Enough mineral/metal deposits to support an EV/Solar world?

edited November -1 in General
Hi guys,
I have been having a bit of an argument with some anti-EV types who claim that the mineral/metal resource constraints of the earth would never allow for enough batteries and solar panels to have a true EV/Solar world.
Since I know there are a lot of people smarter than me here on the forum I thought maybe someone could answer this question?
I have heard that in terms of the batteries it is only Cobalt that is really even remotely scarce. Panasonic has reduced the amount of Cobalt in its batteries by 75% in the last three years as well.

I guess if we included all the resources required for batteries needed for off-grid storage, EV's, and solar panels for roughly every home and vehicle in the world would be a start...I know its a lot to ask but can anyone come up with some rough numbers?

I think we should also remember that unlike fossil fuels the metals/minerals used here can be recycled for use in future technologies...whereas when you burn oil/gas it is gone forever.

If Tesla and SolarCity actually have this vision in mind for the planet I guess we should know if we have the resources in the earth to do it.

Hope someone out there can help!



  • edited November -1
    There is platinum in pretty much every ICE car you see in the road (catalysators) yet nobody talks about that.

    I don't know where that claim has been originated, but those anti-EV guys are simply wrong. For off-grid storage you can use lead-acid batteries if you wish (no space concerns), nothing exotic in them.

    Solar cells are either silicon (basically infinite, 90% of earth crust is silicates) or carbon. LiFePO4 -based cathodes don't have any exotics either, combined with silicon -based anodes you have battery with very common elements.

    I don't see what materials would be uncommon in EV:s/solar world.

    If they refer Lithium rarity, that's just common misconception, Lithium is quite common in earth crust, just not actively mined before. Also actual lithium content in lithium-ion batteries is quite small.

    Everything in BEV is also recyclable, nothing is being burned to oblivion.
  • edited November -1
    Is there enough petroleum in this world left to power gasoline engines?

    Pretty much why we have EV's.
  • I am the last person you would call a 'treehugger'. I own ExxonMobil stock, drive sports cars (currently all are ICE cars but that will not be the case for long - my next car WILL be a Tesla), would never ever vote for some commie boot licking Democrat (I thought that loser Romney was a RINO anyway), and love freeways and get excited when they build a new section of one and want to drive it. I really love cars and driving, exploring the world.

    That being said I have a certain respect for nature - much like Prince Phillip or Theodore Roosevelt - a practical sort of respect, both were big hunters yet championed conservation of truly rare species and habitat. Sure the world's resources are there for us to use and enjoy, but the wanton destruction and waste of them is plain stupid.

    Oil is not and never will be going away, but it is created by slow geologic processes and is not being replenished at a rate which we are using it - because burning it is wasting it. We need it for plastics, lubricants and asphalt, not for burning and polluting our environment, yeah some pollution is inevitable but no need to be wasteful and destructive when you have an obviously better choice that is now becoming economical.

    I do not like EVs like the Leaf and Plug in Prius because they are UGLY and have seriously substandard performance, sure they are good in a way that they replace oil dependent Versas and Echos, but they lead to the conception that EVs are glorified golf carts, which Tesla has proven they need not be. With modern EVs you can have your cake and eat it too.

    The Left and ultra environmentalists suppress the human spirit with guilt and force self deprivation on us in the name of 'saving the earth' but ignore the damage that they do to their own cause by not keeping a balanced view of what is worth saving and what is just a prop for NIMBYism and economic and societal self flagulation. Honestly I think their 'crying wolf' to stop every project does more harm than good and people are going to get sick of it after a while, and when they do, well thought out balanced conservation efforts with real ecological merit will lose public support as well.

    Most thinking people of any political or cultural stripe understand the concept of 'do not pee in the pool you are swimming in', so if you breathe air do not overload it with more CO2 or Sulfates than the forests can scrub out... So if you have domestically made EVs, solar panels and wind turbines that help reduce or even reverse the damage we do, it is unpatriotic and environmentally irresponsible to sabotage their implementation.

    Most anyone can get excited about what Tesla and Solar City is doing, it is innovation on a level of the turn of the last century, the triumph of innovation and human spirit to avert ecological and economic disaster.

    Sure there is some issues to work out (like the 'bricking' problem and building economy of scale) but mostly Elon's vision is clearly a path to a better more prosperous future. For those with an interest in history think of how well average people lived in the 1880's versus the 1920's - with cars, radios, electricity and social freedom think of the difference... From an eco point of view think of the reduction of wastage, pollution and human misery in the same period...
  • edited November -1
    FLSports, I may not agree with the democrat and left-winger statements, but I agree with your logic; don't pee where you swim. Let's hope people from all different viewpoints can agree on a sustainable future.

    Getting back on topic indeed oil is required for many things. Medication, lubricants, plastics, clothing, etc. Wasting it would be truly stupid and unnecessary.

    Cobalt is indeed (from my readings) the only truly rare element used in a BEV vs a conventional one. The Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide batteries I believe are used in the Model S are more durable than the more traditional (and expensive) Lithium Cobalt ones used in the Roadster. We are making progress towards using fewer rare metals and getting better overall performance and longevity:

    Interestingly Lithium can be harvested from ordinary 'ol seawater! :

    In essence I think most people are highly misinformed about current battery technology and associated toxicities.
  • edited November -1
    Don't overload the atmosphere with CO2, like back when it was 7,000 ppm, and the whole Earth was teeming with greenery?
  • edited November -1
    @ikutoisahobo, lack of oil is not the reason why we have EV:s. EV:s simply are better. Only reason <u>not</u> to have them is still high price of the batteries.
  • edited November -1
    As tech advances EV's can run on whatever power supply is around. Even existing BEV's can easily be converted to the new power supply 20 years down the road. That alone eliminates the worry about rare earths in batteries (even if there was any) because we might not be using them.

    The EV itself has no more rare earth in it than an ICE.

    While solar is one solution to some, we may have a completely new method in coming years. Geothermal works great for Iceland. It would probably work great for Hawaii.

    That is the whole advantage of EV's. They are not tied to one source of anything to go.
  • edited November -1

    Name one resource that has been exhausted in history. I'll wait.
  • edited November -1
    Dry land in Atlantis? :D

    There have been shortages and mis-management that have caused cities to be abandoned or even civilizations to collapse, but with time people have usually gone back when the environment has recovered. Though this is not the same as complete exhaustion of a natural resource.
  • edited November -1
    A different version of the same question: what could industry and society have done a better job of conserving 100 years ago to make more available to the 21st century.

    Again, name one thing, or resource.
Sign In or Register to comment.