IRENA Members Pave Way for New Cooperation on Critical Materials

22 March 2022| Articles


Members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have launched a new Collaborative Framework on Critical Materials for the Energy Transition, a platform provided by IRENA to exchange knowledge, best practices, and coordinate actions to ensure that the scarcity of minerals and materials does not threaten the accelerated deployment of renewable energy.

At the event, countries agreed on the way forward of IRENA’s work to support countries in understanding challenges and opportunities of critical materials to sustain the energy transition. Co-facilitated by Peru and the UK, the Agency will support meetings for peer-to-peer exchanges, including virtual and physical meetings, providing effective means for information exchange.

Currently, climate-neutral energy systems require significant amounts of critical minerals including lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper and rare earth elements (REEs) for renewable energy installations and storage solutions. As climate goals get more ambitious and renewables become an indispensable pillar of net zero commitments, prices of raw materials have started to surge. “The price volatility that we have observed over the last few weeks and months for some of these critical materials illustrates why we need to take this issue seriously,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera.

“A combination of strategies will be needed to ensure the timely availability and affordability of these critical materials worldwide. Technological innovation and material substitution can contribute to the reduction of demand. However, a rapid but sustainable expansion of mining and processing capacity for critical materials is a priority to ensure supply for years to come,” he added.

As the world’s only energy transition agency with truly global membership, IRENA is well placed to bring countries together on this topic, foster a higher level of transparency and facilitate the effective management of critical materials supply at the global level.

Working groups under the new framework develop strategies how to de-risk the supply of critical materials, enhance understanding of the market situation and outlook, , and raise acceptance for new more sustainable mining projects. The Collaborative Framework will build on IRENA analytical work in the field for example the technical paper on Critical Materials For The Energy Transition.

The new collaborative framework is IRENA’s response to members’ request raised at the 12th Assembly to implement an international dialogue platform on critical materials. “International cooperation must accompany those national efforts. IRENA, leveraging its near-universal membership, is in a unique position to foster dialogue between producer and consumer countries, help members to coordinate activities, and foster work on this topic internationally,” Mr. La Camera said in his closing remarks.

To date, IRENA has established Collaborative Frameworks focused on Hydropower, Ocean Energy/Offshore Renewable Energy, Green Hydrogen, Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, Just and Inclusive Energy Transition and on Enhancing Dialogues of High Shares of Renewables in Energy Systems.