Publications by authors named "Parikhit Sinha"

8 Publications

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The impact of photovoltaic (PV) installations on downwind particulate matter concentrations: Results from field observations at a 550-MW utility-scale PV plant.

J Air Waste Manag Assoc 2017 10;67(10):1126-1136

b Global Sustainability , First Solar , Tempe , AZ , USA.

With utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) projects increasingly developed in dry and dust-prone geographies with high solar insolation, there is a critical need to analyze the impacts of PV installations on the resulting particulate matter (PM) concentrations, which have environmental and health impacts. This study is the first to quantify the impact of a utility-scale PV plant on PM concentrations downwind of the project site. Background, construction, and post-construction PM and PM (PM with aerodynamic diameters <2.5 and <10 μm, respectively) concentration data were collected from four beta attenuation monitor (BAM) stations over 3 yr. Based on these data, the authors evaluate the hypothesis that PM emissions from land occupied by a utility-scale PV installation are reduced after project construction through a wind-shielding effect. The results show that the (1) confidence intervals of the mean PM concentrations during construction overlap with or are lower than background concentrations for three of the four BAM stations; and (2) post-construction PM and PM concentrations downwind of the PV installation are significantly lower than the background concentrations at three of the four BAM stations. At the fourth BAM station, downwind post-construction PM and PM concentrations increased marginally by 5.7% and 2.6% of the 24-hr ambient air quality standards defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, respectively, when compared with background concentrations, with the PM increase being statistically insignificant. This increase may be due to vehicular emissions from an access road near the southwest corner of the site or a drainage berm near the south station. The findings demonstrate the overall environmental benefit of downwind PM emission abatement from a utility-scale PV installation in desert conditions due to wind shielding. With PM emission reductions observed within 10 months of completion of construction, post-construction monitoring of downwind PM levels may be reduced to a 1-yr period for other projects with similar soil and weather conditions.

Implications: This study is the first to analyze impact of a utility photovoltaic (PV) project on downwind particulate matter (PM) concentration in desert conditions. The PM data were collected at four beta attenuation monitor stations over a 3-yr period. The post-construction PM concentrations are lower than background concentrations at three of four stations, therefore supporting the hypothesis of post-construction wind shielding from PV installations. With PM emission reductions observed within 10 months of completion of construction, postconstruction monitoring of downwind PM levels may be reduced to a 1-yr period for other PV projects with similar soil and weather conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10962247.2017.1343210DOI Listing
October 2017

Life Cycle Assessment of Solar Photovoltaic Microgrid Systems in Off-Grid Communities.

Environ Sci Technol 2017 01 23;51(2):1043-1052. Epub 2016 Dec 23.

First Solar , 350 W. Washington St., Suite 600, Tempe, Arizona 85281, United States.

Access to a reliable source of electricity creates significant benefits for developing communities. Smaller versions of electricity grids, known as microgrids, have been developed as a solution to energy access problems. Using attributional life cycle assessment, this project evaluates the environmental and energy impacts of three photovoltiac (PV) microgrids compared to other energy options for a model village in Kenya. When normalized per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed, PV microgrids, particularly PV-battery systems, have lower impacts than other energy access solutions in climate change, particulate matter, photochemical oxidants, and terrestrial acidification. When compared to small-scale diesel generators, PV-battery systems save 94-99% in the above categories. When compared to the marginal electricity grid in Kenya, PV-battery systems save 80-88%. Contribution analysis suggests that electricity and primary metal use during component, particularly battery, manufacturing are the largest contributors to overall PV-battery microgrid impacts. Accordingly, additional savings could be seen from changing battery manufacturing location and ensuring end of life recycling. Overall, this project highlights the potential for PV microgrids to be feasible, adaptable, long-term energy access solutions, with health and environmental advantages compared to traditional electrification options.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b05455DOI Listing
January 2017

Potential environmental hazards of photovoltaic panel disposal: Discussion of Tammaro et al. (2015).

Authors:
Parikhit Sinha

J Hazard Mater 2017 Feb 11;323(Pt B):733-734. Epub 2016 Apr 11.

First Solar, 350 W. Washington St., Suite 600, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA. Electronic address:

In their recent publication in Journal of Hazardous Materials (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2015.12.018), Tammaro et al. evaluate the potential environmental impacts of an illegal disposal scenario of photovoltaic panels in the European Union. Critical assumptions that underlie the study's conclusions would benefit from clarification. A scenario of photovoltaic panels finely crushed and abandoned in nature is not supported with field breakage data, in which photovoltaic panels remain largely intact with a number of glass fractures or cracks, as opposed to breakage into cm-scale pieces. Fate and transport analysis is necessary to evaluate how leachate transforms and disperses in moving from the point of emissions to the point of exposure, prior to making comparisons with drinking water limits. Some hazardous metal content has declined in both crystalline silicon and thin film panels, including a 50% decline in semiconductor material intensity in CdTe thin film panels (g CdTe/W) from 2009 to 2015. Waste laws, recycling requirements and minimum treatment standards under the EU WEEE Directive, and illegal disposal rates affect the accuracy of forecasts of releasable metal amounts from PV panels in Europe through 2050.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2016.04.021DOI Listing
February 2017

Cadmium telluride leaching behavior: Discussion of Zeng et al. (2015).

Authors:
Parikhit Sinha

J Environ Manage 2015 Nov 28;163:184-5. Epub 2015 Aug 28.

First Solar, 350 W. Washington St., Suite 600, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA. Electronic address:

Zeng et al. (2015) evaluate the leaching behavior and surface chemistry of II-VI semiconductor materials, CdTe and CdSe, in response to pH and O2. Under agitation in acidic and aerobic conditions, the authors found approximately 3.6%-6.4% (w/w) solubility of Cd content in CdTe in the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP), Waste Extraction Test (WET), and dissolution test, with lower solubility (0.56-0.58%) under agitation in acidic and anoxic conditions. This range is comparable with prior long-term transformation and dissolution testing and bio-elution testing of CdTe (2.3%-4.1% w/w solubility of Cd content in CdTe). The implications for potential leaching behavior of CdTe-containing devices require further data. Since CdTe PV modules contain approximately 0.05% Cd content by mass, the starting Cd content in the evaluation of CdTe-containing devices would be lower by three orders of magnitude than the starting Cd content in the authors' study, and leaching potential would be further limited by the monolithic glass-adhesive laminate-glass structure of the device that encapsulates the semiconductor material. Experimental evaluation of leaching potential of CdTe PV modules crushed by landfill compactor has been conducted, with results of TCLP and WET tests on the crushed material below regulatory limits for Cd. CdTe PV recycling technology has been in commercial operation since 2005 with high yields for semiconductor (95%) and glass (90%) recovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.08.015DOI Listing
November 2015

Fate and transport evaluation of potential leaching risks from cadmium telluride photovoltaics.

Environ Toxicol Chem 2012 Jul 17;31(7):1670-5. Epub 2012 May 17.

First Solar, Tempe, Arizona, USA.

Fate and transport analysis has been performed to evaluate potential exposures to cadmium (Cd) from cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaics (PV) for rainwater leaching from broken modules in a commercial building scenario. Leaching from broken modules is modeled using the worst-case scenario of total release of Cd, and residential screening levels are used to evaluate potential health impacts to on-site workers and off-site residents. A rooftop installation was considered rather than a ground-mount installation because rainwater runoff is concentrated via building downspouts in a rooftop installation rather than being dispersed across large areas in a ground-mount installation. Fate and transport of Cd from leachate to soil are modeled using equilibrium soil/soil-water partitioning. Subsequent migration to ambient air as windblown dust is evaluated with a screening Gaussian plume dispersion model, and migration to groundwater is evaluated with a dilution-attenuation factor approach. Exposure point concentrations in soil, air, and groundwater are one to six orders of magnitude below conservative (residential soil, residential air, drinking water) human health screening levels in both a California and southern Germany (Baden-Württemberg) exposure scenario. Potential exposures to Cd from rainwater leaching of broken modules in a commercial building scenario are highly unlikely to pose a potential health risk to on-site workers or off-site residents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.1865DOI Listing
July 2012

Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. institutions of higher education.

J Air Waste Manag Assoc 2010 May;60(5):568-73

O'Brien & Gere, Blue Bell, PA, USA.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission estimates from signatories of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) were compared across Carnegie institutional classifications. Average annual emissions from all institutional classifications are 52,434 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E), with emissions from purchased electricity, stationary combustion, and commuting accounting for approximately 88% of total emissions. Average annual emission intensity from all institutional classifications is 19.39 MTCO2E per 1000 gross square feet (GSF) and 7.67 MTCO2E per full-time equivalent (FTE) student. In 2005, U.S. institutions of higher education accounted for approximately 121 million MTCO2E, or nearly 2% of total annual U.S. GHG emissions. For reference, these emissions are comparable to approximately one-quarter of those from the state of California. Because ACUPCC signatories represent over 30% of U.S. higher education enrollment, their long-term commitments to carbon neutrality can result in a measurable reduction (approximately 0.6%) of total annual U.S. GHG emissions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3155/1047-3289.60.5.568DOI Listing
May 2010

Evaluation of a risk-based environmental hot spot delineation algorithm.

J Hazard Mater 2007 Oct 6;149(2):338-45. Epub 2007 Apr 6.

O'Brien and Gere, 512 Township Line Road, Two Valley Square, Suite 120, Blue Bell, PA 19422, USA.

Following remedial investigations of hazardous waste sites, remedial strategies may be developed that target the removal of "hot spots," localized areas of elevated contamination. For a given exposure area, a hot spot may be defined as a sub-area that causes risks for the whole exposure area to be unacceptable. The converse of this statement may also apply: when a hot spot is removed from within an exposure area, risks for the exposure area may drop below unacceptable thresholds. The latter is the motivation for a risk-based approach to hot spot delineation, which was evaluated using Monte Carlo simulation. Random samples taken from a virtual site ("true site") were used to create an interpolated site. The latter was gridded and concentrations from the center of each grid box were used to calculate 95% upper confidence limits on the mean site contaminant concentration and corresponding hazard quotients for a potential receptor. Grid cells with the highest concentrations were removed and hazard quotients were recalculated until the site hazard quotient dropped below the threshold of 1. The grid cells removed in this way define the spatial extent of the hot spot. For each of the 100,000 Monte Carlo iterations, the delineated hot spot was compared to the hot spot in the "true site." On average, the algorithm was able to delineate hot spots that were collocated with and equal to or greater in size than the "true hot spot." When delineated hot spots were mapped onto the "true site," setting contaminant concentrations in the mapped area to zero, the hazard quotients for these "remediated true sites" were on average within 5% of the acceptable threshold of 1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2007.03.086DOI Listing
October 2007

Evaluation of statistical methods for left-censored environmental data with nonuniform detection limits.

Environ Toxicol Chem 2006 Sep;25(9):2533-40

O'Brien & Gere, 512 Township Line Road, Two Valley Square, Suite 120, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania 19422, USA.

Monte Carlo simulations were used to evaluate statistical methods for estimating 95% upper confidence limits of mean constituent concentrations for left-censored data with nonuniform detection limits. Two primary scenarios were evaluated: data sets with 15 to 50% nondetected samples and data sets with 51 to 80% nondetected samples. Sample size and the percentage of nondetected samples were allowed to vary randomly to generate a variety of left-censored data sets. All statistical methods were evaluated for efficacy by comparing the 95% upper confidence limits for the left-censored data with the 95% upper confidence limits for the noncensored data and by determining percent coverage of the true mean (micro). For data sets with 15 to 50% nondetected samples, the trimmed mean, Winsorization, Aitchison's, and log-probit regression methods were evaluated. The log-probit regression was the only method that yielded sufficient coverage (99-100%) of micro, as well as a high correlation coefficient (r2 = 0.99) and small average percent residuals (-0.1%) between upper confidence limits for censored versus noncensored data sets. For data sets with 51 to 80% nondetected samples, a bounding method was effective (r2 = 0.96 - 0.99, average residual = -5% to -7%, 95-98% coverage of micro), except when applied to distributions with low coefficients of variation (standard deviation/micro < 0.5). Thus, the following recommendations are supported by this research: data sets with 15 to 50% nondetected samples--log-probit regression method and use of Chebyshev theorem to estimate 95% upper confidence limits; data sets with 51 to 80% nondetected samples-bounding method and use of Chebyshev theorem to estimate 95% upper confidence limits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1897/05-548r.1DOI Listing
September 2006