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Green transition will unleash monster price rises and do nothing to save the planet
The mining capacity needed for the world to achieve net zero simply doesn't exist

JEREMY WARNER
Daily Telegraph
14 May 2021

It has become something of a cliche, but it also happens to be true. If you want to do your bit for the planet, forget Tesla and other super expensive electric vehicles; just carry on driving the same old gas-guzzling banger you’ve always had.

As much if not more carbon tends to be expended producing a new car as actually driving it. You are going to have to do an awful lot of miles in the old one before you match the carbon costs of buying a newer version.

It was a slightly different, but similar point that Carlos Tavares, chief executive of the world’s fifth-biggest car maker, Stellantis, was making this week when he said that “green inflation” could soon make owning a vehicle the preserve of the rich.

The prevailing narrative – both in the motor industry and among political leaders sold on the idea that the transition to an emission-free world can be accomplished without significant damage to lifestyles – is that as demand grows, the price of EVs will steadily come down until they are eventually accessible to all.

Not so, argues Tavares; the coming energy transition is going to be hugely resource intensive, driving up costs across the board. He didn’t quite spell it out, though he hinted at it, so let me do so instead; it is entirely plausible that the monumental carbon costs of establishing the new infrastructure needed for a net zero world, nevermind its physical cost, could itself trigger the very same environmental catastrophe it is supposed to forestall.

Green lobbyists vehemently dispute such claims, pointing out that though the transition will burn a lot of carbon initially, this will progressively decrease, eventually disappearing entirely.

Yet whatever the modelling used, it is pretty much unarguable that going green will, to begin with, create a huge surge in global emissions. The transition will also result in myriad other forms of environmental and biodiversity destruction.

Reducing our emissions here in Britain isn’t going to be of much use if all we are in fact doing is exporting them. A large part of that reduction stems from the decline in old, energy intensive smokestack industries, priced out of the market in part by rising energy costs.

The solar panels that litter the landscape allow our own coal powered stations to be switched off, but are likely to have been manufactured in China using the very same as the main energy source. By reducing our own emissions, we are paradoxically only increasing them at a global level.

Ministers worry about how to save the sad remnants of Britain’s once mighty steel industry, but for PR purposes refuse to sanction a new mine in Cumbria that would provide the relatively low cost coking coal that might help, preferring instead a long winded public inquiry and in the meantime the much higher carbon footprint of importing the stuff from Russia and beyond.

Already the coming energy transition is driving a quite considerable jump in inflation. One of the big stories of the week has been a surge in US consumer price inflation to more than 4 per cent, the highest level in more than 10 years. The US Federal Reserve insists that the increase is only temporary. Believe it if you will; not many people at the coal face of rising prices do.

Nor does Ivan Glasenberg, boss of one of the world’s largest mining finance houses, Glencore, who this week pointed out that the Chinese were progressively “tying up” great swathes of the world supply of cobalt, the metal needed for the lithium ion batteries used in longer range EVs.

In a report published last week, the International Energy Agency found that an energy transition such as the one planned by President Biden in the US, if applied globally, would cause demand for key minerals such as lithium, graphite, nickel and rare-earth metals to explode, rising by 4,200 per cent, 2,500 per cent, 1,900 per cent and 700 per cent respectively by 2040.

As things stand, the capacity needed to bring about such a transformation simply doesn’t exist. Massive, emission inducing investment in new sources of supply is required to meet the likely demand.

“The mineral requirements of an energy system powered by clean energy technologies differ profoundly from one that runs on fossil fuels”, explains Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA. “A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car, and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a similarly sized gas-fired power plant. The energy sector’s overall needs for critical minerals could increase by as much as six times by 2040 [on current plans for reducing emissions]”.

Another commodities super-cycle, similar to ones driven, first, by industrial renewal after the second world war and later by Chinese industrialisation beckons, powering a seminal shift into a new inflationary age. None of this to argue that we shouldn’t even be trying. It’s just that the politicians need to be a bit more honest about the consequences, as well as less starry eyed about the prospects of success.
 

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There is no doubt that unless emissions are reduced World wide, our 'efforts' won't mean a lot.
However, raising the awareness of our dyeing Planet is so important.
'They' say that methane is the biggest problem, the the Planet is opening its eyes (slowly, and maybe too slowly)?
Getting pollution, and its health problems off our street, has got to be a big plus.
The stink and poison of diesels and petrol vehicles, must be a No 1 priority, and it was noticeable how fresher everything was
during lockdown.
This is an emergency for the Planet, so everything must be done for the long term future, in all areas.
50 years ahead could be a terrible World for the people of this Planet.
It may be too late already, and we have to acknowledge that the Human animal is the most dangerous, selfish, greedy,
violent, and short sighted on this Planet.
That observation, based on the History of our species, is my main concern for 'our' survival.
Politicians go with the Flow.
I remember the day Maggie Thatcher turned green.
Like the Witch in the Wizard of Oz!
Battery technology is advancing so quickly, and one hopes the batteries will get 'cleaner'
and more efficient.
Oil is Oil. Oil is money, and nobody 'lobbies' like the Petroleum Industry.
 

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Green lobbyists vehemently dispute such claims, pointing out that though the transition will burn a lot of carbon initially, this will progressively decrease, eventually disappearing entirely.

Yet whatever the modelling used, it is pretty much unarguable that going green will, to begin with, create a huge surge in global emissions. The transition will also result in myriad other forms of environmental and biodiversity destruction.
There are a lot of people out there who will not put up with pain now for a brighter future. The future belongs to other people and they can take the pain if the want that brighter future. The human animal tends to be very 'self-centric'.**
The solar panels that litter the landscape allow our own coal powered stations to be switched off, but are likely to have been manufactured in China using the very same as the main energy source. By reducing our own emissions, we are paradoxically only increasing them at a global level.
**Which is what I'm going to be now (sort of). As a child born in the 50s, before the Clean Air Act (or at least it's improvements. I suffer with all sorts of chest problems, which are getting worse as I get older. I want to see clean, breathable air for our young people. If that means exporting the crap elsewhere I'm all for it. I feel terribly mean saying that, but I'm a firm believer in Charity begins at home.

I also agree with @henryv above, it's not done until we all have clean air.
 

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There is some interesting phraseology there and some of the stats may be iffy, but in essence the message is right.
The law of unintended consequences always applies and the bigger the change the bigger the UCs.
Just look at all our oh-so-green plastic recycling over the last decade or so. It just got exported.

The whole thing needs a proper managed plan rather than the current knee-jerking by both governments and individuals.
 

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As an add-on to my entry above:

I've just met a guy charging his new Zoe on Tesco's chargers. When I asked him how he liked it, he replied, with a very sour look, that he'd had to buy it because his Kadjar was using far too much petrol around town, "about 23 mpg".
 

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To quote the words of Nicholas Klein, the American labor union advocate;

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win",

Or in the the words of Mahatma Gandhi and Arthur Schopenhauer;

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident".
 

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You won't be surprised to hear that most of the comments left for that article in th DT were of the anti-electric, climate denying variety. I felt obliged to leave a comment saying how much I liked my EV and not pumping out Nitrogen Oxide in my local area. I didn't exactly receive a supportive response 😂. EVs may not be the long term future but are the better option right now.
 

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Ministers worry about how to save the sad remnants of Britain’s once mighty steel industry, but for PR purposes refuse to sanction a new mine in Cumbria that would provide the relatively low cost coking coal that might help, preferring instead a long winded public inquiry and in the meantime the much higher carbon footprint of importing the stuff from Russia and beyond.
The point is that burning coking coal is highly CO2 intensive, Thyssenkrupp in Germany have been experimenting with replacing the coking dust with Hydrogen. Coal mining has never been great, it's a high risk industry, with a poor safety record. Many ex miner have suffered from lung problems. Coal mining generates lots of spoil, look at how many coal tips in Wales are considered unstable and will have to be stabilised at huge expense to the public purse as the original mining companies no longer exist.

Use Of Hydrogen In The Blast Furnace: Thyssenkrupp Steel Successfully Completes The First Test Phase - Fuel Cells Works.

Many experts have calculated that cost parity of EV's with ICE will be reached in 2025 - 2027, yes we will have a situation where the 'have's' will be able to afford their £150K 400 mile range EV's and the 'have not's' will have to settle for smaller cars with less range, but that's life, just as now there are Rollers at one end of the spectrum and Dacia Sanderos at the other now.

Not ending fossil fuel burning is not an option, keep the stuff as a chemical source. Invest in renewables and learn how to live with their intermittent nature. Battery technology is rapidly improving meaning less resources are required. New ways of storing energy are being invented.

It's the poor nations that pay the cost of the rich nations pollution, it's time we faced our responsibilities.
 

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Another error with the original article about China from the Telegraph is their falsehood about Cobalt, as the Chinese Government has incentivised the Chinese Battery companies to heavily research and manufacture Cobalf free LiFe cells instead. Although not as energy dense as NMC cells, they are cheaper and safer i.e. do not burst into flames when punctured. Through innovation Chinese car companies are using Cell to Pack technology to get around the energy density problem as they do not need BMS to protect from thermal runaway. This is why a lot of cheap competitive Chinese EV's will be coming onto the European and American market in the next 12 - 18 months.
 

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In answer to original post of this thread by ColinStone, this was highlighted on another forum and looks promising, so some of the rare-earth materials can be left where they are!.
Magnet free motor.
As it says in the article, hardly a new concept. Having actual magnets in large motors is pretty much an effect of the EV. Most I can think of outside very small ones haven't used magnets in decades or more.
Efficiency and power/volume are the bits that are more difficult and I noticed they are only claiming around 95% efficiency at present for this new version.
 

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As it says in the article, hardly a new concept. Having actual magnets in large motors is pretty much an effect of the EV. Most I can think of outside very small ones haven't used magnets in decades or more.
Efficiency and power/volume are the bits that are more difficult and I noticed they are only claiming around 95% efficiency at present for this new version.
Exactly, a typical induction motor of which there must be millions, possibly billions in use is mostly silicon steel core, copper windings, a steel casing and steel bearings, no rare earth magnets in sight.

No doubt it would need reengineering of the transmission and the drive electronics but an EV with an induction motor is technically possible, I'd expect some have been made at some point, even if in prototype form.
 

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"an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a similarly sized gas-fired power plant".
Yep, and my solar panels cost more than my annual electricity bill the year I installed them many years ago..
They also conveniently forgot about the oil rig, the pipe line or tanker, the refinery, etc.
 

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And so there is a strong case for EVs with just enough range. Those that think they need their car to go from London to Glasgow non stop are part of the problem with taking too much of the material for batteries. The public charging situation has been dire so as to give some credence to that case but that does seem to be charging rapidly at last, well at least with the recent promises. The Leaf 24 was too short on range for me but 150 miles in my ZX is 2 hours on the motorway, good enough and that is where most people’s needs lie. Reliable quick charging at 50 to 60 kw and you can be on your way in 20 minutes to cover a 220 mile journey. Isn’t that good enough?
 
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