Minerals for Climate Action: The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition

Hund, K., La Porta, D., Fabregas, T., Laing, T. and Drexhage, J. (2020) Minerals for Climate Action: The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C–2°C as outlined by the Paris Agreement, and achieving Sustainable Development Goals 7 and 13, will require a large-scale shift to clean energy, provided by solar panels, wind turbines and batteries.

In a report released on 11 May 2020, the World Bank forecast that this will shape the supply and demand of critical minerals for the foreseeable future, with low-carbon energy sources significantly more mineral-intensive than their fossil-fuel-based counterpart technologies.

Under a 2-degree scenario (2DS) as discussed above, production of graphite, lithium, and cobalt will need to be increased by more than 450 per cent by 2050 – from 2018 levels – to meet demand. These projections are a conservative estimate, not taking in account the associated infrastructure needed to support the deployment of these technologies or the physical parts.

The report provides an analysis of how the shift to a cleaner energy system could impact mineral demand, and considers the actions that each stakeholder can take to minimize the negatives repercussions of this process.

The full report can be found here.