Wars will be fought over rare materials
Scientists all over are looking for alternatives, but the research will take some time. Over the past centuries, states have often shown power and secured interests with warships - or later nuclear missiles. Today, they are increasingly using economic sanctions to impose political desires.
Particularly suitable weapons of such an economic war are rare raw materials, a group of 30 materials, mostly metals, which the EU has declared irreplaceable for a developed industrial economy, Deutsche Welle writes in a series of connected articles.
Naturally, everyone is looking for them, so their price is skyrocketing, and countries have become painfully aware of how much they depend on them. According to the analysis conducted by the European Commission, the sectors of air and space transport, defense, electronics, automotive and energy-demanding industries require a constant supply of at least 21 of those 30 raw materials.
The renewable energy sector needs slightly less of these raw materials, but it also depends on imports. Without them, it is impossible to produce solar panel cells, wind farms, and electric cars with lithium batteries. Rare raw materials are also needed for 3D printers, drones, robots, and other digital technology.
If something is missing, an alternative must be found
"The future largely depends on how technology develops," explains Hanns Gunter Hilpert, Head of Asia Department of the Science and Politics Foundation in Berlin. "The industry is likely to find ways to find replacements for some raw materials more easily, or to develop alternative technologies."
For example, batteries for electric cars will increase the demand for lithium from Chile, but in fact, an even better and almost inexhaustible way of storing...