Theme : Environment
Paper : GS-3
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Rare Earth Metals
- Current state of Energy Mix In India
- Problems from the current state of energy mix.
- Road Ahead
Context : Securing access to key minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and rare earth metals is critical for building resilient and indigenous supply chains for clean energy technologies.
Rare Earth Metals :
- They are a set of 17 metallic elements including the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium that show similar physical and chemical properties to the lanthanides.
- They are called 'rare earth' because earlier it was difficult to extract them from their oxides forms technologically. They occur in many minerals but typically in low concentrations to be refined in an economical manner.
- The 17 Rare Earth Metals are cerium (Ce), dysprosium (Dy), erbium (Er), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), holmium (Ho), lanthanum (La), lutetium (Lu), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), scandium (Sc), terbium (Tb), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and yttrium (Y).
- These minerals have unique magnetic, luminescent, and electrochemical properties and thus are used in many modern technologies, including consumer electronics, computers and networks, communications, health care, national defense, etc.
- Imported inflationary pressures through exposure to volatile oil and gas markets also pose risks to macroeconomic growth and stability, particularly for India, Import-dependent for around 85% of its oil and half of its gas needs.
- We face several challenges in being self-reliant on key minerals and REM :
- Reserves are often concentrated in regions that are geopolitically sensitive or fare poorly from an ease of doing business perspective.
- A portion of existing production is controlled by geostrategic competitors. For example, China wields considerable influence in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo through direct equity investments and its Belt and Road Initiative.
- Future mine production is often tied up in offtake agreements, in advance, by buyers from other countries to cater to upcoming demand.
Current state of Energy Mix In India :
- Coal still constitutes more than 50% of energy production.
- Renewable energy constitutes around 40%
- Automobile sector relies on fossil energy, most of it (85% of oil and more than 50% of gas) is imported
Problems from the current state of energy mix :
- Imported inflation due to supply chain disruptions at global level. Russia-Ukraine war
- Geopolitical leverage for few countries due to monopoly in energy production. OPEC+
- Environmental concerns and climate change
- Forex reserves depletion
- Alternative to offset such problems is stepping up clean energy share in the total energy mix.
Road Ahead :
- Comprehensively figuring out the requirements of minerals. It helps investors to assess market and policy makers to chart out future plans
- Public private collaborations in securing minerals in conducive geographies. KABIL+Domestic industries.
- Securing future production through offtake agreements by KABIL. It enhances reliability in mineral supplies in the long term.
- G2G partnerships in investments on mining assets. It helps to deal with riskier geographies. Exploring opportunities with like minded countries like QUAD.
- Supporting (PLI scheme and co-development with strategic partners) technologies which use domestically available minerals. Eg: aluminum batteries, sodium ion batteries.
1. What are Rare Earth Metals?
Answer : They are a set of 17 metallic elements including the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium that show similar physical and chemical properties to the lanthanides.
2. What is the Current State of Energy Mix In India?
Coal still constitutes more than 50% of energy production.
Renewable energy constitutes around 40%
Automobile sector relies on fossil energy, most of it (85% of oil and more than 50% of gas) is imported.