The role and challenges of rare earths in the energy transition

Stephane GOUTTE, Lisa Depraiter

The energy transition from fossil fuel energy to low-carbon energy is mineral intensive. Among the required minerals rare earth elements (REEs) are core components of clean energy technologies such as wind turbines and electric vehicles. This article focuses on the relationship between rare earth elements and the energy transition, while discussing demand and supply of these critical minerals in the energy transition process. We investigate the challenges regarding current and future supply of REEs for low-carbon technologies. The stakes and challenges are numerous between the Chinese quasi-monopoly, the absence of equivalent substitutes, the low recycling rates or even the environmental damage linked to the extraction and the production process. In the face of these issues, we propose concrete recommendations and policies in order to meet the ecological challenge of the energy transition and to ensure a reliable future supply.

Publication type: 
Scientific Article
Date de parution: 
Resources Policy