Energy and Mineral Security in the European Union: Metal Requirements for Renewable and Nuclear Intensive Electricity Mixes
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- Discussion papers (FOR) 
In 2022, the EU finds itself in the midst of an energy crisis due to the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine and has to accelerate its path to energy independence. Part of the EU’s strategy is to double down on the transition to a renewable-intensive energy system. However, this has raised concerns about whether the EU risks swapping one type of energy dependence for another, namely fuel import dependence for metal import dependence. This paper investigates to what extent the EU would rely on metal imports if it is to execute its current energy plan, and whether a nuclear-intensive electricity production system could be a better option. When compared to today’s electricity mix, we find that a renewable-intensive electricity mix will increase the overall energy security in the EU – the reduction in fuel import dependence more than compensates for the increase in metal import dependence. However, we also find that a nuclear-intensive electricity mix can increase the overall energy security in the EU even further. When compared to a renewable-intensive electricity mix, a nuclear-intensive mix does not only have lower metal import requirements in terms of volume and value, but also reduces risk of bottleneck problems related to rare earths and silicone. Still, even with a nuclear-intensive energy mix, the EU will still rely on metal imports, and face potential bottleneck risks in terms of chromium.
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