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Role of critical metals in the future markets of clean energy technologies

Grandell, Leena, Lehtilä, Antti, Kivinen, Mari, Koljonen, Tiina, Kihlman, Susanna, Lauri, Laura S.
Renewable energy 2016 v.95 pp. 53-62
automobiles, batteries, clean energy, climate change, cobalt, dysprosium, electricity, electrolysis, energy efficiency, fuel cells, fuels, hydrogen, indium, lanthanum, lighting, markets, platinum, ruthenium, semiconductors, silver, solar energy, tellurium, wind power
The global energy sector is expected to experience a gradual shift towards renewable energy sources in the coming decades. Climate change as well as energy security issues are the driving factors. In this process electricity is expected to gain importance to the cost of fuels. However, these new technologies are in many cases dependent on various metals. This analysis evaluates the need for special metals and compares it with known resources in order to find possible bottlenecks in the market. The time perspective of the analysis reaches to the year 2050.Following technologies have been selected for evaluation: solar electricity, wind power, fuel cells, batteries, electrolysis, hydrogen storages, electric cars and energy efficient lighting. The metals investigated belong either to the semiconductors, platinum group metals, rare earth metals or are other critical metals like silver and cobalt.The global transition of the energy sector is modelled with TIMES. According to the results the most critical market situation will be found in silver. Other elements, for which bottlenecks in the market seem possible, include tellurium, indium, dysprosium, lanthanum, cobalt, platinum and ruthenium. Renewable energy scenarios presented by the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report seem partly unrealistic from the perspective of critical metals.