We have technologies, but not the materials…
Materials and energy : a story of linkages René Kleijn, 2012
Lots of books and papers provide very interesting insights and details about the future, sustainability , resources, urban livability etc. However, none really wonders if you multiply every solution to the global level, to serve 7 billion and later 9 billion, will it still work?
Rene Kleijn did a massive work and looked at the resource impacts if society as a whole would be based on a renewable energy system. Which in this case was chosen as one on Hydrogen to solve the timing constraints from streaming resources. And this is what he concludes: “The transition to a low-carbon energy system required to tackle climate change implies a steep increase of the metals intensity of the energy system, which in turn implies a substantial increase in the demand for metals (by a factor 2 to 100). At the same time, declining ore grades will result in a substantial increase in the use of energy, water and land and in the production of waste per kg of metal produced.”
“The equivalent to several to hundred times current annual world production would be needed to build the required grid, wind turbines and hydrogen pipelines. ”
The EROI will drop enormously. While Kleijn in his PhD work cant say it loudly , I can: its impossible to be able to build a renewable based energy society grid, with current technologies, we will run out of (usefull forms of) energy ( to invest in concentrating materials!) long before the system is established, leaving the rest of global activities in disarray. (or in other words: for us humans to have energy and matter organised in sufficiënt concentrated forms to cover the whole system).
Which implies two things: we have to find smarter ways to make renewable energy work for us ( far less energy/material intensive) , and as well, reduce our demand drastically , to create a global equal renewable energy world .
If you want hard data: read this one! Downloadable at: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/19740