A focus on ‘green’ energy

A focus on ‘green’ energy

Rare earth elements (REEs) play an important role in ‘green’ energy and technologies due to their unique properties.

Here are six applications within the ‘green’ energy sector in which REEs are used:

1. Wind turbines

Neodymium and dysprosium are essential components in the powerful magnets used in wind turbine generators.

2. Electric vehicles

REEs are used in the manufacturing of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, which play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the permanent magnets of electric motors, enhancing their efficiency.

3. Solar Panels

REEs are used in the production of thin-film solar panels and photovoltaic cells. Cerium is used in the manufacture of polishing compounds for these panels, helping to improve their efficiency.

4. Catalytic Converters

Cerium, lanthanum, and other REEs are used in catalytic converters to reduce emissions from internal combustion engines, which helps to make vehicles more environmentally friendly by converting harmful pollutants into less harmful substances.

5. Energy storage

In addition to electric vehicle batteries, REEs can be utilised in advanced energy storage technologies such as rechargeable batteries for renewable energy systems and grid-level energy storage solutions.

6. Hybrid and electric propulsion systems

REEs can be used in the propulsion systems of hybrid and electric ships, providing energy-efficient alternatives to traditional fossil fuel-based production.

Recycling and responsible sourcing practices are also being explored to mitigate the environmental impacts associated with rare earth element production.