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The Power of the Sun

We keep thinking about our depleting natural resources and the eminent energy crisis that we all might face in the near future. But in spite of that, we are ignoring the never-ending nuclear fission gifted to us by nature: the SUN.

This billion megaton powerhouse has been radiating its energy on earth for the past 4.5 billion years and is still no way near exhaustion. Even if we tap a fraction of this radiation it could permanently end our worries of depleted resources. The methodologies to tap this energy are many:

Metal Smelting Solar Furnaces:
By the use of large parabolic reflectors, we can channelize the suns’ heat spread over a large area and target it to heat up a small targeted area called a ‘focal point’. A single reflector has the capacity to raise the temperature by approximately 50-60 degrees celsius. An array of multiple such mirrors when used together raise the temperature so high it can be used for powering a solar furnace.

Electricity Generating Powerhouses:
At an industrial level, the solar energy can be used in a variety of forms. The reflectors can be used to heat up boilers, which can then be used to move the turbines and generate electricity. Fields can be laid with a large number of solar cells that can be linked to the power grid for the generation of electricity. Targeted solar beams can be used to raise the temperature of solar furnaces which are then used for the melting of metals, like iron.

Domestic Heating & Power Generation:
The uses are not only industrial. At a domestic level solar energy can be used for heating swimming pools and can be used to power solar water heaters. At another level it can be used to power small energy consuming devices such as LED light bulbs or cellphone chargers. The latest advancement, although in the primitive stage, is laptops and cellphones covered with a thin silicon-like layer of solar cells. These cells keep charging the battery whenever and wherever the sun’s light is available.

Although enough noise has been made at the global level for the adoption of the solar energy-harnessing techniques, there are a few factors which create a major roadblock in switching over to this endless energy source. Cost is one such major hindering block. Constructing a solar power generation plant is very expensive compared to a conventional thermal plant. In addition, the unavailability of bright sunlight for at least 80% of the year, in many parts of the world, makes it ineffective to install and rely upon such technologies. Also, installing a solar array requires a large area, which is a scarce resource as well.

Although there are a few disadvantages, but the advantages outweigh them by a big margin. It may not be a feasible option in the short run, but if you consider the clean and free energy resource over the years, it proves to be a much required option.

And let’s not forget the biggest advantage – it helps us keep our planet green.

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