Solar energy is available in abundance. However, the challenge is to utilize it optimally and for the betterment of the mankind. The non-renewable sources of energy will deplete one day or the other if not utilized cautiously. With solar energy and its abundant availability, the challenge is to store it and utilize in the future. Various initiatives have been taken and developments have been made. Scientists developed a liquid for storage of solar energy, and this liquid can be utilized for water heating applications in residential and commercial sectors. Water bodies have become new frontier for building solar panels and more projects will be built on sea beds and canals in various countries. In the countries where the land is insufficient, governments have found a new way of storing and utilizing solar energy. The innovative utilization and initiatives for optimum usage would continue in the next few years. According to the report published by Allied Market Research, the global solar energy market is expected to reach $223.3 billion by 2026. Following are some of the activities taking place across the world.
Solar energy is available only during the day time, and if it can be stored and utilized during the night time, it can be utilized in abundance and will solve many problems regarding shortage of energy supply. Researchers and scientists have been finding innovative ways to counter the challenges regarding its storage. Scientists from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found a solution by developing a liquid that can store solar energy for up to 18 years. A solar thermal fuel is developed by the scientists. The device, known as Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage System (MOST), is utilized for storing solar energy. The pump circulates the fuel via transparent tubes.
As these tubes are exposed to sunlight, the chemical bonds are formed and turned to energy isomers. The energy from the sun can be stored into the chemical bonds. Even when the liquid comes back to the room temperature, the energy remains in the liquid. Then this liquid is passed through a catalyst that forms a reaction by heating it by 63 °C. As the molecule returns to its original form, the energy is released into the form of heat. This heat can be utilized for water heaters and other applications.
Among innovative measures taken to store solar energy, installation of solar panels over water bodies is one of the major steps taken by governments. Singapore has been building floating farms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As there is a scarcity of land, no rivers, and no strong winds to utilize turbines, government authorities have been trying to make the most of the available solar energy. It undertook the mission of installing plants on the reservoirs and coasts. Jen Tan, the Senior Vice President and Head of Solar in Southeast Asia at Sembcorp Industries, outlined that water areas available in the country presents a great potential after exhaustion of land and rooftops. In addition, the sea levels are on the rise due to climate change. The 13,000 solar panels have been built from the coast to Johor Strait. These panels can produce five megawatts of energy and supply power to nearly 1,400 flats per year.
According to the study published in Nature Sustainability, installation of solar panels over water canals of California would save nearly 63 billion gallons of water and lead to production of nearly 13 gigawatts of power. By covering canals with solar panels can lessen the evaporation. In addition, it can improve the efficiency of solar panels through a cooling effect. In addition, it would save the land as it does not need to be covered by solar panels. Experts have been recommending people to install solar panels on the roof instead of ground.
By Swapnil Jadhav, Digital Marketing Specialist, Allied Analytics LLP,