While looking for a greener future for manufacturing, challenges arise when it comes to access to critical materials and resources.
The green-tech revolution will reduce our dependence on nuclear power, coal, and oil, heralding a new era free of pollution and fossil-fuel shortages. Yet the currently known global mineral reserves will not be sufficient to supply enough metals to manufacture the planned non-fossil fuel industrial system”, suggests a 2021 GTK (Geological Survey of Finland) research report. That means that our transition from fossil fuels to a green future comes with a new dependence on rare metals with a risk of shortages. We can see that China, Vietnam, and Russia now hold the largest REE (rare earth elements) reserves needed for green energy. And therefore, critical material scarcity could threaten a renewable energy future. Understanding this context can trigger new developments to be more efficient with the scarce resources we have and strengthen the security with respect to rare earth materials.
As a result of these described developments, Europe may increasingly focus on local and domestic production and sourcing. Another possibility could be that mines will be (re)-opened and metal extraction will start again on the continent. Ultimately, Europe needs to plan for actions to diversify sustainable material sourcing to not be dependent on only currently known mineral reserves.