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Rio Tinto Director Praises Renewables, Urges More Progress

Rio Tinto Director Praises Renewables, Urges More Progress
October 31
12:49 2016

As the world’s energy demands surge, more investment is needed into various power sources, including renewables, Rio Tinto non-executive director Megan Clark said in a speech in Australia.

“The world energy demand till 2035 is set to grow 40% and needs around US$50 trillion in energy investments to meet this demand. How this investment is made will write the script of our energy future,” she stated.

Clark stressed that renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are no longer as expensive as they used to be. “Renewables now account for around 50% of all new power generation, and last year saw a record of 121GW of combined solar and wind power capacity installed. Wind and solar are now competitive without subsidies.”

Investments in renewables was at $329 billion in 2015, an all-time high, she noted. “Interestingly, this new investment in renewables was roughly equal to the reduction in capital we have seen investing in oil.” 

Rio Tinto’s director was giving the Essington Lewis memorial lecture for the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. During her address, she applauded the mining sector for embracing advanced technologies, such as the introduction of driverless trucks. “At one moment [while I was watching] two trucks arrived at the same time to be loaded … then without the slightest hint of road rage and no rear-ending they followed each other up the ramp. Magic,” she said.

Falling behind, however, is energy storage technologies, Clark commented. “Battery storage costs improved 20% last year but we still need a major, breakthrough in large-scale storage . . . We are decades behind on this. Why? It takes a decade to prove a battery is safe before it can be commercialized. Just ask Samsung.”

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Anna Golubova

Anna Golubova

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