Change brings unintended consequences, especially when a monumental change occurs in our infrastructure at a very rapid pace.
Electric car. Wind turbines. Solar panels. What are the trade-offs?
Will any of the new or expanded resources meet our needs? Are they as or more harmful to our environment? Are we putting more children and adults at risk of serious or terminal illnesses?
I wrote about this over a year and a half ago, but the information is relevant today – such as the cost of disposing of wind turbine blades, the cost of mining lithium and cobalt, and where the minerals are mined for use in batteries. .
Solar panels have environmental issues as many extracted components can cause lung disease and they are linked to chemical pollution.
A few of my concerns: What minerals do you need to build a battery for an electric car? How much dirt needs to be moved to get enough lithium and cobalt for the batteries? How dangerous are children or adults mining minerals? Could they die from a terminal illness caused by inhaling the materials or die from an accident, especially in countries that don’t have safety laws?
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According to Mark P. Mill’s article, “Mines, Minerals and ‘Green’ Energy” in the Manhattan Institute report, “Any serious consideration of the environmental and supply chain implications of renewable energy is left out of the discussion. “
He went on to say that “all power-generating machines must be made from materials mined from the earth.” No energy system is truly “renewable” since all machinery requires the continuous extraction and processing of millions of tons of raw materials and the disposal of material that inevitably wears out. Compared to hydrocarbons, “green” machines lead on average to a tenfold increase in the quantities of materials extracted and transformed to produce the same quantity of energy.
By increasing the current use of green energy from 4% to 50%, for example, an unprecedented increase in mineral mining will radically exacerbate our environmental and social challenges. As you know, we depend on China and developing countries for the majority of minerals. This makes us very vulnerable.
Yes, President Biden wants more minerals to be mined in the United States. Yes, we have mineral reserves worth trillions of dollars. However, we are currently 100% dependent on the import of at least 17 necessary minerals, another 29, we import more than half of them to meet our national obligations.
Mid American Energy is installing wind turbines and will build, if it hasn’t already, fields of solar panels to generate electricity. They are probably one of the most prepared energy companies in the state of Iowa and the country. According to the Manhattan Institute, the construction of solar panels and wind turbines to produce electricity, batteries for the electric car, requires on average 10 times more materials than machines using hydrocarbons to provide the same amount of energy to our country.
A single electric car contains more than 1,000 smart phone batteries. A single blade on a wind turbine contains more plastic than five million smartphones, and a field of solar panels that can power a data center uses more glass than 50 million phones.
When it comes to replacing hydrocarbons with “green” machinery, mining of critical minerals will explode. A single electric car weighing 1,000 pounds requires the excavation and processing of 500,000 pounds of material such as dirt. If you average out the life of a battery, for every mile driven, the electric car uses five pounds of Mother Earth. A combustion engine consumes about 0.2 pounds of fluid per mile.
Ironically, to build the “green machines”, oil, natural gas and coal are needed to produce the concrete, steel, plastics and purified minerals needed. It takes the equivalent of 100 barrels of oil to build a battery capable of storing the equivalent of one barrel of oil.
If things continue by 2050, the amount of used solar panels will represent double the tonnage of all current global waste, as well as more than three million tonnes per year of non-recyclable plastics from worn turbine blades and, by 2030, more than 10 million tons per year of batteries will be waste.
This raises many questions: will the network, new or old, be able to meet the needs of drivers for electrical energy without interrupting blackouts? You won’t find charging stations at rest areas on federal highways because it’s not legal to sell fuel or electric power there. Just as you do today, you will need to stop at a charging station owned by a private company. How much time will you add to your trip to charge your vehicle? How much money is this going to cost you? Are you concerned about the price? What will the network be able to support for the United States? Will you need a backup system for your home or business?
The questions deserve thought.