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Journal Articles Resources Policy Year : 2022

Potential Bottleneck in the Energy Transition: the Case of Cobalt in an Accelerating Electro-Mobility World

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Abstract

Within the context of the energy transition, decarbonization of the transport sector is the cornerstone of many public policies. As a key component in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries and nickel metal hydride batteries used in electric or hybrid vehicles, cobalt is expected to face a dynamic demand in the coming decades. Numerous questions are arising regarding the criticality risks of this key metal of the energy transition. In order to assess the availability of cobalt until 2050, we rely on our linear programming world energy-transport model, TIAM-IFPEN. Two climate scenarios were considered (2 °C and 4 °C), each with two different mobility scenarios (Business-as-Usual mobility and Sustainable mobility) and for each mobility scenario, three lithium-ion battery chemistry mix trajectories were considered (high, central and low cobalt content) by 2050. Results show that in the most stringent scenario 83,2% of cobalt resources identified in 2013 would be extracted from the ground by 2050 to satisfy global consumption. Two Thirds of world production is from Africa while China consumes 1/3 of the total demand by 2050. We identify several ways to meet the increasing demand for cobalt resources. Public policies must therefore focus on 3 complementary axes: promoting the development of sustainable mobility; prioritizing low cobalt content batteries in electric vehicles; and concentrating efforts on the implementation and the deployment of a system for recovering, sorting and recycling waste.
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Dates and versions

hal-03563296 , version 1 (14-02-2022)

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Gondia Sokhna Seck, Emmanuel Hache, Charlène Barnet. Potential Bottleneck in the Energy Transition: the Case of Cobalt in an Accelerating Electro-Mobility World. Resources Policy, 2022, 75, pp.102516. ⟨10.1016/j.resourpol.2021.102516⟩. ⟨hal-03563296⟩
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