The Material Basis of Energy Transitions

The Material Basis of Energy Transitions

1st Edition - August 5, 2020

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  • Editors: Alena Bleicher, Alexandra Pehlken
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128195345
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128235546

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The Material Basis of Energy Transitions explores the intersection between critical raw material provision and the energy system. Chapters draw on examples and case studies involving energy technologies (e.g., electric power, transport) and raw material provision (e.g., mining, recycling), and consider these in their regional and global contexts. The book critically discusses issues such as the notion of criticality in the context of a circular economy, approaches for estimating the need for raw materials, certification schemes for raw materials, the role of consumers, and the impact of renewable energy development on resource conflicts. Each chapter deals with a specific issue that characterizes the interdependency between critical raw materials and renewable energies by examining case studies from a particular conceptual perspective.   The book is a resource for students and researchers from the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, as well as interdisciplinary scholars interested in the field of renewable energies, the circular economy, recycling, transport, and mining. The book is also of interest to policymakers in the fields of renewable energy, recycling, and mining, professionals from the energy and resource industries, as well as energy experts and consultants looking for an interdisciplinary assessment of critical materials.

Key Features

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of key issues related to the nexus between renewable energy and critical raw materials
  • Explores interdisciplinary perspectives from the natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences
  • Discusses critical strategies to address the nexus from a practitioner's perspective


Students and researchers from social scientific disciplines, natural sciences, engineering studies, and interdisciplinary scholars interested in the field of renewable energies, circular economy, recycling, transport and mining. The book addresses researchers from disciplines such as sociology, geography, political science, economy, industrial ecology, materials science, and geology who are interested in interdisciplinary perspectives. Policymakers in the field of renewable energy, recycling and mining. Professionals from the energy and resource industry. Energy experts and consultants with interest in the interdisciplinary assessment of critical materials

Table of Contents

  • 1. The Material Basis of Energy Transitions – An Introduction
    2. Social Science Perspectives on the Energy-Climate-Metals Nexus
    3. Metal-Energy Nexus in the Global Energy Transition Calls for Cooperative Actions
    4. Dependency of renewable energy technologies on critical resources
    5. Stationary battery systems: Future challenges regarding Resources, Recycling and Sustainability
    6. Making Critical Materials Valuable: Decarbonization, Investment & ‘Political Risk
    7. Environmental Impacts of Mineral Sourcing and their Impacts on Criticality
    8. Limits of LCA in the context of energy transition and its material basis
    9. Critical Resources, Sustainability and Future Generations
    10. Conflicts related to resources: The case of cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    11. Voluntary Sustainability Initiatives – an approach to make mining more responsible?
    12. The role of a circular economy for energy transition
    13. Substitution of critical materials – a strategy to deal with material needs of energy transition?
    14. Renewable energy technologies and their implications for critical materials from a sociology of consumption perspective – The case of photovoltaic systems and electric vehicles
    15. Renewable Energy and Critical Minerals – A Field Worthy of Interdisciplinary Research

Product details

  • No. of pages: 256
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2020
  • Published: August 5, 2020
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128195345
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128235546

About the Editors

Alena Bleicher

Alena Bleicher
Alena Bleicher is a senior sociology researcher. Between 2015 and 2019 she led a research group that investigated social scientific perspectives on technology development for critical raw material extraction at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany. Her research focuses on societal aspects of technological development in the contexts of geothermal energy systems and raw material provision. She has an interest in questions about non-knowledge in decision making, valorization of secondary raw materials, changing practices, and responsibility in technology development.

Affiliations and Expertise

Senior researcher in Sociology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany

Alexandra Pehlken

Alexandra Pehlken is an expert in raw material engineering and recycling. She studied Mining and Mineral Processing at RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany. She completed her Doctorate degree in the Mining Engineering Faculty in 2002. Her expertise lies in sustainable resource management, the cascade use of materials and its impact on life cycle performance. Between 2014 and 2019 she was head of the research group Cascade Use at Carl von Ossietzky University. Currently she is a member of the Energy division at OFFIS and a board member of the Energiecluster Oldenburg.

Affiliations and Expertise

Energy division, OFFIS e.V. - Institut für Informatik FuE Bereich Energie, Oldenburg, Germany

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