DOE releases strategy that identifies five rare earth metals critical to cleantech manufacturing, explores policy and program areas to address supply risk such as domestic rare earth R&D, production, processing

WASHINGTON , December 15, 2010 (press release) – Availability of materials for clean energy technology development poses a challenge as well as an opportunity for the U.S.

The Department of Energy today released its Critical Materials Strategy.  The strategy examines the role of rare earth metals and other materials in the clean energy economy, based on extensive research by the Department during the past year.  The report focuses on materials used in four technologies - wind turbines, electric vehicles, solar cells and energy-efficient lighting.

"Each day, researchers and entrepreneurs across the United States are working to develop and deploy clean energy technologies that will enhance our security, reduce carbon pollution and promote economic prosperity. This strategy is an important step in planning for growing global demand for clean energy products that will help strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "Ensuring reliable access to critical materials will help the United States lead in the new clean energy economy."

The strategy analyzes fourteen elements, identifying five rare earth metals (dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium and yttrium) as well as indium as most critical based on importance to clean energy technologies and supply risk.  It also explores eight policy and program areas that could help reduce vulnerabilities and address critical material needs, including research and development, information-gathering, permitting for domestic production, financial assistance for domestic production and processing, stockpiling, recycling, education and diplomacy.

Building on this strategy, DOE will work closely with its national labs, other federal agencies, Congress and international partners to develop its first integrated research agenda on critical materials and strengthen its information-gathering capacity to proactively address supply and demand for products that contain these critical metals. An updated report will be issued by the end of 2011.

Read the full strategy (PDF 4.5 MB).

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