Minor metals and renewable energy—Diversifying America’s energy sources

Fact Sheet 2017-3061
By:  and 



Solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind turbine technologies are projected to make up an increasing proportion of electricity generation capacity in the United States in the coming decades. By 2050, they will account for 36 percent (or 566 gigawatts) of capacity compared with about 11 percent (or 118 gigawatts) in 2016 (fig. 1; EIA, 2017).

There are several different types of commercial solar PV and wind turbine technologies, and each type makes use of different minor metals. “Minor metal” is the term used for metals for which world production is small compared with the more widely produced base metals, and they are often produced as byproducts of the mining or processing of base metals. Minor metals used in renewable energy technologies often have complex supply chains, are often produced primarily outside of the United States, and are also used in many other applications. A larger amount of minor metals will be needed in the future to support the projected increases in solar PV and wind energy production capacity (Nassar and others, 2016).

Suggested Citation

Singerling, S.A., and Nassar, N.T., 2017, Minor metals and renewable energy—Diversifying America’s energy sources: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3061, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173061.

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Table of Contents

  • Solar Photovoltaic
  • Wind Turbine
  • Key Points
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Minor metals and renewable energy—Diversifying America’s energy sources
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2017-3061
DOI 10.3133/fs20173061
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) National Minerals Information Center
Description 2 p.
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details