Clean energy investments around the world have been growing at more than USD 300 billion annually since the past five years.
McKinsey’s Global Energy Perspective 2019 predicts that by 2035, renewable energy generation will account for 50% of the world’s total generation. That, in turn, is expected to substantially increase the demand for several metals like copper, aluminium, bauxite, iron, lead, graphite, tin, nickel and zinc which are used to produce renewable energy.
To get an idea of how much metal is required for the renewables sector, consider this: a single 150-metre 3MW wind turbine requires 4.7 tonnes of copper, 335 tonnes of steel, 3 tonnes of aluminium and 2 tonnes of rare earth metal along with Zinc and Molybdenum (Source: World Bank). Similarly, though silver makes up for a minute portion of a PV cell, solar accounts for seven percent of the global silver demand.
A report by the Visual Capitalist notes that the rapid emergence of the world’s renewable energy sector is helping set the stage for a commodity boom.
“While oil has traditionally been the most interesting commodity to investors in the past, the green energy sector is reliant on the unique electrical and physical properties of many different metals to work optimally. To build more renewable capacity and to store that energy efficiently, we will need to increase the available supply for these specific raw materials, or face higher costs for each material,” it states.