Green hydrogen could deliver the next leap forward for decarbonizing global economies, but the technology depends on rare minerals, often with Chinese-dominated supply chains. Deeper ties with Brazil, India, and South Africa could offer a solution for advanced economies.
Hydrogen has the potential to decarbonize sectors that are difficult to electrify—including heavy industry and long-haul transportation—and could play a key role in reducing global emissions. But producing green hydrogen, which uses electrolysis to avoid emitting any greenhouse gases, needs metals like iron, nickel, and cobalt.
A large share of these metals is in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), shown in red in the graphic above. Together these countries hold almost half of all iron ore deposits and more than a quarter of the world’s nickel.
In a world marked by Russian military aggression and increased animosity between the West and China, advanced economies should look to foster closer economic ties with the remaining BRICS countries of Brazil, India, and South Africa to secure the critical minerals on which the green hydrogen industry relies.
This PIIE Chart is adapted from Monica de Bolle’s blog, The US and the EU want to create a hydrogen economy. They need the BIS in BRICS. Produced and designed by Nia Kitchin and Oliver Ward.