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Raw metal needs and supply risks for the development of wind energy in Germany until 2050

: Shammugam, S.; Gervais, E.; Schlegl, T.; Rathgeber, A.


Journal of cleaner production 221 (2019), pp.738-752
ISSN: 0959-6526
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISE ()
Leistungselektronik; Netze und Intelligente Systeme; Energiesystemanalyse; turbines; energy transformation; demand; availability; recycling

Facilitated by the environmental goals set by the government, wind turbines will be one of the main pillars of the future electricity production in Germany. In this paper, a comprehensive assessment of the future metallic raw material requirements for the development of the German wind energy sector was conducted, which is closely based on the current and future market conditions. Copper and dysprosium are identified as the most critical materials since they face the possibility of supply bottlenecks while being fundamental to the functionality of wind turbines. While the cumulative demand for copper may require 0.2% of the current known reserves, the demand for dysprosium may reach up to 0.6% of the reserve levels. Both metals clearly exceed the allocations for renewable energy technologies in Germany and would face strong competition from other sectors in securing raw materials. Although recycling is able to reduce the bottleneck risks, it does not completely mitigate them. More efforts are therefore required to improve material efficiency by means of alternative turbine designs, efficient production techniques, highly reliable components and material substitution.