Rafe Champion guest post. The Dark Side of Wind and Solar Power

We are now alert to the failure of the green energy transition and even more alarming for genuine environmentalists is the fact that “decarbonization” policies are wreaking more havoc on the planet than global warming ever will. That has been going on for decades in plain sight and Michael Moore gave a glimpse of that ugly picture in his documentary film Planet of the Humans. No wonder that the usual suspects tried to close him down, happily without success. Still I have not seen it mentioned lately, certainly not in the “progressive” press.

Bill Stinson of the Energy Realists of Australia has compiled a record of environmental and human rights devastation through ten phases of wind and solar power production, from sourcing minerals to the disposal of work out windmills and solar panels and the remediation of damage (what remediation did you say?)

Phase 1 – Raw material sourcing – Environment Destruction.
Phase 2 – Raw material mining
Phase 3 – Raw material processing – Environment Destruction, Human Rights Abuse, Toxic Waste
Phase 4 – Approval – Supply Chains – Modern Slavery, Human Rights Abuse
Phase 5 – Fabrication – Large Scale Environment Destruction
Phase 6 – Transportation “Throughout the solar PV manufacturing process all of the materials and products must be shipped to and from more than a dozen countries around the world in large barges, container ships, trains or trucks – all powered by non-renewable oil.”
Phase 7 – Construction – Environment Destruction, Tenuous Supply Chain, Toxic Waste
Phase 8 – Operation – Environment Destruction, Flora and Fauna Destruction,
Phase 9 – Demolition and Rehabilitation
Phase 10 – Disposal – Environment Destruction, Toxic Waste

Environment-Destruction-The-Dark-Side-of-Renewable-Energy-1

The paper is too densely packed for casual readers so we split out some bite-sized chunks to put in briefing notes for our list of politicians and others. This was Note 21.2 to introduce the paper.

Critical issues with the volume of raw materials required

Note 21.20 signalled the massive scale of mining that is required to deliver the raw materials required for the international net zero effort.

The International Energy Agency calculated that the needs for “energy transition minerals” such as lithium, graphite,nickel and rare-earth metals would rise by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900% and 700%, respectively, by 2040. The full report:

The report noted that the world doesn’t have the capacity to meet such demand and there are no plans to fund and build the necessary infrastructure for mines, transport facilities and refineries.

Critical issues at the stage of exploration and sourcing

Briefing Note 21.21 reported that an international research team with members at the Centre for Biodiversity at the University of Queensland has raised serious concerns.

“Mining threats to biodiversity will increase as more mines target materials for renewable energy production and these new threats to biodiversity may surpass those averted by climate change mitigation.” This is just the tip of an iceberg because there is bound to be a global “gold rush” for energy materials taking miners into remote wilderness areas that haven’t yet been disturbed.”

See this report.

See also Mark Mills – What’s Wrong with Wind and Solar
“The mining industry necessarily uses oil for heavy machinery, often to generate electricity in remote locations. Global mining already uses nearly twice as much petroleum as the entire country of Germany, and that’s before the emerging “gold rush” for energy minerals.”
“The global push for Electric Vehicles will drive up demand for a variety of other energy minerals from 200% to 8,000%. Mining can be done responsibly, but new mines aren’t likely to open in America or Europe. Consequently, some environmentalists have begun to worry about the invasion of pristine and fragile ecosystems around the world in hot pursuit of mineral wealth.”
(Mark P Mills – Washington Examiner – Energy & Environment – “The Myth of the Great Energy Transition” – October 1, 2020)

Critical issues at the phase of construction

Briefing Note 22.1 signals the environmental impact of building wind and solar farms. RE facilities, including the poles and wires required to carry the power to market from remote locations, demand massive amounts of land, concrete, steel, and metals including the essential rare earths.

A single wind turbine contains around 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Transport of the materials adds to the environmental impact, as does the disposal of the components when the facility is decommissioned.

The AEMO Integrated System Plan to double our electricity supply using wind and solar power calls for a ten-fold increase in large-scale wind and solar capacity and more than 10,000 km of new transmission lines. Environmental impact is the dirty secret of the RE industry and when environmentalists realise what is happening many will not tolerate the that amount of damage.

Human Rights and Environmental Issues in the supply chain

Note 22.2 describe the human rights, environmental impacts and waste disposal issues arising from large-scale generation of renewable energy.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report titled Uyghurs for Sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang claims that the Chinese government had facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far western region of Xinjiang to factories across the country.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo some 40,000 children as young as four toil with their parents for less than $2 a day up to 12 hours a day. https://ift.tt/fopjKqM
The Commonwealth of Australia – Modern Slavery Act No 153, 2018 Act requires entities based, or operating, in Australia, which have an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million, to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions to address those risks. Other entities based, or operating, in Australia may report voluntarily.

The Commonwealth is required to report on behalf of non-corporate Commonwealth entities, and the reporting requirements also apply to Commonwealth corporate entities and companies with an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million.”
(Commonwealth of Australia – Modern Slavery Act No 153, 2018 Clause 3)
Environmental and waste disposal issues

The manufacture of solar panels requires significant natural resources including quartz, coal, silver, copper and highly toxic rare earth elements. Mining those resources is damaging to the environment and destroys habitats.

Processing those natural resources requires generation of significant amounts of electricity. In particular, construction of photovoltaic (PV) cells (i.e. solar cells) requires the extraction of silicon from quartz (i.e. silicon oxide) using carbon. “The first step of solar PV production is gathering, transporting and burning millions of tons of coal, coke and petroleum coke – along with charcoal and wood chips made from hardwood trees – to smelt > 97% pure mg-Si from quartz”. Large quantities of coal, coke, charcoal and woodchips must be burnt, with a consequential substantial release of CO2 into the atmosphere. A “vast amount of deforestation [is] necessary for solar PV production”
(Why Do We Burn Coal and Trees to Make Solar Panels? Thomas Troszak, 14 November 2019, para 2, paras 3 and 15 and reference notes [14] to [16])

“They’ve long wanted a totally electric vehicle fleet, which they claim would be clean, ethical, climate-friendly and sustainable. Of course, those labels hold up only so long as they look solely at activities and emissions within California state boundaries – and not where the mining, manufacturing and electricity generation take place. That kind of “life cycle” analysis would totally disrupt their claims.

Consider copper. A typical internal combustion engine uses about 50 pounds (23 kilos ) of this vital everyday metal, the International Copper Association says. A hybrid car requires almost 90 lb (40 kg); a plug-in EV needs 132 lb (60 kg); and a big electric bus can use up to 812 lb (369 kg) of copper. If all 15,000,000 California cars were EVs, they would need almost 1,000,000 tons of copper.

But copper ores average just 0.5% metal by weight. That means 200,000,000 tons of ore would have to be dug up, crushed, processed and refined to get that much copper. Almost every step in that process would require fossil fuels”. (The staggering human costs of “renewable” energy – Paul Driessen – Energy – August 9th 2020, page 1)

The notes produced by the Energy Realists can be found at this site hosted by the RiteOn organization. A more complete list is on our own website but this is still under construction and apart from he list of notes, most of site is “filler’ until Peter Campion comes back on duty after he finishes his election race with Bob Catter in the federal election.

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April 16, 2022 at 06:20AM

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