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Our World from above

Can you tell what is this? The place where lithium is extracted, in the Salar the Atacama, Chile. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

It is vacation time, at least in Italy, and so why not relax and take a look at some nice pictures of our planet taken from the sky by the NASA Earth Observatory?

I stumble onto these photos as I was looking at the present status and future challenges for batteries as EV are expected to increase exponentially throughout this and the next decade to basically replace all ICE in 2040. That will mean manufacturing batteries for some 50-60 million vehicles every year. To put this into perspective the current EV battery production worldwide is around 50 GWh, the expected demand in 2040 is around 1,200 GWh, that is 60 times as much. For more details you may want to look at an interesting report by McKinsey, published in 2019 with an outlook to 2040.

As far as we can tell today, battery technology will keep improving (mostly in terms of number of useful cycles -lengthening the life cycle of the battery- and in terms of recharging time -shortening it- not so much in terms of energy density…) but will remain based on lithium-ion for EV application.

Lithium is not that abundant, and most of it is being extracted from salt brine in the Chilean Salar the Acatama. That is why I stumbled on the photos above. Along with that there were 9 other nice images of our world from above that you may like as well.

You can get many more images, and up to date ones (like the one showing the status of fires in Greece) from the NASA website.


About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.