DOE - 2010 Critical Materials Strategy
About the report
The purpose of the report is to evaluate the role of rare earth elements in the development of wind turbines, electric vehicles, solar cells and energy-efficient lighting. Fourteen rare earth elements were analyzed, with 5 elements recognized as the most critical: dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium and yttrium, as well as indium.
While the name implies a hard-to-obtain metal, rare earths are actually quite abundant. They are spread out across the globe, however China currently produces 95% of the rare earth elements that are traded globally. In August, China slashed exports, causing concern in many importing countries over future development of renewable energy technologies. While mining companies in other countries are also mining rare earth elements, the lead time to creating a new mine is long with large capital needed to get them online.
The DOE report outlines a strategy in near-term, mid-term, and long-term to helping ensure success in renewable energy development by minimizing risks associated with potential supply failures. The report includes an overall strategy, and program and policy directions.