Solar industry responsible for lead emissions in developing countries

Aug 31, 2011

Solar power is not all sunshine. It has a dark side -- particularly in developing countries, according to a new study by a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, engineering professor.

A study by Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, found that heavily reliant on lead batteries has the potential to release more than 2.4 million tons of lead pollution in China and India.

causes numerous , including damage to the , the kidneys, the , and the . In children, blood lead concentration is associated with learning impairments, as well as hyperactive and .

His study, co-authored with Perry Gottesfeld of Occupational Knowledge International (OK International), appears in the September issue of the journal .

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.

"Investments in environmental controls in the lead battery industry, along with improvements in battery take-back policies, are needed to complement deployment of solar power in these countries," said Cherry. "Without improvements, it is increasingly clear that the use of lead batteries will contribute to environmental contamination and lead poisoning among workers and children."

The battery industry is the largest consumer of lead, using approximately 80 percent of global lead production. Lead battery manufacturing is growing rapidly in much of the world to meet demand for batteries for solar power and other applications. With the authors' projected emissions, they say this will impact public health and contribute to environmental contamination.

"The solar industry has to step up and take responsibility for ensuring that their lead battery suppliers are operating with adequate controls as long as they are going to be reliant on this technology," said Gottesfeld. "Without major improvements in the manufacturing and recycling lead batteries in these countries, we expect that lead poisoning will increase as the industry grows."

The projections outlined in the study, while based on plans articulated by these two countries, are likely to be repeated throughout much of the developing world, such as in Africa.

Explore further: New battery technology for electric vehicles

Provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville

3.7 /5 (3 votes)

Related Stories

Battery Wrapped in Solar Cells Recharges in the Sun

Mar 02, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Although you can buy solar charging devices for rechargeable batteries, it would be even more convenient if batteries had built-in solar cells. Sitting in sunlight, the battery could then ...

Sharp develops intelligent power conditioner

Feb 22, 2011

Sharp Corporation has developed the Intelligent Power Conditioner that enables batteries in electric vehicles to be used as storage batteries for the home. Sharp will be conducting exhaustive tests to confirm ...

Recommended for you

New battery technology for electric vehicles

6 hours ago

Scientists at the Canadian Light Source are on the forefront of battery technology using cheaper materials with higher energy and better recharging rates that make them ideal for electric vehicles (EVs).

Company powers up with food waste

Nov 19, 2014

Garden products company Richgro is using Western Australian food waste to power their operations in a new zero-waste system.

User comments : 10

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shakescene21
3.5 / 5 (4) Aug 31, 2011
Why doesn't Prof. Cherry attack the Automobile industry, which uses far more batteries than solar?
Given that China and India have been two of the world's fastest growing auto markets, most of the battery manufacturing and recycling sites he mentioned were probably focussed on car batteries.
sirbibo
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2011
The lead pollution has nothing to do with the solar industry... The problem is the lead battery itself, or maybe even lead itself. Otherwise, that's like saying that the automobile industry causes pollution because fuel motor emits CO2... Change the fuel motor for an electric motor, and then the problem's gone. It has nothing to do with the automobile industry itself.
jonnyboy
2.3 / 5 (10) Aug 31, 2011
You just gotta love those greenies, never think anything through, just storm ahead on whatever path takes their fancy.
freethinking
1.8 / 5 (6) Aug 31, 2011
Go solar and you die of lead pollution. Go with biofuels you starve. Believe in global warming, you make Al Gore and his friends rich beyond belief, while they fly in their private jets, drive in their monster SUV's, live in their mansions lite with incandecent lights, us commoners will have brain damaged starving children. However the good news is we will have Obamas substandard health care to look forward to.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (6) Sep 01, 2011
You just gotta love those greenies, never think anything through,

On the contrary: gotta love the greedy guys who want to have everything cheap, cheap, cheap.

From the article
found that solar power heavily reliant on lead batteries

Ok..This is a problem of lead batteries - not solar. You CAN couple solar with lead batteries (but you can do so with any other energy source).
That they chose to couple their solar plans with setting up large lead battery arrays is unfortunate.
But I really have to wonder: How exactly does this make solar not an ecological technology and not just lead batteries?
freethinking
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 01, 2011
Antialias, I'm sure you go to the store and look for a product, then search out the most expensive version of that product,even if it is less reliable than the cheaper version, then pay more for that product than what they are asking for it.

BTW I'm all for solar and would convert my house to solar IF I had more disposable income, even IF it is more expensive. Why? Because I like to live off the grid. So if Obama could get the economy going again, which I doubt, if he would lower taxes, which I doubt, I would be greener than I am already.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Sep 01, 2011
I'm sure you go to the store and look for a product, then search out the most expensive version

I go look for the qualitative best product (which usually means that it's not manufactured in some cheap sweatshop). This is usually more expensive but I find that, on average, pays off in the long run. (Note that this excludes items which are overpriced because they are marketed to the 'luxury' crowd)

Though this means that I cannot buy everything I want at the same time that I want it. Consequently I have to stagger my purchases to coincide with available funds. But since it saves me money in the long run (not having to rebuy failing, cheap junk nearly as often - from shoes to clothes to household items to cars) I can, overall, have more (and higher quality) stuff than others.

Buying (more expensive) quality items makes sense.
210
not rated yet Sep 01, 2011

I go look for the qualitative best product (which usually means that it's not manufactured in some cheap sweatshop). This is usually more expensive but I find that, on average, pays off in the long run. (Note that this excludes items which are overpriced because they are marketed to the 'luxury' crowd)
Though this means that I cannot buy everything I want at the same time that I want it. Consequently I have to stagger my purchases to coincide with available funds. But since it saves me money in the long run (not having to rebuy failing, cheap junk nearly as often - from shoes to clothes to household items to cars) I can, overall, have more (and higher quality) stuff than others.
Buying (more expensive) quality items makes sense.


SHUCKS 'anti-' I know this is going to piss u off but, I finally like-agree with something u posted...darn it, dag-nabbit, shoot, bummer!
word-to-ya muthas
bewertow
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2011
^ Why is this story being trolled by Republican retards?
unknownorgin
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2011
Perhaps the "engineering" professor could design a cost effective energy storage system to replace lead-acid batterys. It should be easy to find a replacment system because it will not have to be compact and lead acid-batterys do not last long so they are expensive.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.