Mon, July 15

Letter: Arizona needs mineral supplies to grow solar capacity


As Matthew Seeman's article, "Opening lands to renewable energy could make state a 'solar capital'," points out, Rep. Paul Gosar's bill to promote the development of renewable energy on public lands could greatly benefit Arizona's local and state governments. Arizona is already a leader in renewable energy, with the largest capacity of solar energy of any state, and growth in this field could propel the state to a global ranking.

However, access to federal lands isn't the only thing Arizona needs to become the solar capital of the world. Access to domestic supplies of the mineral raw materials needed to manufacture solar cells could help shorten and simplify supply chains for companies like Kyocera and ensure continued production of the advanced energy technologies of the future. Arizona has vast reserves of copper and molybdenum, both of which are used in solar cells and wind turbines, but an inefficient federal permitting process for new mineral mines keeps ample resources locked underground and manufacturers sourcing materials elsewhere.

 While considering legislation to bolster renewable energy production, policymakers must also ensure reliable domestic supplies of minerals critical to these technologies. Fortunately, the House recently passed the bi-partisan "National Strategic and Critical Minerals Act of 2013" to rid the permitting process of redundancies and ensure better access to much-needed minerals without bypassing environmental safeguards. Now the Senate must act on similar legislation to help Arizona become a global leader in renewable energy.

Hal Quinn

President and CEO of the National Mining Association