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EE Seminar

Environmental Economics Seminar

Critical raw materials for the energy transition


Francesco Ricci
Professor at CEE-M (university of Montpellier)



Low carbon technologies for renewable energy are relatively intensive in critical raw materials (CRM). We investigate how this fact impacts the timing of the energy transition, when a very costly backstop technology also exists. The size of CRM reserves affects the investment in the equipment for renewable energy generation and the time when fossils are abandoned. In addition, we consider political economy constraints, such as the acceptability of carbon taxes or imperfect information on the side of the regulator. We show how abstracting from the scarcity of CRM, or tightly linking carbon tax revenue and subsidies for renewables, may be severely misleading in designing climate policy. We also study how recycling may effectively be used to release the stress imposed by CRM on the energy transition. We obtain that recycling does reduce the cost of this transition and it also calls for having a large stock of recyclable materials at the time of the switch to the backstop, hence for delaying investment in renewable infrastructure.

Co-authors : Aude Pommeret, Katheline Schubert

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Dates & time

Jan 29, 2021


Alexandre Sauquet
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Gwenolé Le Velly
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