Rare earth shortages may damage clean tech (wind energy, electric vehicles) growth

Dwindling supplies of five rare earth minerals could derail production of clean energy technologies such as wind turbines, electric vehicles and energy-efficient lighting, the US Department of Energy has warned.

In a report published at the end of last year, the DOE predicted dysprosium, terbium, europium, neodymium and yttrium will all face supply constraints until at least 2015.

Other elements, including cerium, indium, lanthanum and tellurium, which are used in some solar panels, were said to be facing near-critical shortages over the same period.

‘The report found that several clean energy technologies use materials at risk of supply disruptions in the short term, with risks generally decreasing in the medium and long terms,’ the DOE said in a statement. ‘Supply challenges for five rare earth metals may affect clean energy technology deployment in the years ahead.’