JRC Report: RAW MATERIALS: Critical Raw Materials for Strategic Technologies and Sectors in the EU, A Foresight Study

This study looks at the supply chains of the nine technologies below used in the three strategic sectors renewable energy, e-mobility, defence and aerospace. It also attempts to provide a first answer, based on available knowledge and models, to where future challenges lie and how competition for resources may evolve.

  • Li-ion battery technology is rapidly being deployed for both e-mobility and energy storage for intermittent electricity generation. The technology is increasingly relevant for defence ap-plications;
  • Fuel cells (FCs) are an important en-ergy conversion technology, which together with hydrogen as fuel, will offer a high potential for decarbonisation of the energy system and e-mobility in the future, although large-scale de-ployment has not yet taken place;
  • Wind energy is already one of the most cost-effective renewable energy technologies for climate-change mitigation and will remain a growing sector in the EU industrial base;
  • Electric traction motors are central components in e-vehicles. Permanent magnet motors containing rare earth elements are particularly efficient and at-tractive for current and future e-mobility applications
  • Photovoltaic (PV) technology together with wind energy will lead in the transformation of the global electricity sector; PV panels are also relevant for space applications;
  • Robotics is an emerging technology with an increasing role in fu-ture manufacturing, including defence and aerospace, as well as energy technologies and automotive applications;
  • Drones (Unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV) are increasingly deployed for both civil and various defence applica-tions;
  • 3D Printing (3DP, Additive manufac-turing or AM) will rapidly reshape traditional supply chains and replace conventional manufacturing, in particular in defence and aerospace. It will lead to a significant shift in the amount and types of raw materials and processed materials consumed;
  • Digital technologies sustain the enor-mous digital sector enabling all tech-nologies evaluated in this study.

Foresight

Using the mid-century models and scenarios of the EU’s “Clean Planet for all” analysis, this study translates the shift to a climate-neutral economy through the deployment of re-newable energy generation and e-mobility solutions into raw materials demand. The scenarios portray different levels of ambition from high to low deployment of these technologies to increased or lowered material efficiency, and as such are to be seen rather as a range than actual values. The analysis in this study predates the Covid-19 crisis. Its impact on supply and demand, as well as on deployment of climate-neutral solutions are likely long-term. The current models do not take this development into account, but future analysis will have to account for these effects. The current Commission places emphasis on foresight as a dimension of evidence-based policy-making and will continue this work. The realisation of a climate-neutral, digital economy, and ‘a stronger Europe’ depends on available, affordable and re-sponsibly sourced raw materials. Many factors influence the supply of raw materials, and a high growth rate does not directly convert to a future raw materials supply bottleneck. This depends on the overall supply–demand balance. High demand may raise prices, in turn making exploration, mining and refining proj-ects as well as substitution and recycling commercially more attractive and viable. On the flip side, currently low prices for some materials may make investment in future capacity less attractive, considering that those investments require a high capital investment over a long period. The technical possibil-ities for upscaling extraction and refining capacities also play a role, as does the legal framework for mining activities. All factors combined determine supply ‘flexibility’ for the future.

For more information please refer to the report below.

Document type
  • Report
Language

English

Publication Year

2020

Geographical focus
  • Europe
  • European Union (EU 28)
  • WBC
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Admin WBC-RTI.info on September 9, 2020
Modified on September 9, 2020