Risk of “bottleneck” for renewable energy raw materials

Crucial rare earth and raw materials needed for solar panels, energy efficient motors and electric car batteries could be harder to get as demand grows. That’s according to a new […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Crucial rare earth and raw materials needed for solar panels, energy efficient motors and electric car batteries could be harder to get as demand grows.

That’s according to a new report by environmental charity WWF and green energy consultancy Ecofys which warns there’s a risk of a “bottleneck” effect for materials such as lithium, cobalt, indium, gallium and tellurium.

As similar minerals are used in other devices like mobile phones, flat screen TVs, computers and batteries this potential “bottleneck” could be even worse, suggests the ‘Critical Materials’ report.

The report advises governments promote recycling lithium, substituting it in other sectors and using less cobalt-intensive cathodes (a key part of a battery).

It suggests there’s slightly less cause for concern over indium, gallium and tellurium, used in solar panels, as they can be swapped out for other technologies which use silicon.

WWF Global Energy Policy director Dr Stephan Singer said: “A new political legislation is needed in all major economies to promote material recycling and drive substantial technological development to ensure that critical materials required to make renewable energy technology remain available.”