IEA says 'stockpiling' an option to avoid short-term disruption of critical minerals supplies

by John Shepherd
Report says demand for critical minerals 'set to soar'. Inset: Fatih Birol. Images: IEA
Governments should consider stockpiling materials vital to the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines, such as cobalt and lithium, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today.

The agency said clean energy demand for critical minerals is "set to soar as the world pursues net zero goals”.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said governments can significantly reduce the risks of price volatility and supply disruptions "by acting now and acting together”.

According to the IEA’s report – The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions – the energy sector’s overall needs for critical minerals could increase by as much as six times by 2040, depending on how rapidly governments act to reduce emissions.

'Massive deployment'

"The efforts of an ever-expanding number of countries and companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net zero call for the massive deployment of a wide range of clean energy technologies, many of which in turn rely on critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements,” the report said.

Current supply and investment plans for many critical minerals "fall well short of what is needed to support an accelerated deployment of solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles”, the report said.

Voluntary strategic stockpiling "can in some cases help countries weather short-term supply disruptions” – but such programmes "need to be carefully designed and based on a detailed review of potential vulnerabilities”.

The IEA’s report is online

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