More recycling needed for renewable energy, suggests study


A report from WWF has said that more recycling will be required to support greater use of renewable energy.

The wildlife charity said that the growing demand for renewable energy could put pressure on the supply of critical materials required in the production of renewable energy infrastructure.


In the report, Critical Materials for the Transition to 100% Sustainable Energy Future, WWF notes that the most critical supply bottleneck of non-energy raw materials are lithium and cobalt, which are used for batteries in electric vehicle. Much more recycling of these is needed to address this supply bottleneck along with substitution of lithium where possible and using less cobalt-intensive cathodes.

Geopolitical issues may also have an impact on the availability of rare earth metals.However, indium, gallium and tellurium that are all used in solar power can be substituted by applying technologies requiring less critical materials such as silicon.

WWF global energy policy director Stephan Singer said that the growing demand for technologies such as mobile phones, flat screen TVs, computers and batteries, which use the same minerals as renewable energy, was driving enhanced mineral exploitation.

He added: “A new political legislation is needed in all major economies to promote material recycling and drive substantial technological development to ensure that critical materials required to make renewable energy technology remain available.”