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Global energy transitions: Renewable energy technology and non-renewable resources
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development. (Global Energy Systems)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0794-5536
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The global energy system is dominated by the use of fossil fuels. This system suffers from several problems, such as different environmental issues, while the long-term energy security is sometimes questioned. As an alternative to this situation, a transition to a global energy system based on renewable energy technologies, to a large extent solar and wind energy, is commonly proposed. Constructing the technology needed for such a transition requires resources and how fast this could happen is somewhat disputed. This thesis explores methods to assess the potential constraints for realizing such a transition by looking at potential technology growth rates and outlooks of production of the required natural resources.

The thesis is based on three papers presenting case studies that look at growth rates of wind energy as well as future production outlooks of lithium and phosphate rock. Using different types of growth patterns reaching proposed installed capacities of wind power, annual commissioning requirements are investigated, taking account for the limited life expectancy oftechnology. Potential outlooks of mineral production are explored using resource constrained curve-fitting models on global lithium production. A more disaggregated model looking at individual countries are used on phosphate rock production to investigate new perspectives on production outlooks.

It is concluded that the growth rates of individual energy technologies affect the resource requirements and prospective constraints on energy transitions. Resource constrained modelling of resource production can provide spans of potential outlooks for future production of resources required for anenergy transition. A higher disaggregation of the modelling can provide new perspectives of potential constraints on future production. These aspects should be further investigated when proposing alternative future energy systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Geotryckeriet , 2015. , 29 p.
Keyword [en]
energy transitions, natural resources, renewable energy, sustainable development, growth curves
National Category
Energy Systems
Research subject
Natural Resources and Sustainable Development
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-245307OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-245307DiVA: diva2:791155
Presentation
2015-02-05, Norrland I, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 14:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-03-02 Created: 2015-02-26 Last updated: 2016-04-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Growth curves and sustained commissioning modelling of renewable energy: Investigating resource constraints for wind energy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Growth curves and sustained commissioning modelling of renewable energy: Investigating resource constraints for wind energy
2014 (English)In: Energy Policy, ISSN 0301-4215, E-ISSN 1873-6777, Vol. 73, 767-776 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract Several recent studies have proposed fast transitions to energy systems based on renewable energy technology. Many of them dismiss potential physical constraints and issues with natural resource supply, and do not consider the growth rates of the individual technologies needed or how the energy systems are to be sustained over longer time frames. A case study is presented modelling potential growth rates of the wind energy required to reach installed capacities proposed in other studies, taking into account the expected service life of wind turbines. A sustained commissioning model is proposed as a theoretical foundation for analysing reasonable growth patterns for technologies that can be sustained in the future. The annual installation and related resource requirements to reach proposed wind capacity are quantified and it is concluded that these factors should be considered when assessing the feasibility, and even the sustainability, of fast energy transitions. Even a sustained commissioning scenario would require significant resource flows, for the transition as well as for sustaining the system, indefinitely. Recent studies that claim there are no potential natural resource barriers or other physical constraints to fast transitions to renewable energy appear inadequate in ruling out these concerns.

Keyword
Growth curves, Natural resources, Renewable energy, Wind energy, Sustainability, Energy systems
National Category
Energy Systems
Research subject
Engineering Science with specialization in the Science of Global Energy Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-225554 (URN)10.1016/j.enpol.2014.05.003 (DOI)000341474100072 ()
Funder
StandUp
Available from: 2014-06-04 Created: 2014-06-04 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Lithium availability and future production outlooks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lithium availability and future production outlooks
2013 (English)In: Applied Energy, ISSN 0306-2619, E-ISSN 1872-9118, Vol. 110, no 10, 252-266 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Lithium is a highly interesting metal, in part due to the increasing interest in lithium-ion batteries. Several recent studies have used different methods to estimate whether the lithium production can meet an increasing demand, especially from the transport sector, where lithium-ion batteries are the most likely technology for electric cars. The reserve and resource estimates of lithium vary greatly between different studies and the question whether the annual production rates of lithium can meet a growing demand is seldom adequately explained. This study presents a review and compilation of recent estimates of quantities of lithium available for exploitation and discusses the uncertainty and differences between these estimates. Also, mathematical curve fitting models are used to estimate possible future annual production rates. This estimation of possible production rates are compared to a potential increased demand of lithium if the International Energy Agency’s Blue Map Scenarios are fulfilled regarding electrification of the car fleet. We find that the availability of lithium could in fact be a problem for fulfilling this scenario if lithium-ion batteries are to be used. This indicates that other battery technologies might have to be implemented for enabling an electrification of road transports.

Keyword
Peak lithium, Electric vehicles, Lithium production, Lithium supply, Resource-constrained modelling, Lithium battery cars
National Category
Geosciences, Multidisciplinary Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Environmental Sciences Energy Systems Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Global Energy Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-199784 (URN)10.1016/j.apenergy.2013.04.005 (DOI)000321601900024 ()
Projects
Stand
Available from: 2013-05-14 Created: 2013-05-14 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Phosphate rock production and depletion: Regional disaggregated modeling and global implications
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Phosphate rock production and depletion: Regional disaggregated modeling and global implications
2014 (English)In: Resources, Conservation and Recycling, ISSN 0921-3449, E-ISSN 1879-0658, Vol. 93, 178-187 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract Numerous recent studies discuss phosphate rock extraction, and some even propose that a peak in production could be reached in coming decades. This would have great consequences as phosphate rock based fertilizers are irreplaceable in modern agriculture. Studies suggesting an impending peak commonly use curve fitting models where mathematical functions are fitted to historical world production data, while studies using other methods reach completely different results. Also, a sudden increase in global reserve estimates is commonly used to dismiss these warnings, and has somewhat altered the debate. The recent multiplication of estimated reserves is mostly based on an increase of the Moroccan reserve estimate, leading to Morocco currently making up most of the global reserves. This study models global phosphate rock production using a disaggregated curve fitting model based on the production in individual major producing countries, providing a somewhat different view than most studies, and show that the global trade of phosphate rock could be completely dependent on Morocco in the future. There are several different factors that can potentially limit global production and these factors should be considered for the individual producing countries. Society’s total dependence on phosphate rock should be further investigated despite claims of large resource occurrences.

Keyword
Phosphorus, Phosphate rock, Peak minerals, Resource depletion, Fertilizer, Curve fitting modeling
National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-238213 (URN)10.1016/j.resconrec.2014.10.011 (DOI)000347594000017 ()
Funder
StandUp
Available from: 2014-12-10 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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