine and refine in the U.S.



From CFR 


James McBride and Anshu Siripurapu “How Does the U.S. Power Grid Work?


Shannon K. O’Neil, “U.S. Should Look South for Better Supply Chains



From Our Guests


Frank Fannon and Michael R. Pompeo, “Time for a Responsible Clean Energy Supply Chain,” Foreign Policy


Frank Fannon, “US needs to lead the way in building a new energy supply chain,” Financial Times


Vijay Vaitheeswaran, “How can the world’s energy be decarbonised?,” Economist 


Vijay Vaitheeswaran and Iain Carson, ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future, Twelve 



Read More


Cade Metz, “Your Batteries Are Due for Disruption,” New York Times


Clifford Krauss, “Green-Energy Race Draws an American Underdog to Bolivia’s Lithium,” New York Times


Ivan Penn and Eric Lipton, “The electric-vehicle race is creating a gold rush for lithium, raising environmental concerns.,” New York Times


Justine Calma, “The US wants to fix its broken lithium battery supply chain,” Verge


Keith Bradsher and Michael Forsythe, “Why a Chinese Company Dominates Electric Car Batteries,” New York Times


MacDonald Dzirutwe and Tom Daly, “China’s Huayou buys lithium mine in Zimbabwe for $422 mln,” Reuters 


Mary Hui, “China’s lithium companies are in an investment frenzy,” Quartz



Watch and Listen 


Going Green With Lithium Has Environmentalists Torn,” Vice News


Lithium 101,” National Geographic


South America’s Lithium Boom: A Blessing Or A Curse?,” NowThis World


The ‘white gold rush’: Inside a lithium mine, where stores of recyclable energy lie,” ABC News 


Will green technology kill Chile’s deserts?,” The Guardian

West Africa

West Africa is losing many of its best and brightest. Across the region, doctors, lawyers, and engineers are leaving, depriving some of the world’s youngest countries of the minds they need to develop sustainably. At the same time, coups have rocked the nearby Sahel, threatening to create a corrosive cycle of instability. Can West Africa quell the tide of emigration?

Maternal and Child Health

In the past thirty years, sixty countries have expanded access to abortion care as an underpinning of maternal health. The 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade made the United States the fourth country ever to decrease access to abortion—and the world took notice. Some countries have since reinforced protections for abortion care, while others have moved to further restrict it.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most popular man in India. On track to be elected for a third term, he has boosted the country’s global standing and propelled strong economic growth while consolidating power and galvanizing majoritarian support for his Hindu nationalist agenda—all while growing closer to the United States. How could Hindu nationalism reshape India?

Top Stories on CFR

United Kingdom

CFR experts discuss the results of presidential elections in France and the United Kingdom, as well as what to expect from the 2024 NATO Summit in Washington, DC.

Election 2024

Each Friday, I look at what the presidential contenders are saying about foreign policy. This Week: Republicans are gathering in Milwaukee next week optimistic about their chances in November.  


The surprising shift to the left in snap elections has broken the far-right populist fever in France, but now a crisis of governability looms in Paris that has further weakened President Emmanuel Macron’s grip on power.