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How to make social benefits of Solar Energy for entire world

social benefits of Solar Energy

How to make social benefits of Solar Energy for entire world

 

There is one natural resource that deserves gratitude every single day. That is the mighty Sun. 

In fact, it is the Sun that brings forth a day. 

Its rays empower every living being on the planet. So, it does not surprise that a number of functions run through it. 

It is because of the Sun that we can see. Thus, the demand for an alternative source of light crops up during night time. 

This led the mankind to source for the Sun’s alternative during night. That is how the invention of artificial lights took place.  

The light bulbs run on electricity. Fossil fuels are the major source of producing electricity. 

The burning of fuels to produce power creates a massive damage to nature. Not to mention that these harmful fuel sources are on the verge of completion as well. 

Continuation of dependence on fossil fuels to produce power is hazardous and risky. Though, since the discovery of alternative sources of energy production. The mankind has had some relief. 

Natural resources like Water, Wind, and Sun are excellent resources to generate power. 

Out of these 3, in particular, Sun is of great benefits. Though, it is a natural resource like other 2. It scores more on availability than the rest. 

Except for the polar regions. There is no dearth of the sunshine on the planet. 

This makes a reason to utilize the power of Sun to light the world. 

Thus, since a decade, the use of solar powered products is on a rise. 

Countries like Germany and Morocco lead the pack. Their majority of energy demands get fulfilled by Solar. 

Furthermore, there are also nations that exploit more from the solar energy. They use it to bring social benefits while generating power.

 

3 instances of Social benefits of solar energy

1.     Women entrepreneurs in rural Africa

Social benefits of Solar Energy by Solar Sister

Social benefits of Solar Energy by Solar Sister. Image Source : Solar Sister

Nations in Africa rank the lowest in the World for purchasing par parity (PPP). As much as 17 African countries rank lowest in global GDP per capita figures.

Central African Republic (CAR) has the lowest GDP/ capita with USD 652. 

In comparison, the Asian developing nations seem wealthy. India with USD 6,616 and Bangladesh with USD 3,891 have a better PPP health. 

Despite the economic aid by institutions like World bank. The continent is still in debt. Poverty and lack of education add to their misery. 

Alongside comes initiatives like Solar Sister that endeavor to bring a change. 

Solar Sister is a not for profit initiative by  Katherine Lucey. She is a former investment banker. 

Her social enterprise provides opportunity for rural women to become solar products entrepreneur. The setup works much like cosmetics MLM networks like Avon and Oriflame. 

Women become a business development associate with Solar Sister for an enrollment fee. Then, they earn a commission by selling their solar products. The products include – solar lamps, chargers and cooking stoves. 

Following ills get a facelift with these products:

 

  • Toxic fumes from kerosene stoves
  • Dependence on electricity
  • Availability of only the day time for work
  • Hazards of fire due to kerosene
  • Expenses of kerosene purchase

 

When pain points due to poor electricity and dependence on kerosene improve. It translates to better health and education. Along comes the avenue to earn a livelihood. 

Sales commissions from Solar Sister are in the range of 10% – 20 %. 

The social impact of this micro-financing model has brought in the following developments:

 

  • Improvement in health due to replacement of soot producing stoves to cleaner ones
  • Access to light in far-flung rural areas without dependence on electricity
  • Lower carbon footprints in the respective habitat
  • Children get more time to study
  • Reduced hassles to finish important chores during day time
  • Increase in family’s economic condition
  • Women become independent and self-sufficient

 

Access to electricity has improved in African countries. Source: Worldbank

 

Over the years, countries in Africa have shown a rise in access to electricity. Solar Sister serves as another hope of positivity to the situation. 

With more women donning the entrepreneur hats. The improvements in GDP figures of African countries seems hopeful.

Thus, economic benefits of solar power lead to a better life.

 

     2.     Empowering remote hospitals

 

Healthcare requires technology for smooth operations. Advanced surgical equipment is a must for delivering medical services. These equipment run on power. At times, even 24 x 7 all round the year. 

At remote off-grid locations. Even the basic facilities such as access to electricity are unimaginable. So, they depend on diesel fueled generators for meeting their power needs. Thus, medical care becomes an expensive privilege. Associated environmental damages are the bottlenecks too. 

This situation is common to developing nations. But few remote locations in Nepal are outliers to this misfortune. 

They are replacing diesel powered generators with solar power installations. Thereby counting off intermittent energy supply by the grid. And also the dependence on alternative options of generators. 

SunFarmer, a US-based nonprofit helps with this initiative. They install and maintain solar systems for public service facilities. That includes hospitals, schools, and farming. 

The nonprofit provides finance and technical support for solar system integration. This has a direct impact on improving the health and social condition of remote places. 

The major turnarounds include:

 

  • Reduced instances of casualty cases transferred to urban cities
  • Hospitals can now stock on medicines and supplies in refrigerators
  • No more hustles of performing medical surgeries during day time  
  • Schools get electricity supply
  • Agriculture practices get a boost

 

social benefits of solar energy

Sunfarmer’s impact in adding to social benefits of solar energy in the year 2016. Image Source: Sunfarmer

 

This model has had a huge success. 

In 2016, SunFarmer generated about 116 MW of energy. Education and health are its biggest energy recipients. Though, earthquake relief operations were the new entry for last year. 

Nepal’s hilly terrain makes the operations for Sunfarmer cumbersome. Despite that, their project is successful. This brings hope to replicate social benefits of solar energy for other regions. 

 

3.     Drinking Water in Mexico

 

What if you get to drink soda every day? No water. Only soda. I bet even the celebrities endorsing soda brands will back out from such a proposition. 

That worse is the situation for certain rural places. 

The subject of study is a village La Mancalona on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The village has a grave water scarcity. 

It is in close proximity to Mayan ruins. Thus, the tourist influx brings in abundant soda and bottled water. 

Soda is inexpensive, but not good for health. While the bottled water is not affordable. That brings in a bone of contention for residents of the village. 

The area has no access to potable water. But with the help from MIT students. The residents got a solar-powered purification system.

Due to that solar powered water system. Now the village produces about 1000 liters of clean water every day. That is a big relief for 450 residents. 

social benefits of solar energy

Water filtration is one of the many social benefits of solar energy. Image Source : mit.edu

 

The system can work on reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, and electrodialysis technologies. 

Water collected from rain and well passes through filtration membranes via a pump. Thereby processing out clean and purified water. 

Solar panels generate power to pumps that push water to the filtration process. 

The system is easy to operate and maintain. Ultraviolet lights and filters require regular upkeep. The residents manage that themselves. 

Solar powered filtration has brought in huge savings. As the bottled water costs 10 times to the price of purified water. 

Moreover, the local residents are now making a business of selling water. The tourists are their biggest consumers. 

Within 2 years of the solar water filtration setup. There is a complete turnaround to the situation of the village. 

Children do not develop deformations as they get clean water to drink. Due to clean water, farming and water selling business are thriving too. 

Thus, the people of the Mexico village are in complete control of their destiny. 

Moreover, they also foresee a better future. Since they now discover more novel applications of solar energy. 

This model is worth a replication in other parts of the World. 

In Conclusion:

 

A major portion of the World is below the average PPP figures. Bringing up their GDP will up the universal average figures. 

Education and health play a crucial role in development. A successful social development model at a macroeconomics level ought to have these. 

With the power of Sun. A positive change is possible. Safer cooking gadgets, cleaner water, better medical facilities pave the way. 

The case studies in this article are a testament to the available options.

With regular advancements in technology. A variety of social benefits of solar energy are possible. Those are much beyond power banks and calculators. 

For sure, social impacts of solar energy are here to stay. So, let us keep innovating more in that direction.

If you enjoyed this article. Then, do share it to spread some solar goodness.

 

Header Image : Pixabay

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Know how to get energy secure with renewable energy storage

renewable energy storage

Know how to get energy secure with renewable energy storage

 

Renewable energy is the trend of the day. 

From the roof of government buildings. To residential properties. To vast stretches of land. Solar PV materials exist everywhere. 

Thus, it does not come as a surprise that India has surpassed its initial target of 1 GW. 

Well, why it should not be that way. Solar power generation has a number of merits. 

It is available all round the year. Does not gets used up. Moreover, its production does not cost a penny. 

These reasons are good enough to overlook the shortcomings of solar power generation. 

Not being available in the night. And reduced supply in seasons of monsoons and extreme winter. These 2  reasons make up the pitfalls of going solar.

 

Why renewable energy storage matters? 

 

Although the power from renewables is perennial. But its stream of supply is inconsistent. 

The radiation from the Sun varies as per the seasons. Monsoons and chilling winters have less solar supply vis-a-vis summers. 

To optimize the benefits from alternative energy sources. There is a need to store them and then use as per respective requirements. 

It is like the local grid or the dams. Both store power which then disperses as per the need. 

As per the World Energy Outlook’s (WEO) electrification database figures from 2016. As much as 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity. That is 16% of the entire global population. 

Out of the ones who do not receive electricity. More than 95% belong to the developing nations of Asia and Africa. Within these, more than 80% are in rural regions. 

Moreover, out of the ones who do receive power. They suffer from a poor quality supply. 

Since most of these places are far flung from the grid. The soon to get over fossil fuel generated power does not fulfill the need. Thus, diesel generated power back-up remains the second option. But the supply of gasoline/ diesel for its operation adds a huge price toll. The expulsion of toxic fumes is an another drawback. 

Thus, there is an imminent need for alternative perennial power for these regions. Energy from renewable sources fits the bill perfect in that scenario. Plus, an additional storage system ensures that their stream of supply remains unaltered. 

A battery energy storage system ensures 24 x 7 power all round the year. Hence, it is a significant factor for getting an energy independent status.  

What constitutes renewable energy storage? 

 

There are various energy storage technologies, each serving various purposes. 

The common ones include:

     1.     Rechargeable batteries

 

These ones work as accumulators. They gather and store energy through a reversible electrochemical reaction. Various permutations and combinations of electrode and electrolytes result in varied rechargeable batteries. 

The common rechargeable batteries include:

  • Lead–acid
  • Nickel cadmium (NiCd)
  • Nickel metal hydride (NiMH)
  • Lithium-ion (Li-ion)
  • Lithium ion polymer (Li-ion polymer)

Tesla energy storage systems are the Li-ion ones. This form of storage is ideal for retail applications. 

 

     2.     Compressed air energy storage

 

This technology compresses excess energy to compress air. The compressed air is then stored in a reservoir. Then, at the time of electricity crisis. The compressed air then powers respective applications.  

From running clocks to locomotives. Compressed air energy storage finds a wide range of industrial uses.

 

     3.     Thermal storage

 

This storage method involves a varied media. That includes: 

  • water or ice-slush tanks
  • masses of native earth or molten salts
  • deep aquifers
  • shallow pits filled with gravel and water

Solana generating station in Arizona and Andasol Solar power station in Spain. Both use molten salt beds to store power.

 

     4.     Superconducting magnetic coils

 

This storage method supplies energy back up in an instant. It is also capable of providing a high output for short periods of time. 

This storage method has a superconducting coil. The coil charges when it stores the energy generated from renewable sources. Stored energy releases to the network as per supply requirements. Thereby discharging the coil. 

Limitations of power storage system:

 

With such features and advantages. It feels strange that the energy storage system is not popular. 

The world of renewable energy storage is not all hunky-dory today. Be it due to the initial stages of development. Or because of the absence of large scale adoption. There exist a few limitations, such as: 

     1.     High price

Price is a major factor because of which the battery storage systems are not popular. For obvious reasons. The Storage systems for industrial uses cost a lot. 

Even the rechargeable battery systems for home use are expensive. 

As per Tesla. They deployed about 300 MWh of their batteries by October 2016. While the global Solar installations reached 76 GW in 2016. 

Thus, in comparison to the number of solar panels installed. The figures of battery storage are minuscule. Do take into consideration that the product comes from the undisputed industry leader. 

This analogy presents the wide gap in the renewable energy industry. The solar PV  installations and the respective battery add-ons have a huge mismatch. 

The prominent battery storage product by Tesla is a lithium-ion one. 

As of writing this article. An estimated cost of Powerwall 2 is USD 7000. Although Tesla does not provide an Indian counterpart e-commerce store. But as per math. The conversion would cost somewhere around INR 5,00,000. 

This is exorbitant for an average residential household. Thus, the high price is a strong deterrent for less adoption of renewable energy storage.     

 

2.     Carbon emissions

This will bring disappointments to someone emotional about their carbon footprints. Rechargeable battery add-ons for storing renewable energy has its share of carbon emissions.  

This is counter intuitive to the green intentions of involving solar solutions

But the disadvantages of a battery backup is not a new concept. Traditional non-rechargeable batteries score higher on the environmental damages. In comparison to them, lithium ones are much benign. 

The lithium-ion ones are recyclable. The industry leaders foresee next-gen businesses in recycling them on a large scale. 

Moreover, the demerits of environmental damages due to fossil-fueled power are many. 

Thus, in comparison to the green benefits of renewable energy. The woes of their storage are few.    

 

     3.     Energy losses

Solar storage batteries store the excess energy. Thus, lead to energy conservation. That is why it comes as a surprise to know that the storage leads to power losses. 

The battery itself requires some energy to brace up for its storage functions. So, it consumes some power while it functions. Thus, losses happen while the storage unit charges and discharges. 

This may pinch consumers of locations where local utility charges are high. As these losses imply a loss of money. 

The Einstein theory of mass and energy applies to stationary objects. For moving ones, E may not equal to mc^2. 

This may provide solace to anyone mulling over the renewable energy storage losses. 

In Conclusion:

 

Renewable energy storage options are an add-on to the solar power generation process. 

They store the energy from the renewable sources. Thus, prove beneficial in times of low supply of energy production. In the context of energy from the Sun. This means having a stored supply of energy in off seasons. That includes the periods of heavy rainfall. Or the seasons when the fog and smog are at peak. 

Apart from seasonal disparities. A solar power energy storage system is of immense help for off-grid locations. 

About a billion people on Earth do not have an access to a perennial supply of electricity. A huge percentage of these people belong to the developing nations. For obvious reasons. These people are in the rural pockets. 

For them, renewable energy storage options are the need of the hour. Although these options may seem exorbitant today. But once economies of scale come into play. The price of the storage options will come down. 

The more we embrace these options. The sooner we achieve the goal of holistic development.

 

 

Header Image : Pixabay

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7 outstanding Solar energy applications popular in the world

Solar energy applications

7 outstanding Solar energy applications popular in the world

 

Solar is the new black. These days it is common to find solar energy applications transforming the World. 

Why would it not be? The Sun shines every day. So, each day brings in new opportunities to use its energy. 

Be it powering the utility. Providing heat to cook food. Or letting the inhabitants of the Earth get a sense of time. 

The power of Sun is inevitable. 

As the list of uses of solar energy in daily life increases. So, our amazement on the abundant power of Sun tends to decrease. 

So, none of us gape at the sight of solar cookers. Or even when someone cooks without a solar cooker. The heat of the Sun being the only factor preparing the food. 

Cooking egg under Sun’s heat

 

But the following list of solar energy uses and applications will sure surprise you.

Read further to know them.

 

7 remarkable Solar energy applications in the world

 

     1.     Solar Powered Pod

solar energy applications - sleeping pod

Solar Powered Pod. Image Courtesy – Ecocapsule

 

Ever worried about your lodging options while camping to a remote location? 

Chances are that some outdoor tent gear must have come to your rescue. 

But what if you can carry an entire mini house with you for your next camping trip? 

That is when Ecocapule comes into the picture. 

It is a tiny house that lets you live off-grid. The Solar energy powers it. While a 10 kWh battery keeps a storage backup. 

The capsule has a 27 square foot interior area. That includes a separate space for a desk room, rest place along with a kitchen and bathroom.

The roof of this micro living space has solar panels. Thus, they keep pumping power back to the battery. Thereby, the quota of stored power keeps increasing. 

With a price tag of around 86,000 US dollars. This solar pod is not affordable considering the global purchasing power parity. 

But for its off-grid sustenance capabilities. It does qualify as one of the smartest solar devices available.

 

     2.     Creating water from air

 

solar energy applications - self filling water bottle

Solar powered self filling water bottle. Image Courtesy : Fontus

 

Water is a scarce resource. The practice of fracking and dumping of industrial wastes has further added to the woes.

Therefore, the idea of generating water from thin air sounds impossible. But the invention by an industrial design student has the potential to create water from the air.

The product is an accessory to a bicycle. It collects air in a chamber. Then, with the help of electricity from solar panels. The air cools.

The drop in temperature condenses the moisture in the air. The water is then collected in a separate chamber for drinking purposes.

With a price tag between 25 – 40 USD. The product is perfect for places that have groundwater issues. But it may not work for polluted regions. As it lacks an advanced filter. Though its basic filter does not allow dust and bugs to pass through.

 

solar energy applications - self filling water bottle

Inside of a self filling water bottle. Image Courtesy : Fontus

 

 

 

     3.     Solar powered airplane

 

Solar Powered Airplane – Source: Youtube of Solar Impulse

 

Fueled by the inexhaustible source of Solar power. The plane Solar Impulse 2 flew for more than 23 days. 

Its sortie began from Muscat. From there it followed the path towards the North Atlantic and then back to Muscat. While covering Asia and North Pacific in-between. 

More than 17,000 solar cells power Solar Impulse 2. That is how the carbon emissions from the plane are almost zilch. 

Its usual speed is 30 mph. Though the shining Sun has a positive influence on its speed. 

Inventions like Solar Impulse 2 raise the bar on the importance of renewable energy to an all-time high. 

 

     4.     Solar powered DIY House – Koda

 

Koda - Solar Powered House

Koda – Solar Powered House. Image Courtesy : Kodasema

 

It is difficult to take eyes off this beautiful house. All though it seems small. But this 25 square meters abode has everything that a minimalist abode requires. That includes a mini-sized bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen. 

Solar panels on the roof power the house. Thus, it makes living off-grid possible. 

It comes in Ikea style dismantling features. Thereby making the option to drift to any location of your choice feasible. 

The house also has advanced upgrading options. That includes attaching another unit for more space. Also water and sewage assemblages for staying at a place for extended periods. 

 

     5.     Solar powered wearable

Solar backpack. Image Courtesy : Instagram of Birksun

 

When designers like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger flaunt their solar-powered creations. Then, you know that application of solar energy in daily life has reached an all time creative high. 

Solar couture proves that solar panels work beyond technology and architecture too. 

The options for wearable gears powered with solar is wide. The list includes and is not limited to the following:

    • T-shirts 
    • Swimwear 
    • Jackets 
    • Eyewear 
    • Designer dresses 
    • Backpacks and totes

 

These wearable and accessories look chic. But also create enough power to charge your phone. That is a path-breaking attempt towards fashion that scores high on its utility.

 

     6.     Solar agriculture farm on the surface of Sea

 

Solar Powered Smart Floating Farms

Solar Powered Smart Floating Farms. Image Source : Forward Thinking Architecture

 

Climate change adds to the existing issues of the expanding population. If we trust the hypothesis by the World Bank. The existing food reserves will end in next 40-50 years. 

Thus, now is the best time to invest every resource available into food. 

Come to think of it. If there is nothing left to eat. Then, there is nothing left to live as well. 

That implies that now is the best time to have more of Smart Floating Farms (SFF) concept. SFF is a large solar powered farm that floats on a large body of water. 

Oceans are perfect for these agricultural farms. As they provide a vast area that gets uninterrupted rays of the Sun. 

These farms provide a solution for the current agricultural issues. The prominent being the high costs of transportation and cold storage units. 

Thereby it brings solutions to perennial issues of overcrowding and water scarcity. 

 

     7.     An entire pathway made from solar panels

 

Wattway - Solar Powered Roadway

Wattway – Solar Powered Roadway in Normandy. Image Source : Wattaway By Colas

 

The mention of Normandy brings in the recollections of D-Day landings of World War II. But today, the region is popular for embracing peaceful solar panels over a 1 km path on a highway. 

The road is termed Wattway. Its path has solar panels spread on a 2,800 metre square area. The power generated can light the street lights in the area that has over 4o00 inhabitants. 

Other nations with a similar setup include Netherlands. It has a 70 km stretch of a solarised bikeway. 

Europe has much lower levels of sunshine as compared to Asia. But still, they invested in solar energy applications for mass use. Indeed what-a-way.

 

In Conclusion:

 

The energy of the Sun is immense. In its absence. The entire life processes will halt. 

Mankind is in luck to have such a powerful resource at their disposal for free. 

Thus, the onus to use its power lies in the hands of mankind too. 

No wonder that today solar energy applications have penetrated much beyond illuminating households. 

From wearables that create power. To generating a mass agriculture site on the wide area of oceans. The Sun’s power to empower never diminishes.

 

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