1st Edition

Solar Technology and Global Environmental Justice The Vision and the Reality

By Andreas Roos Copyright 2023
    228 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Building on insights from ecological economics and philosophy of technology, this book offers a novel, interdisciplinary approach to understand the contradictory nature of Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.

    Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is rapidly emerging as a cost-effective option in the world economy. However, reports about miserable working conditions, environmentally deleterious mineral extraction and toxic waste dumps corrode the image of a problem-free future based on solar power. Against this backdrop, Andreas Roos explores whether ‘ecologically unequal exchange’ – an asymmetric transfer of labour time and natural resources – is a necessary condition for solar PV development. He demonstrates how the massive increase in solar PV installation over recent years would not have been possible without significant wage/price differences in the world economy - notably between Europe/North America and Asia- and concludes that solar PV development is currently contingent on environmental injustices in the world economy. As a solution, Roos argues that solar technology is best coupled with strategies for degrowth, which allow for a transition away from fossil fuels and towards a socially just and ecologically sustainable future.

    This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of solar power, philosophy of technology, and environmental justice.

    Acknowledgements 1. Solar power at the brink 2. Earthing philosophy of technology 3. The historical context of solar technology 4. Global asymmetries in the rise of solar power 5. The inherent politics of global solar technology 6. The world and the solar module 7. Solutions beyond solar illusions Index


    Andreas Roos is an interdisciplinary scholar with a doctoral degree in the field of human ecology. His work draws from ecological economics, environmental history and philosophy of technology to understand the contentious relation between technology and ecology. Roos’s most recent work focuses on assessing the potential of renewable energy technologies to transform modern human-environmental relations. Publishing in top ranking journals, Roos’s other contributions include ecological perspectives on the digital economy and the possibilities for commons-based energy technology.

    "This book is an essential antidote to the illusion that solar technology can save the planet. Roos’s contribution reveals solar power for what it truly is."

    Derrick Jensen, author of Endgame

    "Solar Technology and Global Environmental Justice is incredibly vital. It reveals the hidden connections between the storytelling, global politics, and energy and material impacts of solar power. Roos’s breakdown of Germany’s energy laundering is especially fascinating to witness. I can’t wait to see where he will lead us next."

    Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions