Advocates against global warming seem willing to “ … ignore local pollution, human rights violations and massive energy used in mining for rare earth minerals in Africa, China,” and elsewhere to make their “energy savers,” according to forbes.com (“The Dirty Secrets Of ‘Clean’ Electric Vehicles”).
The U.S. anticipates disposing of at least 720,000 tons of wind turbine blade material over the next 20 years. Ninety percent of the turbine can be recycled, but the blades made of resin and fiberglass cannot. The blades are difficult and expensive to transport by gas-guzzling 18 wheelers. (“Wind Energy Has A Waste Problem: Disposing Of The Turbines,” NPR).
Magnets used in wind turbines require neodymium and dysprosium. These rare earth minerals are mined almost exclusively in China. China is not a steward of the environment or of human rights. U.S. federal regulations restrict mining of rare earth minerals (“Big Wind’s Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Lakes and Radioactive Waste,” instituteforenergyresearch.org).
Batteries in small vehicles must be replaced every seven to ten years. Larger vehicles need replacement every three to four years. Declining battery performance occurs with more frequent plug-ins which suck up electricity (“The Afterlife of Electric Vehicles: Battery Recycling and Repurposing,” instituteforenergyresearch.org).
The Institute for Energy Research states, “Global stockpile of these batteries is expected to exceed 3.4 million by 2025.” IER explains that because batteries contain toxic chemicals, they must be recycled or repurposed and not placed in landfills. Also, rigorous manufacturing and chemical procedures are involved. If not handled properly, soil and water can be contaminated. Smelting of batteries can recover some rare minerals, but the process is very expensive. Costs of recovery of these minerals is about three times the value of the raw material (“The Afterlife of Electric Vehicles: Battery Recycling and Repurposing,” instituteforenergyresearch.org).
Africa and China are among the few countries with reserves of the minerals needed to manufacture these batteries. Therefore, political instability could negatively impact supply. Imagine our legislators and military leaders unable to drive to a meeting because China and Africa will not provide the batteries or the materials needed to make the batteries (“Demand for raw materials for electric car batteries set to rise further,” UNCTAD).
Solar Panel energy output is unstable and recycling of toxic cells is expensive. People need to use pricey batteries to store the energy for required use.
Solar cells use toxic materials like cadmium and chromium during their manufacture. Those toxic materials are released into the air if a panel is damaged. Toxic materials are expensive to discard and to recycle (“Solar Panel Recycling Problems: Concern Over EOL of PV Panel Disposal,” Energy Strategy Reviews 27 (2020) 100431, SolarFeeds Marketplace).