Solar energy India receives solar energy equivalent to over 5000 trillion kWh/year, which is far more than the total energy consumption of the country. Solar energy is the most readily available source of energy. It does not belong to anybody and is, therefore, free. It is also the most important of the non-conventional sources of energy because it is non-polluting and, therefore, helps in lessening the greenhouse effect. Solar energy has been used since prehistoric times, but in a most primitive manner. Before 1970, some research and development was carried out in a few countries to exploit solar energy more efficiently, but most of this work remained mainly academic. After the dramatic rise in oil prices in the 1970s, several countries began to formulate extensive research and development programs to exploit solar energy.
When we hang out our clothes to dry in the sun, we use the energy of the sun. In the same way, solar panels absorb the energy of the sun to provide heat for cooking and for heating water. Such systems are available in the market and are being used in homes and factories. In the next few years it is expected that millions of households in the world will be using solar energy as the trends in USA and Japan show. In India too, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources are formulating a program to have solar energy in more than a million households in the next few years. However, the people’s initiative is essential if the program is to be successful.
India is one of the few countries with long days and plenty of sunshine, especially in the Thar desert region. This zone, having abundant solar energy available, is suitable for harnessing solar energy for a number of applications. In areas with similar intensity of solar radiation, solar energy could be easily harnessed. Solar thermal energy is being used in India for heating water for both industrial and domestic purposes. A 140 MW integrated solar power plant is to be set up in Jodhpur but the initial expense incurred is still very high. Form of Energy : Thermal energy This energy is used for: Cooking/Heating, Drying/Timber seasoning, Distillation, Electricity/Power generation, Cooling, Refrigeration, Cold storage
Some of the gadgets and other devices: Solar cooker, Flat plate solar cookers, Concentrating collectors, Solar hot water systems (Domestic and Industrial), Solar pond, Solar hot air systems, Solar Dryers, Solar timber kilns, solar stills, Solar photovoltaic systems, Solar pond, Concentrating collectors, Power Tower, Air conditioning, Solar collectors, coupled to absorption, Refrigeration systems. Solar energy can also be used to meet our electricity requirements. Through Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) cells, solar radiation gets converted into DC electricity directly. This electricity can either be used as it is or can be stored in the battery. This stored electrical energy then can be used at night. SPV can be used for a number of applications such as: a. domestic lighting b. street lighting c. water pumping d. desalination of salty water e powering of remote telecommunication repeater stations and f. railway signals.
HOW MUCH BIOMASS IS THERE? In terms of energy content the total annual production of biomass is estimated at 2,740 Quads (1 Quad = 10,000,000,000,000,000 Btus). Biomass production is about eight times the total annual world consumption of energy from all sources (about 340 Quads). Therefore, biomass represents a very large energy resource. At present the world population uses only about 7% of the annual production of biomass. Therefore, we are only partially exploiting nature's abundant renewable resource. WHAT IS THE COMPOSITION OF BIOMASS? The chemical composition of biomass varies among different species, but in general biomass consists of : 25% lignin 75% carbohydrates or sugars. Within this range of lignin and carbohydrates most species also contain about 5% of a third portion of smaller molecular fragments called extractives.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BIOMAS? The most important advantage of biomass is that it is everywhere and very easily available. In the agriculture industry, residuals like bagasse (fibers) from sugarcane, straw from rice and wheat, hulls and nutshells, as well as manure lagoons from cattle, poultry and hog farms are usable. Similarly, the timber industry has a lot to offer. Wood wastes like sawdust, timber slash and mill scrap are considered organic materials. Even in cities, paper and yard wastes are usable. Fully utilized biomass reduces pollution in underground water bodies by offsetting the amount of waste in landfills. Methane and other poisonous gases that form from dead organic matters can be found in landfills and water treatment plants. Economic benefits : Rural economies will grow because of the development of a local industry to convert biomass to either electricity or transportation fuel. Because biomass feedstocks are bulky and costly to transport, conversion facilities will be located where the crop is grown. That means more people have chances of getting employed. Farmers will see their income rise thanks to these new markets -- for both agricultural wastes and crops that can be grown sustainably on marginal land. As new markets are created, the rural economy will become more diversified
Energy benefits : Energy producers and consumers will have available a renewable energy option with uniquely desirable characteristics. Biomass has the greatest potential of any renewable energy option for baseload electric power production. It is also the renewable resource with the most promise for producing economically competitive liquid transportation fuels. Co-production facilities will allow the production of electricity when it is needed and ethanol when it is not -- acting, in effect, as "seasonal peaking" facilities. These new technologies will reduce our reliance on oil and coal with no net addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. New thermal conversion techniques coupled with chemical catalysis are making it possible to exploit the previously discarded lignin fraction by converting it into valuable chemicals that we now get from non-renewable fossil sources.