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Getting real: It’s time to crunch the numbers on the transition from fossil fuels

Getting real: It’s time to crunch the numbers on the transition from fossil fuels

What is needed for a transition to a clean energy environment?
What is needed for a transition to a clean energy environment?
Analysis: We are used to hearing world leaders talk in blizzards of numbers about targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and activists bidding higher, demanding the world move faster to net zero.
But has anyone sat down and done the calculations on the physical requirements of completely retooling an industrial system that was built over more than 100 years on coal, oil and gas?
Fossil fuel doesn’t just power electricity systems and run cars, it is embedded in the manufacture of steel, cement, plastic and the ammonia used to fertilise the world’s crops.
Physicist and former Australian mining engineer associate professor Simon Michaux has spent years looking at the hard data on making this transition. He now works for the Geological Survey of Finland and set out to answer the question: what kinds of minerals and in what quantities will be required to supply the incoming lithium-ion battery factories of Europe?
He then expanded his work to look at the size of the task of meeting the stated emissions reduction ambitions of the European Union, China and the United States. Take one example – what will it take to run the estimated global fleet of 1.416 billion vehicles on batteries when right now only 0.51 per cent of it is electric? And an electric car demands seven times the critical minerals of a conventional car.
In conversation with Nine News, Professor Michaux says he found there are not enough global mineral reserves to manufacture even the first generation of the planned non-fossil fuel industrial systems.
“The nature of the task in front of us – when we actually start looking at the numbers, the reality of what we are looking at – it’s simply not going to go as planned,” Professor Michaux says.

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