Sanderson journeys to meet the characters, companies, and nations scrambling for the new resources, linking remote mines in the Congo and Chile’s Atacama Desert to giant Chinese battery factories, shadowy commodity traders, secretive billionaires, a new generation of scientists attempting to solve the dilemma of a ‘greener’ world.
Despite its subtitle, Volt Rush is a delicious journey of discovery that focuses mainly on the winners—the people, companies and countries that profit from the current EV mania ... in the tradition of true investigative reporting, Mr. Sanderson travels through jungles and to mines and factories in pursuit of what makes Volt Rush compelling: stories about the people who figured out where and how to build the mines, and the staggering wealth these people quietly accumulated as a result ... lucidly traces the people and policies that led to China’s remarkable dominance in the global battery-materials ecosystem ... a valuable exposé of heretofore unknown characters in, and the characteristics of, the EV supply chain. It’s a vital contribution to the emerging literature that’s pulling back the curtain on energy realities.
... a remarkably hopeful and useful book ... Sanderson may well have sold this book on the idea that 'going green' was actually taking us in dark directions. And indeed his in-depth reporting – stronger on corporate histories than on-the-ground interviewing – shows the corruption that underlies many of the mining schemes for the minerals used in batteries, the human rights abuses and environmental troubles that can come from that mining and the geopolitical complications that emerge when countries such as China and Russia control crucial parts of the trade ... To be clear (which Sanderson is really not), even if the worst abuses were 10 times more frequent than alleged, they would not come close to matching the damage from fossil fuels that batteries, solar panels and wind turbines could replace ... He’s absolutely right: clean energy can’t be a licence for yet more growth in luxury consumption ... The climate crisis leaves us no choice but to build a new world and as Sanderson makes clear, we are capable of making it a better one than the dirty and dangerous planet we’ve come to take for granted.
Throughout the book, Sanderson deftly guides us through the convolutions of which company bought what from which, and he livens up that potentially desiccated subject matter with an eye for characterful detail ... Despite the seemingly insuperable geopolitical quandaries with which it deals, the tone of Sanderson’s book is one of cautious optimism.