Saturday, 31 October 2009

Yes, Solar Energy is the next big thing

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Despite its stupendous advantages, solar power has yet to fully make it in the mainstream. WHY? This is a debatable question and I will try to bring forth a few clear benefits of solar power as against the conventional energy and then will try to compare benefits offered by solar power over its counterparts.

  1. In the long run, solar power saves money. I agree that initial costs of installation and operations may be more expensive than that for other energy forms; but after settling the expenses, you have an energy resource that is almost free. There are no charges for using sunlight - in fact it is more readily available in some tropical countries! The ROI can also be shorter depending on how much energy you use. You won’t spend too much on maintenance either. The most important raw material, the photovoltaic cells, usually last for 15 to 20 years. There are no mechanical or moving parts to oil and maintain nor are there parts that need to be replaced yearly.
  2. Solar power is environmental friendly. It is renewable, unlike fossil fuels which, according to some studies, will be exhausted in a few decades from now. The process of converting energy to usable electricity does not involve the release of toxic chemicals which can harm the environment. Hazardous emissions from other energy generation plants including Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Lead, and Mercury will become a history when everyone goes solar. Relying on the sun for power also helps reduce global warming.
  3. There are no hazardous working conditions & no health risks to workers. Unlike the toxic wastes and pollutants involved in and generated by conventional energy plants, solar power generation involves very minimum generation of hazardous chemicals. There would be limited health risks in solar plants as compared to conventional energy plants.
  4. Solar power is a boon for remote & poorer places. The use of solar panels is also good for remote areas where providing basic electricity services is troublesome if not totally impossible at all. Solar energy can be transported to far flung villages and once installed they can be left alone for years with little or without maintenance. For a poor country, producing electricity through solar energy can mean independence from oil-producing countries which controls the supply and prices of oil. With such independence, new policies on energy can be created which will maximize the benefit for its citizens. Countries will also not be wary on natural disasters which hampers delivery of oil. (Can you forget the recent Indian Oil Inferno that was erupted in Jaipur, India, a few days before - which was triggered by human negligence? All such disasters will be a histroy when we switch to friendly solar power.) With this new found independence, countries can invest its national budget on other programs aside from purchasing oil from foreign sources.

I agree that there are several disadvantages of using solar power and one of which is the huge initial costs. But thinking about it in the long run, you’ll see that the benefits of solar energy outweigh the disadvantages. Plus, with the current development in the field of science and technology, solar power is becoming more and more convenient and it would not be surprising to find solar energy as a primary source of power in the next few years.

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