Demand for key minerals grows in net zero scenarios

Chief Europe Correspondent
Chart of annual demand for key transition metals in energy transition
Source: BloombergNEF Transition Metals Outlook • ETS = Economic Transition Scenario; NZS = Net Zero Scenario. Energy transition includes power generation, battery storage, power grids and transport sectors.

The world’s journey to a cleaner energy future will require a lot of metals and minerals. By mid-century, we will see a significant uptick in the amount of metals needed, as the chart based on BloombergNEF data above shows.

In a recent two-part explainer, we wrote about the critical minerals needed to power the clean energy transition and how to get them in a responsible and sustainable way.

Volumes—represented by the different sizes of each of these bubbles—tell only one side of the story. The other side is how big of a role each metal plays in the transition itself.

For example, while clean energy technologies, such as power generation infrastructure, battery and storage equipment, require a high volume of steel, its use in this sector represents a small share compared to steel’s total demand in the overall economy.

In contrast, lithium volumes in the economy writ large are smaller, but most demand for the mineral by 2050 will be for the energy transition under a net zero scenario.