This is a third post toward infographics exposing the damaging effects of Climate Policies upon the lives of ordinary people. (See World of Hurt Part 1 and Part 2) And all of the pain is for naught in fighting against global warming/climate change, as shown clearly in the image above. This post presents graphics to illustrate the third of four themes:
- Zero Carbon Means Killing Real Jobs with Promises of Green Jobs
- Reducing Carbon Emissions Means High Cost Energy Imports and Social Degradation
- 100% Renewable Energy Means Sourcing Rare Metals Off-Planet
- Leave it in the Ground Means Perpetual Poverty
Part 3: Wind and Solar Infrastructure Consumes Rare Metals Far Beyond World Supplies
Metal demand per technology
There are various technologies available for the production of electricity through wind and solar. Each technology requires different amounts of critical metals. This figure shows the metal demand for the five most common technologies.
• Newer technologies are often more efficient and cheaper, however, they rely on the properties of critical metals to achieve this.
• Thin film cadmium-tellurium solar PV cells have the best performance in terms of CO2 -emissions and energy payback times. They do however require large quantities of tellurium and cadmium, and tellurium is one of the rarest metalloids.
• Direct-drive wind turbines use neodymium-dysprosium based permanent magnets. They are more expensive to produce, but cheaper in their exploitation phase. Gearbox turbines require less critical metals, but are generally understood to have higher maintenance costs because they have more moving parts. Gearbox turbines also have a shorter energy payback time.
Method The average metal demand per unit of electricity is calculated based on load hours in the Netherlands.7–9 The entire lifespan of the specific technologies has been taken into account.Metal demand for Dutch renewable electricity production
This chart shows the average annual metal demand (for 22 metals) required for the installation of new solar panels and wind turbines. This assumes a linear installation of capacity.
The annual metal demand is compared to the annual global production of these specific metals, resulting in an indicator for the share of Dutch demands for renewables in global production.
• For five of the metals, the required demand for renewable electricity production capacity is significant: neodymium, terbium, indium, dysprosium, and praseodymium.
• If the rest of the world would develop renewable electricity capacity at a comparable pace with the Netherlands, a considerable shortage will arise.
• When other applications (such as electric vehicles) are also taken into consideration, the required amount of certain metals would further increase.
Method The renewable electricity targets for 2030 serve as the starting point for the calculations. Based on these targets, the annual installed capacity is calculated. The metals required for this capacity are shown as a percentage of the annual global production.
Origin of critical metals
This diagram shows the origin of the metals required for meeting the 2030 goals. The left side of the diagram shows the origin, based on today’s global production of metals. The right side shows the cumulative metal demand for wind and solar technologies until 2030.
• The Netherlands is entirely dependent on countries outside of Europe – and mainly on China – for its critical metals.
• Not only is the main share of current production located in China, the country also hosts refinery facilities for many metals.
• Australia and Turkey are also important countries for the extraction of specific metals, particularly neodymium (Australia) and boron (Turkey).
Method The renewable electricity capacity required is calculated from the goals in the Climate Agreement outlines. This capacity is then translated to a metal demand. The ratio of world production is based on the annual production statistics of 2017.
Global critical metal demand for wind and PV
When considering a global perspective, the critical metal demand for our future renewable electricity production is significant. This graph shows the annual metal demand for the six most critical metals, compared to the annual production. The dotted line represents present-day annual production.
• Future annual critical metal demands of the energy transition surpass the total annual critical metal production.
• An exponential growth in renewable energy production capacity is not possible with present-day technologies and annual metal production. As an illustration: in 2050, the annual need for Indium (only for solar panel application) will exceed the present-day annual global production twelvefold.
• To be able to realize a renewable energy system, there is a need to both dematerialize renewable electricity production technologies and increase global annual production.
[Note: The US consumes 30 times more energy than the Netherlands.]
And there is another precious resource required for wind and solar power plants: Land in proximity to human settlements
The gray area would be required for a wind farm large enough to power London UK. The yellow area would be required for solar panels.
Just to replace the now closed Indian Point nuclear plant will require a wind farm the size of Albany County New York.