In Singapore, a grade 10 student worries about the huge amount of electricity used by his school.
He knows that electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel, which pollutes the atmosphere and depletes natural resources.
So along with his classmates, he raises enough money to install solar panels on the school roof.
Greta Thunberg initiated the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement.
Hemal Arora picked up the thread and contributed towards a healthy future.
Why Solar Power?
People are always searching for an original idea.
An idea that will help in the progress of mankind and also preserve the surrounding nature – flora and fauna.
Our scientists and innovators looked around and found an abundance of sunlight.
They just had to find a way to trap the heat and light energy in the sunlight.
This led to the invention of solar panels, which evolved into a major energy resource for satellites and an alternative way to generate electricity.
This source of energy did not have a waste by-product.
It’s free and will always be available.
The concept of solar energy has become very popular.
It has found its way into homes and industries.
Manufacturers have come forward with less costly solar power generation units, thus making it more affordable.
Governments are also giving incentives to their people, who are investing in this environment-friendly, pollution-free alternative.
The dual benefits of it are:
1) Solar energy does not create any waste by-product, and
2) It lessens the use of fossil fuel, which will be available for a limited time, and thus reducing air pollution, which is inevitable with fossil fuel combustion.
The most harmful by-product of burning fossil fuel is carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide from vehicles, furnaces, room heaters, lawnmowers, grills, etc.
Solar power is the most ecologically beneficial answer to the greenhouse effect.
It’s estimated that if we can effectively convert the sunshine on earth for 1 hour only, it will be enough to provide electricity globally throughout the year.
Electricity generated from solar power is cheap in the long run.
After an initial investment in solar panels and connecting them to the devices, no other expenditure is needed.
Now, you can enjoy clean energy all year long without worrying about bills.
The life of a solar panel is about 25 years, and in the long run, it proves to be very cost-effective.
Health Benefits of Solar Energy
While converting solar energy to heat energy or electricity, there is no harmful gas emission or any waste by-product.
Thus it helps to keep our surroundings clean and our atmosphere free of pollutants.
This has a positive influence on our health as we’re no longer exposed to toxic gases, dust particles, or other waste products that are formed when fossil fuel is burnt.
People with respiratory and cardiac problems have benefited from using solar-powered energy.
Solar Power is the In Thing
Countries are heavily investing in solar energy.
They find it a viable alternative to the traditional ways of generating electricity.
The other sustainable sources of energy, which are gaining popularity, are wind, water, and geothermal energy.
Sweden has taken the lead to do away with fossil fuels and generate electricity 100% from renewable resources by 2040.
Costa Rica will have no carbon emissions by 2021.
Nicaragua has invested heavily in generating electricity from natural resources.
Scotland has tapped wind energy to provide almost 98% of its total electricity requirement.
Germany aims to generate 65% of its electricity from natural and renewable resources by 2030.
Uruguay is now almost 100% generating electricity from solar and wind resources.
Denmark has the highest amount of electricity generated from wind in the world. It also uses solar energy towards its sustainable commitment.
China is investing heavily in solar and wind energy.
Morocco has invested in the largest solar power plant.
Solar energy together with wind and water energy are expected to generate 50% of the country’s electricity requirement by 2020.
The USA has come up with several incentives for solar panel installation.
After China, it generates the highest amount of electricity from wind energy.
Kenya hopes to generate at least half of its electricity needs by using geothermal and wind energy.
Other countries are also striving towards this clean source of energy – our nature.
The greatest concern is to save ourselves and the earth from the garbage of the civilized race.
Solar Panels in Our Homes
We all know that solar panels are expensive.
It’s mostly used to power space stations.
So how are they useful to us?
My husband bought some solar-powered garden lamps.
They even doubled up as insect repellants.
And they were not expensive at all – quite affordable.
I noticed the following benefits:
- They work with sunlight
- Charges the battery during the day
- No electricity connection required
- No need for ugly wires
- Space looks clean
- Switches on when daylight is minimum
- Works on its own
- LED lights go on forever
- Are not affected by rain
- Not affected by wind since they are on the ground
- Can be installed anywhere
- Mostly comes with a stake, which helps in installation
- Comes in many colors and designs
- They’re durable and value for money
- Pleases the aesthetic sense
I will now speak about some common uses of solar-powered devices, apart from garden lights, which I have already discussed.
1. Solar Light
Very useful when outdoors or camping.
It’s a bulb connected to a solar rechargeable battery.
The solar battery needs 8 hours of sunlight to be fully charged.
The LED light is durable and can light up the immediate surroundings.
On a full charge, it can stay lighted for 8 hours.
It’s light in weight and eliminates the need for burning precious fuel.
It does not harm or pollute the surroundings.
2. Solar Batteries
We have found a way to manufacture electricity from solar energy or sunlight.
But we need the electricity most when the sun sets and darkness sets in.
Therefore, we need batteries to store electricity that can be used later.
Sometimes the batteries discharge over time when not in use.
So they must be regularly charged.
Their capacity to store electricity also varies.
You should check how long the battery will produce electricity.
Also, how many electric devices can be connected to it.
The batteries come with a guarantee and safety guidelines.
Many online sites also allow you to compare the products of different companies.
This way, you can buy a battery that best suits your needs.
3. Solar-Powered Water Pumps
These pumps solve your irrigation needs.
They’re useful in greenhouses or for small farming.
Powered by solar energy, it can be used to distribute rainwater collected in a water butt.
It’s natural and pollution-free.
Though it can be programmed to water at intervals, it has a special detector to vary the quantity and time to water according to the prevailing weather conditions.
The watering technology used is the drip-water system, which not only economizes the use of water but also ensures optimum use.
4. Solar Christmas Decoration Lightings
A huge amount of electricity is used to illuminate your lovely homes during festivities.
These solar-powered Christmas string lights not only save your money but are safe to use.
As we all know, the sun-powered battery stores energy during the day to use it at night.
The added benefit is that we don’t have to remember to switch it on.
It illuminates when the daylight is the weakest and beautifies your home throughout the night, without charging an extra cent to your utility bill.
They’re children-friendly and comes in attractive colors.
5. Solar Mobile Phone Charger
Known as a power bank, this device is useful indoors and outdoors.
While camping or hiking in remote places, this helps you to keep in touch with your family and friends by charging your phone.
As it uses sunlight to charge your phone, it’s cost-effective and can be used anywhere during the day.
Most of the power banks are durable and water-resistant.
They’re light and small and easily fit into the backpack.
It comes with an LED torch, which functions to give light and also to warn.
6. Solar Car Battery Jump Starters
During long trips when we park the car at night and find a place to sleep, we sometimes wake up to a dead battery, especially during winter.
For these times, the solar jump starter is very useful.
It usually works with little sunlight.
It can be also be used to charge your cellphone, torch, or laptop.
7. Solar Garden Pumps
Fountains are an integral part of a beautiful garden.
A small water fountain adds humidity to the atmosphere.
The sound of the water makes the garden vibrant.
As the pump works on the Sun’s energy, it’s also not wasting any electricity.
It’s capable of working in a little amount of water.
Recycling the water ensures minimum wastage.
However, it functions only during daylight.
Therefore, it will not work at night.
As it needs to be only submerged in water, it can be used in birdbaths or in small pools.
The above are only a few examples of the use of solar panels.
We have solar-powered calculators, solar-powered outdoor, garden and street lights, solar-powered motion detector emergency lights, and so on, which can be found in almost all homes.
The greatest advantage of using these are:
1. Solar panels do not absorb the same amount of solar energy throughout the day.
In peak summer, it works best between mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
The rest of the time, solar energy absorption and conversion are not at its best and become weak with decreasing daylight.
Therefore, the efficiency of the solar panel does not depend upon the daylight, but the intensity of the sunlight.
2. We must be aware of our individual electricity usage.
Even things like a charger, blow dryer, and microwave should be taken into account while calculating the electricity consumption.
3. Also, we can switch to energy-saving devices, like LED lights, to minimize electricity usage.
4. Before installing a solar power system, you must be aware of its capacity and whether it will be able to match your expectations.
For example, a system, which is designed to charge a mobile phone only cannot be used to charge your car battery.
5. Also, the installation should be done efficiently.
A friend had it installed to provide power to his house.
There was a sudden current surge, and few of his electric devices were burnt beyond repair.
Certain factors like which way it’s facing, the angle of its mount, and whether there is enough air space contribute to its efficiency and longevity.
6. A little bit of research is necessary before buying a solar power apparatus to ensure its feasibility and viability.
7. Before going full-scale reliant on solar power generated electricity, we must be able to predict those times when more power is consumed than usual.
For example, the arrival of a family to live with you or a party.
For these times, there must be provision for an alternative source of energy if your system is not able to generate the extra Watts.
8. The solar panels take up a lot of space, and a certain amount of space is necessary to generate a certain amount of electricity.
Ongoing research on efficient space utilization will eventually reduce the required installation area.
Market research can help to find out about the latest innovations available in the market.
Recycle the Solar Panels
Broken or expired solar panels must be properly disposed of and recycled to protect the environment.
There are 2 types of photovoltaic solar panels namely,
B) Thin-film based
The procedure to separate the key ingredients from these panels differ, but the majority of the materials can be reused.
Remember, we want to use solar power because it’s a sustainable alternative.
If the panels end up in landfills, this very principle will be defeated.
At the end of the day, alternative sources of power are being tapped with the sole purpose of promoting a greener and healthier world.