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The Consumption of non-renewable Resources can become a new Disaster

The world has become more fragile! We have become dependent on various raw materials in our technological digital way of life, and when some parts break, the connection can break, as we have seen now in 2021 in the US, where there was a hacker attack on the 9,000 km long oil pipeline Colonial Pipeline on the East coast. Thousands of Americans lined up at gas stations, which had soon sold out. The country's infrastructure is vulnerable when a hacker attack can stop everything.

Lack of microchips. Microchips made of silicon are used in many electronic products such as computers, TVs and telephones and is indispensable in a digital world. There is plenty of silicon, but right now there is a shortage of microchips, as production has stopped, a.o. in Texas due to winter storms and in Japan due to earthquakes.

Lack of copper can create problems. We take it for granted that there are resources available, but they can become scarce. Copper is found in many places and is used for computers, water pipes, solar panels, electrical cables - for example approx. 5 tons of copper is used for an onshore wind turbine (8 tons of copper for an offshore. The International Energy Agency (IEA) pointed out in a report that a large part of climate change is electrification, and that copper is included as an element.

Cobalt, lithium a.o. are important raw materials in a more electrified world. Cobalt and lithium are used i.a. in batteries, which are used in many things ranging from watches, cell phones, computers to electric cars. The need is increasing, and the batteries are getting bigger.

Rare earth types are rare, and the use of raw materials will be approx. 4 times larger in 2040, which is due to more electrification as well as population growth. The increasing consumption of energy will increase the use of resources, and therefore nuclear power is important, as the new mini-reactors are far less resource-intensive than wind turbines and solar panels, where the consumption of cement, steel and raw materials is larger and the processing emits a lot of CO2.

Therefore Politicians need to be careful including non-renewable resources in their climate plans.

Jonna Vejrup Carlsen, 17.5.2021

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