Friday, March 6, 2009

Required Reading RE Alternative Energy Development

Last year when I was attending the AIPG/AHS annual meeting here in Flagstaff the best talk I saw was titled "You Say Alternatives Are the Answer...Let's Talk: Resource Constraints on Alternative Energy Development" by James. R. Burnell, the Minerals Geologist with the Colorado Geological Survey.

The talk was fascinating and well presented, and now it's available in print form. A full-length, peer-reviewed article of the same title is pubished in the March/April 2009 issue of The Professional Geologist (a publication of AIPG - scroll down to page 33 for the start of the article). This article should absolutely be required reading for all people involved in policy about alternative energy development. I've copied the Abstract below.

Resource Constraints on Alternative Energy Development
James R. Burnell, MEM-0205


Public support is growing for the development of energy generation from renewable sources. An aspect of renewables that is possibly unknown by many, however, is the hardware needs for these technologies. The infrastructure requires mined materials, including imported strategic and critical minerals. Silica, copper, gallium, indium, selenium, cadmium and tellurium are required for the dominant photovoltaic technologies. Silver and aluminum are necessary for “concentrating solar power” technology. Zinc, vanadium, platinum group metals, and rare earth elements are key components of power storage, hybrid vehicle, and fuel cell applications. All these materials must be mined. At present, the U.S. is woefully dependent upon import sources for most of these materials and demand is already squeezing the prices. Domestic sources must be found and developed if energy independence is to be achieved using alternative sources.

For the record, I generally consider myself something of an 'environmentalist' and support a what could be classified as a 'liberal' approach to alternative energy development, but I'm also a realist and pragmatist, and science-based assessments such this are critical to the issue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad we have an administration now that isn't in bed with the oil companies.