IEA-RETD Report Offers Recommendations for Securing Renewable Energy Supply Chains

26 November 2012: The International Energy Agency's Implementing Agreement on Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (IEA‐RETD) has released the final report of its project on Securing the Supply Chain for Renewable Energy (RE-SUPPLY).

The RE-SUPPLY project identifies current and future constraints to the large-scale deployment of on- and off-shore wind and solar photovoltaic energy that would prevent their roll-out at the rate required to meet global climate change mitigation and energy security objectives. The analysis draws from an extensive literature review and interviews with industry experts to assess the timelines of risks in supply chains, as well as identify mitigation strategies and actions for policy and industry.

The report finds that the wind sector is unlikely to be threatened by showstopper-type bottlenecks but that it faces severe constraints from an insufficient supply of rare earth metals, grid integration, barriers to permitting, and lack of production capacity for offshore wind transmission equipment.

The report finds that shortages of critical materials, however, could indeed potentially severely hinder the deployment of solar photovoltaic technology over the medium term. Other critical bottlenecks for photovoltaic technologies will likely include grid capacity limitations and administrative and regulatory barriers.

The report offers 137 recommended actions for industry, policy-makers and, to a lesser extent, non-profit organizations, which range from the monitoring of potential problems, to strengthening of existing efforts and switching to new, more abundant materials.

The RE-SUPPLY project was global in scope but focused its discussion of the implications of supply constraints to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The main time horizon for the study is 2025, with bottlenecks expected to appear within the next two to six years. The final report was prepared for IEA-RETD by E4tech and Avalon Consulting. [RE-SUPPLY Project Website] [Publication: RE-SUPPLY Final Report]