Harnessing Solar Energy

Experts believe that by 2050 solar power could be the largest source of electricity in the world
Representational Image
Representational Image File/ GK

With steady increase in human population, urbanisation, industrialisation, research & development, demand for global energy has risen. The top five types of energy - oil, coal, natural gas (called fossil fuels), nuclear power and the renewable energy have been used to meet the energy demands.

However, oil has been the largest source of energy of the world with its dominance in the transport sector. In India hydroelectricity, natural gas and renewable sources too have been in use with oil leading the contribution.

Energy sources can be classified into two types viz, non-renewable and renewable.

The five major renewable sources are solar energy, hydropower from flowing water, biomass from plants, wind energy and geo-thermal energy from heat inside the earth. Likewise four major types of non-renewable energy are nuclear energy, oil, coal and natural gas.

Limitations of the non-renewable sources of energy have drawn attention of civilization on land to look & think of solar energy above. Solar energy and techniques are not new. History tells that humans since early age used sunlight to ignite fire with magnifying glass material.

The sun is the most reliable, pollution free and the abundant source of power in the world. There can be no gainsaying the fact that the sun has been/is lighting & energising the earth to sustain life on it.

Its light travel at a speed of 1,86,000 miles per second and reaches the earth in about 8.33 minutes covering a distance of about 93 million miles/193 million kilometers which is one astronomical unit (AU). It produces the heat to unbearable temperatures.

Solar energy is the radiation from the sun capable of producing heat with light or generating electricity. Experts believe that by 2050 solar power could be the largest source of electricity in the world.

In its World Energy Outlook Report 2020, the International Energy Agency says that solar power is now the cheapest electricity in history and the technology cheaper than coal and gas in most of the major countries.

Solar energy is any type of energy generated by the sun that can be used directly or indirectly. It is suitable for remote areas as it has no access barriers. It has low emission and provides green jobs.

The sun is one million times bigger than the earth and is our solar system’s most prominent object. Solar system is a conglomeration of the sun, the eight planets & their moons, asteroid, meteoroids and the dwarf planets revolving the sun. It is said that total amount of solar energy received on the earth is vastly more than the current and the anticipated requirements of the world.

“An expanding economy, population, urbanization and industrialization will result in India’s needs growing at three times the global average under today’s policies, according to International Energy Agency’s Indian Energy’s Outlook2021.”

China is said to be number one country in the production of solar energy followed by United States of America, Japan and Germany. In the backdrop of rising demand for energy Government of India launched in 1/2010, the National Solar Mission which was the first mission to be operationalised under the National Action Plan on Climate Change(NAPCC).

NAPCC was launched on 30-6-2008 and included eight Missions with National Solar Mission as the first mission. The objective of the mission was to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating conducive conditions for solar technology diffusion across the country as soon and quickly as possible.

In India 23 states (3/2022) came out with Solar Policy supporting the grid connected rooftop system. In the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore city seems to become a ‘solar city’ on account of its visible signs in the form of photovoltaic installations on its schools, hospitals, government buildings, industrial plants and the private homes.

In a significant development administration of Jammu & Kashmir too approved the installation of grid-tied rooftop solar power plants on Government buildings within the municipal limits of Jammu city by the Jammu Smart City Limited.

As per document the Ministry of Renewable Energy set a target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022 which includes 100 GW from the solar energy, 60 GW from the wind energy, 10GW from the bio-power and 5 GW from the small hydropower.

The initiative appears to have as yet not commenced in case of Srinagar Smart City which was selected as such during 4/2017 under Smart City Mission- a Government of India Programme to mobilise ways & means through area-based and pan city development to provide a decent quality of life to its citizens.

The move to the extent of its successful installation and commissioning will certainly ease the energy requirements besides working as an allurement to others as solar power is by far the most promising energy and its only by product is cheap & clean electricity.

The solar panels work safely and do not increase any hazardous or toxic fumes, gas or waste nor produce any noise pollution as they do not contain moving parts unlike wire-medium over or under ground electricity arrangements. Normally one acre of solar panels produces about 352 MWs of electrical energy per year.

The actual production depends upon location irradiance. Pertinent to mention that according to Energy Statistics India Report 2022 (3/2022) Rajasthan was mentioned to have the highest potential of harnessing 1,42,310 MWs of solar energy in the country followed by Jammu & Kashmir as the second highest repository with potential to harness renewable solar energy of 1.11 lakh MWs.

The report, however, disclosed that vis-à-vis this great strength only 20.73 MWs of installed capacity were generated in Jammu & Kashmir.

With its inevitable adaptation harnessing of solar energy for replenishing the growing demand for energy shall be economical in the long run.

Renewable energy has started playing an increasingly vital role for guaranteeing perpetual supply, reducing consumption of fossil fuels, dependence on exhaustible sources and expenditure on import of oil.

Being cheap and safer investment at individual, corporate and the government level it can help reduce global emission levels by pursuing low carbon development path, reduce electricity bills, make value addition to homes, houses and buildings, ensure regularity and punctuality in supply etc.

Earlier too Jammu & Kashmir was reported to have a potential of producing between 20,000MWs and 30,000MWs of hydro power that may be enough for its needs, and would spare for other states. But the potential harnessed so far is not much satisfactory as J&K still continues to borrow from the central power grid.

These borrowings are also too short to suffice the peak demand in winter. However, with good indicators of the earth and now the sun offering un-jammable & free 24x 7 source of energy it is prayed and expected that strenuous and diligent efforts may be made to better the performance on all the fronts especially on renewable sources of energy now to transform Jammu & Kashmir from poor into a ‘power state’ for a secure and sustainable future.

The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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