New report shows the UK must secure its material supply chain to deliver its green energy promises

Over the next ten years it is anticipated that the UK will undergo a ‘green transport revolution’.

Our latest report, ‘Building a robust magnet supply chain for the UK’ reveals that this global shift to greener technology will result in an increased reliance on three rare earth elements and could result in a critical supply shortage. 

The report, released this week, highlights the strategic importance of three obscure ‘Rare Earth Elements’ (REE) – neodymium, dysprosium and terbium – which lurk in the outer reaches of the periodic table yet play a central role in the creation of high-powered Neodymium Iron Boron (NeFeB) permanent magnets 

These magnets are a key component of the preferred design of electric machines used within many of our electric and hybrid vehicles, making up approximately 60% of the value of the e-machine. As we transition towards net-zero solutions, they are needed in much greater volume. It is estimated that the manufacturing of electric vehicles, industrial motors, and wind power generators will use over 60% of projected magnet production by 2050 – equating to 250,000 tonnes of magnets per annum. 

Fears of a global scramble to procure supplies of these REEs are currently shadowing the automotive industry. Right now, China has a dominance in the REE market, and this report urges collaborative action across industry and UK government to ensure there is not a critical supply shortage. The UK has a unique strength in metal and alloy production and our research shows that we could produce 4500T per annum of permanent magnets – enough for 4.5 million cars by 2025.  

With this in mind, the report concludes that whilst the investment needed to achieve this is not insignificant, alignment across the supply chain and continued longterm UK government support will ensure a sustainable roll-out of electric vehicles and the successful realisation of a green transport revolution.

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