US And Australia Ink New RE Pact To Break China’s Stranglehold

The US has inked a pact with Australia to break China’s stranglehold on clean energy technology supplies, according to a news report published.

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Addressing a joint press conference, US Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, and the Australian Climate Change and Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, announced a “net-zero technology acceleration partnership” that places a premium on improving power grids and boosting energy storage solutions. The two leaders candidly and nonchalantly accepted that the deal was partly motivated by the mutual need to avert a situation similar to the one Europe is in with Russia. The diplomatic standoff in the wake of Ukraine war saw Russia blackmail that it would turning the gas tap off, leaving the overdependent Europe literally high and dry.

In the press conference, Granholm, US Secretary of Energy compared the West’s dependence on China’s critical minerals and technology, to Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. She said, “I worry that China has big-footed a lot of the technology and supply chains that could make us vulnerable if we don’t develop our own supply chains.”

The Big Chinese Dependence

Fearing a similar situation in future, Western countries could risk falling into another trap of over-reliance on a single country, as countries around the world are nearly completely dependent on China for clean energy technology supplies. There is an Indian ring to the story. It has been at least year since the Indian government has not given green signal to its decision to grant foreign manufacturers, including those of Chinese origin, permission to feature in the approved list of solar photovoltaic (PV) models and manufacturers (ALMM), according to a news report. The solar power industries in India have since been facing the heat due to China’s dominance. There is no reason why this can’t happen with the West unless they explore an option as good as, if not better or more lucrative than China. Beijing’s monopoly in lithium is well known, and therefore the EV batteries industry in the west could end up being dependent on China in the same way as it is dependent on Russia for oil and natural gas.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has also raised the alarm because Beijing accounts for 80 percent of the solar energy technology – known as solar PV (photovoltaics) – manufacturing in the world. These suggest the superpower will have a near-complete grip on world, reaching 95 percent by 2025. IEA also found that, in 2021, China accounted for 46 percent of global additions to RE capacity, outpacing the rest of the world. The EU Commission itself has said that China produces 98-99 percent of all the “rare Earth elements” in the world.
Securing key elements like lithium is crucial for Europe, as a new report showed that the EU needs 35 times more lithium than it has today, along with 26 times more rare earth elements, twice as much nickel, and more aluminium.

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