Natural resources and the energy transition
A sustainable supply of raw materials is key to the energy transition.
Earth is rich in mineral resources. These natural resources are incredibly important to productivity and prosperity in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. It’s therefore absolutely vital that we ensure a reliable supply of important natural resources, as this will help maintain a stable and sustainable economy.
However, guaranteeing a secure supply of non-energy raw materials, in particular, will prove decisive to the success of the energy transition. And given the challenges arising from the growing climate crisis, it’s essential – in addition to supply security – that we also comply with global sustainability standards in resource extraction and along supply chains. The raw material economy in NRW will play an important role in this area thanks to its proven expertise and technology.
North Rhine-Westphalia is rich in loose and solid rock, mineral water, salt, sand and gravel as well as energy resources. However, we are hugely dependent on foreign resources and suppliers when it comes to certain raw materials needed for the energy transition, e.g., metal ores, raw materials for batteries and rare earth elements. Demand for natural resources (in NRW) is currently covered by imports, extracting domestic deposits and using secondary raw materials recovered or recycled from both construction and industrial processes. This means that we need to consider a huge number of stakeholders when trying to ensure we have the raw materials we need – especially when it comes to making supply chains as sustainable as possible. However, together with research and academic institutes, innovative companies in North Rhine-Westphalia involved in mining technology/the mining economy, renewables and digitalisation have built up extensive theoretical and practical know-how on this very topic.
NRW.Energy4Climate aims to support the raw material economy – and ultimately companies in NRW processing raw materials – in tackling these challenges. But this can only happen if we cooperate and work closely with the whole sector, which is why we are hosting workshops and networking events. In the future, we will also provide support in the form of information services, e.g., on (inter)national projects, calls for tender and collaborations as well as information about the raw material situation in NRW. It’s vital that we involve research and academia, while also emphasising to the wider public the importance of a sustainable raw material economy in transitioning our energy system. This will help ensure that NRW not only retains but also expands its existing skills and expertise.