Even as we hear everyday that “global warming” is the greatest threat to our life, it is still in the hands of the people across the world to roll it back. Solar energy and other renewable energy sources can perhaps be the panaceas for it, solar energy, non-pollutant and abundant in supply, can be a permanent alternative energy source for the future generations.
Why solar energy
Two excellent reasons for the use of solar energy are the savings and the environment. The earth receives more energy from the Sun in just one hour than the world uses in a whole year. Globally solar is the fastest growing source of energy with an annual average growth of 35%, as seen during the past few years.
Finland is taking a lead in energy issues. While the country uses just as much energy per capita as the US, it produces less carbon-dioxide emissions as it gets almost 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Finland spends 3.5 % of its GDP on research while US spends 2.7%.
Japan having been the host country of the meeting that created the Kyoto Protocol, its industry is one of the most energy efficient in the world. On 3rd Dec 2007, Australia have ratified the Protocol at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia. Yet no consensus has been reached as US rejects the Kyoto protocol on slashing greenhouse gas emissions. China and India have also cited certain conditions that need to be improved. Committed to meeting its Kyoto Protocol target, Australia is hosting the 3rd International Solar Cities Congress at Adelaide from 17th – 21st Feb 2008. The diverse and inspiring program features over 90 speakers from 30 countries, a mayoral forum, panel discussion and field tours. The International Solar Cities Congress is a part of the International Solar Cities Initiative. Its main objectives are to support UN energy and climate policies and to increase the renewable energy and other clean energy forms into urban development. Business is a major focus of the congress.
On the environmental friendly scorecard released by experts at Yale and Columbia universities in the United States, Switzerland ranked on top out of 149 countries. Three European countries-Sweden, Norway & Finland came next, Columbia was ranked 9th, just ahead of France. U.S. wound up in the 39th spot, behind Britain (14th) & Japan (21st). China and India were placed at 105th & 120th. Carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing rapidly in the Asian countries due to industrialization & population growth that four of its countries are among the world’s highest carbon dioxide emitters from fossil fuel. China ranks 2nd today, but may overtake the U.S as the largest emitter by next year. India (4th), Japan (5th) and South Korea (7th).
India is a country blessed with plenty of sunlight, water & biomass, having the world’s largest program for renewable energy. India receives solar energy equivalent to over 5000 trillion kilowatt-hour per year, which is far more than the total energy consumption of the country. The amount of solar energy produced in India is merely 0.5% compared to other sources. Of the multiple uses, three main ways of capturing solar energy are as follows:
1.Solar Cells or Photovoltaic cells that convert light directly into electricity is environmentally friendly. French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered it in 1839. The electricity generated is utilized in different ways directly or through battery storage system. Solar PV has found wide use in rural areas for various purposes besides home lighting. Over two billion people in the world have no access to electricity, so solar PV would be their best alternative source, though it might be little costly. Japan has taken over from the US as the largest net exporter of PV cells & modules. India now ranks 7th place worldwide in solar PV cell production and 9th in solar thermal system. The number of units manufactured of worldwide reached 2,083 megawatts in 2006. Solar PV power generation is the best substitute in remote places.
2. Solar Water Heating, where energy from the Sun is used to heat water in glass panels installed on the roof. Instead of having high electric bills to heat water, solar heater panels can be just as effective, and cuts the fuel bills. Water is pumped through pipes in the panel and the pipes are painted black, so they get hot when the Sun shines on them. Also replacing old water heaters with a new unit of ideal Energy Factor (EF) ratings in case of tank-type water heater could reduce money. Solar water heaters offered the largest potential savings as much as 50% to 85% annually on their utility bills over the cost of electric water heating. Solar water heaters do not pollute, but avoid carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, and other air pollution.
3. Wind Power is the conversion of wind energy into electricity using wind turbines. It is the fastest growing energy source in the world. Wind power which is renewable, clean and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, began its development in India in the 1990s. India now ranks 4th largest installed wind power capacity in the world with Suzlon (a leading global wind turbine manufacturer) having its headquarters in Pune. The installed capacity of wind power in India was 7,660.2 megawatts as of September 2007.
1. Solar energy is free, needs no fuel and produces no waste or pollution.
2. Solar power can be used in remote places where there is no electricity.
3. Handy for low-power use such as solar powered garden lights & battery chargers.
1. Solar doesn’t work at night.
2. Very expensive to build solar power stations.
3. Can be unreliable unless in a very sunny place.
India to present climate change plan in June, 2008
Finland CO2 emissions from power sector fall by 2.7 mn tonnes in 2007
Installed US wind power capacity increased 45% in 2007
French GHG emissions dropped 2.5% in 2006
UK GHG emissions fall by 0.5%, CO2 emissions steady in 2006
German utilities added 2,400 MW capacity in 2007
Spain improves energy efficiency by 0.7% in 2007 for third year running
Philippines to become the first Asian country banning incandescent light bulbs by 2010
South Korea’s GHG emissions set to rise sharply by 38%
Norway`s GHG emissions marginally down in 2006
Shipping accounts for 4.5 per cent of global CO2 emissions
Austria’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.3% in 2006
Though accounting for only 5% of the world`s population, US consumes 26% of the world`s energy
America uses about 15 times more energy per person than does the typical developing country