LDE white paper: Critical materials, green energy and geopolitics: a complex mix

News - 28 June 2022 - Communication BK

The Green Deal, formulated by the European Union, comprises climate targets that are as ambitious as they are all-important. It aims to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gasses to zero by 2050, without depleting resources and leaving no person or region behind. Seven scientists from the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Universities wrote the whitepaper ‘Critical materials, green energy and geopolitics: a complex mix’, offering science-based knowledge and strategies for achieving these aims. The paper has now become available.

The paper describes the energy transition as a switch from fossil fuels to metals such as iron, copper, lithium and rare earth metals. These metals are needed for producing the required wind turbines, solar panels, electrolysers and batteries, making them critical materials for achieving the energy transition. Currently, the Netherlands and the EU must import the bulk of these materials, making us dependent on other countries.

Material shortages and industrial policies: from past to present

As consumers, we mainly notice the shortages in sunflower seeds, grain, caused by the war in Ukraine, and the shortages in computer chips that is a result of the COVID pandemic. But there are more shortages, especially impacting the resources needed to accomplish the energy transition. David Peck is one of seven scientists interviewed for this white paper with the article 'Material shortages and industrial policy over the years'. In his PhD-thesis, Peck analysed various response strategies to resource constraints. “We can learn a lot from how governments have tried to resolve these issues in the past.”

Header image: Getty Images

More information

  • Read the full article about the white paper on the LDE website.
  • View the all seven articles in the LDE white paper.
  • Read the interview with David Peck 'Material shortages and industrial policy over the years'.
  • David Peck is associate professor at the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft. He specializes in critical materials and circular product design.