Substitution as a strategy to reduce the criticality of raw materials for environmental technologies - potential identification for second-best solutions
The project "Substitution as a strategy for reducing the criticality of raw materials for environmental technologies" was carried out by the Öko-Institut and the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment from August 2014 to February 2018 on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency as part of the environmental research plan of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. In the course of the project, a roadmap for the substitution of critical raw materials in environmental technologies was developed. The roadmap is intended to make an important contribution to the implementation and further development of the national raw materials strategy and the German resource efficiency programme and to provide impetus for the national and international political debate. 115 environmental technologies were identified from current studies and policy guidance documents and subjected to a multi-stage selection process. As a result of the evaluation, 40 environmental technologies were identified that are to be classified as significant and were therefore analysed in more detail. With the help of a scenario approach, the raw material demand for a business-as-usual and a green economy scenario for the years 2025 and 2050 was determined. Out of a total of 64 raw materials analysed with respect to the 40 selected environmental technologies, 38 raw materials are in demand for demand satisfaction. The criticality of the raw materials used in environmental technologies was determined by a methodology with the following three dimensions: Supply Risk, Ecological Damage Potential, Strategic Importance. In order to select 20 priority environmental technologies for the investigation of substitution options, the ranking of the raw materials was transferred to the environmental technologies in the following step. Substitution alternatives could be identified for a number of significant environmental technologies. Relevant substitution alternatives are mainly in the technology fields of electric motors, solar energy, lighting and storage technologies. The broad spectrum of measures as well as the resources required for their implementation make it clear that the realisation of the roadmap can only succeed in a concerted effort by manufacturers, users, politics and science.