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DateLine Sunday, 17 February 2008

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Solar power for South Asian villages

Is it a solution the looming energy crisis?:

One of the positive outcomes of the looming energy crisis is the renewed interest generated in alternative sources of energy. Wind, solar and bio-fuel are some of the potential alternative energy sources that can be harnessed in sun-lit villages in South Asian.

Given the sustainability and low cost of maintaining unites, solar power is considered ideal source of energy for far-flung villages which are off the national grid. As the sun-light is in abundance throughout the year, small solar-panels can provide sufficiently electricity for a household for its cooking and lighting requirements.

Although solar energy has been used for centuries by Greeks, Native Americans and Chinese for warming houses, the modern use of solar energy ranges from providing heating, lighting, electricity and even flight.

However, most popular form of solar energy in modern-day context is the converting solar energy into electricity. This is mainly done either through the photovoltaic effect or transferring heating to power a generator. Currently solar photovoltaics provide 0.04% of the world's energy requirement.

The technologies harnessing solar energy varies as their applications such as for producing food, head, light and electricity and also use for commercial and industrial transportation sectors.

Although taken for granted, entire agriculture and food production and even the sustenance of live on earth is dependent on solar energy as plants produces food through the Photosynthesis.

PV power plants

The genera perception of solar power is more or less focused on small-scale use of solar cells which are capable of producing electricity for a household. However, for large scale electricity generation, solar thermal powers, has been harnessed in many parts of the world.

A solar cell or photovoltaic cell is a transparent cell which converts sunlight into electricity. By the end of 2006, it has been calculated that total power generated by PV is 6,000 MW and it has been projected that generation ability will pass the 9,000 MW by 2008.

Mass production of solar panels or PV

In order to popularise the solar technology among the village folks in the South Asian region, it is inevitable that PV cells have be locally manufactured enmass. Government can encourage private sector and especially SME sector to invest in Solar technology so that the PV be available in villages at a reasonable price.

It is also important to impart necessary technical know how to the end-user of the PV in order that they may be in a position to maintain them.

So far India has successfully introduced PV in far flung hamlets that have not seen the electricity, thus lighting up the lives of the folks. Less independence on national grid and small and medium-scale PV would be a solution to the looming energy crisis precipitated by the increasing prices of oil.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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