In the present world where there seems to be a crisis for resources and energy, we are easily neglecting the most abundant and effective resource available to all of us. We all need energy to drive our appliances, equipment and to fulfill our basic necessities. We often make use of resources that are both not giving us enough value as a resource and are not abundant in the world at the moment, creating differences between nations and countries where the resources are abundant.
Most of the fuel used these days is based on fossil fuels which is either oil, natural gas or coal. Oil does carry a very high combustion value. Combustion value or the calorific value of any material is the total amount of heat energy released when that particular substance is gone through the process of combustion (under the presence of oxygen and optimum conditions). A higher calorific value means that more energy is produced after burning that substance, that energy is used to drive a particular mechanism such as a turbine to drive power through the system. This is one of the most important criteria in selecting a fuel for long term use along with a few others.
One other important criteria is how abundant the fuel is. It should be widely available so that more and more applications could be built around that working for future use. There is no point in selecting a fuel that is not available across the globe or could not be in some way or the other transported to different parts of the world as it would reduce its usage drastically due to obvious reasons. The fuel should also be easily storable. The fuel needs to be of nature that it can be stored for longer durations as sometimes the usage is not as high as it seems or could be preserved for future use.
The technology of interest here is solar technology, if we test the use of solar energy as a fuel on all of the above mentioned criterias, it passes all of them and some other with flying numbers. Solar energy first of all is abundant in all most all of the world barring a very few exceptions that include countries with very less population and very less demand of energy. Sun as we all know it is, rises in every country with its lights shining all directions providing us with endless source of energy. We took our inspiration from the very first food producers in every food chain that is the plants. Plants use energy from the sun and use it to make food for themselves as well as a wider ecosystem. Using sun as our primary source could also help us in lessening our dependence on resources that are both limited in quantity and a reason for dispute among countries.
A solar panel comprises of photovoltaic cells that when struck with high energy particles (photons) from the sun, knockout some of the electrons in the existing atoms of the materials in the solar panel causing a flow of electrons to generate electricity. These photovoltaic cells are generally a layered structure of silicon which is doped with other materials giving it either positive or negative charge. Few other components are vital in making the whole process to work. Metal conductors are an essential prerequisite as the flow of electrons needs to be carried towards a particular location preferably wires.
Solar cells or plates when used fully can be of great value, seeing this more and more research and development is going in this particular subject. Scientists and engineers have managed to develop solar plates that are both flexible and stretchable so that they can adapt to variety of roof sizes or locations so that none of the sunlight goes wasted.
Solar energy is not limited only to power generation but also has wider applications. Concentrated solar plants are being built and researched as what they do is contrate all of the solar energy using parabolic troughs to a single location generating a high impulse of energy that can be used to do a variety of purposes. One such purpose is desalination of water, to make fresh water available in remote areas where there are not enough facilities nor enough fresh water.
Solar energy could be of immense benefit to the current world as we are needing more and more resources to drive all of our appliances as they are basically electronically derived circuits using electrical energy for even basic functions. Analog machines have become obsolete and as much disadvantages they used to have, they did have the ability to perform some functions on their own if their power supply ran out.
Incorporating solar energy on individual basis at our homes, offices reduces a lot of the cost we are paying in our electricity bill as this resource comes with no taxes or limitations. By using this resource, we are not violating anyone’s area or rights or creating trouble for the government or anyone else. This also lessens the burden on the national grid of the country as is the case with most of the third world countries, where load shedding is routine and some of the times the most important of places such as hospitals and schools don’t get the desired energy. Solar energy boosts the independence of countries as we all know oil is not a resource available in all the countries. They have to import oil and then spend extra cost on refining it and laying infrastructure in creating effective and safe transport systems.
Apart from the high initial cost of solar energy it covers brilliantly after the first installations as it has basically very less line losses. The electricity needs to be transferred from the roof of buildings to the buildings rather than far, distant power houses increasing cost of cables, maintenance and losses between them.
One added and probably the most valuable advantage that it carries over oil or any other fossil fuel is that it produces energy without any pollution or hazardous conditions. Fossil fuels when burnt produce large quantities of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are a primary reason for global warming. Nowadays, more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that climate change and global warming are not only harming the natural topographical features of different parts of the world but also making life on earth very much miserable for the general public. A large amount of carbon and pollutants in the rain has devastating effects on the environment. It not only creates an unappealing environment but also has far wider implications that include acid rain, melting of ice caps and a disturbance in the natural food chain and ecosystem of the entire world.
Concluding the debate, solar energy is one of the very few solutions that need to be looked upon very seriously as it carries enormous benefits for both long-term and short-term usage. Shifting to solar energy will not only help countries develop but also have some positive impact on the environment which so needs our help.