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⚡ "No Limits"

The Energy Transition Show

Photo by Jason D / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Chris Nelder
Guest: Kingsmill Bond | New Energy Strategist | Carbon Tracker
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[10:27] “The IEA Report made a very accurate observation up front, and they said, […] there is no shortage of minerals. […] I think what we're concerned about is that it then takes very pessimistic turn, and then lots of charts, looking at the additional minerals required by the green system, […] for example, 210 kilograms is required for electric vehicle of critical minerals […] and a megawatt of solar requests 6.5 tonnes versus 3 tons for coal plant. […] And the point is that it's just analytically bogus, because what they're doing is they're looking at the stock, not the flows. It's a very simple error, actually. And the flows are two or three orders of magnitude bigger than the stock. So it's just wrong to look at these numbers. […] You might need 200 kilograms and that’s more minerals for an electric vehicle. But that electric vehicle uses 15,000 kilograms less oil over its lifetime. And it's the same story in electricity. So if you need 3 tons extra of minerals to make the solar panel versus the coal plant, what you are forgetting is that you need 150 grams of mineral equivalent per megawatt hour for solar versus 350 kilograms per megawatt hour of coal.”

[12:46] “People often say solar is really bad for the environment, because it uses so much water. […] It uses 20 liters of water for every megawatt hour […]. And then you step back for a second, […] and coal uses 2,000 liters per megawatt hour to produce electricity. So, there's a lot of very fake analysis knocking around out there. And part of the job that we do at Carbon Tracker is to expose it.”

[13:52] “We have dozens or even hundreds of times as [many] minerals in the Earth's crust as current demand. So there's no question that we have the stuff. Where the issues lie […] is that you don't have the stuff immediately. And therefore, if you get very rapid demand growth, then you're going to have short term mismatches between supply and demand, as with all commodities. [...] So you're going to have a mismatch of supply and demand in the short term, it drives up price, higher price drives up supply, more supply drives down price.”

[16:07] “We have 170 times as much lithium reserves as annual demand. Furthermore, our reserves have increased by 42% over the last eight years as a prospect of higher prices and rising demand have drawn out new investment. So of course, if you were to take 2040, and your lithium demand today, then we would struggle to do that. But it's just going to be a long, slow process to build. And there's plenty of stuff out there.”

[16:42] “We're not trying to be glib here, it's not easy. And there are negative consequences, which need to be managed and all the rest of it. But the question that's being asked is, is this a hard barrier to the energy transition? Is this an insurmountable barrier, which stops it from happening? And the answer to that one is absolutely, unequivocally no. […] And the point actually, is that the reality is the other way around, the fossil fuel system has reached the limits to growth, and the renewable system is a very long way away from them.”

[25:49] “There is this notion that the status quo is good and any changes to the status quo are bad. And you see that constantly in discussions about the energy transition, and we cannot change because the current world we live in is so perfect. And this is a very dangerous idea. First of all, because […] business as usual, is just not an option at all, we have to change, not even the fossil fuel industry wants to get to 4 degrees. […] And then secondly, I think we all have to recognize that the current system […] is by no means a perfect one. […] You've got 8 million people a year dying as a result of the pollution from fossil fuels. And when we had no alternative, I guess, society was prepared to tolerate that. But now that there are alternatives, that issue is much more significant. And then secondly, as Oxfam has been pointing out, the richest 1% use 2.5 times as much energy as the bottom 50%. And the losers from the current fossil fuel system hugely skewed towards the poor and the minorities and the countries of the global south. So the system we currently have is certainly not a perfect one.”

[28:40] “The energy transition was certainly sparked by reducing carbon emissions. But I would suggest that actually now, the core driver, fortunately, is technology. […] If this is a technology transition, people simply have to change to survive. If it's a question of reducing your emissions to fit with an externally mandated level, you can do an awful lot of greenwashing to get that. And I think that's an important distinction to be made. You can't greenwash your way out of reality.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 36 min | 🗓️ 08/04/2021
✅ Time saved: 34 min