PHOTO: ‘Lithium Fields’ in the Salar de Atacama salt flats in northern Chile. Tom Hegen
South America’s ‘lithium fields’ reveal the dark side of our electric future
Lithium extraction fields in South America have been captured by an aerial photographer in stunning high definition.
But while the images may be breathtaking to look at, they represent the dark side of our swiftly electrifying world.
Lithium represents a route out of our reliance on fossil fuel production. As the lightest known metal on the planet, it is now widely used in electric devices from mobile phones and laptops, to cars and aircraft.
Lithium-ion batteries are most famous for powering electric vehicles, which are set to account for up to 60 per cent of new car sales by 2030. The battery of a Tesla Model S, for example, uses around 12 kg of lithium.
These batteries are the key to lightweight, rechargeable power. As it stands, demand for lithium is unprecedented and many say it is crucial in order to transition to renewables.
However, this doesn’t come without a cost – mining the chemical element can be harmful to the environment.