Lead in Perovskite Solar Cells
This is an interesting study concerning the environmental impact of lead in perovskite solar cells, a photovoltaic technology that has attracted significant attention recently owing to its excellent performance and promise of lower cost compared to conventional and other alternatives. It is of note because it explores the impact on plants of the use of lead in such solar cells and provides evidence that this is something that should be considered with great care.
Prof Christos Markides, Head of the Clean Energy Processes (CEP) Laboratory in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, said:
“Concerns relating to the widespread deployment of lead-based perovskite solar cells have been raised for some time, given that these toxic materials are soluble in water, so contamination can lead to environmental but also health issues once they enter the food chain.
“I would consider it a bold assumption that the entire lead content of a solar panel is being dispersed to the ground below, however the study demonstrates that we may need to conduct further testing to fully understand the impact of these materials on our environment, especially over large areas and long periods of deployment. In parallel to this, research into (lead-free) tin-based perovskite solar cells has been on-going to provide alternatives, but these have not yet shown the level of performance achieved with lead. In either case, non-trivial stability issues remain that act to limit the lifetime of such panels. With the growing need and continuing trend to secure our energy from renewable sources, and especially given the important role of solar energy, it is vital that further research is done on these and other technologies to overcome challenges and to ensure that these are affordable, safe and sustainable."
‘We should be worried about lead in halide perovskites’ by Junming Li et al. was published in Nature Communications at 4pm UK TIME on Tuesday 21 January 2020.