7 Feb 2013

Solar Energy: A Ray of Big Hope for India and the World Amidst Heavy Power Crisis Around the Globe!

Solar energy is the definitely most important form of energy having tremendous opportunities for fulfilling the power needs of billions of the people across the world. Every hour the sun beams onto our planet Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year. The energy of the sun has been getting used by human beings as far back as our species homo sapiens have existed on this planet. As far back as 5,000 years ago also, people "worshiped" the sun. We have example like "Ra", the sun-god, who was considered the first king of Egypt. In Mesopotamia, the sun-god "Shamash" was a major deity and was equated with justice. In Greece there were also two sun deities, "Apollo" and "Helios". The influence of the sun also appears in other religions like Hinduism,Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, the Aztecs of Mexico,Roman religion, Buddhism, the Druids of England,  the Incas of Peru, and many Native American tribes.

Photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things like spacecraft, rooftops, solar cookers, solar heaters and handheld calculators are made of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips. When sunlight hits the solar cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cell, they generate electricity.

Plants use the sun's light to make food for them by photosynthesis. Animals eat plants or plants products for food. Eventually decaying plants and animals , hundreds of millions of years ago produced the coal, oil and natural gas that we use today for our major power needs. So, fossil fuels are also actually related to solar energy only. One or another way,we can say that the sun or other stars are responsible for all forms of existing energy. Even huge nuclear energy comes from a star because the uranium atoms used in nuclear energy were created in the fury of a nova – a star exploding.

Few industries have increased in size dramatically over a relatively in a very short span of time. The computers industry is an absolute example. Solar energy business is booming like anything nowadays.Its due to a high level of awareness came into people in last decade when whole world is suffering severely from power crisis.New manufacturers for solar energy products are appearing almost daily. We can easily see the current trend in which,many new solar product innovations are announced just as fast, and existing products are even getting more and more refined, improved, and lowered in price. It's a very exciting time for the persons involved in the various solar energy industries, and this heightened focus translates to better deals for the consumers and end users, whether that is going to be residential, commercial, government or other sectors where solar energy could be harnessed.

Solar energy usage is very much wider in several fields. One of the biggest area is solar water heaters, whether for residential or commercial the use of the sun's heat to warm a potable water supply instead of electricity is a very efficient method and truly cost-effective beyond doubts.Solar HVAC systems,solar batteries, battery-backed off-grid systems, solar farms and more are at the forefront of the solar power world innovations, with many more to come in coming near future. If we would analyse,we can see,on a much larger scale, solar thermal power plants employ various techniques to concentrate the sun's energy as a heat source. The heat produced is then used to boil water to drive a steam turbine that generates electricity in much the same fashion as coal and nuclear power plants, supplying electricity for thousands of people causing a great deal for renewable forms of energy which can be considered as a superb ray of hope and aspirations for the world community.

Solar energy is considered as an inexhaustible fuel source that is pollution and often noise free. If we will look for examples, then we would be very happy that solar cells generate energy for far-out places like far satellites in Earth orbit and cabins deep in the Rocky Mountains as easily as they can provide power for downtown buildings and futuristic cars. But few drawbacks are also with the solar energy like it doesn't work at night without a storage device such as a battery, and cloudy weather can make the technology unreliable even during the day. Solar technologies are also very expensive at the start and require a lot of land area to collect the sun's energy at rates useful to lots of people.The barren lands,sea shores etc can be used for this purpose.In India, several state governments are taking vital steps for solar energy.Still we are far behind.


Quick facts for solar enengy:

  • One kilowatt-hour (kWh) equals the amount of electricity which is needed to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
  • A one kilowatt peak solar system generates around 1,600 kilowatt hours per year in a favorable sunny climate and about 750 kilowatt hours per year even in a cloudy climate.
  • A solar energy system can provide electricity 24 hours a day if the solar electric modules are combined with the batteries in one integrated energy system.
  • Solar modules produce electricity even on cloudy days which is obviously very low, usually around 10-20% of the amount produced on sunny days.
  • Important components of a solar home system include the solar module, an inverter, a battery, a charge controller (sometimes known as a regulator), wiring and support structure.
  • A typical silicon cell solar module can have a life in excess of 20 years.
  • Assuming 100% absorption of solar energy, it takes about eighty-eight minutes of solar radiation to cover for overall human energy consumption for a whole year! That sounds really interesting. Isn't it !! 
  • However, actual absorption of solar radiation is limited to about 1% leaving 99% of solar radiation energy being wasted.Its a very challenging thing for the world community to increase the consumption level as much we can do as soon as possible for a bright future.
  • Solar energy striking the Earth goes about 50% absorbed by Earth itself while 30% of solar energy is being reflected back into space.

 The main advantages of solar energy systems:

    • Solar energy is totally free and abundant supplied by nature itself.
    • Solar energy systems are almost fully environmentally friendly – as an alternative green energy source.
    • Solar panels can be easily placed in residential or office areas in on or off grid installations.
    • On grid solar panel installations supply generated electricity to the power network which can be used by  mass.
    • Off-grid solar panels store generated electricity for its own use like in private country farms and remote areas.
    • Solar panels cost has been continuously falling and is expected to continue on a diminishing turn in the future also; this means that Photo voltaic panels will gradually become economically more suitable.

 The main disadvantages of solar energy systems:

    • As we all know that solar energy is directly dependent on weather conditions; thus solar energy without any energy storage equipment (especially in cloudy, rainy weather conditions) is considered highly unstable and unreliable energy source.
    • Although the cost of solar panels etc on a falling trend but its still high compared to other conventional alternatives – that is why, solar energy systems need to be supported by financial incentives for solar energy initiatives to off-set their initial investment by the government bodies. International institutions should come forward aggressively to make the solar energy most famous form on the planet earth.

 Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission by the Ministry of New and Renewable energy, Government of India is obviously a very big step towards utilizing solar energy, which is widely available across the vast geographies of India.

Solar energy is having a very high potential to serve the world's energy needs. Governments all round the world must give more attention on these prospects. Awareness in society is very much needed for the different equipment and usage of solar energy.

What are your views on the usage of solar energy and its future in India's and world prospective?

What can be done by the government regarding solar energy?



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