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Mark P. Mills: Recession will only Delay Energy Inflation

Tom welcomes Mark P. Mills to the show. Mark is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a Faculty Fellow at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University.

Mark discusses the true costs of the green energy revolution. Most of the minerals and refining of ores used to make batteries are mined outside the United States and Canada. China represents 2/3rds of the market share of critical materials needed to make batteries and photovoltaic cells. The bottom line is that 500,000 pounds of rock is mined to produce an E.V. car battery. The total emissions involved is at least 15 tons of CO2. An efficient internal combustion vehicle will emit a similar amount of carbon over its lifetime. However, this doesn’t account for the energy used to charge the battery of an electric vehicle.

Mark notes that ore grades have been declining on average for centuries. More ore has to be processed for a given quantity of metals produced. Most of the green energy forecasts are not realistic, and we will need incredible amounts of copper to achieve these lofty targets. The world will need 200%-300% more copper than we have been producing annually for at least a couple of decades. We will need even more copper to improve the grid. We need to ask more questions, as there is no evidence that sufficient resource capacity will be coming online to meet these goals.

Governments do not appear to notice that they aren’t getting their subsidy bang for the buck. We’ve spent two decades transitioning from hydrocarbons and already spent five trillion dollars. That number is likely higher in terms of additional burdens on the economy. During these two decades, we’ve managed to drop the energy requirements from hydrocarbons by two percent. However, over this same period we’ve increased our total energy usage from hydrocarbons on the order of six Saudi Arabia’s.

Mark explains the difficulty in recycling battery materials and why it may remain cost prohibitive.

Deindustrialzation in Europe and energy scarcity has shutdown two thirds of all fertilizer production, along with half of the metal refining industry. Should prices continue to escalate, most industry in the U.K. will shut down. Many industries are difficult to restart because they are designed to operate continuously. A lot of industry may decide to re-open in another, safer country.

Lastly, he discusses the energy density and ability to surge hydrocarbon solutions in contrast to other much more expensive and impractical methods.

Time Stamp References:
0:00 – Introduction
1:08 – EVs Export Emissions
9:05 – Insane Copper Demands
17:33 – Energy Costs & Subsidies
22:23 – Green Technology Needs
25:30 – Economics of Recycling
32:10 – Good Green Applications
37:47 – Rare Earth Sources
42:22 – Deindustrialization
46:26 – Stabilizing Energy
49:29 – Energy Storage & Surges
51:48 – Political Realities
58:25 – Wrap Up

Talking Points From This Week’s Episode

  • The true costs of the electric vehicle revolution.
  • Why the world will need 500 percent more copper.
  • What is needed to stabilize world energy.

Guest Links:

Mark P. Mills is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a Faculty Fellow at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University. He is a co-founder and strategic partner in Montrose Lane, a software-centric energy-tech venture fund. He was formerly the co-founder and chief tech strategist for Digital Power Capital, a boutique venture fund, where co-founded and served as Chairman and CTO of ICx Technologies helping take it public in a 2007 IPO (later purchased by FLIR), and in addition served on numerous Boards, including as Chairman (and an interim CEO) of a lithium battery start-up. And for seven years prior to an acquisition in 2008 by HP, he was the independent Director on the Board of EYP Mission-Critical Facilities, one of the world’s leading data center design and engineering firms.

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