So You Want Wind Turbines But Don’t Want Copper Mines?
Renewable energy advocates generally believe the United States should use renewable energy sources like wind and solar to generate electricity and stop using fossil fuels like coal and natural gas for our energy needs.
Many of these same people also oppose the proposed copper and nickel mines in Northern Minnesota.
There’s only one problem:
Windmills use an enormous amount of copper. For example, a single wind turbine can contain 335 tons of steel, 4.7 tons of copper, 3 tons of aluminum and 700-plus pounds of rare earth minerals.
In fact, wind and solar energy use more copper than conventional forms of energy, such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants. Conventional power plants require about one ton of copper to produced one megawatt of electricity, whereas wind and solar can require between three to five tons per megawatt.
Furthermore, these numbers only reflect the amount of copper needed to build wind turbines or solar panels, and do not factor in the additional copper needed to transport the electricity generated from wind and solar facilities to the population centers that consume the electricity.
Make no mistake, switching from reliable sources of electricity like coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear power plants to intermittent sources like wind and solar is an exceedingly bad idea, but the people who champion renewable energy, but oppose copper mining in Minnesota should have to reconcile the inherent contradictions in their positions.