Image credits: Scott Webb
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News Article

Solar Energy Demand to Stimulate Mining Sector

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Wed, 08/11/2021 - 10:54

As solar energy technology displaces coal as the cheapest energy source and world governments strive to ramp up their energy transition efforts to meet net zero commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate agreement, demand for integral components like non-ferrous metals aluminum, copper and zinc are expected to double by 2040, reports Wood Mackenzie.

Costs in concentrated solar energy decreased by 16 percent in just one year and it is expected to continue falling with more investment and innovation according to the 2020 International Renewable Energy Agency report. By applying this technology economies no longer have to choose between meeting growing demand and sustainability, thereby giving added optimism to successfully meeting Net Zero commitments by 2050.

This timely confirmation, presents the base metal sector with an enormous opportunity. As previously reported by MBN, mineral demand for clean technologies is expected to continue rising through 2050, thereby requiring the mining industry to invest US$1.7 trillion over the next 15 years if it is to supply enough metals for the green shift.

Aluminum, used for the frame and structural parts is expected to see the greatest demand growth, from just under 3 percent consumption in 2020 to an estimated 12.6 percent in 2040. By that account, that is equivalent to 2.4 million tonnes (Mt) in 2020 to an increase of 4.6 Mt in 2040, according to Mackenzie’s baseline scenario. If the world´s economies honestly engage in a rapid energy transition consumption growth could reach as much as 8.5 Mt to 10 Mt by 2040, according to their accelerated energy transition model.

Copper, which is used in both high and low voltage transmission cables and solar thermal collectors is also expected to make notable gains. Respectively, consumption is expected to grow from 0.4 Mt in 2020 to 0.7 Mt by 2040 by the baseline model or as much as 1.3 Mt and 1.6 Mt by 2040 under the accelerated model.

Zinc, which offers low-cost corrosion protections to large scale solar plants could see their current consumption grow from 0.4 Mt to as much as 0.8 Mt by 2040 or between 1.7 Mt and 2.1 Mt under the accelerated model.

Currently, Mexico ranks among the Top 10 countries in the production of 17 minerals and stands to make considerable revenue form the large amounts of green metals in its territory. With this driving force behind the sector, the industry which has the resources and the capacity available could become an even more important global mining power.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Wood Mackenzie
Photo by:   Scott Webb
Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst