Uncertain strategies for securing supplies of critical raw materials
Western industries are faced with a grave challenge: the exploding demand for rare metals and elements required by cutting-edge decarbonization and digitalization technologies could far outpace the projected growth in their supplies. Moreover, the global market for these raw materials is dominated by a handful of countries, and the usual conservation and substitution strategies in the developed world will not kick in soon enough. More research and development is needed.
Four implications of electric mobility
China is doubly dominant in electric vehicles (EV), as the world’s biggest market and largest battery maker, with 55 percent of global production. EV makers also increasingly depend on critical raw materials from China such as lithium, cobalt, graphite and rare earths. This growing dependency, along with production bottlenecks and the environmental costs of EV production, may limit its impact on the global energy mix.
China’s expanding space program
China started its manned space program four decades after the United States, but it is making great strides while the American effort stagnates. Beijing has long-term plans for a manned lunar base and is testing antisatellite weapons at record altitudes. There appears to be little will in Washington to commit to a multi-decade program needed to stay ahead of the Chinese, and no other country appears able to compete on equal terms.
Computing China’s future
China has long played catch-up in many industries, but it no longer needs to chase in high-performance computing. The country now has the two fastest supercomputers in the world, and has put itself in the forefront of a wave that will one day overwhelm binary digital technology – quantum computing. If China establishes leadership in this field, it could close the military technology gap with the United States and shift the geopolitical balance.
Productivity is no free lunch
Europe is worried about low and declining productivity growth. Most politicians and experts have a simple solution: more high-tech investments and more education, especially for young people. But it is questionable whether this proposed fix is realistic or will bring about the desired outcome. The educational visions that...
Disarmed Sweden has few options in face of Russian aggression
Recent polls indicate that more Swedes now want their country to join Nato than those who want it to remain outside the alliance. In the Swedish political landscape, this represents something of an earthquake, upsetting a traditional consensus on non-alignment. And it is the obvious result of mounting pressures from Russia. But Nato membership is likely far off – a...
Japan’s business leaders get wake-up call as Sharp sells stake to Taiwan's Hon Hai
Greater Chinese electronics giant Hon Hai - a major supplier of Apple’s iPads and iPhones - has snapped up a ten per cent stake in Japan’s leading electronics business Sharp. This strategic investment is likely to be a wake-up call to Japanese businesses and encourage other Chinese firms looking to invest in such world-class assets. ...