The environment and energy sector of ICT development often runs into many problems associated with unreliable and inconsistent power supplies, which hinder the ability for many technologies to function successfully. Solar power technology is a great alternative to extensive national power grids and fossil fuel-based energy sources. The Earth receives more light-generated solar power in an hour then humans could use in a year. There are two different types of solar energy. Solar thermal energy collection, which uses the heat from the sun, and photovoltaic energy, which comes from the conversion of sunlight into power (associated with the solar panels that people are most familiar with). Despite the sustainable and “green” benefits, solar power remains an underutilized option due to it being more expensive than traditional fossil fuel-based alternatives. However, solar power will soon become a more common option as innovations lower the price and the cost of fossil fuels continue to rise.
No one doubts the importance of emphasizing green technologies in order to reduce our overall impact as far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned. However, there are also many benefits to ICT and its energy and environment sector. As this article points out, solar wifi, solar phones, and solar radios are all technologies that have been implemented in developing countries. Solar wifi has been installed in Panama and Senegal, Solar phones have been distributed in Haiti, New Guinea, and Kenya, and Solar radio has been used by engineers in Peru to support the development of health services (check out their work, here). Despite all the ICT benefits of solar energy, there is, of course, the basic improvement in quality of life. 1.5 billion people have no access to electricity, and “for these people, even access to a small amount of electricity could lead to life-saving improvements in agricultural productivity, health, education, communications and access to clean water.”