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Pollution hampers solar potential


An MIT research scientist is shining a light on the negative impact air pollution is having on solar power’s potential.

Ian Marius Peters led the study, published recently in the journal, Energy & Environmental Science, and summarised today in an MIT news release.

In 2013 Ian’s then co-worker, Andre Nobre from Cleantech Energy Corp, was keen to quantify the impact pollution and haze has on solar energy output. They found the effects were ‘substantial’, and in data gathered in Delhi, where the pollution was constant, discovered that the reduction in output was around 12%.


“When you’re doing project planning, if you haven’t considered air pollution, you’re going to undersize, and get a wrong estimate of your return on investment,” said Peters.


The Delhi study was followed with research on 16 cities worldwide, with negative effects ranging from 2% in Singapore to over 9% for ‘Beijing, Dakha, Ulan Bator, and Kolkata’.

Mitigating the negative health impact of pollution should be all the inspiration policy makers need to enact initiatives to help reduce it, Peters said, but he said the study would “hopefully be another small piece of showing that we really should improve air quality in cities, and showing that it really matters.”

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