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The Energy and Mineral Riches of the Arctic

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The Energy and Mineral Riches of the Arctic

The Energy and Mineral Riches of the Arctic

The Arctic has been the fascination of many people for centuries.

Hundreds of years ago, the Europeans saw the Arctic’s frigid waters as a potential gateway to the Pacific. The region has also been home to many unique native cultures such as the Inuits and Chukchi. Lastly, it goes without saying that the Arctic is unsurpassed in many aspects of its natural beauty, and lovers of the environment are struck by the region’s millions of acres of untouched land and natural habitats.

However, the Arctic is also one of the last frontiers of natural resource discovery, and underneath the tundra and ice are vast amounts of undiscovered oil, natural gas, and minerals. That’s why there is a high-stakes race for Arctic domination between countries such as the United States, Norway, Russia, Denmark, and Canada.

Today’s infographic highlights the size of some of these resources in relation to global reserves to help create context around the potential significance of this untapped wealth.

In terms of oil, it’s estimated that the Arctic has 90 billion barrels of oil that is yet to be discovered. That’s equal to 5.9% of the world’s known oil reserves – about 110% of Russia’s current oil reserves, or 339% of U.S. reserves.

For natural gas, the potential is even higher: the Arctic has an estimated 1,669 trillion cubic feet of gas, equal to 24.3% of the world’s current known reserves. That’s equal to 500% of U.S. reserves, 99% of Russia’s reserves, or 2,736% of Canada’s natural gas reserves.

Most of these hydrocarbon resources, about 84%, are expected to lay offshore.

There are also troves of metals and minerals, including gold, diamonds, copper, iron, zinc, and uranium. However, these are not easy to get at. Starting a mine in the Arctic can be an iceberg of costs: short shipping seasons, melting permafrost, summer swamps, polar bears, and -50 degree temperatures make the Arctic tough to be economic.

Original graphic by: 911 Metallurgist

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Energy

Visualised: Europe’s Battery Recycling Challenge

In this graphic, Visual Capitalist partnered with Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust to explore how battery recycling could provide Europe with a steady stream of critical materials it needs to meet EV demands.

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Teaser image of a bar graph that shows the rising recyclable EV batteries within Europe.

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The following content is sponsored by Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust

Solving Europe’s Battery Recycling Puzzle

The demand for EVs in Europe is so high that by 2030, the region will demand 25% of the world’s annually produced battery-grade lithium, the critical element required to power these EVs. 

However, as the region produces only 1% of the world’s lithium, Europe must find a new way to meet this demand. 

In this graphic, sponsored by Scottish Mortgage, we will explore a solution to this puzzle—battery recycling.  

A Mountainous Problem

By 2030, over a million EV batteries will reach end-of-life in Europe. As you can see, the issue isn’t confined to 2030 alone:

YearNumber of EV Batteries Available for Recycling in the EU
20180.9K
20198.3K
202017.2K
202137.9K
202250.6K
2023P97.5K
2024P104.2K
2025P147.3K
2026P230.6K
2027P372.5K
2028P619.3K
2029P826.8K
2030P1,103.8K

A Clean Solution

Battery recycling offers a clean solution to the mountain of batteries Europe will use yearly, as it can recover as much as 95% of a battery’s lithium. 

Moreover, battery recycling keeps materials in a closed loop, allowing the region to avoid the environmental costs of mining and help prop up the dwindling lithium supply and taxed cobalt and nickel supply. 

However, Europe needs a plan to deal with this waste. With a current battery recycling capacity of only 40,000 tonnes per year, the volume of batteries reaching their end of life in Europe by 2030 will be over 25 times higher than its current recycling capacity. 

Enter Northvolt

Battery manufacturer Northvolt is tackling this challenge head-on by operating Northvolt Ett, Europe’s largest battery recycling plant in Skellefteå, Sweden, on the edge of the Arctic Circle. 

The Northvolt Ett plant boasts an impressive recycling capacity of 125 kilotonnes annually.

Meaning that when working at total capacity, it could increase Europe’s battery recycling capacity by nearly 50%, while still recycling 95% of lithium and 95% of other materials critical to battery production: nickel, manganese, and cobalt.

Northvolt is expanding its global operations by constructing four new factories. One is in Heide, Germany, and another is in Québec, Canada. The remaining two factories are under construction in Borlänge and Gothenburg, Sweden. The latter is a joint venture between Northvolt and Volvo.

Scottish Mortgage exposes investors to the growing battery recycling industry through companies like Northvolt. 

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Discover how to invest in some of the world’s most innovative companies with Scottish Mortgage today. 

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