Sam Morgan The Jolt - 15/November/2023

The Jolt: We are living in a raw material world

In Wednesday’s edition of The Jolt, Sam looks at how the global race for raw materials is heating up (and getting more complex), plus the United States pumps yet more money into climate projects


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Welcome to today’s episode of The Jolt by FORESIGHT Climate & Energy. In a world underpinned by climate and energy stories, it is sometimes hard to cut through the cacophony of noise and get to the news you need to hear.

This is where The Jolt comes in. Tune in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for bite-sized updates, expert analysis and a global view.

We kick off with a look at the major global climate and energy news stories.



What you need to know

Here are some of the main climate and energy stories making the news around the world:

  • The United States government has published a new report on climate resilience and announced $6 billion in funding for new projects. That includes nearly $4bn for grid updates and $2bn for community-led clean energy initiatives. President Joe Biden is meeting Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in San Francisco today.
  • Germany’s government will underwrite a €15bn rescue package for Siemens Energy. The agreement includes a €7.5bn loan guarantee and funding provided by Siemens itself. 
  • Germany’s constitutional court announced this morning that a 2021 government budget decision to earmark €60bn for climate projects was not constitutional. Berlin will now have to find the money from somewhere else.
  • The United Kingdom has slipped from fourth to seventh on a global ranking of market attractiveness for clean energy investments. EY’s new index also shows that the UK has lost its coveted number one spot in the offshore wind sector.
  • France has agreed a new average electricity price of €70 per megawatt-hour with state-owned nuclear firm EDF. This new system will apply as of 2026 and includes a revenue-redistribution mechanism if prices exceed certain thresholds. 
  • France and Ireland have commemorated the start of construction works on a new undersea cable linking their power grids. The Celtic Interconnector will have a capacity of 700 MW, run for 500 km under the sea and cost €750 million. It is due online by 2027.
  • Belgium’s grid operator has unveiled new environmental and biodiversity protection standards for a planned energy island in the North Sea. The artificial island will act as a hub for wind farms and undersea cables and is supposed to be finished by 2026.
  • Iceland’s authorities are building a wall around a geothermal power plant that is located near volcanic activity triggered by more than 800 earthquakes in recent days. The wall will hopefully divert any potential lava flows away from the power plant.
  • India is on track to install a record 17 gigawatts of solar power this year, eclipsing the current record of 14 GW. Installed capacity is at 72 GW and a solar boom is underway thanks to supply chain constraints easing and utility projects coming online.
  • Australia has opened a consultation on carbon border taxation. The government will decide whether to follow the EU and UK and deploy its own version of the CBAM.
  • And the Caribbean nation of Dominica has decided to protect 800 km2 of its waters and create a sperm whale reserve. Sperm whales feed and nurse their young in Dominica’s waters and – bear with us – defecate on the water’s surface. This leads to plankton blooms and large scale CO2 storage. Scientists have calculated that the Dominica reserve is therefore equivalent to the emissions savings of taking 5,000 cars off the road every year!


Today’s big story

We are living in a raw material world

Image MidJourney / Prompts FORESIGHT.

  • Demand for raw materials is increasing as the energy transition gathers place and countries look for extra supplies of important clean tech ingredients like cobalt, copper, lithium and nickel. 
  • The private sector is responding to that demand as companies that have traditionally focused on fossil fuels retool their supply chains and tweak their business models. Oil and gas major Exxon, for example, is moving into the lithium mining game.
  • National market shares of critical raw materials are rather lopsided. China’s dominance in particular is a worry for global governments that are not blessed with the same geographical and geological luck.
  • Export controls recently deployed by countries like China and Indonesia have already provided a taste of what the trade in raw materials will have to contend with and arbitration cases at the World Trade Organisation are already underway.
  • The European Union agreed this week on a new critical raw materials act, which will impose recycling, production and processing targets, as well as aiming to make sure no single country controls more than 65% of supply of crucial materials.


“The EU faces a new risk: structural supply shortages”


  • Europe’s head of industry policy, Thierry Breton, says progress on the energy and digital transitions is completely reliant on raw materials access and that “this is where it gets complicated”.
  • PowerShift’s Michael Reckordt says that the new Act is welcome, particularly its recycling targets, but that not enough attention has been paid to reducing consumption.
  • He adds that regulators like the European Commission should be looking at alternatives where they are possible. Electric cars should, for example, not replace ICE cars one-for-one, instead options like buses, cycling and smaller cars should be prioritised.


While you’re here, check out the latest episode of the Policy Dispatch and our new deep dive on e-fuels. Also stay tuned for Friday’s episode when we will give you a sneak peek at our new magazine.


Audio credit: European Commission archive



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