Appeals for a rapid energy transition at Davos thwarted – by Copper and Cobalt


At the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, there seemed to be spat between Greta and Donald though they did not meet.

Image result for greta thunbergDonald Trump

As far as I can see one is “Drill, baby, drill”. and the other is stop using oil now i.e yesterday.

This article highlights the issues oil companies face, which are considerable.

The end is most interesting as it lays out the problems of going renewable ASAP along with electric cars. The obstacles to the energy transition are not the amount of wind or sun, or whether devices can be made to trap the energy, or the design of electric vehicles. The technology may be available now, but that does not make it possible.

It boils down to the availability of the metals required to do this. Here Richard Herrington just mentions cobalt and Copper

Richard Herrington, head of earth sciences at London’s National History Museum also said a speedy energy transition may simply be impossible.

“If the UK were to turn tomorrow all of its cars into electric ones, we would need twice the world annual cobalt and half of annual copper production,” he said. “You can imagine what happens if you scale it up to the whole world.”

He mentions only the UK, but the mind boggles at how many extra mines would be needed to provide just the copper and cobalt. Herrington made no mention of other metals needed , like Lithium.

Trust a geologist to make us face reality!

However I think we could do it in UK as there is a superb porphyry Copper deposit be the gorgeous Llyn Crafnant north of Betws y Coed in Snowdonia. This was successfully opposed in the 1970s, but because of the Climate Emergency I am sure all green groups would support it today .

We would see the area including Betws y Coed changing from this

Image result for llyn crafnant

to this

Image result for bingham copper mine

(Bingham Copper mine, Utah. )

I am sure all green groups want to see this transformation of Snowdonia National Park

6 thoughts on “Appeals for a rapid energy transition at Davos thwarted – by Copper and Cobalt

  1. Paul Braterman

    Though I think this greatly underestimates the flexibility possible with battery technology. All the development that has happened so far has assumed adequate supplies of copper and cobalt. I’m sure that right now there is a lot of work going on under wraps involving iron and nickel, both of which have potentially useful redox properties. How’s the lithium supply holding up?


      1. michaelroberts4004 Post author

        How far has all this been developed. Is it today’s technology or tomorrow’s? One issue is that they can be wonderful suggestions but until they can be carried out in a cost-effective way they are not useful . I am not au fait with chemistry. However this a valid point. I don’t know what sources of Mn are like.


      2. Paul Braterman

        Manganese is much more abundant than cobalt or even nickel. I really hope that someone is looking at the oxidation-reduction solid-state chemistry of manganese in the presence of lithium ions. I remember reading about the cobalt problem (in The Economist?) fairly recently


  2. Ashley Haworth-roberts

    Interesting article. The dilemma between wanting to thwart manmade global warming and wanting to protect the appearance of an area of outstanding natural beauty. I suppose which you go for depends on your shade of green. I want to thwart manmade global warming. But when my late parents retired to north Wales I preferred visiting unspoilt (visually even they the hills may be overrun with sheep) parts of Snowdonia rather than slate mines or copper mines. These days I don’t go to north Wales so there is less likely to be any ‘nimby’ effect. I’m in favour of ‘green’ jobs – but sometimes they are not immediately available.



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