A Chronological Analysis On The Driveway To Solar Energy

By Nisshtha Ghai

The successful drive through of a sunlight powered steam engine in France in the year 1866 marked the official invent of a new power that is solar energy. Thereafter began the making of solar powered mechanisms for devices to be used for the purposes of irrigation, transport and refrigeration. The blueprint of these inventions shows the empirical evidence of concentrated solar plants. The transformation into modern solar technology can be accredited to Bell Laboratories who, in the year 1954, developed a photo voltaic cell that served the purpose of converting light into electricity. Since then, there have been global uses of solar energy for purposes varying from agricultural to aero- transport.

To understand the working of solar energy, it would be pertinent to look into its types. Direct energy works using singular conversion method of sunlight to put it to mechanical use and indirect sunlight uses multiple conversion method. The active mode uses both mechanical and electrical devices to seamlessly process the sunlight components into mechanical devices and passive mode works through non- mechanical components by controlling and divulging the solar light. The usual wonderment about its advantage over the electric power is obvious, so here it is. Generation of solar energy does not produce any CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, thereby making it an environment friendly source of energy. It is renewable hence the users do not have to worry about saving up the power for the future generations or restricting its use. Since no fuel is required, the photo voltaic setup does not require huge investments; in fact, it is lesser than the budget required to setup electric power in buildings and at homes. This makes it cost efficient.

An additional advantage that the solar energy has over the electric energy is that it does not require surface mounting. Hence, it can be easily installed at any place without bringing in the brick and mortar. The opponents of this energy have stated two facts, first being that it would be rendered useless when the quantum of sunlight would be less and that the radiations affect the animals in a harmful manner. These views have been negated by the scientists who have proved that the solar panels are capable of catching the remote rays of the sun and storing them up in a backup. Hence, when the sunlight is not available in abundance, the backup energy can be used. The counter argument to the second claim is that the panels comply with the dark light fixtures and are available in LED friendly spectrums that are harmless for every living being. So, it more or so depends upon the user and the government that can make note of these technicalities.

No longer a dream that only rich can afford, the credit of easy purchase and installation of solar panel goes to the advanced industrialization and marketing schemes that the 21st century brought with it. With the availability of DIY panel kits, one can do the mechanical work by oneself. The uses of solar energy can be classified into, residential and geographical. Residential uses include channelizing the solar energy for cooking food, charging batteries, running garden equipments, heating devices and the list goes on. Photo electric power is the newcomer to the solar town. It links the panels on a surface at one point to inwardly channelize the rays, thereby making use of inverter that converts the DC current into AC power. This AC power is then used to power the devices that require electricity to charge and work.

A geographical use indicates the use of solar power to charge up the stations and equipments in remote areas and places where electricity is required but no present in adequacy. Antarctica is one such place. It stays in dark for almost six months of the year thereby receiving no sunlight during that duration at all. However, with the advent of solar panels, the circumstances have changed. Further, the governments have started installing road signs and checks that use solar energy to detect vehicles and their speed limits, thus lessening the burden on the state for deploying cops at remote areas.

In several places, changes have been brought to the meter checks where the usage of electricity is lined up with the use of solar panel. This is similar to the Net Metering policy in USA where the charge is calculated separately for electric power and solar power and then the charge is determined by reducing solar power from electric power. The US government has rolled out a Power Purchase Agreement which allows the house owners to lease solar equipment from private companies and sell the surplus energy thus generated to others. This is not to suggest that the entire framework is cheap. However, after a cost saving for a few couple of years, the electricity at home becomes entirely free of cost.

The modernization of solar power can be seen in the market factors which suggest that the prices have dropped. The government of India also took some initiatives to advance the societies into turning to renewable sources of energy, thereby presenting the environment factor. The SECI[1] scheme was launched to install large scaled solar projects with an additional purpose of channelizing the public sector. It further embargoed upon VGF[2] and MNRE[3] schemes and has till date completed 46.5% of the projects. It further entailed the Rooftop scheme by setting its target to completing 40 GW solar capacities of rooftops by the year 2020. Additionally, to spread the solar power usage in the societies, the government launched a subsidy scheme setting a plan according to which anyone who installs the administered capacity of solar panel and uses that energy at his house would be eligible for the government subsidies.

So far, this scheme has brought about a lot of changes since many citizens have gone with the installation of solar panels, thus reducing the electricity usage and lessening the burden on power generation.  As one would propose the idea of financial support for these projects, MNRE can be cited as the perfect solution to the dilemma. Under the Solar Park Scheme[4], it launched the funding initiative directed towards the government projects.

Not a baby project anymore, solar energy can be effectively used in an extensive manner.


[1] Solar Energy Corporation of India, founded on 9 September, 2011; Location: New Delhi

[2] Viability Gap Funding

[3] Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, launched in December 2014

[4] Launched by MNRE in the year 2016

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