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Energy Shift

The Raw Materials That Fuel the Green Revolution

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The Raw Materials That Fuel the Green Revolution

The Raw Materials That Fuel the Green Revolution

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

Records for renewable energy consumption were smashed around the world in 2017.

Looking at national and state grids, progress has been extremely impressive. In Costa Rica, for example, renewable energy supplied five million people with all of their electricity needs for a stretch of 300 consecutive days. Meanwhile, the U.K. broke 13 green energy records in 2017 alone, and California’s largest grid operator announced it got 67.2% of its energy from renewables (excluding hydro) on May 13, 2017.

The corporate front is also looking promising, and Google has led the way by buying 536 MW of wind power to offset 100% of the company’s electricity usage. This makes the tech giant the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy on the planet.

But while these examples are plentiful, this progress is only the tip of the iceberg – and green energy still represents a small but rapidly growing segment. For a full green shift to occur, we’ll need to 10x what we’re currently sourcing from renewables.

To do this, we will need to procure massive amounts of natural resources – they just won’t be the fossil fuels that we’re used to.

Green Metals Required

Today’s infographic comes from Cambridge House as a part of the lead-up to their flagship conference, the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018.

A major theme of the conference is sustainable energy – and the math indeed makes it clear that to fully transition to a green economy, we’ll need vast amounts of metals like copper, silicon, aluminum, lithium, cobalt, rare earths, and silver.

These metals and minerals are needed to generate, store, and distribute green energy. Without them, the reality is that technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, nuclear reactors, and electric vehicles are simply not possible.

First Principles

How do you get a Tesla to drive over 300 miles (480 km) on just one charge?

Here’s what you need: a lightweight body, a powerful electric motor, a cutting-edge battery that can store energy efficiently, and a lot of engineering prowess.

Putting the engineering aside, all of these things need special metals to work. For the lightweight body, aluminum is being substituted in for steel. For the electric motor, Tesla is using AC induction motors (Model S and X) that require large amounts of copper and aluminum. Meanwhile, Chevy Bolts and soon Tesla will use permanent magnet motors (in the Model 3) that use rare earths like neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium.

The batteries, as we’ve shown in our five-part Battery Series, are a whole other supply chain challenge. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs need lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and many other metals or minerals to function. Each Tesla battery, by the way, weighs about 1,200 lbs (540 kg) and makes up 25% the total mass of the car.

While EVs are a topic we’ve studied in depth, the same principles apply for solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear reactors, grid-scale energy storage solutions, or anything else we need to secure a sustainable future. Solar panels need silicon and silver, while wind turbines need rare earths, steel, and aluminum.

Even nuclear, which is the safest energy type by deaths per TWh and generates barely any emissions, needs uranium in order to generate power.

The Pace of Progress

The green revolution is happening at a breakneck speed – and new records will continue to be set each year.

Over $200 billion was invested into renewables in 2016, and more net renewable capacity was added than coal and gas put together:

Power TypeNet Global Capacity Added (2016)
Renewable (excl. large hydro)138 GW
Coal54 GW
Gas37 GW
Large hydro15 GW
Nuclear10 GW
Other flexible capacity5 GW

The numbers suggest that this is the only start of the green revolution.

However, to fully work our way off of fossil fuels, we will need to procure large amounts of the metals that make sustainable energy possible.

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Electrification

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

With a rich history of mining, Peru plays a vital role in supplying the world with silver for clean energy technologies and electrification.

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Peru's Silver Mining Strength

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Peru’s silver mining industry is critical as the world progresses towards a clean energy transition. Silver’s use in EVs, solar energy, and mobile technologies will require ready supplies to meet demand.

Peru will be centre stage as the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal.

This graphic sponsored by Silver X showcases Peru’s silver mining strength on the global scale, putting in perspective the country’s prolific production.

Global Silver Production by Country

Mexico, Peru, and China dominate global silver production, with these countries producing more than double the silver of any other country outside of the top three.

In terms of regional production, Central and South America provide the backbone for the world’s silver industry. With five nations in the top 10 producers, these regions delivered ~50% of the world’s 2020 silver production.

Country2020 Silver Production (in million ounces)Share of Global Silver Production
Mexico178.122.7%
Peru109.714.0%
China108.613.8%
Chile47.46.0%
Australia43.85.6%
Russia42.55.4%
Poland39.45.0%
United States31.74.0%
Bolivia29.93.8%
Argentina22.92.9%
World Total784.4100%

Along with being the top silver mining regions in the world, Central and South America silver production expects to have the strongest rebound in 2021.

While global silver production could increase by 8.2%, Central and South America’s production could rise by 12.1%.

Peru can feed this growth, with the country’s exploration investment forecast for this year expected to reach up to $300 million with over 60 projects currently in various stages of development.

The South American Powerhouse: Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Despite its current silver production, there remains more to mine and explore. In fact, Peru holds the majority of the world’s silver reserves with 18.2%, making it the global focal point for silver exploration and future production.

CountrySilver Reserves (in tons)Share of World Silver
Peru91,00018.2%
China41,0008.2%
Mexico37,0007.4%
Chile26,0005.2%
Australia25,0005.0%
Other countries280,00056%
World total500,000100%

While 2020 and 2021 saw slowdowns in mineral production, Peru’s metallic mining subsector increased by 5.1% in August 2021 compared to the same month last year. The country’s National Institute of Statistics and Informatics also highlighted a double-digit rise in silver production of 22.7% compared to August of last year.

Satiating the World’s Silver Demand

As silver demand is forecasted to increase by 15% just in 2021, silver supply constraints are a clear roadblock for clean energy technologies and electric vehicle production. With Peru’s annual silver production forecasted to grow by more than 27% by 2024, the country is looking to solve the world’s growing silver supply crunch.

The nation’s strong credit ratings and well-established mining sector offers investors a unique opportunity to tap into the growth of Peru and its silver industry, while powering renewable energy and electric vehicle production.

As a Peru-based mineral development and exploration company, Silver X Mining is working to produce and uncover the silver deposits that will provide the world with the metal it needs for cleaner technologies.

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Electrification

Ranked: The Top 10 EV Battery Manufacturers

With an increasing interest in electric vehicles (EVs), the battery market is now a $27 billion per year business.

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The Top EV Battery Manufacturers

Ranked: The Top 10 EV Battery Manufacturers

With increasing interest in electric vehicles (EVs) from consumers, the market for lithium-ion EV batteries is now a $27 billion per year business.

According to industry experts, high demand has boosted battery manufacturers’ profits and brought heavy competition to the market. And by 2027, the market could further grow to $127 billion as consumers embrace more affordable EVs.

Asian Powerhouses of Battery Production

Besides being a manufacturing powerhouse of vehicle parts, Asia is fast becoming a hotbed for innovation in the battery sector.

No wonder, the top 10 EV battery manufacturers by market share are all headquartered in Asian countries, concentrated in China, Japan, and South Korea.

RankCompany2021 Market ShareCountry
#1CATL32.5%China 🇨🇳
#2LG Energy Solution21.5%Korea 🇰🇷
#3Panasonic14.7%Japan 🇯🇵
#4BYD6.9%China 🇨🇳
#5Samsung SDI5.4%Korea 🇰🇷
#6SK Innovation5.1%Korea 🇰🇷
#7CALB2.7%China 🇨🇳
#8AESC2.0%Japan 🇯🇵
#9Guoxuan2.0%China 🇨🇳
#10PEVE1.3%Japan 🇯🇵
n/aOther6.1%ROW

According to data from SNE Research, the top three battery makers—CATL, LG, and, Panasonic—combine for nearly 70% of the EV battery manufacturing market.

Chinese Dominance

Based in China’s coastal city of Ningde, best known for its tea plantations, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) has risen in less than 10 years to become the biggest global battery group.

The Chinese company provides lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries to Tesla, Peugeot, Hyundai, Honda, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo, and shares in the company gained 160% in 2020, lifting CATL’s market capitalization to almost $186 billion.

CATL counts nine people on the Forbes list of global billionaires. Its founder, Zeng Yuqun, born in a poor village in 1968 during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, is now worth almost as much as Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

China also hosts the fourth biggest battery manufacturer, Warren Buffett-backed BYD.

Competition for CATL Outside China

Outside China, CATL faces tough competition from established players LG and Panasonic, respectively second and third on our ranking.

With more than 100 years of history, Panasonic has Tesla and Toyota among its battery buyers. LG pouch cells are used in EVs from Jaguar, Audi, Porsche, Ford, and GM.

U.S. and Europe’s Plans for Battery Production

President Joe Biden’s strategy to make the United States a powerhouse in electric vehicles includes boosting domestic production of batteries. European countries are also looking to reduce decades of growing reliance on China.

As Western countries speed up, new players are expected to rise.

A host of next-generation battery technologies are already being developed by U.S. companies, including Ionic Materials, QuantumScape, Sila Nanotechnologies, Sion Power, and, Sionic Energy.

Any direction the market moves, certainly the forecast is bright for battery producers.

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