Our energy requirements are increasing as our standard of living is increasing.
In order to fulfill our energy requirements, we are trying to improve the efficiency of existing sources or energy,
as well as trying to exploit new sources of energy.
Another reason to look for these new sources of energy is because our conventional sources of energy like Fossil Fuels will get exhausted very soon.
These new Energy sources are called Non-Conventional Sources of Energy.
Factors to consider while choosing an Energy source
When we consider an energy source, we should consider
- Ease and Cost of extracting Energy from that source
- Efficiency of technology available for using that energy source
- How will we store that energy from the source
- Environmental Impact of using that energy source
Examples of Non-Conventional Sources of Energy
Some examples of Non-Conventional Sources of Energy are
- Solar Energy - Using sun rays to generate heat and electricity
- Hydroelectric Power Plants - Converting water at height into Electricity
- Biomass - We used to use Cow-dung cakes and other agricultural wastes as a fuel
- Wind Energy - Windmills rotate to generate electricity
- Energy from the Sea - Tidal Energy , Wave Energy , Ocean Thermal Energy
- Geothermal Energy
- Nuclear Energy
Let’s look at them one-by-one
Solar energy is the energy generated from the Sun’s radiation.
Sun has been been radiating energy for the last 5 billion years and will continue to do so for the next 5 billion years.
So, Solar Energy is a renewable source of Energy
The earliest uses of Solar Energy was Solar Cooker
Solar Cooker is a box which is painted black
It is painted black so as to absorb heat.
It has a glass sheet at the top
And there is an outer layer which consists of a mirror
When in use, a bowl of rice is kept inside the glass sheet.
The mirror reflects the sun’s rays on the bowl
And due to black paint inside, the cooker absorbs heat.
And since there is a glass sheet above, the heat doesn’t escape (due to greenhouse effect)
So, suns rays are converted into heat in the Solar Cooker
Let’s look at how we use Solar Energy
Solar Energy to Electricity
Solar Energy is converted into Electricity using Solar Cells
Solar Cells is a device which converts solar energy into electricity
Solar Cells develop a voltage of 0.5-1 V and produce 0.7 W of electricity.
Since single solar cell produces a small amount of electricity, we combine them.
A large number of Solar Cells are combined to produce a Solar Cell Panel
The Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in Bangalore, India is powered by Solar Energy
Advantages of Using Solar Cells
- Solar cells have no moving parts
- Solar cells require little maintenance
- They can be set-up in remote places where laying a Power Transmission line might be expensive or not commercially viable
Disadvantages of Using Solar Cells
- Availability of special grade silicon used for making solar cells is limited
- Manufacturing Solar Cells is expensive, silver is used for joining the cells in the panel which makes the panel more expensive
Uses of Solar Cells
- Artificial Satellites and space probes use Solar Cells as main source of energy
- Radio, Wireless Transmission System, TV relay stations use Solar Cell Panels
- Solar cells is used to provide electricity in remote areas where electricity transmission lines are not possible