THE REAL COST OF GOING GREEN EV CARS, WINDPOWER & SOLAR
For those of you excited about electric cars and a green revolution, I want you to take a closer look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels. These three technologies share what we call environmentally destructive embedded costs.
Everything manufactured has two costs associated with it, embedded costs and operating costs.
A typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds, about the size of a travel trunk. It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells. The production of this 1000 pound battery produces approximately 7000 tons of CO2. Now you see that the EV is far behind the gas powered vehicle which only produces about 1500 tons of CO2 during manufacture.
It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.”
Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls, and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?”
I’d like to leave you with these thoughts. California is building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco, and they intend to power it from solar panels and windmills. They claim this is the ultimate in being ‘green,’ but it is not! This construction project is creating an environmental disaster. Let me tell you why.
The main problem with solar arrays is the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium- diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which also are highly toxic. Silicone dust is a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.
Windmills are the ultimate in embedded costs and environmental destruction. Each weighs 1688 tons (the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium. Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades. Sadly, both solar arrays and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects.
There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and replacing them become apparent. “Going Green” may sound like the Utopian ideal and are easily espoused, catchy buzzwords, but when you look at the hidden and embedded costs realistically with an open mind, you can see that Going Green is more destructive to the Earth’s environment than meets the eye, for sure.
If this had been titled… “The Embedded Costs of Going Green,” would you have read it? Please share if you wish.