"No country has ever been held hostage to access to the sun. No country has ever been held hostage to access to the wind. They have not ever been weaponised, nor will they be." US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
"The one supply chain no geopolitical crisis can disrupt is the supply of sun to our land and the supply of wind to our country’s coasts and hills." Australian Energy Minister, Chris Bowen
So very poetical. Did the poetry move you?
Beyond poetical, feel good emotional storylines, contemptuous of intelligence in my view, reality persists. We are, obviously, unable to ‘plug in’ directly to the wind, or to the sun, for electrical charge. The medium of solar photovoltaic cells, or wind turbines – through which capture and conversion of the sun’s solar and wind energy into electricity occurs, are something that are not made from nothing.
Just one example: Neodymium. When used with Iron and Boron, neodymium makes very strong magnets. Generators in wind turbines, the motors in electric vehicles, both require magnets, and magnets require neodymium. “There really isn’t anything to compete with neodymium for magnets." Frances Wall. Professor of Applied Mineralogy.
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry (https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/60/neodymium) a "Relative Supply Risk" of 10 is considered High. Neodymium scores 9.5/10. No matter Chris Bowen’s poetics and placating narratives about wind on our coasts and our hills. About 85 percent of the world’s neodymium comes out of a few mines in China. The few remaining mines, including one in the USA send their neodymium to China for refining. Over 50% of the planet’s neodymium reserves are in China.
Best use something else lest it be weaponised? Substitutability is "the availability of suitable substitutes for a given commodity". Neodymium has a substitutability of ‘High’, which according to the Royal Society of Chemistry, means that substitution of Neodymium for the magnets of wind turbines and Electric Vehicles, is ‘not possible or is very difficult’.
"They have not ever been weaponised, nor will they be". Let’s, firstly, not ignore that planet earth’s resources have always been weaponised by its human inhabitants, in blatant and nuanced ways. We have not evolved psychologically to do anything but. Secondly, beyond Jennifer Granholm’s own sun and wind poetics, is the announcement last week (July 2022) that Australia has joined the new Minerals Security Partnership, aimed at increasing mines of rare earth minerals in Australia and other not-China and not-Russia countries who have rare earth minerals. No ‘green’ energy transition can occur without a LOT more mines. I have no doubt that Jennifer Granholm and Chris Bowen are fully cognisant of this passage in the NATO military alliance’s November 2020 report – NATO 2030: United for a New Era.
“The competition for scarce energy resources will only increase in the next decade…”. NATO. Indeed. Something doesn’t come from nothing. “the potential implications of this reality…”.
Mmmmm…. tis a rather large distance from the waxing poetics quoted earlier and bespoke for ‘the people’.
Bread and circuses, just like Roman times…
…”become settled into a state of apathy wherein they perform as extras in a production known as ‘audience democracy’ – a condition of learned powerlessness which Albert Camus called ‘autointoxication – the evil secretion in a sealed vessel, of prolonged impotence. From July Hemming and Michael McKinley. The Avoided or Ignored Portents of the New Dark Age of Insecurity. 2019.
“Questioning the ostensibly unquestionable premises of our way of life (including how we respond to information) is arguably the most urgent of services we owe our fellow human beings and ourselves” Zygmunt Bauman. Words in bracket, I’ve added.
Part 2 to come.