A future where electricity comes mostly from low-carbon sources is not only feasible in terms of material demand, but will significantly reduce air pollution, a study published in the 6 October Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says.The article does not say how much the "low-carbon sources" will be subsidized, as most of these are now.
The researchers did the study because so little is known about the environmental costs of a widespread global shift to renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar power, and what the effect of this shift might have on material requirements. "Would the shift to low-carbon energy systems increase or decrease other types of pollution?" the researchers asked.
The researchers looked at concentrating solar power, photovoltaics, wind power, hydropower, and gas- and coal-fired power plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS).No mention of nuclear power makes the study worthless. If you are going to do a study on "low carbon sources" and do not take into account nuclear power you are wasting your own time and someone else's money.
Also there is a lot of "green" opposition to hydropower, both current uses and expansions. If that is not taken into account, it is merely another reason why the study is worthless.
And there is growing, "green" opposition to wind and concentration solar power plants as well.
Unless green opposition is faced and eliminated, studies like this are useless. I hope the researchers got some cash and fun out it.
Low carbon technologies can demand much more use of raw materials per unit of power generation than conventional fossil fuel plants, the researchers noted. For example, photovoltaic systems need 11-40 times more copper than fossil fuel production, while wind power plants need 6-14 times more iron than fossil fuel production.Turns out that the usage of these elements will not be a significant drain on resources.
A lot of this is "blue-skying:" unrealistic and filled with guess work.