• Share

Providing efficient, low carbon energy

It is one of the great challenges of our generation and while the exact pathway to a low carbon future is not yet known, the widespread adoption of new technologies in this field has the potential, perhaps more than any other application, to change global metals use patterns.

Low carbon power generation 

Just as metals are central to enabling energy efficient buildings and transport, a range of metals-based technologies are being used to reduce emissions from power generation. The minerals and metals needed to produce wind and solar power generators – predicted to be the mainstays of renewable energy – is significant. And battery energy storage – based on lead, lithium, nickel or sodium technologies – will support the integration of renewables into the electricity grid and help smooth peaks and troughs of supply. Meanwhile, expansion of nuclear capacity will increase demand for uranium, while hydrogen fuel cell use could dramatically increase the demand for precious metal catalysts.

A hydrogen future?

There are many proponents of hydrogen who see it as a potential replacement for fuels such as petrol in the 21st century. To make this a reality, a hydrogen-based economy would rely on wide-scale use of metal dependent hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cells offer high efficiency, versatility and scalability – and rely on many metals, including zinc, aluminium, magnesium and platinum to generate electricity, heat and water. 

< Previous page