The advantages of renewable energy like solar, wind and tidal are well known. Producing energy from these sources does not produce any pollutants, greenhouse gases. These sources are eco-friendly too. The greatest advantage, perhaps, is that they do not require any fuel and are free of international price whims. All that is required to set them up are places with abundant sunshine, wind and tidal power and the sources of these energies are practically unlimited.
Even though smart technologies and new methods of harvesting energy are increasingly being added, the solar panels will remain with us for some time. One smart device that has attracted attention vey recently is the thin film technology. The solar thin films printed in bulk reduce both manufacturing and installation costs. As technology improves, the solar harvesting material could be integrated into rooftop material.
Another great idea is the solar window. These are ordinary looking windows that have been coated with electricity generating material but are still transparent. The coating material on these windows is the world’s smallest working solar cells occupying a space of less than a millimeter. It is believed that nanotechnology will also play an important role in future energy harvesting. The problem with installing solar panels is the relatively high cost of an inverter — a device that converts direct current (DC) solar thermal electricity into alternate current (AC) that we use in our homes. However, with the advent of micro inverter technology, it is possible to have just one panel to start the solar power generating system and at a much lesser cost. The infrared spectrum solar panel is another smart device that harvests not only visible light spectrum into energy but also converts infrared spectrum into electricity.
A team of scientists developed a nanoparticle paint that makes concentrated solar power (CSP) plants work more efficiently. CSP employs thousands of mirrors to generate electricity, can convert 90 percent of the absorbed heat into electricity and works even in the dark, unlike any other available technology.
Although progress has been made, we still have to rely on grid supply at night. Solar cells must harvest energy when the sun shines, so unless we can station solar panels high in space and beam power back to earth, we have to keep our house hooked to the grid.
Waves and tides are some of the most predictable big energy sources available. However, it has received less media attention and consequently less funding than solar. High altitude winds, way above the ground, have historically been beyond our reach. With the progress of science and technology we could be on the verge of converting that wind energy into electricity. Investments are available now to build airborne turbines that could float in space and beam down the energy. But as with parking solar panels in space, the engineering challenges remain formidable. Other advances in the field use the jet engine concept of wind energy and the magnetic levitation in wind turbines to reduce friction thereby increasing efficiency. There are a couple of interesting ideas to harness the tidal energy — buoys or other above and below the sea surface design and oscillating hydrofoil moored to the ocean floor; as the water passes, it oscillates the buoys and hydrofoil generating electricity.
The People of Pakistan are facing acute shortage of energy and are suffering from power crisis that has badly affected social and industrial sectors and has inflicted irreparable losses to the economy. This is despite the fact that Pakistan is rich in natural resources to produce energy and power which are cheaper and safer with the concept of clean energy.
Actually Pakistan is depending on energy of which major part is being produced by furnace oil and gas that cost very high and gas plants are also very less-efficient in power production. On the contrary, many developing countries are producing their major energy share from coal. Although Pakistan has the 4th largest reservoir of coal in the world through which the cheapest energy, fuel and gas can be produced for years, unfortunately we are not able to utilise our coal assets. The government of Pakistan should shift considerations on alternatives — coal, nuclear, wind and solar — to meet the increasing needs of power and energy in the country.