Edited by Rafael Leal-Arcas and Jan Wouters
Chapter 25: Renewable energy, waste management and the circular economy in the EU: solar PV and wind power
Renewable energy is perceived as a primary ingredient in the world’s transition to a green, clean, low-carbon sustainable economy from a brown, dirty, high carbon unsustainable one. The global renewable energy installed capacity, especially for wind and solar, has increased rapidly in the last decade as countries have adopted laws and policies to mitigate climate change and air pollution, as well as improve energy security. As the sector matures the focus on renewable energy needs to turn to consider system infrastructure design to ensure that the take-make-dispose rationale that contributed to the unsustainable fossil fuel economy is not perpetuated under the guise of a green low-carbon economy. The EU is a leader in installed solar PV and wind energy capacity. It also has a well-established waste management legal framework that is based on hierarchy and producer responsibility principles. This chapter considers how the EU is responding to the future challenges that waste management from end of life cycle solar PV panels and wind turbines poses. It questions whether steps taken to date are in line with the more advanced agenda laid out in the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan (2015) which calls for a paradigm shift in developing law and policy that pursues holistic sustainability goals in relation to resource management throughout the value-supply chain.
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