War in Ukraine could cut global supply of essential elements for making green technology by the Conversation

The EU imports 40% of its natural gas from Russia, and nearly half of the five million barrels of crude oil Russia exports daily go to Europe. Fossil fuel revenue funds Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, and for this reason, the European Commission recently announced plans to eliminate Russian fuel imports this decade.

Decisive action by major economies to reduce coal, oil and gas imports from one of the world’s largest sources could accelerate the transition to green energy globally. But there’s a catch. Disruption to the supply of critical metals and other materials caused by the war in Ukraine could stall the roll-out of alternative technologies.

For example, decarbonisation will require vast quantities of renewable electricity and new ways of moving and storing it. Countries which imported a lot of Russian fuel will need to replace pipelines and fuel depots with new transmission networks and batteries. The technologies involved tend to be made using an array of scarce metals and materials. Unfortunately, Russia and Ukraine both play significant roles in their supply.

Platinum and palladium are precious metals which are used to make catalytic converters – devices which reduce the concentration of air pollutants in the emissions of vehicles with internal combustion engines. In coming years, these metals will also be used to produce fuel cells in cars and buses which run on clean-burning hydrogen.

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