Environmental Sustainability – Solar Power

Environmental Sustainability – Solar Power

By Research Analyst: Jungmin Lee

What is environmental sustainability?

As humans have been trying to live a better life, the technologies were advanced through generations. However, there were bad sides of advanced technologies too, for instance, air pollutants, water pollution and depletion of natural resources. Therefore, it is vital to sustain the environment. Environmental sustainability is the all time duty to conserve natural resources and maintain global ecosystems for current and future health and well-being. Environmental sustainability also includes the care and protection of animals and plants as humans can not maintain an existence without them.


There are many ways to sustain the environment such as using sustainable energies, avoiding using plastics, and recycling paper or plastics. This paper will introduce solar power.


Solar Power


Solar power or solar energy is the conversion of sunlight energy into electrical energy using different technologies like photovoltaic cells. It is one of the renewable energy sources that can replace coal energy and is the most abundant energy on Earth. Solar energy gives energy that humans require but produces no pollution. Solar power uses 2 technologies which are photovoltaic (PV) cells and concentrated solar power (CSP).


Photovoltaic cells


The photovoltaic cell was first developed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s. It directly converts the sunlight energy to electric current using photovoltaic effects. The accessibility and maintenance are considered easy and cheap compared to other renewable energies. However, it cannot store the thermal or electrical energy, therefore it is inefficient to use in places where it receives less sunlight. Moreover, the panels are very fragile and additional costs may be incurred.



Figure 1.  Diagram of photovoltaic cells



Concentrated Solar Power


Concentrated Solar Thermal (CSP) systems generate electricity by turning the sun’s energy into high-temperature heat through the use of various mirror configurations. CSP is an indirect method for producing alternating current (AC), which is then easily distributed on the electricity system. The advantage of CPS is that  Thermal Energy Storage (TES) methods can be used in CSP systems to store energy. As a consequence, they may create electricity even when there is little to no sunshine, such as on overcast days or at night. However, CSP necessitates an enormous area of land to operate, making it uneconomical in densely populated regions.


Figure 2. Diagram of the process of concentrated solar power

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