Renewable energy is no free lunch – both wind and solar power require significant amounts of commodities.
Steel is the foundation stone for renewable energy infrastructure. Each new megawatt (MW) of solar power requires between 35-45 tonnes of steel, while each new MW of wind power requires 120-180 tonnes of steel. Other commodities such as aluminium, copper, polysilicon, plastics, etc. are also needed in huge quantities.
According to the IEA, commodities make up about 15% of the investment cost for utility-scale solar PV, and some 8% for onshore wind (steel comprising the majority of the commodity cost), while freight is also a big cost, especially for onshore wind: