The push for “green” energy alternatives is causing a shortage of sulfuric acid, a resource critical for the production of food and lithium-ion batteries, according to a new report from the University College London.
The paper, published in Geographical Journal, explains how over 80 percent of the global sulfur supply currently comes from the desulfurisation of fossil fuels. Pushes for decarbonization, however, which seek to ban the use of fossil fuels, will create a “shortfall” in the annual supply of sulfuric acid between 100 and 320 million tonnes by 2040, researchers estimate.
This dramatic decrease would occur, however, amidst a rising demand for sulfuric acid, which could reach up to 400 million tons by 2040.
“With increased farming and the world moving away from fossil fuels, geographers estimate global demand for sulfuric acid will rise to 246 to 400 million tons by 2040. However, depending on how quickly decarbonization happens, there may only be 100 to 320 million tons available for use,” explains the paper.
Shortages of sulfuric acid would have far-reaching ramifications, as it is an essential resource for producing phosphorus fertilizers that help maintain the global food supply.
“Additionally, phosphorus fertilizers are used for extracting rare metals, such as cobalt and nickel. Those metals are used in lithium-ion batteries that power up numerous electronic devices from cell phones to laptops,” explains the paper.
“Our concern is that the dwindling supply could lead to a transition period when green tech outbids the fertilizer industry for the limited more expensive sulfur supply, creating an issue with food production,” adds Simon Day, a researcher at the University College London’s Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction and study coauthor.
In the study, researchers project three different sulfuric acid demand scenarios occurring from 2021 to 2040. Using data from historic and forecast demand with an annual growth rate ranging from 1.8 percent to 2.4 percent, researchers constructed the graph below, demonstrating how demand for the resource is consistently above the available supply of sulfuric acid.
The findings come amidst concern over groups like the World Economic Forum (WEF) attempting to exploit issues like COVID-19 and climate change to advance their own social and political agenda. Their allies, such as Bill Gates, have also purchased massive amounts of farmland in the U.S. amidst ongoing food shortages.
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Natalie Winters is the Lead Investigative Reporter at the National Pulse and co-host of The National Pulse podcast.