Scientists from the University of Aberdeen will play a key role in a new initiative that aims to train the next generation of mineral resource experts to help the energy transition.

Academics from across the University will form part of the new Training and Research Group for Energy Transition Mineral Resources (TARGET) along with universities, research organisations and industrial partners across the UK.

Backed by a £2.6 million funding award from The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the consortium has been created as demand for metals increases to meet population growth and the consequent renewable energy needs.

Each year, over 3 billion tonnes of metals are produced, a figure that is set to multiply as the demand grows for mineral resources for use in wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, among other technologies.

Some of these resources are considered ‘critical’ – economically important but with challenged supply chains that are vulnerable to disruption. Growing expertise in critical mineral resources will help to develop secure and sustainable supply.

Led by the University of Leicester’s Centre for Sustainable Resource Extraction, TARGET will see partners across the UK provide doctoral-level training in the full lifecycle of minerals from sector leaders. The consortium is currently recruiting its first cohort of researchers to start in October 2024.

Welcoming news of the award, Professor John Underhill. Aberdeen University’s Director for Energy Transition, said: "“It is excellent news that NERC has awarded one of their highly competitive and prestigious Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) to an academic partnership in which Aberdeen University forms a key part.

"The CDT will address the critical role that mineral resources will play in the energy transition through a program of research and training.

"The first projects will start in September and those appointed to the PhDs based at the University will add value and capability to our Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Transition."

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