“Solar power is not all sunshine. It has a dark side—particularly in developing countries,” reports a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, engineering professor.
From the media release:
A study by Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, found that solar power heavily reliant on lead batteries has the potential to release more than 2.4 million tons of lead pollution in China and India.
Lead poisoning causes numerous adverse health effects, including damage to the central nervous system, the kidneys, the cardiovascular system, and the reproductive system. In children, blood lead concentration is associated with learning impairments, as well as hyperactive and violent behavior.
His study, co-authored with Perry Gottesfeld of Occupational Knowledge International (OK International), appears in the September issue of the journal Energy Policy.
Lead pollution predicted to result from investments in solar power by 2022 is equivalent to one-third of current global lead production. The researchers, who relied on official government plans for deploying solar power to make these projections, also found that the countries have large amounts of lead leak into the environment from mining, smelting, battery manufacturing, and recycling—33 percent in China and 22 percent in India. Also, a large percentage of new solar power systems continues to be reliant on lead batteries for energy storage due to the inadequate power grid in these countries.
The study’s release comes on the heels of reports of a large number of mass lead poisoning incidents around lead battery recycling and manufacturing plants in China and the announcement that the country recently closed 583 of these facilities.
Ain’t no sunshine, when there’s lead pollution.