A/Prof Simon Michaux
Associate Professor, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK)
The unplanned industrial transformation away from fossil fuels
A study was conducted to examine what is going to be required to fully phase out fossil fuels as an energy source and replace the entire existing system with renewable energy sources and transportation. This is done by estimating what it would be required to replace the entire fossil fuel system in 2018, for the US, Europe, China, and global economies. This report examines the size and scope of the existing transport fleet, and scope of fossil fuel industrial actions.
To replace fossil fueled ICE vehicles, Electric Vehicles, H2 cell vehicles for cars, trucks, rail, and maritime shipping was examined. Fossil fuels consumption for electricity generation, building heating and production of steel were all examined for replacement. Calculations reported here suggest that the total additional non-fossil fuel electrical power annual capacity to be added to the global grid will need to be around 48 909.2 TWh. To phase out fossil fuel power generation, solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal and nuclear were all examined. If the same non-fossil fuel energy mix as that reported in 2018 is assumed, then this translates into an extra 779 763 new power plants will be needed to be constructed and commissioned.
An estimate is presented for the total quantity of raw materials required to manufacture a single generation of renewable technology units (solar panels, wind turbines, etc.) sufficient to replace energy technologies based on combustion of fossil fuels. This estimate was derived by assembling the number of units needed against the estimated metal content for individual battery chemistries, wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles. It was shown that both 2019 global mine production, 2022 global reserve estimates, 2022 mineral resources, and estimates of undersea resources, were manifestly inadequate for meeting projected demand for copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and vanadium. Comprehensive analysis of these data suggests that lithium-ion battery chemistry (on its own) is not a viable option for upscaling to meet anticipated global market demand. Consequently, the development of alternative battery chemistries is recommended. The calculated shortfall in copper and nickel production was also of concern, as both metals are vital to the existing economy and there is no known viable substitute or alternative for either commodity. Conclusions were drawn after comparing all these different aspects. It was proposed that the phasing out of fossil fuels will not go to plan.
Associate Professor of geometallurgy at the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) in KTR, the Circular Economy Solutions Unit. Basic degree Bach App. Sc in Physics and Geology, Phd in Mining Engineering from JKMRC University of Queensland. Work experience 18 years in the Australian mining industry in research and development, 12 months at Ausenco in the private sector, 3 years in Belgium at the University of Liege researching Circular Economy and industrial recycling. Work experience in Finland has been at GTK has been in the Minerals Intelligence in the MTR unit, before joining the KTR. Mineral processing and geometallurgy being developed.
Long term objectives include the development and transformation of the Circular Economy, into a more practical system for the industrial ecosystem to navigate the twin challenges of the scarcity of technology minerals and the transitioning away from fossil fuels.