There are certain metals which are currently used in low carbon technology, and may be in more demand in the future to help make cleaner/greener technology.
In this guide, we outline those metals and minerals for technology such as renewable energy and electric vehicles with electric batteries.
Examples Of How Metals Are Used In Clean Technology
Just a few examples are:
- Copper is used as a conductor for wind power
- Indium and gallium are used in the coatings of photovoltaic film
- Rare earth metals are used for a range of technologies from low-energy lighting and catalytic converters to the magnets used in wind turbines, EVs and computer hard-drives
- Various metals are used in electric car batteries
Metals Used In Renewable Energy, Electric Cars & Electric Batteries
Metals used in the following technology types are:
- Wind – Aluminum, Chromium, Copper, Indium, Iron (cast), Iron (magnet), Lead, Manganese, Molybdenum, Neodymium (proxy for rare earths), Nickel, Steel (engineering)
- Solar Photovoltaic – Aluminum, Copper, Indium, Lead, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silver, Zinc
- Concentrating Solar Power – Aluminum, Iron (cast), Silver
- Carbon Capture & Storage – Aluminum, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Indium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel
- Nuclear Power – Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Indium, Lead, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silver
- Light Emitting Diodes – Aluminum, Chromium, Copper, Indium, Iron (cast), Lead, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silver, Zinc
- Electric Vehicles – Cobalt, Copper, Manganese, Neodymium (proxy for rare earths), Nickel, Silver
- Energy Storage – Aluminum, Cobalt, Iron (cast), Nickel
- Electric Motors – Aluminum, Copper, Iron (magnet)
– carbonbrief.org, and documents.worldbank.org
In their article, Carbonbrief discuss the impact of using low carbon technology over time compared to conventional technology. They take into account energy and environmental impact during extraction and production, but also water footprint, and lifetime carbon footprint.
- Electric vehicles have lithium ion batteries which use rare earth metals, and lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite
Future Demand For Metals In Lower Carbon Technology
- [In terms of wind, solar and energy storage batteries] … metals which could see a growing market include aluminum (including its key constituent, bauxite), cobalt, copper, iron ore, lead, lithium, nickel, manganese, the platinum group of metals, silver, steel, titanium, zinc, and rare earth metals including cadmium, molybdenum, neodymium, and indium.
It can be hard to definitively say which metals will be in most demand in the future though. Technology and demand of the market can change with time. Forecasts can be made though based on current technology.