Heldwein, O. K. A. (2022). Raw material gaps on the way to net zero by 2050? a case study for Nd focusing on wind energy and EVs [Master Thesis, Technische Universität Wien]. reposiTUm. https://doi.org/10.34726/hss.2022.103423
Net Zero 2050; critical raw materials; Neodymium; wind energy; electric vehicle
In order to limit the adverse impacts of climate change we already feel today, humanity has to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Many countries have committed to do that and pledged to reach net zero by the mid-century. To support these countries, the International Energy Agency has published a landmark report outlining a technically feasible and economically viable roadmap to reach net zero globally by 2050. This study dynamically modelled the demand for Nd, a critical raw material used in wind turbines and electric vehicles, that is needed to implement the roadmap outlined by the International Energy Agency and explores different scenarios for Nd demand. The results show that mining has to increase to meet the demand for Nd for wind turbines and EVs. Recycling will partly offset the demand for primary Nd from 2035 on and could cover 50 – 68 % of the Nd demand for wind turbines and 32 – 60 % for EVs in 2050. Assuming an increase in mining production of ~10% annually, the demand for primary Nd for wind turbines and EVs alone could exceed production for a short period of time around 2030 under a high demand scenario. If other uses for Nd are considered too, the high demand scenario overshoots the supply and only from 2035 onwards the demand can be met if Nd is recycled efficiently (recycling rate >50%). A considerable supply risk for Nd arises from the fact, that illegal mining in China makes up around 30% of the total supply. However, for the low demand scenario official mining, without any illegal mining, would be able cover all the demand and mining would not have to increase from 2030 onwards, as all increase in demand could be covered by recycling.