In this important new primer, Dustin Mulvaney makes a passionate case for the significance of solar power energy and offers a vision for a more sustainable and just solar industry for the future. The solar energy industry has grown immensely over the past several years and now provides up to a fifth of California’s power. But despite its deservedly green reputation, solar development and deployment may have social and environmental consequences, from poor factory labor standards to landscape impacts on wildlife. Using a wide variety of case studies and examples that trace the life cycle of photovoltaics, Mulvaney expertly outlines the state of the solar industry, exploring the ongoing conflicts between ecological concerns and climate mitigation strategies, current trade disputes, and the fate of toxics in solar waste products. This exceptional overview will outline the industry’s current challenges and possible futures for students in environmental studies, energy policy, environmental sociology, and other aligned fields.
"Too often we think of solar power as being clean and just, when in fact it has the potential to be filthy and inequitable. Mulvaney's deep look at the solar industry and its political economy provides a badly needed blueprint for a future that is both green and fair."––Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin--Madison and author of Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction
"This wide-ranging and impressively researched book emphatically demonstrates that an equitable energy transition will require much more than breaking our carbon addiction. By opening up the 'black box' of how solar energy is produced, distributed, and debated, Mulvaney frames a refreshingly clear treatment of how solar energy is generated, with a sensitive analysis of the political and social justice implications of each step of the solar energy commodity chain. This book leaves us with as many questions as answers—so essential as we confront the complexity of a just renewable energy transition." ––Karen Rignall, Assistant Professor of Food and Environment, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
"We often think about solar energy as clean and green, but Mulvaney reveals a wide range of occupational and environmental problems associated with its manufacturing, generation, and disposal. But rather than leave us with a negative story, he also presents a vision of what a just and sustainable solar energy system would look like. It’s an important book for all of us concerned with sustainable energy transitions."––David J. Hess, Professor of Sociology, Vanderbilt University