We are delighted to publish the third and final blog written by Mariana Cover, who is undertaking a three month placement with Better Solar supporting the development of an international network working to support social and environmental justice across global solar supply chains. The placement is funded by the LCEDN and is based at the University of Edinburgh.
After three months of hard work, the Better Solar Network has been formed and launched!
This novel network, supported by the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network, currently involves over 30 members, between organisations and academics, who work for promoting a more sustainable and ethical solar industry around the world. As said in the previous blog, the network was launched at the Capitalising on the Sun workshop where we charged ourselves with new challenging and energizing ideas.
How are the extractivist activities are affecting communities, their livelihoods and culture? How can we talk about carbon neutral renewable energies if these depend on intensive extractivist activities? What types of jobs is the solar industry generating and who profits from these? Is it an inclusive industry? Are we reducing inequalities or increasing power imbalances? Who is really benefiting from renewable energies? What happens to the solar technology once it stops functioning? Can they be easily recycled or reused? Can the solar industry be part of a circular economy? How can we work to make the solar industry better?
These were just some of the questions discussed during the workshop, which was a starting point of a critical conversation between academics and practitioners. This was a unique opportunity to compare what is being researched with what is being done in the field and explore how can we join efforts and reduce the gap between academia and practice. The workshop topics, as can be seen in the questions, were aligned with Better Solar’s action areas: Mining, land, labour and waste in the solar industry.
But, what next?
These questions are challenging and overwhelming to address all at once. Hence, we set our first steps to organise the network and take it from an idea to action. Our first step will be to start a Better Solar’s news feeds with information related to the solar industry and/or that the members of the network are managing. Through this, the network will work as a channel to keep all the members connected to discuss and implement new forms of research, advocacy and action.
Better Solar plans to continue generating new spaces of discussion, through webinars and workshops, to keep on bringing together researchers, campaign groups and organisations that are interested and to work towards making the solar industry a better alternative. Better Solar is, then, starting to take its first steps to renew the promise of solar energy.