Mines, Minerals, and “Green” Energy: A Reality Check – by Mark P. Mills (Manhattan Institute – July 9, 2020)



As policymakers have shifted focus from pandemic challenges to economic recovery, infrastructure plans are once more being actively discussed, including those relating to energy.

Green energy advocates are doubling down on pressure to continue, or even increase, the use of wind, solar power, and electric cars. Left out of the discussion is any serious consideration of the broad environmental and supply-chain implications of renewable energy.

As I explored in a previous paper, “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,”[1] many enthusiasts believe things that are not possible when it comes to the physics of fueling society, not least the magical belief that “clean-tech” energy can echo the velocity of the progress of digital technologies. It cannot.

This paper turns to a different reality: all energy-producing machinery must be fabricated from materials extracted from the earth. No energy system, in short, is actually “renewable,” since all machines require the continual mining and processing of millions of tons of primary materials and the disposal of hardware that inevitably wears out.

Compared with hydrocarbons, green machines entail, on average, a 10-fold increase in the quantities of materials extracted and processed to produce the same amount of energy.

For the rest of this report: https://www.manhattan-institute.org/mines-minerals-and-green-energy-reality-check

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