The International Energy Agency has warned that high commodity prices could delay a transition to clean energy owing to the amount of metals needed for batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. Reaching the goals of the Paris climate agreement would result in a quadrupling of mineral demand by 2040, the IEA said. Yet a lack of investment in new mines risks substantially raising the costs of clean energy technologies, it said in a report published on Wednesday.
“Meeting the climate goals will turbocharge demand for critical minerals,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, told the Financial Times. “It [the energy transition] could definitely slow down as a result of increasing costs. ” Prices for commodities — from lithium to cobalt — have rallied this year as demand for clean energy technologies has increased and governments have rolled out green stimulus packages. Sales of electric cars rose by 41 per cent last year, according to the IEA, with about 3m sold globally.
“To have enough electric cars, wind turbines, hydrogen, solar, batteries — for these we need critical minerals at affordable prices otherwise it will be a formidable barrier to reach our climate goals,” Birol said.
The group of raw materials used batteries are expected to garner the biggest surge in demand, the report said. Demand for lithium is set to grow by more than 40 times if countries want to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, it said.