What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the energy available from the Sun in abundance. This is the source of energy we feel every day and life on earth is possible only because of this form of energy.
The energy available from the sun can be of two types, viz., heat and light. Both these forms of energy from the Sun are abundant and easily available. Solar energy is so abundant, that we use only a fraction of energy as compared to the energy available from the Sun.
All that climate change, pollution and its effects and depletion of fossil fuels can be countered if we can harness this abundant, or probably, the most abundant source of energy. Both, heat and light can be used in different ways to utilize solar energy to suit our needs.
Sun, both historically and mythologically, is considered to be god in several cultures around the world. Probably, older civilizations knew the importance and the abundance of solar energy. With the technology of their time, they used solar energy to fulfill their needs. They created buildings, in accordance with the alignment of Sun during various times of the day to receive both light and heat. They also used mirrors to direct sunlight to places where reach of sunlight was difficult.
With today’s technology we can go much further. We have devised technology which is getting better day by day and our efficiency of converting solar energy to our use is increasing with this enhancement. Most of the technology used by ancient civilizations were of passive type, but, now we have active systems. Now, we can generate electricity through solar and transport it to far off locations. Or, we can just go, off grid. Now, we can provide electricity in off-grid and remote locations by generating it locally at these locations form this abundant Sun’s energy.
Why need Solar Energy?
The biggest advantage of solar energy is that, it is a clean form of energy. It is sustainable and is not going to end any time soon. Although Sun is billions of years old, it is believed that, Sun will remain as it is for more than another billion years as well. So, we don’t have to worry about it being exhausted.
You earn from solar energy. You create a stable and reliable passive income from your solar plant. First of all, there are various subsidies, tax benefits and incentives provided by the Government of India you can benefit from. These incentives really help in getting Return on Investment (ROI) faster. Further, electricity rates are generally in slabs (especially, in residential sector) which depend on consumption of electricity. The prices for electricity keep on increasing as the consumption of electricity increases. By installing a solar plant in your house, you can drastically reduce or even nullify your electricity consumption from the grid. This will either nullify your electricity bill completely or you’ll pay for the cheapest electricity rates. For Example, you install a 5 kWp solar plant at your house. Yearly you can generate approximately 8100 units from this solar plant. If you assume a unit of electricity to be ₹5/-. You can save approximately, ₹40,500/- in the first year itself. Solar plant life is considered to be of 25 years. Over this period, you can earn lakhs of Rupees from solar energy. In other words, you can have a return of 10% per year from a plant as small as 5 kWp. This becomes your passive income and you can become rich!. You will earn even more, installing bigger plants. To read more about, how you can earn from solar energy, click here.
Our world is going through a major climate change revolution. Earth is becoming hotter day by day and polar ice caps are melting. Many species are now on the verge of extinction. Recently, a heart-wrenching pictures of a starving polar bear on an ice-less land went viral. Stories and pictures of polar ice melting and assumptions by various experts, organizations and individuals on what will happen if all polar ice melts, creates quite a lot of buzz on internet from time to time. Also, there are theories of glaciers melting completely, causing rivers to become extinct which have always been lifelines of various civilizations, which they continue to be even today. Changes is monsoon, reflecting in inadequate rainfall at some places and more than normal at others is also an effect of climate change. Same is true with other seasons, as winter in some countries have become worse while in some others, there are no winters at all. Today, snowfall is happening in deserts while no snow fall happens in hill stations who used to get snowfall every year in the past. All these circumstances are effects of global warming caused by release of green house gases such as carbon dioxide which is again a result of human interferences with nature.
Today, our cities and towns are becoming more populated and polluted day by day to the extent that, they are causing several respiratory and cardiovascular health issues to the people living in these cities. People wearing masks to protect themselves from air pollution is a common sight in global cities such as Beijing and New Delhi. Asthma, stroke, heart attacks and even cancer are some of the diseases caused by this pollution. A few years back, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal shared the picture of lungs affected by pollution on twitter which went viral. It is believed by some researchers that, children living in these cities have lungs of chain smokers by the age of eleven. It is believed that, as many as ten thousand people die prematurely every year in India’s capital city of New Delhi due to air pollution. There are days when the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches beyond seven hundred in some of these cities. All these side effects show, how the pollution is increasing to an alarming level.
Apart from these environmental issues, the growing in availability of conventional sources of energy such as coal, natural gas and oil are the reasons to migrate to clean or renewable form of energy. It is vastly believed that, these natural resources will probably last only a century more, if they are continued to be depleted at the same rate as today. This forces us to find and develop new sources of energy and probably renewable this time, so that, we don’t have to look in another direction any time soon. Also, focusing on clean energy will counter of climate change problem. This will not only help us to reduce the depletion rate of these fossil fuels but will also help us in keeping the price of these fossil fuels lower than otherwise.
Many cities in the world are still energy deficit. That means, there are long hours of power cuts and there are even places where electricity has still not reached. These places are off the grid and to make life easier for people living in these cities, we need to provide electricity. Solar energy is the most viable option in these places.
Among renewable sources of energy, solar energy is the most important because it is most widely available and with today’s technology, it is very easy to harness this source of energy.
Some causes of Pollution and how Solar Energy counters it
There are several causes of this air pollution in our towns and cities which lead to various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and eventually, to climate change. Some of these factors are:
- Industrial Pollution which is caused by burning of fossil fuels,
- Electricity generating thermal power plants on the outskirts of these major cities, and
- Vehicular pollution
These are some of the major causes of air pollution and these can be eliminated by using solar energy. The pollution caused by burning of fossil fuels can be eliminated completely by generating electricity using solar energy as it doesn’t produce any kind of air pollution. While heating water or some other chemical either in homes or factories causes air pollution which can be again eliminated using solar thermal applications or by generating electricity from solar which in turn can heat water.
Now days, extensive research is being done on electric vehicles, which are being thought of as the future of transportation. These electric vehicles can be charged by electricity generated from solar energy. Solar energy vehicles are also being researched these days and impressive designs and concepts are coming up by various designers and engineers.
Noise pollution from generation of electricity from fossil fuels can also be eliminated. Solar energy generates electricity in a noiseless fashion. In other words, electricity generation from solar energy is completely a silent process. Also, you may have seen electric cars or scooters or rickshaws lately. They operation is completely silent, eliminating further noise pollution.
Solar Energy Potential
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in its World Energy Assessment in 2000 found that the annual potential of solar energy was 1,575–49,837 exajoules (EJ). This is several times larger than the total world energy consumption, which was 559.8 EJ in 2012. This when seen on pie chart is something as below.
This large magnitude of solar energy available makes it a highly appealing source of energy. Not only solar energy is abundant, it is spread all over the world. Solar Energy is not like other sources of energy which are present in high quantities at one place and absent at another places. It is not a localized form of energy owned by certain countries. Everybody receives Sun’s energy all over the world. It is just that tropical countries receive a bit more as compared to polar countries. We can say that, solar energy is an universal energy and can utilized by all regardless of their location.
How to use Solar Energy?
The easiest and the most modern way to employ solar energy is by converting it into electricity using solar panels and then using this electricity to power our homes, streets, factories and offices etc.
The efficiency of solar panels have come a long way since its invention. With new inventions and employing better materials than earlier, the efficiency of solar panels is increasing with time. Now, solar panels can generate much more electricity than they could ever produce. Also, loss in generation due to temperature variations are minimized with progress in technology. Today, solar panels are so efficient and powerful that they can power the entire building and even whole localities and cities. There are various cities and even countries around the world eyeing to source all their energy needs from solar.
Further, solar panels are long life devices. Generally, they come with performance warranty of 25 years. These are static devices as they do not contain any moving parts. So, they are highly reliable and doesn’t wear and tear off with operation.
Also, solar panels are minimal maintenance devices. Only periodic washing is required to maintain them. The period of washing depends upon location. The cleaner your city is, lesser washing of solar panels is required.
Using this method of utilizing solar energy, you can create a passive income out of installing solar panels. To read more about it, click here. So, install a solar plant and become rich by fulfilling your needs and saving the planet!