Friday, January 25, 2008

The shine in solar energy

Hi guys,
I would like to share the news about a technology application -- solar-powered LED lantern --developed by joint efforts between US and my country India. The following is a Report from The Hindu—online edition of Indian national newspaper 12/27/07 on the occasion of the release of solar-powered LED lantern, developed jointly by teams from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States, and the Jagannath Institute for Technology and Management, Orissa, India

With a global installed capacity of just about 5,000 megawatts and relatively high costs, solar photovoltaic energy has come to be viewed as a futuristic, even somewhat utopian, option. Yet concern is growing over climate-changing carbon emissions and innovative ways are being sought to bring electricity to millions who are not plugged into conventional power grids. Encouragingly, the efficiency of solar photovoltaic cells is improving. In combination with energy-efficient light emitting diodes, solar modules are achieving good results in lighting. The potential of such devices to light up dark homes has been recognized by a Mondialogo engineering award, instituted by Daimler and UNESCO, to a solar-powered LED lantern. As with other simple technology applications, the lantern, developed jointly by teams from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States, and the Jagannath Institute for Technology and Management, Orissa, can potentially revolutionise ‘off-grid’ lighting. What such projects need is support from governments to commercialize and achieve scales of manufacture on a fast track. Grid-connected projects seem to be getting fresh attention. Rajasthan, (a state in India) is to set up a big solar farm. However, national capacity to manufacture LEDs (which, incidentally, have been deployed to light up Christmas trees in international cities this year) remains a challenge.
Solar photovoltaic systems, a source of clean power, have grown worldwide at an annual rate of about 25 per cent during the past decade, touching nearly 45 per cent in 2005. Solar photovoltaic cell production in the recent past has been at a peak in Japan, Germany, and the United States; global capacity was augmented by 1,727 megawatts in 2005 alone. Some scientists argue that with sufficient investments on a ‘grand solar plan,’ the United States could meet as much as 69 per cent of its electricity demand and 35 per cent of all its energy demand (including transport) by 2020 through solar, with provision for demand growth and at prices comparable with those of fossil fuels. For many countries, India in particular, solar energy should be attractive going by a recent solar ‘hotspot’ map generated by the U.S. space agency, NASA. Australia and the Niger top in harvesting potential, according to the map, but much of India can reap the sun’s bounty. Indeed, the Tenth Plan projected an R&D policy for 2025 incorporating a range of alternative energy technologies but the solar option remained a weak element. For a start, an accelerated program of rural LED lighting and solar thermal technologies for cooking can achieve substantial results. It can contribute to public health by greatly reducing the adverse health effects of indoor smoke from lamps and stoves that use fossil fuels. It is time India got serious about solar energy.
The Indian Government is already promoting solar stoves and solar water heaters in a small way by offering subsidies but as the news report states, more needs to be done and I feel the world needs to get serious about solar energy

1 comment:

Cassandra said...

If you are intersted...

Professor Toby Cumberbatch at the Cooper Union has been making LED Solar Lanterns for a village in Ghana for a couple years now. They've only made a handful of lanterns and one powering station.

The village shares a powering station with the Solar Panels. The solar lanterns are made from bamboo, clear bottles, and an LED circuit with rechargeable battery. This way they can be made almost entirely local materials and reuse waste materials.

See the following blurb on technology towards the bottom of this page:

and the article here: