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Clean Energy’s Big Mineral Appetite

The more ambitious the world’s clean energy efforts, the greater the appetite for the minerals that make them possible, according to a piece from Canary Media. Here’s a look at which technologies require which minerals. 

Batteries are big: “Of all the clean-energy technologies set to boom in the coming decades, none will put a strain on minerals supply like batteries…. They account for about half of the projected growth in minerals demand over the next two decades in a rapid decarbonization scenario.”

  • Much of this has to do with the expected rise in demand for and production of electric vehicles, which use lithium-ion batteries.

High impact: Aluminum, copper and steel also will be needed with solar and wind energy production. Aluminum is the “highest-impact” mineral, as it is “both crucial to a wide array of technologies and expected to grow quickly.” It is among the most recycled and recyclable materials on the planet.

Processed in China: “[S]ome of the most important minerals to the clean-energy future are geographically concentrated and mined under socially and environmentally dubious circumstances. Processing is almost entirely dominated by China.”

The NAM says: “It’s no secret that minerals are more and more critical given their necessity in everything from EV vehicles to renewable energy, and it is obvious our domestic capacity is woefully short of the increasing demand,” said NAM Senior Director of Energy and Resources Policy Nile Elam. “We can no longer defer mineral production to adversarial nations who can exploit the market and global supply chain—it is long past time to examine sustainable measures to expand domestic mineral capacity, provide diverse supply options and leverage our impressive national manufacturing network. Facilitating domestic supply can also strengthen responsible environmental stewardship and global habitat preservation, and it is time policymakers focus on this growing priority.”

Interested in implementing clean energy technologies such as batteries, solar PV and wind? NAM Energy, powered by APPI Energy, connects manufacturing members with experts who can help provide options for these solutions as well as information on available tax credits and incentive programs.

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