Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

LAYERS: A Decision-Support Tool to Illustrate and Assess the Supply and Value Chain for the Energy Transition

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Oliver Heidrich, Dr Alistair FordORCiD, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD, Professor David ManningORCiD, Joris Baars, Dr Mohammad RajaeifarORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Climate change mitigation strategies are developed at international, national, and local authority levels. Technological solutions such as renewable energies (RE) and electric vehicles (EV) have geographically widespread knock-on effects on raw materials. In this paper, a decision-support and data-visualization tool named “LAYERS” is presented, which applies a material flow analysis to illustrate the complex connections along supply chains for carbon technologies. A case study focuses on cobalt for lithium-ion batteries (LIB) required for EVs. It relates real business data from mining and manufacturing to actual EV registrations in the UK to visualize the intended and unintended consequences of the demand for cobalt. LAYERS integrates a geographic information systems (GIS) architecture, database scheme, and whole series of stored procedures and functions. By means of a 3D visualization based on GIS, LAYERS conveys a clear understanding of the location of raw materials (from reserves, to mining, refining, manufacturing, and use) across the globe. This highlights to decision makers the often hidden but far-reaching geo-political implications of the growing demands for a range of raw materials that are needed to meet long-term carbon-reduction targets.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heidrich O, Ford A, Dawson RJ, Manning D, Mohareb E, Raugei M, Baars J, Rajaeifar MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sustainability

Year: 2022

Volume: 14

Issue: 12

Print publication date: 10/06/2022

Online publication date: 10/06/2022

Acceptance date: 27/05/2022

Date deposited: 24/11/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2071-1050

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/su14127120


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
NE/L002388/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)