Rare earth metals and other materials are important to wind turbines, electric vehicles, photovoltaic thin films, and energy-efficient lighting. In recent years, demand for almost all such materials has grown more rapidly than demand for commodity metals such as steel. For example, as lighting efficiency standards are implemented globally, heavy rare earths such as yttrium used in lighting phosphors may be in short supply. According to a recent study, DOE’s 2011 Critical Materials Strategy report, sourcing challenges for five rare earth metals including dysprosium, terbium, europium, neodymium, and yttrium may affect clean energy technology deployment in the years ahead, though the DOE and others have scaled up work to address these challenges. Progress includes new research funding, development of DOE’s first critical materials research plan, and new coordination among federal agencies.
Source: 2011 Critical Materials Strategy, www.energy.gov