Solar industry's lead emissions

“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.

5 thoughts on “Solar industry's lead emissions”

  1. Crap, there goes the cost for my bullets.

    Add to this the insanity of Hg in CFLs (curly-fry light) bulbs. EPA is making us spend $10 billion/yr (plus capital costs) to remove 48 tons/yr of Hg from power plants. Then we turn around and put over 3 tons/yr of Hg into CFLs sold in America, which will also ultimately get into the environment and undoubtedly expose people to 100s of times higher ambient air Hg levels than power plants ever will. But hey, the fish will be Hg free.

  2. There is no doubt that a large proportiion of superannuated and pollution spouting coal fired power plants remain in America. But it is the EPA and the eco nitwits fault. Those plants were supposed to be replaced by the nuclear plants of the 1970s and 1980s. But the baby was htrown out with the bathwater, by the eco nit-wits, and their political allies.

    Mr. Carter was pursuaded to mandate best available technology on any plant being significantly upadated. Meanwhile unchanged plants were grandfathered to allow to continue to spout pollution without check.

    The predictable result was no or very minimal updates, of old coal plants to include any pollution control equipement; and a lot of them forced to continue to be run because their nuclear replacements were cancelled.

    you cannot suddenly demand that thes ebe cleaned up in less time than it rtakes ot build replacements or even to add pollution limiting equipment. Once again nit-wits are in charge.

  3. Yes, the battery issue is usually glossed-over. But what about the huge carbon dioxide footprint of these solar panels? It is never admitted, but the production of silicon releases very large amounts of CO2 during the smelting of the silicon metal from quartz ore (not sand) The amount of CO2 emitted in the carbothermic reduction of silicon probably exceeds the weight of the silicon produced, although this number is never published. The “carbon debt” incurred in the production of polycrystalline silicon solar cells is so large the cells must remain in operation at full capacity for several years before they have “paid back” that debt. Try and get an Environmentalista to admit to this inconvenient truth.

  4. Forget about the lead . . . from an engineering economic standpoint, it is completely unfeasable. In any event, over time, its real costs are horribly high, especially when compared with coal fired plants. CO2 is the source of all of the oxygen in the air that we breath, and the source of all the food that we eat . . . Biology 101.

  5. But, but . . . . Do we really want to cool the climate? What was it like during the last period of a cooler climate? Answer: Crops failed, people starved, civilization was challenged, and about 30% of the World’s population died of disease related to the cooler climate. And it is possible that the cool period which marked the end of the Roman Imperial warm period was in fact one of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Take a look at Randazzo and Jones Geology of Florida. In one chapter there is a curve, attributed to Haq, which demonstrates that global cooling in the past happened much more rapidly than global warming. Global cooling periods, as illustrated by sea level drop, happened very quickly. Sea level rise (a result to global warming) happened much more slowly.

    I think we should beware experiments to cool the climate. They might work. And they might have a massive negative effect on the lives of millions of people, with the poor suffering the most.

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