Energy Transition Metals Ready for Explosive and Uneven Race, Auto News, ET Auto

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In Wood Mackenzie’s 2ËšC scenario, demand from renewables, energy storage and transmission, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure will reach 24.4 million tonnes in 2025 and 42 million tonnes in 2030 against 13.5 million tonnes this year.

LONDON: Supported by strong demand expectations as the world moves away from reliance on fossil fuels, prices for many industrial metals have skyrocketed, but future price hikes will likely be limited to a few ingredients of the transition energetic.

The narrative of a synchronized recovery, characterized by some as a supercycle, is at odds with expectations that material shortages will occur at different times.

“Energy transition metals are going to take off a lot, but not all at the same time,” said Julian Kettle, analyst at Wood Mackenzie.

The easing of restrictions on coronaviruses and strong demand for manufacturing industrial metals sparked a speculative rally that cooled. Prices for copper, aluminum and tin are above levels necessary to encourage new capacity. Rare earths are not yet at incentive levels.

COPPER

Wood Mackenzie estimates that demand for copper from renewables, energy storage and transmission, and electric vehicles and charging infrastructure will more than double to 8.6 million tonnes in 2025 from levels 2020 in a scenario that limits global warming to less than 2 ° C.

WoodMac predicts that 15.1 million tonnes will be consumed in energy transition applications by 2030.

New supply will be needed, but miners are reluctant to invest after their experience of the past decade when investment collided with peak demand, causing prices and incomes to collapse.

The rising costs associated with environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues add to the challenges minors face.

Resource nationalism whereby countries aim to take a larger share of the incomes of miners is also an obstacle.

TIN

Tin is the forgotten infantryman of the energy transition, which will be the biggest driver of long-term demand for weld metal, Kettle said.

Almost 50% of tin demand, estimated at around 340,000 tonnes this year, is for electronic components, many of which are vital to the low-carbon economy.

Without tin, electrons do not circulate and batteries in electric vehicles do not charge.

Jeremy Pearce, analyst at the International Tin Association, estimates that electric vehicles, renewables and energy storage use about 45,000 tonnes of tin per year.

“It could reach 70,000 tonnes per year in 2025 and maybe 100,000 tonnes per year in 2030.”

RARE EARTH

Neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) magnets are used in wind turbine generators and electric vehicle motors.

Electric vehicles made without rare earths are less efficient because the battery must be around 30% larger to cover the same distance, analysts say.

CRU analyst Daan de Jonge sees the energy transition pushing NdPr demand and prices over the next few years to levels that encourage new projects, but cites caution.

“China owns the intellectual rights regarding the processing of rare earths. They have invested in the technology when others would not,” said de Jonge.

China’s dominant position in rare earths supply worries other countries

Processing rare earths is complicated because there are a lot of metals in the same ore, unlike copper ore, for example, which may only contain cobalt or molybdenum.

The CRU forecasts a NdPr demand for electric vehicles and wind turbines at 41,575 tonnes, or 62% of the total in 2025, against 20,544 tonnes or 42% of the total this year.

ALUMINUM

Aluminum weighs about a third of the weight of steel per cubic foot, helping to “lighten” electric vehicles and increase mileage before batteries need to be recharged.

In Wood Mackenzie’s 2ËšC scenario, demand from renewables, energy storage and transmission, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure will reach 24.4 million tonnes in 2025 and 42 million tonnes in 2030 against 13.5 million tonnes this year.

Total global aluminum demand is expected to reach around 76 million tonnes in 2025, up 10% from this year, leaving a supply gap of around two million tonnes.

The projected shortages are in part due to China’s carbon emissions targets. The China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry Association (CNIA) has set an interim target of peaking emissions by 2025.

“Total carbon dioxide emissions from the fusion were 420 million tonnes this year,” said ING analyst Wenyu Yao. “A spike by 2025 suggests China should cap its smelting capacity below 45 million tonnes.”

A pick-up in global demand as some economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a large cash injection from billions of dollars in stimulus packages and supply disruptions have pushed up the prices of some metals, especially copper and iron ore, at record levels.


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