The Availability of Critical Minerals for China’s Renewable Energy Development: An Analysis of Physical Supply
- 54 Downloads
In the context of depletion of fossil energy and environmental impacts of its use, society has begun to develop vigorously renewable energy (RE). As a result, concerns about the availability of critical minerals used in RE systems have been raised. This paper uses a generalized Weng model to analyze the long-term production of critical minerals for China’s RE development. In our pessimistic case, the results show that the production of most of the minerals investigated for China will peak before 2030, with a relatively high decline rate thereafter. This is an unsustainable situation for China’s RE development unless large and growing quantities of these minerals can be imported. In our optimistic case, although this delays the peak date only slightly, it significantly increases the maximum production rate and lowers the subsequent decline rate. The impacts of many other factors on production, and the implications of China’s domestic minerals production on world’s minerals supply chain, are also analyzed. We conclude that both China and the world should pay close attention to the potential supply risks to critical minerals. Possible measures in response are suggested for both China and the world.
KeywordsResource availability Renewable energy Minerals Supply
This research has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71874201, 71503264, 71673297, and 71874202) and the Humanities and Social Sciences Youth Foundation of the Ministry of Education of China (Grant No. 19YJCZH106). We also received helpful comments from Dr Roger Bentley of the Petroleum Analysis Centre, Ireland, and from anonymous reviewers.
- Banegas, H. (2011). Analysis of the potential, market and technologies of geothermal resources in Honduras. United Nations University Reports. Retieved December 26, 2018 from https://orkustofnun.is/gogn/unu-gtp-report/UNU-GTP-2011-12.pdf.
- British Petroleum (BP). (2011–2019). BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011–2019. Retieved August 13, 2019 from http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview.
- Candeias, C., Ávila, P. F., Da Silva, E. F., & Teixeira, J. P. (2015). Integrated approach to assess the environmental impact of mining activities: Estimation of the spatial distribution of soil contamination (Panasqueira mining area, Central Portugal). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment,187(3), 135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chen, J., & Cheng, J. H. (2015). Environmental impact of mineral resources development and utilization in China. China Population, Resources and Environment,25(3), 111–119.Google Scholar
- China’s National Renewable Energy Center (CNREC). (2018). China’s renewable energy outlook 2018. http://www.cnrec.org.cn/cbw/zh/2018-10-22-541.html.
- Cui, M. H. (2017). Industrialization of urban mineral development and use. Resources and Industries,19(6), 64–70.Google Scholar
- Diederen, A. M. (2009). Metal minerals scarcity: A call for managed austerity and the elements of hope. The Oildrum,1, 1–15.Google Scholar
- Dou, H. L., Wang, B., Zhang, J. Y., & Jia, G. X. (2016). Research progress of solar photovoltaic power generation materials. Modern Manufacturing Technology and Equipment,12, 46–48.Google Scholar
- Enshe, D. U., & Zhou, H. S. (2008). Environmental impact and economic gain-loss assessment for mineral resources exploitation of a mine area in Xinmi County. Resources Science,30(3), 440–445.Google Scholar
- European Union (EU). (2017). Communication from the Commission to the European parliament, the Council, the European economic and social committee and the Committee of the regions on the 2017 list of Critical Raw Materials for the EU. COM/2017/0490 final. Retrieved January 10, 2019 from https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52017DC0490.
- Fan, Z. L. (2018). Technological progress, efficiency and depletion of mineral resources. China Population, Resources and Environment,28(215), 195–198.Google Scholar
- Feng, L., Wang, J. L., & Zhao, L. (2010). Construction and application of a multi-cycle model in the prediction of natural gas production. Natural Gas Industry,30(7), 114–116.Google Scholar
- Fischer-Kowalski, M., Swilling, M., von Weizsäcker, E. U., Ren, Y., Morigichi, Y., Crane, W., et al. (2011). Decoupling natural resources use and environmental impacts from economic growth. United Nations Environment Programme. A report of the working group on decoupling to the international resource panel.Google Scholar
- Gantner, O. (2015). Ressourcenstrategische Betrachtung der Kritikalität von Phosphor. Ph.D. thesis, University of Augsburg.Google Scholar
- Hall, J., & Nicholls, S. (2007). Valuation of mining projects using option pricing techniques. JASSA,4, 22–29.Google Scholar
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2014). Climate change 2014: Synthesis report. In Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (Eds.), Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
- International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). (2018). Renewable capacity statistics 2018. Abu Dhabi. Retrieved March 15, 2019 from https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2018/Mar/IRENA_RE_Capacity_Statistics_2018.pdf.
- International Energy Agency (IEA). 2008. World Energy Outlook 2008. November 2008.Google Scholar
- International Energy Agency (IEA). 2019. World Energy Investment 2019. November 2019.Google Scholar
- Ji, Y. S., & Wang, S. F. (2012). Constructing China’s technological innovation strategy for mineral resources. Industrial Technology and Economy,31(3), 3–8.Google Scholar
- Li, X. N., Huang, Z., & Li, Y. (2016). Analysis of global supply and demand pattern of germanium resources. China Mining Magazine,25, 13–17.Google Scholar
- Li, T. F., Xia, Q. L., Wang, X. Q., Liu, Y., Chang, L. H., & Leng, S. (2018a). Metallogenic geological characteristics and mineral resource potential of rare earth element resources in China. Earth Science Frontiers,25(3), 95–106.Google Scholar
- Luo, T., Ault, G., & Galloway, S. (2010). Demand Side Management in a highly decentralized energy future. In 45th international universities power engineering conference UPEC 2010.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Natural Resources of China (MNRC). (2018). China mineral resources 2019. Beijing: Geological Publishing House.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Natural Resources of China (MNRC). (2019). China mineral resources 2019. Beijing: Geological Publishing House.Google Scholar
- Moss, R. L., Tzimas, E., Kara, H., Willism P., & Kooroshy, J. (2011). Critical metals in strategic energy technologies. JRC-scientific and strategic reports, European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Energy and Transport, http://www.energie-nachrichten.info/file/News/11116_ER_Bericht_JRC%20critical%20metals_e.pdf.
- Nakicenovic, N. (1997). Decarbonization as a long-term energy strategy. In Y. Kaya & K. Yokobori (Eds.), Environment, energy and economy. Tokyo: United Nations University Press.Google Scholar
- National Development and Reform Commission of China (NRDC). (2016). In 13th five-year plan for renewable energy development. Retrieved December 10, 2018 from http://www.ndrc.gov.cn/fzgggz/fzgh/ghwb/gjjgh/201706/t20170614_850910.html.
- National Research Council (NRC). (2008). Committee on critical mineral impacts on the US economy. Minerals, critical minerals, and the US economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Ragnarsdottir, K. V., Sverdrup, H., & Koca, D. (2012). Assessing long-term sustainability of global supply of natural resources and materials. In C. Ghenai (Ed.), Sustainable development-116. Energy, engineering and technologies—manufacturing and environment, pp. 83–116, Chapter 5, http://www.intechweb.org.
- Song, J. J. (2015). Reflections on improving the efficiency of exploitation and utilization of mineral resources. Land and Resources Information,9, 28–33.Google Scholar
- Tang, X., Feng, L. Y., & Zhao, L. (2009). Prediction of world oil supply pattern based on generalized Weng’s model. Resource Science,31(2), 238–242.Google Scholar
- Tokimatsu, K., Höök, M., McLellan, B., Wachtmeister, H., Murakami, S., Yasuoka, R., et al. (2018). Energy modeling approach to the global energy-mineral nexus: Exploring metal requirements and the well-below 2 °C target with 100 percent renewable energy. Applied Energy,225, 1158–1175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Trump, D. (2017). U.S. Executive Order No. 13817, Presidential executive order on a federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals. https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-executiveorder-federal-strategy-ensure-secure-reliable-supplies-critical-minerals/.
- United Nations (UN). (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Accessed on 21 Oct. 2019.Google Scholar
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). (1996–2017). Minerals Commodity Summaries 1996–2017. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/.
- Wang, C., Yang, B., & Tang, J. (2017b). Research progress of copper antimony sulfur group thin film materials and photovoltaic devices. Science Bulletin,14, 15–25.Google Scholar
- Wen, D. H. (2019). Study on critical mineral resources: Significance of research, determination of types, attributes of resources, progress of prospecting, problems of utilization, and direction of exploitation. Acta Geologica Sinica,93(6), 1189–1209.Google Scholar
- Xie, X. B., Yan, L., & Luo, B. (2011). Analysis of sustainable development model and mechanism of mineral resources industry. Research on Science and Technology Management,31(22), 108–112.Google Scholar
- Zhong, J. M., Wang, L. H., Shi, W. F., Zhong, X., Ha, M., & Zheng, W. (2015). Research on silver powder for photovoltaic silver. Powder Metallurgy Industry,6, 6–13.Google Scholar
- Ziemann, S., Grunwald, A., Schebek, L., Müller, D. B., & Weil, M. (2013). The future of mobility and its critical raw materials. International Journal of Metallurgy,110(1), 47–54.Google Scholar