Is the TechnoFix In?: Research on the Ecological Impact of Solar Power
17 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2018
Date Written: December 12, 2017
This project aims to investigate whether the use of solar power results in net reductions in carbon emissions and other environmental contaminants and, more broadly, whether such a thing as “environmentally balanced” technological innovation is possible under the framework of capitalism.
I conduct a review of existing research and literature on the costs, benefits, and externalities involved in the generation, collection, and distribution of solar power, and compile the results to understand the current state of the art, and its impacts. My findings indicate that the byproducts and unintended consequences of the technologies used in various forms of solar power (e.g., photovoltaics, concentrated solar lensing, lithium-ion batteries) are far greater than are widely understood, and that this is a necessary consequence of the economic system via which they are developed. However, I argue that this does not mean that we ought not to invest time and effort toward the development of these technologies, rather that we must do so outside of a framework that is predicated on growth, expansion, consumption, “innovation.”
We must work to shift the values by which we conceive and develop environmental technologies, in order to build a system wherein we can do so not just “sustainably,” but ethically and in a way that respects our entanglement with the rest of the natural world.
Keywords: Technoscience, Solar Power, The Anthropocene, Climate Change, STS, Renewable Energy
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