The sun is free, but harnessing the sun’s power into usable energy requires industrial processes to make cement, steel, glass and other components. These processes emit CO2. Where’s all this stuff going to come from? Massive new mining operations, destroying more land that should be protected, and in places hostile to the U.S.
Some dream of powering society entirely with wind and solar farms combined with massive batteries. Realizing this dream would require the biggest expansion in mining the world has seen and would produce huge quantities of waste."Renewable energy" is a misnomer. Wind and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. Read full article.
Though ore demand for materials usually means more mining (and with it, increased environmental impacts), experts agree that the benefits of renewable energy far outweigh the costs. “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” says Charles Barnhart, a professor of energy studies at Western Washington University.
Plenty of high-tech electronic components, like solar panels, rechargeable batteries, and complex circuits, require specific rare metals. These can include magnetic neodymium, electronic indium, and silver, along with lesser-known metals like praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium. These metals are mined in large quantities in countries around the world, and they make their way into the supply chains of all sorts of electronics and renewables companies. Read full article.