Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

Off-Gird Solar Electrification Strategies Posing Environmental and Health Risks in sub-Saharan Africa  
Christopher Kinally (The University of Manchester) Alejandro Gallego-Schmid Frank Podd (The University of Manchester, UK) Fernando Antonanzas-Torres

Paper short abstract:

This study describes the informal waste management chain for off-grid solar products in Malawi and finds fatal levels of lead and acid pollution - highlighting the environmental and human health risks of off-grid solar electrification strategies across sub-Saharan Africa.

Paper long abstract:

To address electricity deprivation, the Malawi Government aim for 45% of the population to have purchased short-lived household-scale off-grid solar products (OGS) by 2030, currently in the absence of adequate waste management infrastructure. This study is the first investigation of the management of waste from off-grid solar products (or any form of electronic waste) in Malawi. 50 semi-structured interviews were conducted with stakeholder groups in the informal waste management chain for off-grid solar products (vendors, users, repairers, scrap dealers and recyclers) in the capital city of Lilongwe. The fiscal incentives for the sale of OGS products combined with the lack of legislative capacity to control the quality of the products imported is attributed to an unregulated market of short-lived and counterfeit OGS products. Most concerningly, informal lead-acid battery recycling was found to be practised on the streets of densely populated peri-urban communities, and the recycling of one battery was found to release 3 kg of lead pollution - over 100 times the fatal oral dose for an adult, and 3 kg of sulphuric acid - presenting significant environmental concerns. Hence, this study makes the first connection between national off-grid solar electrification strategies and informal lead-acid battery recycling, known to be a primary vector of lead poisoning in sub-Saharan Africa. This highlights that using OGS technologies as a strategy for sustainable development presents substantial public health and environmental risks across sub-Saharan Africa due to the general absence of sophisticated electronic waste management.

Panel P55
Energy Poverty and Development Transformation
  Session 2 Wednesday 28 June, 2023, -