"Critical Materials, the Energy Transition, and Geopolitics: a Complex Mix” with René Kleijn (Professor Resilient Resource Supply at Leiden University)

The Circular Industries Talks are organized every second Wednesday at the Circular Industries Hub. In this edition,  René Kleijn, Professor Resilient Resource Supply at Leiden University (and one of our chairs), talks about critical materials, the energy transition, and geopolitics: a complex mix. Curious for more? Take a look at the recording at the bottom of this page.  

The energy transition is in fact a materials transition, from fossil fuels to metals, and with that is a transition to a circular economy."

René Kleijn

René Kleijn's presentation delves into the intricate relationship between critical materials, the energy transition, and geopolitics. He emphasizes that the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is fundamentally a transition from fossil-based commodities to metals. Electric vehicles (EVs) exemplify this change, incorporating diverse metals to meet increasing demand projections. The future of battery technology, including NCM with reduced cobalt and nickel, LFP, sodium-ion, and solid-state batteries, is highlighted as pivotal in mitigating supply risks and costs.

The presentation underscores the geopolitical implications of the energy transition, noting China's dominance in the battery supply chain and the vulnerability of global supply chains. Kleijn stresses the necessity for resilient supply chains, advocating for strategies like "friend-shoring," bilateral deals, and a shift from just-in-time to just-in-case inventory models. He argues for Europe's proactive measures in securing supply through self-sufficiency, reshoring, and sustainable practices.

Circularity in the energy transition is a focal point, with emphasis on reducing material use, enhancing battery life, and improving recycling. Kleijn concludes that while the transition to a renewable energy system demands a significant initial increase in metal mining, it will ultimately reduce total mining needs if designed efficiently.

Curious about the whole story? Listen to René Kleijn in the Circular Industries talks.

The Circular Industries talks

The goal of the Circular Industries talks is to share knowledge across Leiden, Delft and Erasmus and to complement and deepen the knowledge already available within the Circular Industries Hub. The talks are organized on Wednesday morning from 10:00 to 11:00. The talks are online (Microsoft Teams).