April 2017: Earth Day
On Sunday, April 22 people around the globe will celebrate the world we live on and learn more about how we can work to protect our environment. For the mining industry, this means both extracting raw materials in sustainable ways and producing raw materials that are essential for environmentally friendly technologies. In the EU, all mining endeavors are required to include restoration plans in the budget before they can begin.
But this Earth Day, we’re exploring the role of raw materials in one of the amazing technological advances contributing to green energy: the wind turbine. Wind energy is one of the cleanest and safest energy sources, and these machines are an incredible example of an innovative use of minerals.
In addition to several tons of copper and aluminum, these sleek structures contain up to several hundred tons of steel, which includes a number of highly engineered metals. The tower is made more weather-resistant and durable with molybdenum and zinc, electric steel in the generator optimizes conversions of motion into energy and high-tech steel bearings that connect all the parts ensure low maintenance and high performance. The steel lasts for about 30 to 40 years in a turbine, but it’s completely recyclable at the end of this application, reducing its environmental impact.
The use of wind turbines has increased by 25 percent over the past decade, and the rate of growth of wind energy is increasing. The mining industry plays a crucial role in helping this progress continue.