Worldwide the production of #renewableenergy (RE) is increasing. This, of course, is necessary to catch up with the Paris Agreement. The purchases increase of windmills and solar panels makes RE more competitive than fossil fuel energy.
Yet, the environmental impact from the production process of renewables seems to completely overshadow its gains. Renewables require base metals like nickel and cobalt (Kas, 2018). In line with the purchases increase, the global demand for cobalt grew by approx. 13% annually between 2010 and 2017, whereas the demand for nickel grew by approx. 7% annually between 2015 and 2018. Actually, the demand growth of these #basemetals is greater because they are used to maintain battery efficiency, thus overcome production fluctuation (Statista, 2018a; 2018b).
As a result, vast natural areas have been replaced by mines that extract such base metals (Statista, 2018; 2018B). Sadly, new #mines are also opened in areas of high biodiversity in countries that had stopped licensing mining permits, like the #Philippines. The Philippines have been suffering from this kind of corruption for many years. Despite the stop of licensing mining permits, the number of mines in the country has strongly increased in the last decade. Natural areas around the mines have been destroyed and biodiversity brutally cut down. Rivers have become so polluted that drinking and fishing is now impossible. Obviously, public authorities did not intervene to protect local people, who did not get anything in return for the destruction of their habitats (Kas, 2018).
Renewables producers seem to be the only one gaining profits from this unsustainable business. To remain competitive in the market, they ignore the origin of the base metals (Kiezebrink, 2018). On the contrary, renewables producers and governments of countries issuing RE parks should be awareof the corruption issues behind mining licensing procedures and should act accordingly (Kas, 2018).
From the experience I gained while writing my bachelor thesis about RE, I can claim that RE is business-as-usual. It is not making the world a better place. As soon as RE suppliers obtain a permit for the construction of a RE park, they know that millions of euros will be earned. At the end, the return on investment (ROI) is the only thing that matters them, just like any other business.
If nothing changes, more and more nature will be destroyed because of RE in an attempt to move away from #fossilfuels and save the world from climate change. Nature is far more valuable than just its metals alone. The profits gained by the extraction of metals for RE cannot offset the multitude of drawbacks caused by the mining sites: loss of fertile soils and biodiversity, local unemployment, damage to the local economy and to ecotourism, loss of purpose, meaningfulness and joy by the local people, cost increase of healthcare, value decrease of surrounding property (Ferwerda, 2017; Kas, 2018).
Both governments exploiting RE parks and consumers purchasing RE can be the game changers. They can force RE suppliers to only use products from renewables producers and manufacturers that respect human rights and care about the environment (Kiezebrink, 2018).
Let us be aware of our #energy consumption and its origin. Let us pay the real price!
Ferwerda, W. (2017). 4 returns, 3 zones, 20 years. A Holistic Framework for Ecological Restoration by People and Business for Next Generations. Downloaded on 27 November 2018, from https://www.commonland.com/en