Sun is the ultimate source of life and is available in abundance. Solar energy has come up as alternate source of fuel. With increasing pollution levels and depleting fossil fuels solar energy has gained significance. It is tapped with the help of solar panels and used to generate electricity, to distil water, to heat water, for cooking. In 2018 budget, government of India has allocated 48000 crore rupees to set up solar pumps which will generate about 28GW of energy. This energy will be used to power irrigation pumps. India already has a solar capacity of 14.7 GW. Solar energy would help in achieving sustainable development goals of clean environment, sustainable use of energy, good health and well being.
Tapping solar energy has many advantages. Most obvious is its availability in abundance. the sun is going to be there for about more than 5 billion years. Amount of solar energy earth receives is 20,000 times of what is needed to fulfill earth's energy needs. It is a renewable source of energy with no byproducts which would harm environment. Not much expertise is required to install solar panel setup. Because of this fact many people have ventured into installing solar capacities. Government of India provides support in the form of basic training and financial support as well. It reduces the cost of electricity generation. the electricity can be generated as long as the sun is out. Countries like Germany has also developed ways to store electricity generated via solar. It is low maintenance as well. further, it's not just electricity generation it is used for, it is used for heating purposes, distilling water, cooking etc.
However , there are few concerns that needs to be worked on, so as to make it more viable option as a source of energy. Initial cost of installation is high, especially for bigger setups. It requires a lot of space for setting up panels. Also, it is weather dependent. On cloudy days , energy cannot be tapped. although solar energy can be stored but the cost is very high. it will be better to use normal electricity on days when it cannot be tapped. A future problem may arise regarding disposal of solar panels once obsolete. waste management may become a cause of concern. Also, manufacturing of solar panels release some toxic chemicals. so in a way it pollutes the environment as well. In particular for India, pace of increasing solar capacity has been reduced by a few hurdles like lack of power transmission infrastructure, increasing cost of solar panels and lackluster power demand. Also, state governments want to renegotiate older power purchase agreements after introduction of GST. Also, sector expects another policy change due to imposition of Anti-Dumping Duties on imported panels.
Hence, it is absolutely right to conclude that solar energy has great potential of becoming the prime source of human fuel needs. With more research and innovation , all the cons relating to tapping of solar energy can be diminished.
-- Kanika Varma