Energy transition skeptics continue to argue that certain critical minerals and materials, such as "rare earth" metals, place a fundamental limitation on scaling up wind, solar, storage and EVs. But is that true? Or, are these material availability doubts being expressed as a bad-faith tactic to undermine the momentum toward energy transition success?
Until now, we didn't have enough information to make a conclusion about the material demands of the transition in the context of resource estimates and production forecasts. But a recent study published in January 2023 has provided some solid answers. A group of researchers estimated future demand for 17 key clean electricity generation materials in climate mitigation scenarios, and compared these projections with available resource estimates. The study also investigated whether there are any concerns about producing enough of these critical materials to meet energy transition demand.
In this episode, one of the authors of the paper, Energy Transition Show alumnus Zeke Hausfather, walks us through the methodology and the findings, gives us the data, and shows why there don’t seem to be any important limits to material availability for the energy transition. We leave no argument unanswered in this discussion, so if you’ve been concerned about mineral availability, you won’t be when you’re done listening to it!
Zeke Hausfather is the Climate Lead at Stripe. He is a climate scientist whose research focuses on observational temperature records, climate models, carbon removal, and mitigation technologies. Zeke also works as a research scientist with Berkeley Earth and is a science contributor to Carbon Brief. He was previously the senior climate analyst at Project Drawdown, the director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute, the lead data scientist at Essess, the chief scientist at C3.ai, and the cofounder and chief scientist of Efficiency 2.0. He has masters degrees in environmental science from Yale University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and a PhD in climate science from the University of California, Berkeley.
On Twitter: @hausfath
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Recording date: February 10, 2023
Air date: March 22, 2023
Geek rating: 5