The energy sources that environmentalists want us to depend on are themselves dependent on overseas materials and components.
Children scrabbling with bare hands, never mind shovels, and carrying bags of rocks is not the image Elon Musk wants for his wildly successful green-car company. So, in early June, Tesla signed a deal with global miner, Glencore, to help “ethically” source an increased supply of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where child labor accounts for “only” one-fifth of mining for that critical battery element.
For its part, Ford plans to get batteries for its electric vehicles (EVs) from China’s BYD and leave it to that company to determine sources of “energy minerals.” So it bears noting that about 60 percent of the world’s cobalt is mined in the DRC. There’s a lot more to the supply-chain story when you look under the hood at what’s required to “fuel” aspirations for a world dominated by battery-powered electric vehicles and fields of solar and wind farms. For America, such a future would mean dramatically increased energy dependencies.
A hidden-in-plain-sight fact: All green-energy machines require minerals obtained almost entirely overseas. Much of it comes from countries that are not our friends, and many entail labor and environmental practices most companies are eager to ignore.
But now House Democrats propose that green-energy subsidies must be a key feature in any infrastructure stimulus — and they’ve recently been seriously considering a $1.5 trillion version of such a bill. That legislation seems unlikely to pass the Senate, or a presidential veto, but we can be sure the idea won’t go away. Ironically, this comes on the heels of the coronavirus crisis exposing supply-chain vulnerabilities that have triggered a push to on-shore many industries, not just medical manufacturing.
Photo by RossHelen/iStock