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Graphite: The Unsung Hero of Sustainable Energy, and Why We Need More Than a ‘Silver Bullet

Pascal Brier
Oct 26, 2023

I recently had a debate with a colleague on the critical materials that will be needed to support our #sustainability transformation.

One of these materials is certainly #graphite, a derivative of carbon renowned for its excellent electrical conductivity, high-temperature stability and chemical inertness.
Although we often mostly mention Lithium, Graphite stands out as a game changer in the energy storage technology, particularly the production of lithium-ion batteries which are central to the electric car industry. Few people know that each current electric battery is made of 60 to 90 kilogrammes of Graphite.

And yet close to 90% of the world’s graphite is currently being refined in China, which recently decided to tighten its export restrictions of this highly strategic material. While I’ve seen many commentators call for Europe and the US to increase their graphite refinement capabilities, even going as far as to develop synthetic graphite, I would add that addressing the diverse energy needs of our evolving world will require a multitude of materials and technologies ; it’s unlikely that a perfect ‘’silver bullet’’ will overcome all challenges.

This is why it is also important to keep investing in alternative forms of battery #technology, such as sodium-ion batteries, solid state, silicon batteries or even hydrogen fuel cells.

Meet the author

Pascal Brier

Group Chief Innovation Officer, Capgemini
Pascal Brier was appointed Group Chief Innovation Officer and member of the Group Executive Committee on January 1st, 2021. Pascal oversees Technology, Innovation and Ventures for the Group in this position. Pascal holds a Masters degree from EDHEC and was voted “EDHEC of the Year” in 2017.