I et brev til IPCC påpeker ledende britiske forskere at overgangen elektriske biler krever produksjon av metaller som langt overskrider det som virker oppnåelig i overskuelig framtid.
The letter explains that to meet UK electric car targets for 2050 we would need to produce just under two times the current total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production, skriver National History Museum.
Brevet er en respons på IPCCs rapport «Net Zero: The UK’s Contribution to Stopping Global Warming’ which concluded that ‘net zero is necessary, feasible and cost effective«.
Men så er det ikke nødvendigvis så enkelt: «Using its scientific expertise and vast collection of geological specimens, the Museum is collaborating with leading researchers to identify resource and environmental implications of the transition to green energy technologies including electric cars.»
Prof Richard Herrington says: “The urgent need to cut CO2 emissions to secure the future of our planet is clear, but there are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars but keep them charged.
“Society needs to understand that there is a raw material cost of going green and that both new research and investment is urgently needed for us to evaluate new ways to source these. This may include potentially considering sources much closer to where the metals are to be used.”
«The worldwide impact: If this analysis is extrapolated to the currently projected estimate of two billion cars worldwide, based on 2018 figures, annual production would have to increase for neodymium and dysprosium by 70%, copper output would need to more than double and cobalt output would need to increase at least three and a half times for the entire period from now until 2050 to satisfy the demand.»
I brevet tar forskerne også opp problematikken rundt energibehovet for økt metallproduksjon og lading av elektriske biler. De har for eksempel beregnet følgende: «Extrapolated to 2 billion cars worldwide, the energy demand for extracting and processing the metals is almost 4 times the total annual UK electrical output».
«Challenges of using ‘green energy’ to power electric cars: If wind farms are chosen to generate the power for the projected two billion cars at UK average usage, this requires the equivalent of a further years’ worth of total global copper supply and 10 years’ worth of global neodymium and dysprosium production to build the windfarms.
Solar power is also problematic – it is also resource hungry; all the photovoltaic systems currently on the market are reliant on one or more raw materials classed as “critical” or “near critical” by the EU and/ or US Department of Energy (high purity silicon, indium, tellurium, gallium) because of their natural scarcity or their recovery as minor-by-products of other commodities. With a capacity factor of only ~10%, the UK would require ~72GW of photovoltaic input to fuel the EV fleet; over five times the current installed capacity. If CdTe-type photovoltaic power is used, that would consume over thirty years of current annual tellurium supply.
Both these wind turbine and solar generation options for the added electrical power generation capacity have substantial demands for steel, aluminium, cement and glass.»