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Where are Clean Energy Technologies Manufactured?

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Where are Clean Energy Technologies Manufactured?

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Visualizing Where Clean Energy Technologies Are Manufactured

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When looking at where clean energy technologies and their components are made, one thing is very clear: China dominates the industry.

The country, along with the rest of the Asia Pacific region, accounts for approximately 75% of global manufacturing capacity across seven clean energy technologies.

Based on the IEA’s 2023 Energy Technology Perspectives report, the visualization above breaks down global manufacturing capacity by region for mass-manufactured clean energy technologies, including onshore and offshore wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, electric vehicles (EVs), fuel cell trucks, heat pumps, and electrolyzers.

The State of Global Manufacturing Capacity

Manufacturing capacity refers to the maximum amount of goods or products a facility can produce within a specific period. It is determined by several factors, including:

  • The size of the manufacturing facility
  • The number of machines or production lines available
  • The skill level of the workforce
  • The availability of raw materials

According to the IEA, the global manufacturing capacity for clean energy technologies may periodically exceed short-term production needs. Currently, this is true especially for EV batteries, fuel cell trucks, and electrolyzers. For example, while only 900 fuel cell trucks were sold globally in 2021, the aggregate self-reported capacity by manufacturers was 14,000 trucks.

With that said, there still needs to be a significant increase in manufacturing capacity in the coming decades if demand aligns with the IEA’s 2050 net-zero emissions scenario. Such developments require investments in new equipment and technology, developing the clean energy workforce, access to raw and refined materials, and optimizing production processes to improve efficiency.

What Gives China the Advantage?

Of the above clean energy technologies and their components, China averages 65% of global manufacturing capacity. For certain components, like solar PV wafers, this percentage is as high as 96%.

Here’s a breakdown of China’s manufacturing capacity per clean energy technology.

TechnologyChina’s share of global manufacturing capacity, 2021
Wind (Offshore)70%
Wind (Onshore)59%
Solar PV Systems85%
Electric Vehicles71%
Fuel Cell Trucks47%
Heat Pumps39%
Electrolyzers41%

So, what gives China this advantage in the clean energy technology sector? According to the IEA report, the answer lies in a combination of factors:

The mixture of these factors has allowed China to capture a significant share of the global market for clean technologies while driving down the cost of clean energy worldwide.

As the market for low-emission solutions expands, China’s dominance in the sector will likely continue in the coming years and have notable implications for the global energy and emission landscape.

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Batteries

Ranked: The World’s Top Cobalt Producing Countries

Cobalt, an essential component for certain types of EV batteries, has seen a significant shift in its global production landscape.

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Ranked: The World’s Top Cobalt Producing Countries

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on real assets and resource megatrends each week.

Cobalt, an essential component of key chemistries of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, has seen a significant shift in its global production landscape.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been the world’s largest cobalt producer, accounting for 73% of global output in 2022.

However, according to the Cobalt Institute, the DRC’s dominance is projected to decrease to 57% by 2030 as Indonesia ramps up its cobalt production as a byproduct from its rapidly expanding nickel industry.

Indonesia Became Second Largest Cobalt Producer in 2022

Indonesia accounts for nearly 5% of global cobalt production today, surpassing established producers like Australia and the Philippines.

In 2022, Indonesia’s cobalt production surged to almost 9,500 tonnes from 2,700 tonnes in 2021, with the potential to increase production by tenfold by 2030.

Country 2022 Production (tonnes) % of Total Production
🇨🇩 DRC144,93673.3%
🇮🇩 Indonesia 9,4544.8%
🇦🇺 Australia 7,0003.5%
🇵🇭 Philippines 5,4002.7%
🇨🇺 Cuba 5,3312.7%
🇷🇺 Russia 3,5001.8%
🇲🇬 Madagascar3,5001.8%
🇨🇦 Canada3,1001.6%
🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea 3,0601.5%
🇹🇷 Türkiye2,3001.2%
🌐 Other10,2105.2%
Total197,791100.0%

Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

In total, global cobalt production reached 197,791 tonnes, with the DRC contributing just under 145,000 tonnes of that mix.

The EV industry is the largest consumer of cobalt, accounting for approximately 40% of total demand. The exponential growth of the EV sector is expected to drive a doubling of global cobalt demand by 2030.

Share of cobalt demand by sector

While the shift in cobalt production is notable, it is not without challenges. Plummeting cobalt prices, which fell almost 30% this year to $13.90 a pound, have severely impacted the DRC.

Furthermore, the longer-term prospects of cobalt could face hurdles due to efforts to reduce its use in batteries, partly driven by human rights concerns associated with artisanal cobalt mining in the DRC and related child labor and human rights abuses.

In a 2021 ruling by a federal court in Washington, Google parent Alphabet, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla were relieved from a class action suit claiming their responsibility for alleged child labor in Congolese cobalt mines.

The Future of Cobalt

Despite ongoing efforts to substitute cobalt in battery applications, cobalt is expected to remain a vital raw material for the entire battery supply chain in the near future.

The demand for cobalt is forecasted to more than double by 2030 to 388,000 tonnes.

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