Advancing responsible sourcing
in mineral value chains
The production of lithium-ion battery cells has increased exponentially over the last few years due to rising demand, especially to power electric vehicles. This trend is continuing, as many new cell production plants start production, with more announced to be built over the next years. As battery cells are the key part of an electric vehicle, there is a strong connection between the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the cell producers, since a battery is usually directly manufactured for a specific battery pack and car. Some OEMs produce battery cells themselves (e.g. Tesla or BYD) and others are planning to do so (e.g. Volkswagen).
Further information on battery cell production is provided under the Mobility Sector , including producing companies globally and in Europe, challenges in the manufacturing phase, etc. The detailed information on battery cell manufacturing including a technical overview is provided in the State of Play Report on the Mobility Sector.
Solar power production utilizes the radiation of the sun and transforms it into electricity or heat. Two different types of technologies can be differentiated, solar cells or photovoltaics (PV) that convert sunlight into electricity. These can be used on a small-scale, for example installed on roofs for personal use, or on large-commercial scale. Concentrated solar power (CSP) uses mirrors to concentrate the solar rays. The concentrated rays then heat fluids to create steam and power a turbine. This in turn generates electricity in large-scale power plants (IRENA, 2020). The RE-SOURCING project focuses on the first type – the solar PV panels.
China is the largest producer of the raw material required for the production of the most widely used solar cells, as well as the largest manufacturer of solar cells.
Further information on solar panel production is provided under the Renewable Energy Sector, including European and international manufacturing companies, challenges in the manufacturing phase, etc. Detailed information, including a technical overview, is provided in the State of Play Report on the Renewable Energy Sector.
Wind turbines are used to produce electricity from a renewable resource – wind or moving air. Wind creates kinetic energy causing the blades of the turbine to rotate, thus creating rotational energy. This rotational energy is in turn transformed into electrical energy using generators. There are different types of wind turbines. The two main categories are onshore and offshore technologies, that can be further differentiated according to the type of generator system used. The generator and the magnet used also determine the materials required for the construction of the turbine. For example, electromagnets found in different types of generators consist of iron cores surrounded by wound copper wire. Other turbines might use permanent magnet generators that require rare earth magnets (neodymium, iron, and boron Nd-Fe-B magnets). The trend for wind turbine technology is moving towards larger wind turbines with higher capacities. Currently, the largest available turbines have a capacity of 8 MW and a rotor diameter of 164 meters (IRENA, 2020).
Further information on battery cell production is provided under the Renewable Energy Sector, including European and international manufacturing companies, challenges in the manufacturing phase, etc. Detailed information, including a technical overview, is provided in the State of Play Report on the Renewable Energy Sector.
Consumers mainly know the brands of electronics like Apple, Samsung, Dell, HP. But the production of the electronics itself is mainly done by often unknown and labor intensive contract or component manufacturers like Han Hai (Foxconn), Jabil, Flex or Taiwan Semiconductor. China continues to be the world’s largest electronics manufacturing hub.
In 2018, China dominated the global exports of mobile phones (57%), computers and tablets (49%), and household electrical goods (43%). Other important manufacturing hubs include Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Mexico, and Brazil.
Civil society, trade unions, and academics have documented serious violations of human rights in electronics contract manufacturing.
Further information on electronics production is provided under the EEE Sector and in the State of Play Report on the Electronics Sector, including main producing companies globally and in Europe, and social and environmental challenges associated with (contract) manufacturers’ activities and business relationships.