In a recent New Republic op-ed, the Environmentalist Left’s Bill McKibben called for an American mobilization to completely replace America’s fossil fuels by 2050, with renewable energy like wind and solar.
On average, 1 megawatt of wind capacity requires 103 tonnes of stainless steel, 402 tonnes of concrete, 6.8 tonnes of fibreglass, three tonnes of copper and 20 tonnes of cast iron. The blades are made of fibreglass, the tower of steel and the base of concrete. Robert Wilson at Carbon Counter takes us through the science. Fibreglass is produced from petrochemicals, which means that a wind turbine cannot be made without the extraction of oil and natural gas. Steel is made from iron ore. To mine ore requires high energy density fuels, such as diesel. Transporting ore to steel mills requires diesel.
While McKibben talks about holding Hillary Clinton’s “feet to the fire” by demanding swift action on his take-it-or-leave-it environmental agenda, he advocates for the building of millions of wind turbines, all of which rely on the same petrochemicals McKibben rails against.