Global energy transitions : Renewable energy technology and non-renewable resources

Abstract: The global energy system is dominated by the use of fossil fuels. This system suffers from several problems, such as different environmental issues, while the long-term energy security is sometimes questioned. As an alternative to this situation, a transition to a global energy system based on renewable energy technologies, to a large extent solar and wind energy, is commonly proposed. Constructing the technology needed for such a transition requires resources and how fast this could happen is somewhat disputed. This thesis explores methods to assess the potential constraints for realizing such a transition by looking at potential technology growth rates and outlooks of production of the required natural resources.The thesis is based on three papers presenting case studies that look at growth rates of wind energy as well as future production outlooks of lithium and phosphate rock. Using different types of growth patterns reaching proposed installed capacities of wind power, annual commissioning requirements are investigated, taking account for the limited life expectancy oftechnology. Potential outlooks of mineral production are explored using resource constrained curve-fitting models on global lithium production. A more disaggregated model looking at individual countries are used on phosphate rock production to investigate new perspectives on production outlooks.It is concluded that the growth rates of individual energy technologies affect the resource requirements and prospective constraints on energy transitions. Resource constrained modelling of resource production can provide spans of potential outlooks for future production of resources required for anenergy transition. A higher disaggregation of the modelling can provide new perspectives of potential constraints on future production. These aspects should be further investigated when proposing alternative future energy systems.