David J. Prum is president and founder of Applied-Constructal, Inc.
As we move forward toward a carbon-free energy economy, there will be some tough environmental choices to be made. Expanding zero-carbon energy sources will require massive new sources of certain materials that can only be mined from the earth with a certain amount of local environmental disruption. Copper is one of those essential materials.
All the new technologies powering any new revolution in green energy require copper as a conductive material. Solar panels, electric vehicles, wind turbines, new efficient batteries and the smart electrical grid to connect them all require copper. The investments in these necessary technologies will require massive new sources of copper.
Someday, the conductive materials needed to power the technology of a zero-carbon economy may be fabricated out of carbon itself in the form of new carbon nanotube materials. Until then, there is no alternative to copper mined from the ground.
My company, Applied-Constructal, specializes in solutions to enormous logistical challenges. Our own answer to the problem of remote mining involves the deployment of massive airships to move concentrated ore from remote mines without roads or railroads.
Unfortunately, the vision and capital needed to realize this transformative technology for the far north has not yet developed. Until it does, there is no alternative to ground transportation and roads. It is critical that such roads be built and managed with minimal disruption to the environment and the Native community.
For the rest of this opinion column: https://www.adn.com/opinions/2019/02/08/a-road-to-somewhere-why-the-ambler-road-makes-sense/