The International Energy Agency, a highly respected source of energy information, has released a devastating report concerning the viability of energy generated by solar and wind. The 287-page report, “The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transmission,” covers a large body of data which has been largely ignored until recently. It requires mining industries and infrastructure that don’t exist.
Wind, solar and battery technologies are built from an array of “energy transmission minerals” that must be mined and processed. In order to meet renewable demands, lithium mining would have to increase by 4,200 percent, graphite by 2,500 percent, nickel by 1,900 percent and rare earth metals by 700 percent by 2040. The world does not have the capacity to meet such demand and there are no plans to fund and build the necessary mines and refineries.
Another problem is that it takes an average of 16 years from the time a mine site is found to a production start, and mining and mineral processing require large volumes of water and pose contamination risks through acid mine drainage, wastewater discharge and disposal of tailings. Further, expanded mining will occur, to a large extent, in China and in countries with poor governance, corruption and other liability risks.
Radical increases in demand will raise commodity prices, which reverberate through the global economy. The costs involved in meeting these challenges could wipe out the value of much or most of the emissions saved.
These headwinds clearly show that wind and solar will never fill the enormous needs for renewable energy and spending trillions trying to do so will be wasted.
Reality is slowly creeping into the climate change transition and the sooner the better.
Paul Conklin Quigg ~ Luray, Va.
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