Dec 6, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The race to secure clean energy materials

Minerals used in power generation technologies
Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

One persistent theme in analyses of the transition to cleaner energy is the scramble to obtain supplies needed for renewables projects, electric vehicle batteries and other low-carbon tech.

The big picture: "A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant," the International Energy Agency noted in a report this year on critical minerals.

Zoom in: In recent days the New York Times published a deeply reported series on the race to secure supplies of cobalt — a key battery input — from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Chinese companies have been major dealmakers.

  • "The American government failed to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments it had made in Congo, even as China was positioning itself to dominate the new electric vehicle era," it reports.

Go deeper: The supply crunch that could slow the climate fight

Go deeper