How ironic that the renewable energy sector is going to be the next boom for mining companies…
Via Climate Central
Three French CRNS scientists – Olivier Vidal and Nicholas Arndt of the University of Grenoble and Bruno Goffé of Aix-Marseille University – issue this warning in Nature Geoscience.
They say that to match the power generated by fossil fuels or nuclear power stations, the construction of solar energy farms and wind turbines will gobble up 15 times more concrete, 90 times more aluminum and 50 times more iron, copper and glass. Right now wind and solar energy meet only about 1 percent of global demand; hydroelectricity meets about 7 percent.
The trio argue that if the contribution from wind turbines and solar energy to global energy production is to rise from the current 400 terawatt hours to 12,000 terawatt hours in 2035, and 25,000 terawatt hours in 2050, that will require 3,200 million tons of steel, 310 million tons of aluminum and 40 million tons of copper to construct state-of-the-art generating systems.
This in turn would mean an annual increase in global production of these metals of from 5 percent to 18 percent for the next 40 years, and that would be in addition to the already accelerating demand for metals of all kinds in both the developed and the developing world.
In addition, each and every wind turbine has a magnet made of a metal called neodymium. There are 2,500 Kg of it in each of the bird chomping behemoths.
The mining and refining of neodymium is so dirty and toxic - involving repeated boiling in acid, with radioactive thorium as a waste product - that only one country does it - China. Two years ago China flexed its trade muscles and briefly stopped exporting neodymium from its inner Mongolian mines. Forget Middle East oil, how’s that for dangerous reliance on a volatile foreign supply.
So the Ecotard Greens push for 90% renewables by 2030 is actually a boom for BHP, RIO and FMG.
The bottome line is this: The mining of required commodities and the heavy industrial manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels will emit far more Carbon Dioxide emissions than what they will ever save when they finally become operational. When wind and solar energy plants are thwarted by the weather, the void will be filled by gas fired power plants.
It makes no sense whatsoever to use wind and solar. If we’re going to spend the money, then build new hydro dams (the only real renewable power source) and bite the bullet and install carbon dioxide emission free nuclear power.