Almost a third of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy sector, so renewable energy sources like solar are crucial.
The net social and environmental benefits of solar are uncontested— more jobs, higher quality of life, and much less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions— the industry supply chain still poses problems for specific communities, ecosystems and landscapes.
Because solar has developed a ‘Green Halo’. It’s often exempted from critical examination.
People should realize that solar is also a commodity that is produced ( like many any other), and thus it requires extractive industries, chemical industries and landscapes plus end of life management plans.
They should think critically about this industry because it doesn’t inherently come with sustainability.
It may be better than our current energy systems, but we want to make sure that it’s just made better in general.
So we don’t
- want to see worker exploitation in solar energy commodity chains.
- want to see land use change that might undermine our carbon goals through the development of solar energy.
- want to see end of life electronic waste scattered about our landfills and recycling centers with this industry.
If we don’t carefully deploy solar power, we could reproduce some of the environmental inequalities we see in other energy systems. For example, all solar technologies require quartz for Crystalline silicon and solar panels, as it is mostly made of glass.
Silicosis, a disease, is often recognized as the oldest occupational hazard which occurs due to exposure to dust from silicon, which hardens the lungs.
And that’s something that we want to make sure is not reproduced again through solar energy commodity chain development.
Unless we see beyond the ‘Green Halo’ we will not be able to think rationally and critically about the solar industry and thus will repeat the mistakes of past.
Reference- The Real News Network, Dustin Mulvaney’s, Book –Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice