Limited materials for a green future

  • The restricted supply of rare earth elements (REE) and platinum-group elements (PGE) may inhibit the development of green technologies such as new generation electromagnets and fuel cells.
  • These metals are distributed unevenly in finite quantities in the earth’s crust, with 97% of the world’s REEs produced in China, and 80% of the world’s platinum and rhodium coming from one source in South Africa.
  • Research by Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and the National Museum Wales has shown that unless new sources of these metals are discovered, the development of low carbon transport and wind power, may grind to a halt.

Concern has also been raised that Government decisions could heighten the issue if the  limited supplies are cut due to geopolitical or economic issues. This could affect the UK’s ability to develop new green technologies on the scale necessary to deliver carbon reduction targets, effectively stalling the move to a ‘green economy’.

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