Transition from fossil fuels sparks growing need for geologists


The world’s transition away from fossil fuels toward clean energy is increasing demand for certain minerals, rare earth metals and the expertise of a scientific discipline that has been dwindling for decades, The Daily Advertiser reports. 

Renewable energy systems are more material intensive than those powered by fossil fuels. Minerals like lithium and nickel are needed for better batteries; rare earth metals for wind turbines and electric motors; and vast amounts of copper and aluminum to further electrify the power grid. The increase in demand is also spurring the need for geologists skilled in finding ore deposits and assessing the potential for drilling.

However, the study of minerals that will be used in energy transition has been increasingly left out of the earth science curriculum, particularly in the U.S., either disappearing altogether or being grouped in with other subjects.

LSU’s vice president for research and economic development, Samuel Bentley, says he wants to see the university return to these programs, sometimes referred to as “economic geology.”

“For a number of reasons, many universities in the U.S. let programs like that phase out,” Bentley says. “Well, now that’s reversing because the demand for raw materials and for innovation using the raw materials to build and electrify the economy, to electrify transportation, are huge.” Read the full story.