Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I know that you're right.  It's the role that a marginal price and performance advantage coupled with massive wage arbitrage can play in leading the value added part of the industry (aka the stuff inside the nacelle) to cluster somewhere in China.  

That said, in terms of access to resources as a technological, rather than price, restraint, the problem is undoubtedly far larger for hybrid and electric vehicles.  I see huge problems there, simply in the quantities required for large scale production of hybrids.  Total 2008 production in China was  25,000 tons for neodymium and 31,000 for lanthanum.

Both are need to makes hybrids.

Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of lanthanum. That number will nearly double under Toyota's plans to boost the car's fuel economy, he said.

Toyota plans to sell 100,000 Prius cars in the United States alone for 2009, and 180,000 next year. The company forecasts sales of 1 million units per year starting in 2010.

This means that if Toyota got the entirety of Chinese production it would be limited to around 23 million by the neodymium, but  the lanthanum would limit it to somewhere between 1.8-2.8 million vehicles annually. With wind turbines seeking these same minerals, that is going to create an issue.  At least in the short term, monopoly control over these minerals (at a level that OPEC could only dream of) could allow them to pursue a policy that made it nearly impossible for "green energy" industries to be developed, or sustained, in Europe and the US.

Plus, the question of whether it's hybrid cars or wind turbines that suck up that supply of rare earths is going to have to be answered.  Looking at these difficulties, I'm more and more enamored of the potential of using ammonia as an ertzatz hydrogen carrier, produced through electrolysis, to fuel vehicles.  Which means that thew turbines get the rare earth's, but if we are looking at this in strictly market terms, it's likely that the cars win.........


And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Nov 11th, 2009 at 04:02:47 PM EST
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