Introduction

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The conversion of energy is directly related to the pollution in terms of greenhouse gas emission caused by the power plants. The major greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are causing global warming to the environment and hence there is a need to find out alternatives to produce energy in an environmentally benign way. The photovoltaic technology, amongst the others, is one that can be a novel alternative to this problem. The renewable energy sources such as hydro, solar, biomass, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave, ocean thermal are beneficial for electricity production as they cause less greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere. Some of the renewable technologies like geothermal can be beneficial as it has an ability to provide power continuously whereas some (solar, wind) can provide it continuously by using a storage device like battery. Hydro uses the immense potential energy from water to produce electricity but the social impact is also large as it requires displacement of people to build a dam or retaining wall. The solar energy technology is acceptable in this regard and beneficial for rural development. The solar energy applications in photovoltaic can be beneficial wherever the electrical energy is needed. Based on the requirement of electrical energy various systems came into existence. The photovoltaic technology is pollution free and it uses solar energy that is freely and immensely available. Another advantage with the PV technology is that it causes less harm to the environmentally in terms of greenhouse gas emission during the operation and hence is environment friendly. The intermittency of solar radiation can be a limitation to the technology as it cannot supply electricity continuously during the off sunshine periods, but this problem can be encountered by using battery storage. However, there is a need to understand the application of this technology to make it feasible for its users. For example, to water a field, a farmer can use a solar water pumping system during day time and get benefited by the technology as he does not have to worry about the unwanted load shedding or power failure or to pay bills for the electrical

I. Dincer et al. (eds.), Global Warming, Green Energy and Technology,

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-1017-2_3, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

power consumptions. Another example could be solar street lighting; the electricity converted by PV panels during the sunshine hours can be stored in a battery and can be utilized to power the street lights in the off sunshine periods.

In this chapter, we aim to discuss and compare the non-conventional (renewable) energy sources for electricity generation and their role in sustainable development. The impact of electricity generation on environment by the various renewable sources namely hydro, solar, biomass, wind, geothermal in terms of greenhouse gas emission is also discussed. Solar energy application in photovoltaic technology is discussed for different types of photovoltaic systems and their various applications other than electricity production. An analysis is performed based on exergy efficiency for photovoltaic systems. The sustainability index is also studied as a key parameter with the exergy efficiency for better sus-tainability of the system.

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