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Critical Materials for Climate Technologies in the EU
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  • Patrick Schmidt ,
  • Robin Barkhausen ,
  • Alexander Hofmann ,
  • Estelle Gervais ,
  • Johannes Heumann
Patrick Schmidt
Fraunhofer IWU

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Robin Barkhausen
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Alexander Hofmann
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Estelle Gervais
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Johannes Heumann
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Against the backdrop of the climate crisis, countries worldwide agreed in the Paris agreement to keep global warming below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, ideally below 1.5°C. The EU set out the goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 - a goal for which the energy sector will play a central role, as the production and use of energy is responsible for more than 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. To transition to low carbon energy production, photovoltaic and wind turbines, coupled with energy conversion technologies such as electrolysers, fuel cells, and batteries, are believed to be key solutions. But these technologies require substantial amounts of scarce raw materials with EU import dependency and environmental and social problems connected to extraction and refining. The vulnerability of the EU energy sector became apparent in 2022 at the example of its dependency on Russian oil and gas. The supply chain for clean energy technologies could be equally vulnerable and jeopardise the achievement of EU climate targets.
A plethora of studies dealing with resource scarcity has been performed. These studies, however, differ in their results regarding the most critical materials and often only provide vague recommendations on how to increase the resilience of the production and supply chains. Hence, it is of interest to synthesize the findings of major studies from renowned institutions, identify commonalities as well as differences, filter out areas with need for immediate action and create an overview of critical materials in climate technologies.