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

How energy subsidy reform can drive the Iranian power sector towards a low-carbon future 8/11/2022

How energy subsidy reform can drive the Iranian power sector towards a low-carbon future

Vahid Aryanpur, Mahshid Fattahi, Siab Mamipour, Mahsa Ghahremani, Brian ÓGallachóir, Payne Institute Director Morgan D. Bazilian, and James Glynn write about how substantial energy subsidies are recognised as the leading cause of Iran’s inefficient electricity generation and consumption. This paper investigates the impacts of subsidy removal on future electricity demand and the required generation mix. A hybrid modelling framework is developed to analyse supply and demand sides under harmonised assumptions. August 11, 2022.

NEW WINNERS, NEW LOSERS: TOWARD A NEW ENERGY SECURITY 8/4/2022

NEW WINNERS, NEW LOSERS: TOWARD A NEW ENERGY SECURITY

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian and Fellow Cullen Hendrix write about how we are in the midst of the biggest global energy crisis in history.  Old playbooks are not up to the task. This new paradigm will require making the new geopolitical risks and tradeoffs of sustainable energy systems explicit. It will also require figuring out how to ensure energy security for some — major powers and developed economies — does not create massive insecurity for the rest: the many developing countries that have huge unmet energy needs and significant natural resources. August 4, 2022. 

Manchin deal could raise new hurdles for electric vehicle incentives 8/4/2022

Manchin deal could raise new hurdles for electric vehicle incentives

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how Democrats’ push to boost electric vehicles could be hobbled by some of the protectionist supply chain provisions they included as requirements to get electric vehicle tax credits. Part of the credit is also tied to a percentage of battery components being manufactured in North America.  Experts and industry players have indicated that these provisions — particularly the critical minerals piece — represents a high bar, and may hamper electric vehicle adoption in the short term.  August 4, 2022.

Proposed Tax Break for Buying Electric Vehicles Is Too Hard to Get, Auto Makers Say 8/4/2022

Proposed Tax Break for Buying Electric Vehicles Is Too Hard to Get, Auto Makers Say

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how the draft rules in Senate climate package mean few current vehicles would be eligible.  Major automakers are pressing lawmakers to ease a proposed battery-sourcing  requirement for electric-vehicle tax breaks, saying that few, if any, plug-in models on sale today would qualify. But the proposal would stiffen the requirements for an electric vehicle to qualify. Only U.S.-built vehicles would be eligible. August 4, 2022.

Carmakers say the climate bill sets impossible targets 8/3/2022

Carmakers say the climate bill sets impossible targets

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how auto companies would qualify for electric vehicle tax credits only if they move supply chains out of China. The industry warns that could be too ambitious. The dispute underscores the immense challenge the United States faces in its effort to retake control of production lines at a critical moment in the energy transition. August 3, 2022.

Deep in the Democrats’ Climate Bill, Analysts See More Wins for Clean Energy Than Gifts for Fossil Fuel Business 8/3/2022

Deep in the Democrats’ Climate Bill, Analysts See More Wins for Clean Energy Than Gifts for Fossil Fuel Business

Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributed to this article about how the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions on electric vehicles, methane, industrial and agriculture policy add up to big greenhouse gas emissions cuts—if the bill can make it through Congress. At least three separate analyses by think tanks and academic institutions agree that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions some 40 percent by 2030—within striking distance of President Joe Biden’s pledge to cut emissions in half.  More evidence of the legislation’s potential to ignite a clean energy transition can be seen in the reaction it has spurred among the most ardent keepers of the fossil fuel status quo.  August 3, 2022.

Automakers Blitz Congress to Fix an EV Tax Credit They Can’t Use 8/2/2022

Automakers Blitz Congress to Fix an EV Tax Credit They Can’t Use

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributed to this article about how automakers including Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. are making a last-ditch lobbying push to change Democrats’ proposed new spending bill over concern that they stand to lose out from strict new limits on electric-vehicle credits. The extension on credits also included tough new limits on how much the EVs can cost, how much income their buyers can earn, and where the batteries and vehicles are made. With the Senate seeking to pass the hard-fought compromise bill in coming days, automakers are running out of time to get the tax-credit rules tweaked. August 2, 2022.

Scrap, sell, auction or repurpose? What’s the best business model for coal plant closure? 7/29/2022

Scrap, sell, auction or repurpose? What’s the best business model for coal plant closure?

Payne Institute Sustainable Finance Lab Program Manager Brad Handler and Deb Chattopadhyay write about how various business models and financial mechanisms are available to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants across the globe. But, which one is best depends on a multitude of factors such as the plant’s ownership, utilization prospects and the host government’s commitment.  Examples are provided  to illustrate the decision-making process of how to most quickly retire coal-fired power plants.  July 29, 2022.

Climate bill would create roadblock for full EV tax credit 7/28/2022

Climate bill would create roadblock for full EV tax credit

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian contributes to this article about how the climate deal struck yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin would significantly expand consumer tax credits for electric vehicles by offering a $7,500 tax credit to people buying an EV made with a certain percentage of minerals mined or processed in nations with U.S. free trade agreements, or recycled in North America.  But there’s a catch: The EV supply chain required for the tax credit doesn’t exist.  July 28, 2022.

Payne Institute welcomes Dr. Caitlin McKennie

PAYNE INSTITUTE WELCOMES DR. CAITLIN McKENNIE RESEARCH ASSOCIATE FOR CRITICAL MINERALS

The Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines announced that Dr. Caitlin McKennie has joined the institute as a Researcher, and will be focusing her work on critical minerals.  July 20, 2022.

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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 Deputy Director, Greg Clough, at gclough@mines.edu.