The future of green energy :
Wind and solar were not considered meaningful sources of energy a few years back but today they account for 7% of the country’s electricity production.
But solar energy is only a daytime source and wind is seasonal. Advancement in storage technology has enhanced the viability of these sources, but still they cannot replace coal.
Coal while still being the largest source for electricity generation has negatives associated with it. These include,
- It causes pollution and lead to global warming
- Coal fired thermal power plants are water guzzlers and will need thrice as much water consumed by Mumbai daily
Wind and Solar still possess immense possibilities:
- Newer materials such as perovskites, that can replace silicon are found. The cost-efficiency of solar panels has increased which has made solar energy cost competitive
- The cost of offshore wind has also fallen dramatically which has opened new areas
Untapped sources of energy:
- Electricity generated from wind and solar can be used to produce hydrogen, which can be stored
- Hydrogen can be used to fill gaps in the flow of power from wind and solar and act as a good grid stabilizer
- But it is a lot easier to use hydrogen in stationary engines for power generation than in combustion engines
- Using hydrogen in fuel cells is a lot more efficient, easier and cleaner way than burning it in combustion engines. Fuel cells are devices that split the hydrogen atoms into protons and electrons and get the electrons to flow through a circuit. The flow of electrons constitutes electricity.
- Smaller fuel cells can be used in applications such as powering a telecom tower
- It is divided into waves, tides and underwater currents.
- Through various innovative ways we can obtain energy from the oceans. For example, energy from tidal waves can be used to run turbines
- Energy from fusion of sub-atomic particles at near room temperatures
- Cold fusion, as low energy nuclear reaction(LENR) is commonly called, is not yet established science
With the advent of these technologies cheap and clean power is no longer unthinkable.