AukeHoekstra Profile picture
Nov 19, 2022 21 tweets 11 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Have others told you there are not enough raw materials to transition to 100% renewables?

Did they say minerals are the new oil?

Maybe they believed @SimonMichaux of @GTK_FI?

If so, please explain to them they were fooled, by showing them this thread. Image
Michaux has become a rockstar with his “proof” that renewables take too much energy and materials. He's all over the news/twitter.

He appeals to 2 groups:
1) Those who want to keep using fossil fuels
2) Those who want to deny green growth is possible

2 powerful constituencies! Image
But Michaux is clearly not an expert on renewables while it's my job at the @TUeindhoven.

And there’s no polite way to say this:
Michaux’s calculations are utter 🐂💩.

Energy modelers debate a lot – e.g. on nuclear – but I think we can all agree on this.
Michaux's report is not science either (it would not pass peer review) so it's not rebutted in a journal.

But @visaskn just wrote a detailed debunk:

I encourage you to read it in its entirety (50 tweets) because it's a treasure trove of corrected errors.
THE problem is that Michaux assumes more than a HUNDRED times too much stationary battery storage as a requirement to deploy solar and wind.
I think the best study of a world running on 100% renewables (so ALL ENERGY with ZERO fossil fuel or nuclear) was done by my friend @ChristianOnRE.

He pegs it at 5 hours of stationary battery storage instead of Michaux’s month.

That’s roughly 150x less!
I should add that Michaux's total battery amounts are not 150x too high but “only” around 10x too high because electric transportation will indeed require a lot of lithium batteries.

But still: all his estimates for the really critical stuff are TEN TIMES TOO HIGH!
He also assumes stationary batteries use Nickel Cobalt and Manganese while experts will tell you they will use the heavier but cheaper and longer lasting LFP (lihtiumphosphate) batteries that use zero nickel and cobalt. Or flow batteries. Or sodium batteries. (No lithium needed.)
Now look at this “smoking gun” from his report again, knowing everything is 10x too high, stationary storage will hardly use nickel and cobalt, and copper can usually be replaced by aluminum if you can live with slightly thicker wires.

It's complete nonsense! Image
Lithium is the most serious problem. There is more than enough of the stuff in total (and 5000x more in seawater if we want to go crazy) but we need to scale up mining 10x the coming decades.

Still: the amount we need is TINY compared to other metals.
And although we should certainly make mining cleaner and safer, please understand that the materials we need for the transition to sustainable energy are a drop in the bucket compared to building materials, agriculture, and fossil fuels.

We should get our priorities straight! Image
In total 0.1% of the earths surface is used for mining. Maybe 0.0001% for the stuff everybody is talking about when they think of renewables.

The reduction in coal mining alone dwarfs the increase in the stuff we need for renewables.
When it comes to our destruction of our natural habitat, I can’t avoid talking about the elephant in the room: agriculture.

Agriculture uses 50% of land.
That’s 500x more than mining and ~500000x more than lithium, cobalt and nickel.
To put it differently: if we all eat 1% less meat (or if we make cultured meat cheaper and healthier), we save more species than if we abandon all mining that’s needed for the shift to renewables. Image
And don’t get me started on EROI (Energy Return On Investment), something Michaux is also droning on about.
As soon as EROI is much higher than 1 it stops being an issue.
The EROI of wind and solar is closer to 20.
It’s a total non issue.
And I agree the land requirements of wind and solar are non trivial in densely populated countries!

But don’t be fooled into thinking they are a showstopper. Worldwide we need ~0.1% to 0.3% of land to power the world with solar and wind.
As for renewable minerals being the new oil…
Amounts (in kg and $$$) are TINY compared to fossil and found everywhere.
When oil deliveries stop => everything stops. When lithium deliveries stop => less new electric cars.
You BURN fossil fuels. You can recycle minerals. Image
Does all this mean I see no problems?
I see lots of problems!

Less meat, smaller vehicles (preferably electric or human powered), less long distance flying, recycling, circular economy... we must change radically to stay within planetary boundaries! Image
And I agree wholeheartedly with the people saying resource use (also for renewables) should become super important!

Especially in rich countries we should get more locally and/or from sustainable and just sources. There's plenty of work to do there!
But using nonsensical calculus to satisfy myopic fantasies is not the way to solve the climate crisis.

Some solutions are better than others and renewables are a darn good option if we want cheap and abundant energy while staying within planetary boundaries.
Here's some nice visuals from the @Tesla Investor day that underscore the point that resource scarcity is not going the stop the transition to renewables (ht @M_Steinbuch):… ImageImageImageImage

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More from @AukeHoekstra

May 24
This is frankly unbelievable. Prigozhin, the boss of the brutal Wagner mercenaries from Russia, describing the conflict in a way that Ukraine prime minister Zelensky could have done.

In an effort to reach more people I will screenshot and "explain" his most important utterings.
He says there were two objectives of the military operation that both failed spectacularly: denazification and demilitarization.
("You had ONE job...")

He starts with denazification.

Here he recognizes that it wasn't exactly a successful "hearts and minds campaign". Image
He claims Russia took Ukraine from a non-country to a famous country. (Thereby making it harder to assimilate into the Russian empire.) Image
Read 12 tweets
May 19
The moment you knew would come:

fossil fuel companies (and petro states) claiming that burning their products is the only way to keep us wealthy.

This awful letter by @exxonmobil is leading the charge.

Why does our recent research say the opposite?

Short thread below.
I research the energy transition at the @TUeindhoven, where I started a research program focused on this:

I also co-wrote an article about the rise of research into cost-effective 100% renewable energy systems recently.
First: most fossil money goes to oil, and that is overwhelmingly used to burn in road transport.

But since batteries get cheaper all the time, electric vehicles (EVs) will be cheaper to buy before 2030.

And since EVs use 4x less energy they are much cheaper to own!
Read 12 tweets
May 16
Dutch quality newspaper @nrc just published an opinion stating that electric vehicles (EVs) emit more CO2 than they save.

That is not correct.
EVs emit about 3x less.
I research this at the @TUeindhoven.

Let me explain the mistakes in the opinion piece.… Image
The piece replaces numbers by 3 bad rules of thumb:

1) Exception: EVs bought by people who drive little.

2) Minimal impact: EV production emits CO2 sooner than it saves CO2.

3) Error: EVs drive on fossil fuel while the mix is not 100% green yet.
1) Exception: EVs bought by people who drive little.

This is true. An EV earns back it's extra emissions during it's first 30k km's or so. So if you e.g. drive 5k km per year: drive your old car as long as possible. Image
Read 13 tweets
May 7
Mass blocking is another form of cancel culture.
Please don't ruin twitter by going along with it.

I myself have been blocked by many on the left and right. Often for "spreading FUD about climate change".

But look at my timeline and job yourself:
I devote my life to this stuff!
I've been blocked for saying extreme scenarios are less likely (e.g. by @KHayhoe after saying that of RCP8.5) and I'm probably still on the blocklist she hands out like candy.

But also for saying climate change is real and urgent. Or for advocating for less meat eating.
You might think twitter is full of "nazi's" or "sexists" or "snowflakes" or "idiots" but we are not going to solve our problems and overcome the increasing polarization in our society by refusing to talk to those we disagree with.
Read 5 tweets
May 4
Just a reminder that @JohnLeePettim13 is popular in doomer circles with his "I know mining" vibe, predicting renewables can never work.

But so far all his claims of what we are running out of are only supporting by his imagination and cool profile pic instead of good research.
To predict bottlenecks you must research 3 things:

1) How fast mining can grow: "The best cure for high prices is high prices" as they say in mining.

2) How reserves are developing: we usually find more continuously.)

3) How we can substitute: that's key!
Now unlike @JohnLeePettim13 I don't claim to be an expert on this, but I clearly researched it more thoroughly and here's a thread debunking this nonsense.

@visaskn also debunks nonsense like this and @stepien_przemek knows how to research it too.
Read 5 tweets
May 1
A lot of people have discovered we have alternatives for all battery materials and that we are not running out of them anyway.

So I increasingly hear people about COPPER.

But the idea that we don't have enough copper for the transition to renewables is a misunderstanding.
First of all: if you want to know what you are talking about, familiarize yourself with THE source of information on mineral availability, the @USGS.

Bookmark the tab if you have to because they will be useful year after year after year.…
If you drill down in their website you get to an overview of all commodities.…

And if you drill down further you get to an overview page for copper with information for all years.… Image
Read 8 tweets

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