Time for a Responsible Clean Energy Supply Chain

Time for a Responsible Clean Energy Supply Chain

Renewable energy needs to be sourced responsibly and cleanly.

The world will require 50 percent more energy in 2050 than we produce today, and much of that growth will come from renewables and clean energy technologies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that renewables will contribute 50 percent of global electricity generation in the next thirty years. The World Bank, Energy Information Administration, International Energy Agency (IEA), and the International Renewable Energy Agency all predict unprecedented growth in minerals-intensive clean energy technologies in the next 30 years.

But how will these minerals be sourced and produced? Can they be developed in a manner consistent with international best practice, or does the supply chain involved flout human rights, environmental protections, and transparency standards? Can clean energy be produced in a responsible and sustainable way?

The Trump administration has been grappling with these difficult and urgent questions. The transition to clean energy technologies will require an exponential growth in demand for minerals. For example, certain minerals have cross-cutting applications, such as copper. An electric vehicle has at least four times the copper as an internal combustion engine, and copper is needed for electrification and heating systems. To keep pace with clean energy demand, the world will need to produce the same amount of copper in the next 25 years as human beings produced in the last 5,000.