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Industrial revolution 4.1 – Critical raw materials and their role in the shift towards renewable energy generation and e-mobility

Most countries are by now committed to the Paris Agreement, which deals mainly with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and financing thereof. Crucial pillars driving this greenhouse gas diminution are renewable energies and e-mobility. As in any industrial revolution, this fundamental shift from “fossil energy” towards renewable energies and e-mobility, requires new technologies and associated new suite of raw materials, without which this shift will not be possible or at least significantly delayed. Energy storage is one of the key challenges to a successful shift. One way to store energy are new generation batteries. The growing need for energy storage for e-mobility and other battery-intense applications has created a large interest in the key battery commodity Li as well as other critical raw materials like Ni, Co, Cu and graphite. Current forecasts assume that Li-ion battery technologies will be the prevalent battery technology for the foreseeable future. Public domain data suggest very significant increases in commodity demand, if 100 % e-mobility is to be achieved. Considering current market volumes, demands for Li and Co will increase far over 1500 %, while demands for REE and graphite will exceed 500 %. Demand on Cu will moderately increase. In contrast, need for steel and PGM may decrease. This extraordinary strong growth of demands for these critical raw materials used in e-mobility have raised concerns regarding long-term supply. Exploration, mining and processing are challenged to adapt and to produce these commodities in order to achieve this new industrial revolution.


Ernst Bernhard Teigler, Stephan Peters, Torsten Gorka
DMT GmbH & Co. KG, Germany
GeoKarlsruhe 2021