21.20 The massive scale of mining that is required to deliver the raw materials for the international net zero effort.
Serious environmental issues arise at all stages of wind and solar power generation, from mining to the disposal of turbines, batteries and solar panels at the end of their working lives.
Critical issues with the volume of raw materials required
The transition towards a renewable energy-based economy and electric vehicles requires a complex mix of metals including copper, cobalt and nickel, and rare earths. Many of these have previously only been mined
in small amounts. The International Energy Agency calculated that the needs for “energy transition minerals” such as lithium, graphite, nickel and rare-earth metals would rise by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900% and 700%, respectively, by 2040.
The report noted that the world doesn’t have the capacity to meet such demand and there are no plans to fund and build the necessary infrastructure for mines, transport facilities and refineries.
Watch this 5-minute video to appreciate the amount of earth moving required.
Recommendation. Take account of the full environmental impact as well as the financial cost of the green energy transition.