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 The realities of renewable energy—much folly!

09.10.19. The ‘renewables’ camp run about the land like religious nuts ranting and berating, ‘we’ve got sun and we’ve got wind’ so there you have it —the solution is obvious—isn’t it? Well.. no it’s not! This article gives a few details of what is involved in the collection of this free sun and wind. A new discovery is required, something like, “unobtanium,” a magical energy-producing element that appears out of nowhere, requires no land, weighs nothing, and emits nothing.”
Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of plastic. “US Democrats 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.” 

Source: Mark P. Mills, Wall Street Journal

If You Want ‘Renewable Energy,’ Get Ready to Dig

“Renewable energy” is a misnomer. Wind and solar machines and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. And they wear out. Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste. The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste. Consider some other sobering numbers:
A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.
When electricity comes from wind or solar machines, every unit of energy produced, or mile traveled, requires far more materials and land than fossil fuels. That physical reality is literally visible: A wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.
Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals. Global silver and indium mining will jump 250% and 1,200% respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels, the International Energy Agency forecasts. World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300% to 1,000% by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.
Last year a Dutch government-sponsored study concluded that the Netherlands’ green ambitions alone would consume a major share of global minerals. “Exponential growth in [global] renewable energy production capacity is not possible with present-day technologies and annual metal production,” it concluded.
The demand for minerals likely won’t be met by mines in Europe or the U.S. Instead, much of the mining will take place in nations with oppressive labor practices. The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 70% of the world’s raw cobalt, and China controls 90% of cobalt refining. The Sydney-based Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global “gold” rush for minerals could take miners into “some remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.”
What’s more, mining and fabrication require the consumption of hydrocarbons. Building enough wind turbines to supply half the world’s electricity would require nearly two billion tons of coal to produce the concrete and steel, along with two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades. More than 90% of the world’s solar panels are built in Asia on coal-heavy electric grids.
Engineers joke about discovering “unobtanium,” a magical energy-producing element that appears out of nowhere, requires no land, weighs nothing, and emits nothing. Absent the realization of that impossible dream, hydrocarbons remain a far better alternative than today’s green dreams.
Mr. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a partner in Cottonwood Venture Partners, an energy-tech venture fund, and author of the recent report, “The ‘New Energy Economy’: An Exercise in Magical Thinking.”

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Finn 09/10/2019, 6:53 am


    The inventor of this word is my current candidate for a Nobel prize.

    Almost thinking people should write to the Nobel prize factory [which gave the peace prize to at least two avowed terrorists] And lobby like hell to have him/her get the price

    A single word summing up the entire lunacy a renewable energy.

    I rest my case

  • luk1955 09/10/2019, 7:25 am


    See these links on the dirtiness of green technologies, esp. windmills and solar panels.

    “toxic sludge created by rare earth mining in china”. Type this into a search engine and see how many articles come up on this issue.
    And we wonder why the chinks want to invade us.

  • DT 09/10/2019, 8:49 am

    Electric Vehicles to replace Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles is another waste of money. And the on costs would be huge relating to dumping the existing fleet and related infrastructure and replacing the infrastructure to accommodate EV.

    As 70-80 per cent of our electricity comes from coal and gas fired power stations the emissions reduction claimed for EV is false. And the present cost of a comparable EV to replace an ICEV is unaffordable for most Australians, and that ignores the inconvenience of operating an EV, especially for country folk.

    Isn’t it now very clear that profiteering based on the globalism socialism is the main objective? Electricty, gas, water licensing all exploited by the crony capitalists who influence politicians.

    And behind it all the new world order agendas by communist-socialist-globalists.

    • DT 09/10/2019, 9:45 am

      Who is the leading or one of the leading but now former politicians who claimed that water and electricity was too cheap in Australia?

      The advocate of water licensing, no dams but desalination plants instead with wind farms to offset the huge energy needed for desalination?

      Hint: He was a Minister and lives alongside Sydney Harbour.

      And advocate for wind and solar farms to replace power stations?

      All made public after the signing by the Howard Government of the UN IPCC Kyoto Agreement. And, no surprise, transition to renewable energy taken up by Labor State Governments in SA, VIC and NSW where power stations have been demolished (SA) or sold to private enterprise (VIC and SA) with QLD now considering closure of state owned power stations in favour of unreliable energy.

      • Aktosplatz 09/10/2019, 1:12 pm

        And whose son has a heavy investment in Renewables, so Dad legislates in his favour.

  • DT 09/10/2019, 8:52 am

    I read that Toyota International are not basing their future vehicles on EV.

    They are already a leader in excellent Hybrid technology – Petrol Engine powered Generator on board charging a small Battery Pack driving Electric Motors. And have also developed Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology to replace the Petrol Engine.

    Much more suitable for Australian conditions and vast distances for travellers. And in the cities, about 25-30 Kilometres of Battery power.

  • Penguinite 09/10/2019, 9:59 am

    Power to the People! The sooner the better! Power, water and freedom to express. Being a politician is easy really they just make it look hard to justify their salaries.

    • DT 09/10/2019, 10:42 am

      The Tribunal system was corrupted during the Labor years in government 2007-1013 during which time PM Gillard became the first of our PMs to be paid more than the POTUS.

      The Abbott Coalition Government, Hockey Budget for 2014/15, placed a one financial year freeze on politicians remuneration package with notice that the freeze might be extended for another financial year because of the budget (Labor Budget 2013) crisis.

  • Aktosplatz 09/10/2019, 8:35 pm

    We could never go nuclear because the cost in energy price compared with / from coal was too high. I remember John Howard saying that.

    But I would imagine Nuclear is more competitive with Renewable with prices the way they are. And a damn sight more reliable too.

    • Neville 10/10/2019, 2:49 am

      and continuing developments in small modular thorium reactors looks very promising.

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