Wind and Solar Power: Sources of Renewable Energy

All of us have studied about how electric energy can be produced from wind, the sun, sea waves and other renewable sources. But for most of us, these have been limited only to science experiments at school. So can this childlike fascination of ours be used to overcome our current Electricity deficit? Various studies suggest that India at present is witnessing a very high peak electricity demand deficit of 12-13 per cent and energy shortage of 6-8per cent, with which it is improbable for India to sustain high levels of economic growth.

The interesting part is that the technology to produce electricity from wind and the sun has reached a stage of maturity and can be deployed en masse in India. The concept of wind farms with large deployments of wind- powered turbines to generate electricity, have been adopted by many countries especially USA, Germany, Spain, Denmark and UK. India is also a leading Wind Energy producer but compared to the total electricity generated in India, the contribution of Wind power is very low. Few states in India have started setting up wind farms but the pace of adaptation is glacial. At the end of 2008, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 121.2 gigawatts (1 Megawatt can power around 500 to 1000 homes in India). Wind power produces about 1.5% of worldwide electricity use, and is growing rapidly, having doubled in the three years between 2005 and 2008.

Same is the case with solar energy. India enjoys abundant sunshine most of the year and this can be tapped using Photovoltaic technology or CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) technology to generate gigawatts of electricity. In fact, India should take a page off the Spain’s plan to use solar energy aggressively. Spain has created national policy to adopt Renewable energy in large scale and as solar energy is abundant in the country the usage of solar energy to produce electricity has taken a big leap.

The use of these forms of energy is suited for India because they will generate more jobs in the power sector and help us achieve power surplus status. They will also help in using barren terrains like deserts and windy regions which cannot be inhabited or farmed for power generation. We can also use our sea resources to generate electricity by setting up Offshore Wind Farms.

The Wind Power and Solar Power hold the promise for India to achieve ‘zero energy deficit’ without adversely impacting the environment. This will be a great boon to the future generation. These forms of energy are environment friendly compared to the large scale Fossil fuel powers, thermal power stations and also it is much safer compared to Nuclear Power Stations. They are cleaner, better and if deployed in large scale cheaper. As consumers of electricity, we should ask our Power provider to use renewable energy more and more. Present government with its number clout in Parliament, should have a policy defined at the earliest to increase the use of Renewable energy, reduce our carbon footprint. This will be a big leap for India into a balanced greener world.

Amit Dutta

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