2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 124-1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-1:45 PM

NONRENEWABLE RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS ON THE DEPLOYMENT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

SCHIFFRIES, Craig M., Carnegie Institution of Washington, Geophysical Laboratory, 5251 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015, cschiffries@ciw.edu

Widespread deployment of renewable and clean energy technologies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate climate change, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and enhance national security. Many renewable and clean energy technologies -- such as wind turbines, solar cells, and electric vehicles -- depend on rare earth elements and other scarce elements that currently lack diversified sources of supply. For example, China accounts for 95 percent of world rare earth element production although, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, it has only 36 percent of identified world reserves. Highly concentrated production of critical minerals has raised concerns that these minerals are vulnerable to supply risks that could constrain the deployment of renewable and clean energy technologies as well as other modern technologies, ranging from consumer products to advanced weapons systems.

Scientific organizations and government agencies have published a series of recent reports that can improve the scientific basis of public policies designed to reduce risks of supply disruptions of critical minerals. These publications include National Academies reports on "Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy" (2008) and "Managing Materials for a Twenty-first Century Military" (2008); a USGS report on "The Principal Rare Earth Elements Deposits of the United States: A Summary of Domestic Deposits and a Global Perspective" (2010); a Department of Energy report on "DOE Critical Materials Strategy" (2010); and an American Physical Society/Material Research Society report on "Energy Critical Elements: Securing Materials for Emerging Technologies" (2011).

The U.S. Congress convened hearings on critical minerals that have included testimony from authors of these and other scientific reports. Legislation that incorporates findings and recommendations from these reports is pending before Congress.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 124
Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals for a Sustainable and Secure Future
Minneapolis Convention Center: Room 101A-C
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Monday, 10 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 316

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