P4 Sun, Earth, energy, climate change
This exhibition illustrates, at the microscopic scale, one primitive form of massive energy consumption (which started with coal, followed by), along with one of the most modern and clean energy technologies: the photovoltaic cell. The first relied on a natural product, formed in ancient geological eras from solar energy collected through photosynthesis, and the second is a product of modern technology. Photosynthesis is one of the most admirable and important biological functions of nature, just as the solar cell represents one of the finest application of material science, in turn derived from quantum and statistical physics.
Science and technology bring solutions and improvements to all orders of the human life, but they do so at the cost of increased energy consumption, pollution and waste. The well-known law stating that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed from one form to another, is followed by another:
it transforms poorly.
This is mostly true of energy consumption, but not so much of energy production: in photovoltaic cells energy transforms pretty well, since it does not undergo a "heat phase", thus avoiding most degradation.
The problem with energy is not limited to supplying enough to cover our needs. The word "needs" itself requires qualifications that make the problem both deeper and more far-reaching: it is a problem of global economy, of geopolitics, and, above all, of environmental health for the human species. Although it is a well-known fact (despite not always being well-accepted and commonly not well-managed), the author of these images underlines that the exponentially increasing degradation brought along by our use of energy is generating an irreversible environmental process of extremely detrimental consequences: climate change.
Despite the above, the choice of images made by Antonio Romero conveys hope for our
civilization: from carbon, a polluting source of energy which has been extracted at an immense cost of human effort and suffering, he leads us to a clean technology and energy source. In addition, the manufacture of photovoltaic cells is carried out through highly automated and computer controlled processes, and by a
Antonio Romero is not the detached author of this images: he wants to share his vision, his intention, and his inspiration regarding energy as the second greatest global concern for human kind, only after food. He has put together a well-reasoned set of images, extracted for the farthest reaches of nature and technology, and captured with his refined technique
and photographic mastery.
Professor of Applied Physics at the University of Granada (Spain)