EU low-carbon future at risk

12th December 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Renewable ,
  • Generation ,
  • Procurement ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Energy



Supplies of five metals key to low-carbon energy technologies are at risk and could hinder the adoption of wind and photovoltaic energy generation in the EU, according to a study for the European Commission.

The research examined the use of 14 metals in the six low-carbon energy technologies in the 2007 EU strategic energy technology plan – bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, electricity grids, nuclear, solar and wind.

Demand for three metals classified as “at high risk” – gallium, indium and tellurium – is expected to soar, if, as projected, there is a greater shift towards CdTe (cadmium telluride) and CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) thin-film technologies in the photovoltaics industry.

The study estimates that such moves could considerably increase the annual demandto-supply for tellurium by 48%, for indium by 32% and for gallium by approximately 8%. The forecasted shift in wind technology from electromagnetic systems towards permanent magnetic-based direct-drive systems is expected to increase the EU demand for dysprosium and neodymium to around 4% of the current world supply of the metals, which are considered to be at high risk of shortage.

The analysis advises the commission to resist favouring one technology over another, for fear of being locked into a technology that may struggle to source sufficient materials.

Meanwhile, the environment commissioner Janez Potočnik has declared that the time for resource efficiency has come. “Increasing resource constraints are inevitable, so resource efficiency is a necessity,” he recently told MEPs on the European Parliament’s environment committee.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Swing voters show strong support for renewables

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close