This Café is presented by Professor Adrian Finch, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews.
In this Energy Cafe, Professor Finch will explore the commitments made by many countries to decarbonise their economies through the eyes of a geologist. The vision for a green low-carbon economy involves the use of ‘renewable’ energies such as wind turbines and electric vehicles, often described as ‘zero-emission’ or ‘carbon-free’. However, these technologies often rely upon large quantities of rare materials the mining and refinement of which are certainly not carbon-free. Are simplistic but profoundly misleading terms (like ‘zero-emission vehicles’) helpful or counterproductive?
Second, sudden increases in demand for critical metal resources used in green technologies are unattainable unless many more critical metal mines are opened. Yet one often sees the mining and exploration sectors portrayed as part of the problem, not integral to the solution. Professor Finch will review critical metal resources available to Europe, plus the solutions that will need to be implemented to ensure Europe is successful as a producer of critical resources. Do attitudes towards mining hinder Europe’s transition to a green e-tech economy?