This is our last lesson of three that are tied to the broader impacts of solar design. In Lessons 8, 9, and 10 we have been addressing the Goal of Solar Design by helping the client to manage risk in the given locale. This lesson deals with risk in terms of uncertainties that are encompassed in the long-term time horizon of projects as they have societal and environmental impacts.
Sustainability plays a major role in focusing our views of solar energy deployment and managing long-term risks (generational time scales). This lesson tries to encompass those broader impacts of developing a renewable energy project and addresses the motivation for sustainability system thinking in project design. We frame this lesson in terms of sustainability ethics and ecosystems services, and we will develop our activities this lesson around discussions and essays. You will be using the answers from your Learning Activity to inform the broader impacts section of your final projects.
We are often reminded of how energy technologies, when deployed on a large scale (natural gas, oil production, coal combustion, etc), will have significant environmental impacts that are disruptive to the global, regional, and local ecosystems. I want you each to consider how large-scale solar energy deployment can also induce ecosystem change and reduction in ecosystems services, which must be avoided in future project development. This lesson will build upon the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that was called for in 2000 by the United Nations.