The rapid depletion of fossil fuels and increasing global pollution has forced economies to look for alternative sources of energy.
Although there are many sustainable options, they need certain climatic conditions and technical specifications to work.
Among the lot, it is solar energy which seems to be the most viable alternative. Available in abundance, harnessing solar power has been the greatest challenge.
For decades, scientists have been developing technologies that can capture and store the energy for long periods. Even though we are a long way from achieving complete success in this endeavor, the available technologies do allow us to use the sun’s energy for various applications. The most commonly used device for this purpose is the solar cell or photovoltaic (PV) cell.
Primarily PV cells are used to convert solar energy into electrical energy. Almost all of us have used photovoltaic cells in our lives. Most calculators contain a single solar cell which keeps the calculator operational in case the battery runs out.
Over the years, as the price of the cells dropped, their application and usage drastically increased. Previously used in remote and individual houses, solar power is now being used in large scale, both for domestic and in industrial applications.
As per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India, only 55% of rural households had access to electricity in 2015. Many villages in the country are not on the national power grid. This implies, entire villages still lead comparatively primitive lives. The growth of the solar power industry is gradually changing the rural scenario.
Apart from the government, responsible private industries, NGOs and individuals have, over the past few years, worked with many remote villages lying outside the national grid and helped bring sustainable solar power to their villages and homes.
A developing country, India is currently the forerunner in the clean energy development sector. In 2015, they launched a Global Solar Alliance with 120 countries at the Paris Climate Summit. This is aimed at providing cleaner energy and withdrawing from non-renewables at the earliest. In January 2016, as a part of their clean energy strategy, the state government of Maharashtra made solar water heaters compulsory for all upcoming buildings.
Germany is another major promoter of clean energy. Back in May 2016, due to their high renewable energy production, the price for electricity went negative and consumers were paid to use electricity. This goes to show that not only is renewable energy good for the environment, it would be beneficial for the economy as well.
The need for clean energy has become bigger than ever. Twenty eight high net worth investors from 10 different nationalities have joined forces to form the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Headed by Bill Gates, this venture is focused on funding clean energy companies across the globe. Members include Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani, Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos among others.
Elon Musk is another major advocate of clean energy. SolarCity Corporation, a subsidiary of Musk’s Tesla, provides the largest solar energy services in the United States. The company is one of the founding members of The Alliance for Solar Choice – a rooftop solar power advocacy effort across the United States.
Governments, along with the rich and famous, are working on various clean energy projects, keeping in mind both its citizens and the environment. We, as the common people, should do our part by saving as much energy as possible. Those of us who can afford to install solar power systems should switch from regular power usage at the earliest. The cost of installation might appear expensive but in the long run, it is worth the money spent. The need of the hour is sustainability and it can only be achieved if everyone works together.