Mineral Foundations of the Energy Transition

Implications of energy transition on increased demand for minerals and the impacts on markets, trade, security, communities, geopolitics, prices, and technology development

Implications of energy transition on increased demand for minerals and the impacts on markets, trade, security, communities, geopolitics, prices, and technology development

Dr. Morgan Bazilian – congressional testimony to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the United States Senate -September 17, 2019

The current energy transformations now occurring globally—towards increased electrification, and low-carbon technologies, such as electric vehicles, fuel cells, wind turbines and solar photovoltaics (PV) rely on significant quantities of minerals and metals. The implications of increasing mineral demand has broad ramifications that go well beyond the energy and extractives sector.

Background

Calls for a Green New Deal and energy transition are coming from many global stakeholders. Less understood are the significant quantities of minerals that will be needed to fuel that transition.  Examples include the rare earths neodymium and dysprosium for magnets in high-efficiency motors; lithium, cobalt, nickel and vanadium in energy storage; and platinum-group elements in catalysts and fuel cells. To supply the necessary minerals the mining industry is confronted with numerous challenges related to environment, innovation, investment, social license to operate among others.

Additionally, (or most) of the countries with the largest potentials (and existing markets) for these minerals are emerging and developing economies. This creates further concerns around governance and a changing geopolitical landscape. How this changing demand affects markets, trade, security, geopolitics, prices, and technology development are key questions to that require further exploration.

As one of the leading energy engineering universities in the world, Colorado School of Mines and the Payne Institute is facilitating an integrated approach to the technical and policy challenges related to the mineral foundations of the energy transition.  Through research and collaboration with industry, government and other stakeholders, Mines is providing research and data to support decision-making and further consideration of the topic.

NEWS

Regulation to play a key role in India’s gas ambitions 10/15/2020

Regulation to play a key role in India’s gas ambitions

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Greer Gosnell and Payne Faculty Fellow Ian Lange write about how India’s government has in recent months reaffirmed its commitment to the development of an expanded domestic gas grid and cross-border interconnections such as the long-mooted Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline. But the experience of the US gas market suggests that smart and considered government gas transport regulation could play as crucial a role in boosting Indian gas demand as simply increasing pipeline capacity.  October 15, 2020.

Sociotechnical typologies for national energy transitions 10/14/2020

Sociotechnical typologies for national energy transitions

Norbert Edomah, Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian, and Ben Sovacool write about the energy landscape and how it is changing dramatically. It is populated by many different and discrete energy transitions happening simultaneously in across different sectors, with dynamically different drivers, and across varying locations. This Perspective proposes a new three-part categorization to help better understand the myriad socio-technical changes being witnessed, which cut across user and market behaviour as well as institutions and technologies. We express energy transitions in three categories: Interim energy transitions, shaped by policies without necessarily public acceptance, mostly within non-democratic regimes. October 14, 2020.

Responsible or reckless? A critical review of the environmental and climate assessments of mineral supply chains 10/13/2020

Responsible or reckless? A critical review of the environmental and climate assessments of mineral supply chains

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Jordy Lee, Director Morgan Bazilian, Ben Sovacool, and Suzanne Greene write a paper that critically reviews and identifies gaps in the methodologies used to analyze the environmental impacts of mineral and metal global supply chains. Of specific focus are assessments of the extraction and production of minerals and metals needed for a low-carbon energy future. Current trends and projections suggest that the future low-carbon energy system will have greater material needs than the current one. October 13, 2020.

REFRESHING GLOBAL ENERGY SECURITY POLICY AND INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE ENERGY TRANSITION 10/6/2020

REFRESHING GLOBAL ENERGY SECURITY POLICY AND INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE ENERGY TRANSITION

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian was a collaborator on the T20 Saudi Arabia 2020 THINK policy briefing Refreshing Global Energy Security Policy and the Infrastructure for the Energy Transition for the G20.  The Group of 20 (G20) members have discussed energy security for many years, and now have an opportunity to modernize and redefine global, regional, and national energy security frameworks to align with the transition to a lower-carbon energy system. Member countries should take steps to ensure that emerging vulnerabilities stemming from the rapid growth of new energy forms can be understood and managed both collectively and within their specific contexts. As all energy sectors transition, collective efforts toward energy security can progress by (i) developing a timely, transparent, and objective approach to data gathering and dissemination for the production, consumption, and trade of new energy forms and key mineral inputs; (ii) establishing an expert international advisory panel to the G20 on the topic of energy security in the context of energy transitions; and (iii) launching an effort on forward-looking energy security policy.  October 6, 2020. 

Strategic Intelligence – Mining and Metals 9/23/2020

Strategic Intelligence – Mining and Metals

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Jordy Lee has documented the paradigm shift in the mining and metals industry, as it incorporates greater sustainability, absorbs technical innovation from other sectors, and seeks a way forward in the midst of a pandemic. By focussing on modernization, digitalization, and transparency, the industry can strengthen its foundational role in a rapidly evolving global economy. However, effectively managing related changes will require greater adaptability, transformative thinking, and building stronger relationships in a global context.  September 23, 2020. 

It’s time for states that grew rich from oil, gas and coal to figure out what’s next 9/23/2020

It’s time for states that grew rich from oil, gas and coal to figure out what’s next

Payne Institute Fellow Brad Handler, Matt Henry, and Morgan Bazilian write about the very challenging times for U.S. fossil fuel-producing states, such as Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota. The COVID-19 economic downturn has reduced energy demand, with uncertain prospects for the extent of its recovery. Meanwhile, rising concern about climate change and the declining cost of renewable energy are precipitating a sharp decline in demand for coal in particular.  September 23, 2020. 

11 WAYS TO MEASURE CLEAN GROWTH 9/22/2020

11 WAYS TO MEASURE CLEAN GROWTH

Payne Institute Senior Research Associate Sara Hastings-Simon contributes to this report from the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices that highlights the multiple facets of clean growth by unpacking the connections between economic growth, climate change, and human well-being. We identify 11 data-driven indicators that, together, can guide efforts by governments, businesses, and communities to not only tackle climate change but to do so in a way that achieves sustained growth and the best overall outcomes for people and society as a whole.  September 22, 2020.  

BP Releases Energy Outlook 9/14/2020

BP Releases Energy Outlook

Payne Institute Fellow Michael Cohen, Chief U.S. Economist and Head of Oil Analysis at BP, produced the Energy Outlook that explores the forces shaping the global energy transition out to 2050 and the key uncertainties surrounding that transition. The global energy system is likely to undergo a fundamental restructuring in order to decarbonize, which will create challenges and opportunities for the industry. Three main scenarios – Rapid, Net Zero, and Business-as-usual – provide a range of possible outcomes to understand the range of uncertainties ahead.  September 14, 2020. 

Mines researcher contributing to $4M DOE project for energy-efficient steelmaking 9/9/2020

Mines researcher contributing to $4M DOE project for energy-efficient steelmaking

Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Sridhar Seetharaman has been awarded a $4 million dollar grant to prove the economic viability of increased renewal energy usage in steel production.  Researchers believe the de-carbonization of the steel industry can be achieved by connecting ironmaking to renewable electric power through electrolytically produced hydrogen.  September 9, 2020.

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For more information about the Mineral Foundations of the Energy Transition Research Area at the Payne Institute for Public Policy, please contact our Strategy and Operations Manager, Greg Clough, at gclough@mines.edu.