With the growing human needs, many non renewable resources such as coal, petroleum, natural gas are being depleted. If the rate at which energy is produced using them continues, then the end of such resources is near. Many scientists believe that oil will run out in 53 years while natural gas in 54 and coal in 110 years. The human race has managed to deplete 500 million years old fossil fuels in less than 200 years, which a very alarming rate as compared to the time taken to form these resources. This calls for a need of some alternate energy resources which can give the same amount of energy without any problem of depletion of resources. Such energy resources are called renewable energy resources. Among these resources the two most valuable ones are the wind power and solar power.
While wind energy is generated by converting the kinetic energy of wind into mechanical energy by passing it through a turbine and whereas solar energy is harnessed by solar panels which absorb the sun rays and produce equivalent energy.
Solar energy being the most readily available source of energy puts it a step ahead of wind energy in terms of availability. Solar energy does not belong to anybody and is henceforth free for anyone to use also it is non-polluting. Wind energy on the other hand depends greatly on the speed and direction of wind flowing and hence can be affected. Although for large scale commercial uses wind energy harvesting is a good solution as wind turbines can be readily installed anywhere while installation of solar panels is somewhat a tough task. Smaller wind turbines are however site specific and are not efficient enough. They also require area with above average wind to generate sufficient energy.
Solar panels even though require a more technical aspect but they are efficient enough. Also India is one few countries with long days and plenty of sunshine, hence solar power is quite abundant. Solar thermal energy is being used in India for heating water in both industrial and domestic fields. In Jodhpur a 140 MW integrated solar power plant is to be set up but the expense was very high.
Apart from thermal uses, it can be also used to meet the electric requirements. Solar photovoltaic cells covert solar radiations directly in DC electricity. This energy can either be used or stored in battery for future use. Solar photovoltaic cells have a number of applications including domestic lightning, providing electricity to an entire village, pumping and desalination of water and powering of railway signals. With the technology being developed significantly, solar power has great potential in the near future.
If the potential of both solar power as well as wind power and the other renewable energy resources as well is utilized in the right way with the correct technology it can prove to be quite beneficial and will reduce the load on non-renewable energy resources as well and will also cause less harm to environment.
Article by Saloni Nayyar.