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The Energy Transition Will Run Through the Copper Gauntlet

And it may not survive

Since the 2018 IPCC climate report laid out the calamitous consequences of our unbridled carbon emissions, every pathway published by academics and think tanks that claim to save us from ourselves involves the expansion of solar and wind farms as well as net-zero and carbon capture dreams of unbridled optimism.

Net-Zero, the idea that we can keep emitting greenhouse gasses only if we somehow capture or offset those emissions by some yet-to-be-determined means was a dubious proposition at best. It relies on untested-at-scale projects such as carbon capture and sequester (CCS) as well as accounting fantasies that pretend a young sapling that takes 50 years to grow offsets the carbon released from the burning of a mature tree today after being shipped overseas.

Net-Zero plans also assume a rapid and universal deployment of renewable energy-capturing machines a.k.a. solar panels and wind generators. Unfortunately, contrary to their portrayal in mainstream media, solar panels and windmills do not produce renewable energy. These are machines designed to capture and transform energy (electromagnetic or kinetic) available to them and they are manufactured, installed, maintained, and replaced using fossil fuels.

It’s astonishing how the continual absence of any credible carbon removal technology seems to never affect net-zero policies. Whatever is thrown at it, net zero carries on without a dent in the fender.

James Dyke

Senior Lecturer in Global Systems, University of Exeter

Many other metals and rare earth elements have received a great deal of attention due to their exotic-sounding names, relative scarcity, and utilization in cutting-edge technologies, but one of the most critical minerals to the energy transition that is essential to curtailing the most serious effect of climate change is also one that the human race has learned to work earliest — copper.

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