In a new piece for Forbes, Jude Clemente, principal at JTC Energy Research Associates, LLC, outlines the size and scope of the ambitious climate goal of electrification to fight climate change, and discusses the underlying challenges associated with the shift. Clemente argues that the likely surge in electricity demand as the world seeks to decarbonize and shift more of our economy over to the electric grid is a “really big deal.”
For electric cars, a statistic illustrates the magnitude of the change. Writes Clemente:
“[W]e have 270 million oil-based cars (i.e., internal combustion engine) and only around 2 million that run on electricity. The amount of electricity that could be needed to change this may be incalculable but we know it is immense.”
Clemente cites an analysis by experts at the University of California, Berkeley, which estimates that by 2035 the U.S. will need almost 90% more electricity than in 2018. This number assumes a scenario in which all passenger vehicles sold by 2030 are electric, and buildings and factories are also electrifying quickly.
The challenge is compounded by the fact that “as we turn toward more intermittent renewables, electrification and the need for much more electricity must be met with reliability and resiliency,” which in turn “will require an immense build-out in new generation capacity.”
“Scarily unmentioned,” according to Clemente – and of direct interest to all friends of ARPN — is the fact that the electric car and renewable power revolutions are “far more mineral intensive than the fossil fuel counterparts,” which has far-reaching national security implications because of the United States’ unnecessarily high degree of import reliance for critical minerals.
And while the U.S. has been making progress with partnership agreements to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in the U.S., writes Clemente, “the bigger challenge for us than battery production is accessing the raw materials. For the energy transition, the Biden administration will need to support the full battery supply chain.”
Clemente concludes with a nod to a 2019 Wall Street Journal piece by Mark Mills:
“Overall, the U.S. has been appraised at ~$6.2 trillion in mineral resources, but we need a more streamlined permitting process. For example, considerable lithium reserves have been identified in Arkansas, California, Nevada, North Carolina and Utah.
Indeed, if we truly want to fight climate change, it’s time to dig.”