Barely a day goes by without one or more governments announcing a plan to diversify and create sustainable, resilient clean energy supply chains. The stated rationale typically invokes economic security and some variant on the theme of a fast-evolving and geopolitically charged global resources landscape involving trade in critical minerals. Recent examples include the EU’s Critical Raw Materials Act, or Australia talks with India on critical mineral trade.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has highlighted a number of minerals required for clean energy technologies. Individual governments' designations will vary according to national priorities, natural resource endowments, or vulnerabilities.
Recent breakthroughs in sodium-ion battery technology underscore how scientific innovation might alter the utility of a given mineral. Circular economy efforts to improve the resource efficiency, reuse, and recycling of critical materials will also play a role in meeting a portion of supply needs.
Nevertheless, as things currently stand, lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite are key to the performance, longevity, and energy density of batteries. Rare earth minerals are essential components of wind turbines and electric vehicles, and copper and aluminium permeate nearly all electricity-related technologies.