My first introduction to solar panels was during childhood. During those days, a Japanese electronics manufacturer had come up with calculators that featured a small, dark, glass covered panel that had to be exposed to a source of light. The stronger the light, better the performance and clearer display.
Over the years though, I’ve seen solar panels of various shapes and sizes. They appear on everything from a simple, household solar cooker and water heater to large industrial installations. And I understand that modern day solar panels are much more sophisticated than those rudimentary ones on calculators. Because solar panels nowadays also store energy by recharging batteries.
In fact, hundreds of villages in India get electricity from solar panels and it has become an important part of home electrical items. On a broader perspective, solar panels are an ideal way for an energy deficient country like India to generate electricity. They help the country, companies and people to save energy in truly amazing ways.
If you’re wondering how solar panels save energy, here’re some answers.
Solar Power & Energy Savings
Solar panels help save energy directly and indirectly. With proper techniques, a solar power also helps prevent air, water and soil pollution typical to other power plants.
Satellites in Space
India is now a major space power. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launches satellites of all kinds for purposes as diverse as gathering military intelligence to amateur radio applications. Obviously, one cannot connect satellites in outer space with electrical cables from Planet Earth.
This leaves only two options: Using batteries on board a satellite for its remote sensing cameras and transponders. Or using solar panels that absorb light from various cosmic sources and power various instruments on board.
Solar panels save energy on satellites by helping organizations such as ISRO to leave conventional batteries only for emergencies and specific operations. All other processes on board a satellite are possible through energy drawn from solar panels only.
Solar Rechargers for Mobiles
India will have some 860 million smartphone users by 2022. Obviously, recharging so many smartphones that are battery guzzlers involves tremendous use of electrical power. On average, an Indian spends three hours daily on a mobile handset.
Recharging mobile phone batteries is yet another avenue where solar panels save energy. Search on any good ecommerce website and you’ll find a new breed of mobile chargers that work solely with solar panels. These solar panels generate energy sufficient enough to recharge a high power smartphone fairly quickly. And these solar chargers help lower electricity bills too.
Furthermore, solar panel based chargers are useful anywhere. You can use them while driving or at home. Moreover, solar energy mobile chargers are vital for rural population of India where electricity supply is erratic or there are constant voltage fluctuations that can damage an expensive handset.
Reducing Dependence of Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas and coal among others are primary sources of energy. They are vital to propel electricity generating turbines at thermal power plants across this country. India spends billions of Dollars in importing crude and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from foreign suppliers. Understandably, this is a necessary expense for a rapidly industrializing nation like India.
However, a lot of industries in India are now using solar power for their machinery. Solar panels are a one-off expense when compared over recurring and high electricity bills.
Furthermore, using solar power reduces the need for trains and other vehicles to transport fossil fuels from one location to another. This in turn helps save energy from petroleum necessary for vehicles. To quite some extent, industries that use solar panels save energy and precious foreign exchange for India. They also help curb pollution since solar panels are fairly environment friendly.
Solar Cookers & Water Heaters
Imagine how much Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and electricity a family of four would consume on routine activities such as cooking and heating water for bathing or other purposes. And the ensuing bills eat into the household income.
A household that uses solar cookers, solar water heaters and solar inverters not only saves more money but also helps reduce electricity and LPG consumption. Again, a solar cooker and water heater may have some inherent drawbacks since they work on solar panels. However, in the longer run, solar panels on these devices result in significant savings of both energy and money.
Use of solar panels in India for power generation and saving energy from conventional sources is growing. However, in certain countries, solar panels fuel entire industrial complexes. Research and development of very sophisticated solar panels continues worldwide.
These researches primarily aim at making solar panels more efficient to work in relatively poor lighting, quicker recharge of batteries connected to solar panels and reduction in size to make them compact and aesthetic. Since sunlight is a renewable source of energy, the use of solar panels will increase as countries and businesses look at saving energy from conventional generation methods.