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Global material requirements for the energy transition. An exergy flow analysis of decarbonisation pathways

Alicia Valero, Antonio Valero, Guiomar Calvo, Abel Ortego, Sonia Ascaso and Jose-Luis Palacios

Energy, 2018, vol. 159, issue C, 1175-1184

Abstract: Moving towards a low-carbon economy will imply a considerable increase in the deployment of green technologies, which will in turn increase the demand of certain raw materials. In this paper, the material requirements for 2050 scenarios are assessed in terms of exergy to analyze the impact in natural resources in each scenario and identify which technologies are going to demand more resources. Renewable energy technologies are more mineral intensive than current energy sources. Using the International Energy Agency scenarios, from 2025 to 2050, total raw material demand is going to increase by 30%, being the transport sector the one that experiences the highest increase. Aluminum, iron, copper and potassium are those elements that present a higher share of the material needs for green technologies. Besides, there are five elements that experience at least a six-fold increase in demand in that period: cobalt, lithium, magnesium, titanium and zinc. Comparing those results with Greenpeace's AE [R] scenario, which considers a 100% renewable supply by 2050, this increase is even higher. Therefore, avoiding the dependency on fossil fuels will imply to accept the dependency on raw materials.

Keywords: Energy transition; Energy scenarios; Mineral requirements; Green technologies; Exergy; IEA (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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