Publication details


Strategies for Sustainable Raw Material Supply for Electric Vehicles - Synthesis Paper on Raw Material Demand for BEV and FCEV


Electric vehicles are the key to decarbonising the transport sector. Indeed, research shows that the rapid, robust and widespread adoption of vehicles powered with electricity from batteries or fuel cells is essential for the global transport sector to become climate-neutral by 2050. However, a range of non-renewable materials that are only mined in a limited range of countries are required to manufacture batteries and fuel cells. This study examines whether these commodities (i.e. lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite for batteries, and platinum for fuel cells) are available in sufficient quantities for the large-scale production of electric vehicles. In this con nection, it explores how market prices for key commod ities could potentially develop in coming decades. It also considers measures for ensuring raw-materials mining is socially and environmentally sustainable. The study’s estimates are based on the climate protection scenarios developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Specifically, we estimate the commodity needs in 2030 and 2050 that would be associated with the IEA’s forecasts for growth in electric-powered trucks, cars, buses, motorcycles and pedelecs. Our study assumes continued use of lithium-ion batteries up to 2050. In light of our findings we have developed seven rec- ommendations for action to safeguard the supply of raw materials needed to manufacture electric vehicle batteries and fuel cells. On the one hand, these recom - mendations seek to reduce the demand for primary raw materials in order to minimise the possibility of tempo- rary bottlenecks or price increases. On the other hand, our recommendations are designed to improve environ - mental and social conditions across the entire commod - ities supply chain, particularly in source countries. This, in turn, should improve the integrity and reliability of supply networks. Systematic recycling of the raw materials used to pro- duce batteries and fuel cells would reduce demand for primary raw materials. As a result, recycling would help to ward off temporary production bottlenecks and asso- ciated price increases that could impair the adoption of electric vehicles. In order to improve the legal basis for an efficient recycling system, we recommend reforming the EU Battery Directive. A revised directive could establish quotas for the recycling of lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. We also recommend the development of a global recycling system for lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, we advocate a research offensive in the area of battery technology in order to promote material efficiency, the use of substitute materials and the improvement of recy - cling techniques. Beyond reducing demand for raw materials, a compre- hensive recycling system could alleviate environmental and social problems across the entire supply chain for lithium-ion batteries. n order to improve the environmental and working conditions associated with the mining of raw materi - als necessary for manufacturing electric vehicles, we recommend the establishment of a global industrial alliance for sustainable lithium. The goal of this initiative would be to develop and implement standards to ensure raw materials extraction is socially and environmentally sustainable. Against the backdrop of the problematic mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we recommend that companies adopt a Due Diligence Codex for Cobalt. Such due diligence practices have previously proven beneficial for minimising the risks posed by conflict materials for workers, human health and the environment. One route for supporting the adoption of such practices is by promoting international coopera- tion in sustainable mining. Cooperative activities in this area should aim to facilitate the sharing of technology and knowledge that enables sustainable industrial and artisanal mining practices. Such activities would have the added benefit of enhancing security of supply for important raw materials. As one cannot forecast the precise developments that will be witnessed in the coming years and decades in the dynamic market for the commodities needed to fuel the rise of electric vehicles, we advocate the adoption of an Electric Vehicle Commodities Radar to monitor the availability of raw materials on an ongoing basis. The goal of such a monitoring system would be to anticipate supply bottlenecks and price increases as well as to ena- ble the implementation of targeted countermeasures.

Date:October 1st, 2017
File: (? MB)
Author/Authors:Buchert, Matthias
Degreif, Stefanie
Dolega, Peter



AGORA Verkerswende


Project Name:Strategies for Sustainable Raw Material Supply for Electric Vehicles
Topics:Mineral resources and metals Renewable raw materials