With the ever-growing burden on the non-renewable energy resources, the need to find sustainable fuel is gaining importance. With the efficient use of technology, solar power is one of the upcoming types of renewable energy, which can be used to meet the demands of the ever-growing population. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. These are of two types- Photovoltaics (PV) and Concentrated Solar Power.
The early development of solar energy started in the 1860s, with a small-scale shift from coal and petroleum. But it was only in the 1930s, after the oil embargo, that energy policies were renewed and the solar power potential was realized. With the growing environmental concerns, the world saw installation of residential and commercial rooftop PV power stations, in 1990s.
Photovoltaic cell or a solar cell, is a device that converts photons of the sunlight into voltage i.e. electricity using photovoltaic effect. The most commonly installed rooftop PV is connected to the main power grid in proximity, where use of energy storage is optional. This energy can also be saved as back-ups, leading to availability of energy even at night time.
The Concentrated Solar Power, uses lenses or mirrors and tracking system to concentrate sunlight, and then use this heat to generate electricity. Thermal storage has a potential of 24-hour electricity generation.
With the sunshine occurring naturally, the solar power can be harnessed infinitely. This makes it an energy prospect for most countries around the world. Additionally, helping countries to reduce their carbon prints. Solar power is a green fuel and harmless to the environment, it can be easily installed on both residential rooftops and as well as commercial building, making it easily accessible to all. The affordability that tags along with it also helps cut down the utility bills. Solar is low maintenance and can be enhanced according to the ever-changing needs of the population. It frees us from noise, air and land pollution.
Solar energy has a wide array of uses. The most recent development is the use of solar power to run an aircraft, called Solar Impulse, in 2015. It started its Round-The-World flight from Abu Dhabi. Although this depicts the remarkable potential of the energy, there are certain drawbacks attached to it. Being entirely reliable on the light from the sun, the solar energy cannot be produced at night and on cloudy days. This makes it not 100% dependable. The installation of back-ups can help in such situations, but it adds up to the already surged initial cost of installation of the solar panels.
The productivity of solar power depends on the geographical location of the country and the region. These varies through the day and depends on the latitude and climates of the concerned region. In this backdrop, the International Solar Alliance was drafted by 121 countries lying completely or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The initiative was given by the Indian incumbent Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, when he referred to these sunshine countries” sons of the sun.” The sole purpose of the initiative is to fully optimize the solar energy and dedicate the sincerity of the developing countries towards lowering carbon emissions.
For several years, the growth of solar PV was driven by European deployment but was largely overtaken by Asia, with China and Japan being one of the top three producers. China, is also the largest market for solar PV and solar thermal energy. The USA is amongst the top producing nations of solar power, attributing to its possession of the apt technologies to exploit such energies. The European nation of Germany, is the fourth largest producer of solar power. This was factored by the aim of reducing its carbon footprint.
Below lying table depicts top 10 countries with solar power:
|Country||Solar Power Capacity (MW) – as of 2017|