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Lecture | Tuesday Talks: Science Insights

Metals, energy and geopolitics, a complex mix

Tuesday 14 May 2024
Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden
CM.1.26 (drinks afterwards are at the Atrium, first floor)

Metals, energy and geopolitics, a complex mix

The energy transition is in fact a material transition: from fossil fuels to metals. Energy supply is, and has always been, a determining factor for the success of societies. In order to achieve a truly sustainable society our energy supply should be resilient. In a fossil fuel based world this means that the continuous inflow of fossil fuels should be secured. Numerous wars have been fought over the control of fossil fuels. In a world based on renewable energy sources the focus will, in time, shift from securing a continuous inflow of fossil fuels to the fostering a huge stock of metals in society, embedded in solar cells, wind turbines, batteries etc. This also means a shift from a linear economy (dig, pump and burn) to a circular economy in which products are re-designed with circularity in mind, remanufactured and recycled. Although solving the issue of climate change and the energy transition that is needed for that requires global cooperation, this transition now takes place in a world that is full of geopolitical tensions. Globalization is competing  with protectionism and the call for ‘strategic autonomy’ is loud again. What does this all mean for the material basis of our future society?

About the speaker

In the Industrial Ecology department of CML, which is lead bij Kleijn, tools are developed to model stocks and flows of materials through societies. Supply chain mapping provides insights in the global extraction, refining and production of components. Resilience analysis helps to highlight the weaknesses in the supply chains of critical raw materials. Dynamic Material Flow analysis is used to model material flows and stocks through time. The research shows that circular strategies reduce both environmental impacts as well as the material requirements of the energy transition. The research also shows that the energy transition will lead to less mining, not more as is often claimed, simply because of an immediate reduction of the amount of fossil fuels that needs to be extracted. All in all it is clear that science based models are crucial in the guidance of the choices that are made in the transition from a linear, fossil fuel based energy system to a circular, metal based energy system.   

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The programme of the Tuesday Talks: Science Insights is:

15.30 hrs Take a seat
16.00 hrs Introduction by dean Jasper Knoester
16.10 hrs Lecture by speaker, followed by Q&A
17.00 hrs Drinks

About Tuesday Talks: Science Insights

Tuesday Talks: Science Insights is Leiden Science’s monthly dose of research inspiration from our staff, for our staff and all others curious minds. Every second Tuesday of the month from 16:00 hrs till 17:00 hrs, drinks and meet up afterwards till 18.00 hrs.

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