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The Future of our Planet is in the Sun

Do you want to look into the future? Well, all you have to do is look to the sky at the shining, bright orb that we call the sun.

The sun is the future because there are actually very few things holding us back from utilizing its inherent potential and power. These things which are holding us back are aspects like funding, awareness, capabilities along with installation and maintenance.

This is a chance photograph taken in December 2008 - with a colour cast from the evening sunlight, taken while along Dollymount Beach on the Bull Island UNESCO Biosphere reserve in North Dublin. I'd been out looking for seals to photograph when I saw this scene unfolding in front of me. I had my 400mm lens on, so I used it to photograph the sun dropping behind the Dublin hills and Poolbeg electricity generating station - which operates on a mixture of oil and natural gas.  The photograph speaks to me of future climate change and the resultant global warming. With an overheating planet, we still insist on belching out emissions from fossil fuels. The people in the photograph - although actually a couple of kilometres  across the water from the building, appear to be marching blindly towards it, in a mixture of confusion and hope.

In the realm of energy utilization, the Sun is said to be an unending source of energy, when compared to other immediate and more polluting sources of the same. On the other hand, there are several speculations bout the use of solar energy, especially due to doubts and lack of awareness on how to harness it with full capacity. Our host for Agora 3.0, Dr. Harinayan opened the session by saying few things in this regard out of his experience. He said that he wants to channelize the energy from the youth of the nation so that they can help in building a better future for solar energy, so as to develop more efficient ways to capture this awesome source of power. We, Indians are at a huge advantage due to the fact that we are close to the equator, which helps us by putting us directly in the path of this energy source. Talking about other countries, there are quite a few places where sunlight is considered to be a precious commodity. We, on the other hand, don’t realize the importance of the sun as we have learned to take this all for granted. Mr. Karan Dangayach commented that nobody in today’s world is doing an in-depth study of materials that are required and used to usher in a solar generation.

For decades, we have been dependent on fossil fuels to a great extent, but later the development of hydro, wind and solar energy opened doors of opportunity which to this date, have not been explored. It is as though we are content with only viewing the other side through the keyholes of these doors, while opening them could give us access to huge stores of energy which would eclipse our energy stores of today.

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“The most effective tool to reduce strain on the environment is the use of solar energy”, said Sanjay Shah (http://www.abelloncleanenergy.com/). He also added that compared to fossil fuel, solar is definitely more effective because burning coal and other fossil fuels releases a plethora of unwanted gases. These sources of energy do more to take away what is (was) naturally available to us, such as a clean atmosphere and healthy environments, than they actually help us.

While considering the scenario of coal, the EROI (Energy Returned on Invested) is very less because of all the mining and transportation, including converting it into heat to rotate turbines as well as transporting that energy to reach our homes. Solar has already won the war against the fuel, was the viewpoint of Mr. Karan (www.shashwatcleantech.com), who is a hardcore environmentalist.

This discussion went into a loop when Mr. Nirat Patel said that to make the solar panels or to gather silicone to make the panel, the help of coal is needed. This in turn, postulates that the fact of the matter lies in using fossil fuels today to help build the foundation for the solar revolution to unfurl.

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Nirat Patel (http://www.efficoreenergy.com/) stated that the EROI of solar energy is much more than that of coal and other fossil fuels. This is owing to the fact that solar power can be used to generate four times the amount of energy and power which would be needed to build a solar plant.

Each and every panellist, with an immense reservoir of expertise of their own in the field of solar energy, concluded that harnessing the power of the sun is way more efficient and effective in terms of reducing environmental strain and realizing the dream of a greener and healthier planet.

Image Sources: [1], [2], [3]

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