According to a recent report published by the International Energy Agency, the transition of the world’s energy to clean energy technologies will trigger a spike in demand for certain minerals by 2040.
The lithium market will feel the greatest impact of the energy transition. Clean energy technologies alone are expected to account for 74 to 92 percent of global demand by 2040. A similar trend will be observed in the cobalt and nickel markets. In the case of the first raw material, in 2040 40 to 70 percent of the output can be allocated to renewable energy, and in the case of nickel – 30 to 60 percent.
In absolute terms, the increased demand for key minerals in renewable energy would require a double or even quadruple supply to the sector. In 2020, demand was 7 million tonnes and is expected to increase to 15–27 million tonnes depending on the pace of sustainable development. To achieve net energy neutrality by 2050, the sector would have to absorb as much as 43 million tonnes of minerals in 2040, which is six times more than today.
Minerals in renewable energy are often associated with electric vehicle and energy storage batteries, although there is now a much greater demand for renewable electricity generation – especially copper, zinc and silicon used in wind turbines and solar panels.
However, as we approach the clean energy targets, EVs and batteries are expected to generate an equally large share of demand and even surpass the electricity generation sector. The automotive and energy storage sub-sector is particularly hungry for lithium, copper, nickel and graphite.
According to the IEA, in 2019 almost 70 percent. Cobalt came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and about 60 percent. rare earth metals and graphite – from China. For nickel, only three countries accounted for more than half of the world’s production: Indonesia (33 percent), the Philippines (12 percent) and Russia (11 percent)