Weaker position in a field crucial for energy transition: critical raw materials.
“The prices of a number of materials have risen significantly in recent months, but of course the prices of oil and natural gas have also risen significantly, IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agenc). Innovation and Technology Centre Told That,
The energy planning expert added that higher demand for raw materials caused by the e-mobility drive was enormous “because many new battery factories are being built.”
Uncertainty persists, though, as to what future generations of batteries will be made of. “What batteries will look like, exactly, is still a question mark,” Gielen said. “A few years ago, everybody was speaking about cobalt, but it now looks like the quantities of cobalt needed are significantly lower than previously anticipated. The future cathode material mix is still uncertain.”
Big mining projects take at least a couple of years to materialize and require long-term planning security, especially in light of high price volatility. Lithium prices crashed in 2017, but more than doubled in the past months, soaring to new record levels. According to Gielen, we should get used to such fluctuations.
Pandemic-related problems with investments, supply chains and logistics have compounded the situation further. European photovoltaic system developers recently reported that solar panels, mostly produced in China, are more expensive and difficult to find on the market than before. According to experts, such issues will be with us for some years to come.