SOLAR ENERGY HARVESTING
The purpose of this article is to bring light on the “Solar Energy Harvesting – unconventional approach”.
Solar energy is the radiation emitted by the sun which is the life source for all creatures to thrive in the earth. The very basic necessity of the production of food by the plants is from solar energy.
As the necessity of working after sunset rises we have invented a light that glows using electricity. We have started moving away from nature, so we wanted a fan to circulate air. This had given importance to electricity in a wide manner. With the advancement in technology, many electronic components products were made using sand as a raw material. Similarly solar photo-voltaic cells had been invented which can convert solar radiation into electricity. Nowadays, many solar-based products are available, among which let us discuss 3 products. The first two products utilize light and heat energy from the sun directly, but the third product uses light energy and converts into useful electrical energy.
Solar parabolic/box cooker
This product is used to cook the food; the box cooker can cook the food in 2 to 3 hrs. The parabolic cooker can cook faster than a box cooker and is available in different sizes. A parabolic cooker can be used for mass cooking needs, but a box cooker can be used only for household purposes. The parabolic cooker needs attention while cooking unlike a box cooker. Box cookers can effectively be useful for steamed food preparation, but the parabolic cooker can prepare roasted and oily foods also.
Solar water heater
The solar water heater heats the water and stores in the tank provided with the heater. Currently this water heater is used widely for bathing purposes. But it should be used for drinking purposes as well. If we are using fossil fuels and heating the water, it adds up to the atmospheric temperature, which can be avoided if we are using the solar water heater. This water heater can be used in hilly regions too.
Solar power generation
The photo-voltaic cells are manufactured from sand and made into panels of different specifications in a range of as low as 5 Watts to the maximum extent. These cells convert solar light energy into electricity and can be consumed directly or by storing it in the battery. Based on this photovoltaic cell, many byproducts has been designed and produced that uses the electricity from solar panels. While the launch of the solar panels the cost of the product was very high which is not affordable by common people. Though the cost of the product reduces to 80% from 2010 to 2018, still it could not be afforded by many without any assistance from the government.
By 2014 Gujarat government has given Rs. 3 per unit produced and fed to the grid and from 2015, the domestic household producer of electricity is given with a minimum of Rs. 7 to Rs. 10. Still very few had installed PV modules and even the capable people are also hesitating to buy the solar-based products
The basic reason for the hesitation among the people may be the maintenance needed for solar products. To make it clear regular maintenance is required only if we are using the battery for storage purposes, otherwise, there will not be any maintenance required. Even if we are using a battery, the maintenance will be to check and fill the liquid level in the battery. And it needs replacement based on the warranty given by the manufacturer. The lifetime of solar panels is 25 years approximately.
Conventionally, consumers of any product will look for the worthiness of the product and profitability by calculating the lifetime of the product. In this way if we estimate the repaying capacity of the solar system, it comes to 1 to 2% for a year. Hence for the lifetime of 25 years solar could not repay the capital invested. Hence, while thinking of solar any individual or institute or corporate should approach in an unconventional way of social contribution by them.
Let us assume a household is using 1000 units (unit means Kilowatt) in a month if we split up on an hourly basis. The house is utilizing less than 1.5 kW per hour. This house may need a 2 kW solar power generation system to satisfy their electricity need. The house could install 1 kW plant at a time and another 1Kw plant after a year or two. Similarly in corporate who utilizes 10 Mw can install 1 Mw solar plant every year and within 10 years the company will become self-sufficient.
The benefits go as a chain reaction; the largest production method of electricity is thermal for which coal is burned to produce the steam, the coal is excavated from the mining operation. The coal act as a sponge that holds the water under the earth. Hence by switching towards the Solar power solutions, we can able to increase the water-holding capacity of the earth, avoid the earthquake, increases more farming activity, reduce the temperature of the earth. Every individual should attempt to save a small amount of money for installing solar power solutions.
(This was a personal note written by Dr.S.Ragavan, Assistant professor, R.B.Institute of Management Studies, Ahmedabad, Gujarat)