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Climate change has necessitated the transition from non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas to renewable, low-carbon energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric. These energy sources, although much better equipped to reduce carbon-induced climate change,

Climate change has necessitated the transition from non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas to renewable, low-carbon energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric. These energy sources, although much better equipped to reduce carbon-induced climate change, require materials that pollute the environment when mined and can release toxic waste during processing and disposal. Critical minerals are used in low-carbon renewable energy, and they are subject to both the environmental issues that accompany regular mineral extraction as well as issues related to scarcity from geopolitical issues, trade policy, and geological rarity. Tellurium is a critical mineral produced primarily as a byproduct of copper and used in cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar panels. As these solar panels become more common, the problems that arise with many critical minerals’ usage (pollution, unfair distribution, human health complications) become more apparent. Looking at these issues through an energy justice framework can help to ensure availability, sustainability, inter/intragenerational equity, and accountability, and this framework can provide a more nuanced understanding of the costs and the benefits that will accrue with the transition to low-carbon, renewable energy. Energy justice issues surrounding the extraction of critical minerals will become increasingly prevalent as more countries pledge to have a zero-carbon future.
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    Title
    • Viewing Tellurium Production and Usage in Solar Panels Through an Energy Justice Lens
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    Date Created
    2022-05
    Resource Type
  • Text
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