• Canary on TV: Confronting the downsides of mining for battery materials
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Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Canary on TV: Confronting the downsides of mining for battery materials

Julian Spector appeared on the Weather Channel to parse the environmental and climate impacts of battery supply chains and how the clean energy industry is working to mitigate them.
By Julian Spector

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Two women television hosts speak with a man with reddish hair wearing glasses and a black turtleneck via video chat

Making the batteries to run electric vehicles and store solar power requires a lot of minerals, and mining those minerals imposes an environmental cost. I joined the Weather Channel’s climate-focused weekday show Pattrn to help weigh the pros and cons of this aspect of the clean energy transition with hosts Colleen Coyle and Molly McCollum.

Mining can be environmentally destructive, and currently the U.S. largely depends on far-flung mines around the world for its critical battery supplies. That said, the average electric vehicle still emits far less carbon over its lifetime than an equivalent gas-powered vehicle. Unlike oil and coal, battery materials can be reused indefinitely after their initial use. Battery recycling startups have raised several billion dollars and are building large-scale battery recycling factories; this could offer an alternative to new mining over the long term.

Julian Spector is a senior reporter at Canary Media. He reports on batteries, long-duration energy storage, low-carbon hydrogen and clean energy breakthroughs around the world.