Substantial Growth In Manufacturing Of Clean Energy With Global Entering ‘New Industrial Age’, Says IEA

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, the world is entering a “new age of clean technology manufacturing” that could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of the decade, creating millions of jobs in the process.

The IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2023 report, which was released Thursday morning and referred to “the dawn of a new industrial age,” examined the manufacturing of technologies such as wind turbines, heat pumps, batteries for electric vehicles, solar panels, and hydrogen electrolyzers.

The IEA stated in a statement accompanying its report that its analysis showed that “the global market for key mass-manufactured clean energy technologies” would be worth approximately $650 billion per year by 2030, a more than threefold increase from current levels.

There is one caveat to the Paris-based organization’s forecast: it is based on countries around the world fully implementing energy and climate pledges — a significant task that will require both political will and financial muscle.

“The related clean energy manufacturing jobs would more than double from 6 million today to nearly 14 million by 2030,” the IEA said, “and further rapid industrial and employment growth is expected in the following decades as transitions progress.”

Despite this, the IEA warned of potential supply chain disruptions, a long-standing issue that heightened geopolitical tensions and the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted in recent years.

According to the report, there are “potentially risky levels of concentration in clean energy supply chains — both for the manufacturing of technologies and the materials on which they rely.”

It claimed that China dominated both the production and trade of “most clean energy technologies.”

The IEA stated that the three largest producer countries represented “at least 70% of manufacturing capacity for each technology — with China dominant in all of them” when it came to mass-manufactured technologies such as batteries, solar panels, wind, heat pumps, and electrolyzers.

“Meanwhile, a great deal of the mining for critical minerals is concentrated in a small number of countries,” it added.

“For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo produces over 70% of the world’s cobalt, and just three countries — Australia, Chile and China — account for more than 90% of global lithium production.”

In response to the report, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol stated that the world would benefit from “more diverse clean technology supply chains.”

“As we have seen with Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, when you depend too much on one company, one country or one trade route — you risk paying a heavy price if there is disruption,” he added.

This is not the first time Birol has discussed the geopolitical implications of the world’s transition to a future centered on lower-carbon technologies.

Birol stated in October that energy security, not climate change, was the primary driver of clean energy investment.

Birol stated that there has been a “major increase in clean energy investment, about [a] 50% increase,” citing the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and other packages in Europe, Japan, and China.

“Today it’s about 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars and it will go up to about 2 trillion U.S. dollars,” Birol said.

“And as a result, we are going to see clean energy, electric cars, solar, hydrogen, nuclear power, slowly but surely, replacing fossil fuels.”

“And why do governments do that? Because of climate change, because of the greenness of the issues? Not at all. The main reason here is energy security.”

Birol went on to say that energy security is “the most important driver of renewable energies.” He also acknowledged the significance of other factors, such as those related to climate.

“Energy security concerns, climate commitments … industrial policies — the three of them coming together is a very powerful combination,” he said.

(Adapted from EconomicTimes.com)

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