A number o chemical elements that were once laboratory curiosities now gure prominently in new
technologies like wind turbines, solar energy collectors, and electric cars. I widely deployed, suchinventions have the capacity to transorm the way we produce, transmit, store, or conserve energy.To meet our energy needs and reduce our dependence on ossil uels, novel energy systems mustbe scaled rom laboratory, to demonstration, to widespread deployment.Energy-related systems are typically materials intensive. As new technologies are widely deployed,
signicant quantities o the elements required to manuacture them will be needed. However, many
o these unamiliar elements are not presently mined, rened, or traded in large quantities, and,as a result, their availability might be constrained by many complex actors. A shortage o these
“energy-critical elements” (ECEs) could signicantly inhibit the adoption o otherwise game-changingenergy technologies. This, in turn, would limit the competitiveness o U.S. industries and the domestic
scientic enterprise and, eventually, diminish the quality o lie in the United States.
ECEs include rare earths, which received much media attention in recent months, but potentially
include more than a dozen other chemical elements. The ECEs share common issues and should beconsidered together in developing policies to promote smooth and rapid deployment o desirabletechnologies.
Several actors can contribute to limiting the domestic availability o an ECE. The element might
simply not be abundant in Earth’s crust or might not be concentrated by geological processes. An
element might only occur in a ew economic deposits worldwide, or production might be dominatedby and, thereore, subject to manipulation by one or more countries. The United States already relies
on other countries or more than 90% o most o the ECEs we identiy. Many ECEs have, up to thispoint, been produced in relatively small quantities as by-products o primary metals rening. Joint
production complicates attempts to ramp up output by a large actor. Because they are relatively
scarce, extraction o ECEs oten involves processing large amounts o material, sometimes in ways thatdo unacceptable environmental damage. Finally, the time required or production and utilization toadapt to uctuations in price and availability o ECEs is long, making planning and investment dicult.
This report surveys these potential constraints on the availability o ECEs and then identies ve
specic areas o potential action by the United States to insure their availability: 1) ederal agencycoordination; 2) inormation collection, analysis, and dissemination; 3) research, development, and
workorce enhancement; 4) ecient use o materials; and, 5) market interventions. Throughout this
report, narratives on particular ECEs are provided to clariy these ve action areas.The report’s specic recommendations, which can be ound in their entirety in Section 4, are sum-marized as ollows:
The Oce o Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) should create a subcommittee within the
National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to 1) examine the production and use o energy-
critical elements within the United States and, 2) coordinate the ederal response.
The U.S. government should gather, analyze, and disseminate inormation on energy-critical ele-
ments across the lie-cycle supply chain, including discovered and potential resources, production,use, trade, disposal, and recycling. The entity undertaking this task should be a “Principal StatisticalAgency” with survey enorcement authority. It should regularly survey emerging energy technolo-
gies and the supply chain or elements throughout the periodic table with the aim o identiyingcritical applications, as well as potential shortalls.