Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales

“Wind is renewable. Turbines are not.”
― Ozzie Zehner, Green Illusions

Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales: Symbols and Expectations for a Clean Energy Future

This event was held at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales: Symbols and Expectations for a Clean Energy Future”

7 Mar 2012
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Ozzie Zehner
STSC Visiting Scholar

The seductive tales of wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels foster the impression that with a few technical upgrades, we might just sustain our current energy trajectories without consequence. Media and political coverage lull us into dreams of a clean energy future juxtaposed against a tumultuous past characterized by evil oil companies and the associated energy woes they propagated. Like most fairy tales, this productivist parable contains a tiny bit of truth. And a whole lot of fantasy.

This talk does not expose a scandal or cover-up in the traditional sense, but rather explores a particular alignment of interests and priorities that presents equally provocative questions to the environmental community. Solar cells shine brightly within the idealism of textbooks and the glossy pages of environmental magazines, but real-world experiences reveal a scattered collection of side effects and limitations that rarely mature into attractive realities.

This talk is based on Ozzie’s forthcoming book, Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism (University of Nebraska Press, June 2012).

This event sponsored by STSC
Article: Going Green? The Dark Side to Solar Energy
“There’s little reason to believe that household photovoltaic arrays and wind turbines do much to help the environment … They are certainly touted as green, but because of their energy footprint of production, toxins, and numerous limitations, they often merely swap one set of side effects for another.”

Ozzie Zehner: Solar panels contain heavy metals that can leach into groundwater when disposed of. Right now, societies are not capable of being powered by alternative energy.
The Dark Side of Solar Energy



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