What to know about critical minerals – the key to our clean energy future – by Andrea Willige (World Economic Forum – September 2020)


When we think about the global switch to renewable energy, minerals are not the first thing that spring to mind. But they are crucial building blocks for all kinds of clean-energy infrastructure, from wind turbines and solar panels to electric vehicles and the batteries that power them.

Earlier this year, the World Bank predicted a 500% increase in the production of minerals such as graphite, lithium and cobalt by 2050 to feed the energy transition.

As in so many other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light little-known weaknesses in global mineral supply chains for clean energy. For example, in Peru, a major world supplier of copper, mining came to a halt due to the country’s confinement measures. In South Africa, lockdown significantly disrupted the global production of platinum, another essential mineral in many clean-energy technologies.

This underlines some of the risks associated with the availability of critical minerals. Much of their global production is concentrated in a few countries, which are affected by geopolitical challenges and could therefore struggle to meet demand.

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) now sets out the need for reliable, responsibly sourced supplies to drive the race to net-zero emissions by 2050, and how to ensure adequate availability.

For the rest of this article: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/minerals-critical-to-clean-energy-face-shortage/