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Climate neutrality and raw materials: the new energy security paradigm Stampa E-mail

Climate neutrality and raw materials:
the new energy security paradigm

di Alicia Mignone

ENERGY TRANSITION IS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGING THE NATURE OF GLOBAL ENERGY SECURITY. THE PAPER DESCRIBES SOME ELEMENTS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON A EUROPEAN STRATEGY FOR CRITICAL RAW MATERIALS, AS WELL AS ISSUES RELATED TO THE SECURING CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES SUPPLY CHAINS

The issue of critical raw materials (CRM) has raised a great deal of attention in the last years considering that they are at the center of the decarbonization efforts as we move from a fossil fuel-intensive to a material-intensive energy system.

As for the European Commission analysis on the issue, the two main high-level components of criticality are the Economic Importance (EI) – calculated based on the importance of a given material in the EU for end-use applications and on the performance of its substitutes in these applications – and the Supply Risk (SR) – calculated based on factors that measure the risk of disruptions in supply of a given material (e.g. supply concentration, import reliance, governance performance measured by the World Governance Indicators, trade restrictions and agreements, existence and criticality of substitutes).

Requirements for additional supply will come not only from relatively large-volume raw materials – for example, copper for electrification and nickel for battery EVs, which are expected to see significant demand growth beyond their current applications – but also from relatively niche commodities, such as lithium and cobalt for batteries, tellurium for solar panels, and neodymium for the permanent magnets used both in wind power generation and Electric Vehicles.

Some commodities – most notably, steel – will also play an enabling role across technologies requiring additional infrastructure. The paper describes some elements of the European Parliament resolution of 24 November 2021 on a European strategy for critical raw materials (2021 /2011(INI)) as well as issues related to the Securing Clean Energy Technologies supply chains and how the metals and mining sector will be at the core of enabling the energy transition.

The EU Strategy is based on important considerations described on more than twenty paragraphs. Some of them are particularly relevant: e.g. EU currently provides only 1% of the raw materials for wind energy, less than 1% of lithium batteries, less than 1% of fuel cells, only 2% of the raw materials relevant to robotics and only 1% of silicon-based photovoltaic assemblies. [...]

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