US$1T needed for energy transition: Wood Mackenzie

Resources consultancy Wood Mackenzie has projected that to avoid shortages, investment in the metals needed for the planet’s energy transition must double to over US$1 trillion by 2035.
US$1T needed for energy transition: Wood Mackenzie US$1T needed for energy transition: Wood Mackenzie US$1T needed for energy transition: Wood Mackenzie US$1T needed for energy transition: Wood Mackenzie US$1T needed for energy transition: Wood Mackenzie

Producers need to position now for investment in new supply, said WoodMac

Producers need to position now for investment in new supply - not just to offset mine depletion but also for the coming growth in conventional and energy transition markets, added the company.

"Put simply, the energy transition starts and ends with metals. If you want to generate, transmit or store low/no-carbon energy you need aluminium, cobalt, copper, nickel and lithium," said Julian Kettle, Wood Mackenzie vice chairman of Metals and Mining.

The US$1 trillion figure is a significant upward revision for the company, which saw the shortfall as US$200 billion last July.

Kettle said the investment outlook is muddied by the poor pricing fundamentals for several metals, and that the long-dated returns from investing in mining and processing contrast with the regular dividend payments and near-term gains seen in other asset classes.

"This severely hampers the ability of boards to undertake the necessary long-term decisions needed to develop the supply that high-growth energy transition related commodities demand," noted Kettle.

Kettle said that while miners have proved themselves adept at juggling conflicting demands, "the question is whether they are adept enough to manage this perfect storm of problems and opportunities".

Wood Mackenzie's Accelerated Energy Transition (AET) scenario, drafted in September, projected that EVs could make up around 40% of passenger car sales by 2030.

The AET would require nearly 800,000 tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent of additional lithium to come online in the next five years, the cobalt market would have to double by 2025, and an additional 1.3 million tonnes of nickel suitable for the battery sector would be required by 2030.

The consultancy also cautioned that if OEMs do not choose to secure their own supply, then EV sales penetration rates are unlikely to surpass 15% in the medium term.