Solar Energy a solution?

Over the last decade, solar energy seems to be an outstanding investment for people abroad. This trend is gradually taking place in India also, a solar power plant 750MW was inaugurated in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh on July 10th, 2020 by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi through video conferencing. Several other power plants show promising results in reducing the carbon footprint by approximately 15 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This shows India’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprints. The advocates of Non-Conventional energy Resources usually emphasize Solar Energy as the panacea. But is it this way or there is some bigger demon lurking out there? Solar power plants have some major drawbacks associated with them, decreasing the carbon footprint level is irrefutably a major advantage but a coin always has two sides, and therefore solar power plants have their drawbacks. The foremost drawback is the associated higher initial cost is one of a limitation and therefore people are reluctant to install in their homes. The cumulative cost of solar panels is staggering. Also, solar plants need a lot of land for installation, Rewa power plant India’s 4th largest plant covers 1500 hectares land. Although being located in a drought-hit area still has several complications of its own like disturbing the delicate ecosystems and species. Birds flying atop plants get incinerated, some crash into panels and other infrastructure. Many science believe that such large conglomeration of panels does more harm than good, it’s better to have rooftop panels rather than solar farms. Still, academic research is going on, and therefore nothing can be said for sure. Although they have low maintenance still some problems can creep in, as nothing is foolproof. Some common defects include microcracking, delamination, internal corrosion. Microcracks are cracks invisible to the human eye but weathering effects show telling effects. Due to these cracks moisture creeps in, cause delamination and corrosion of the internal components, thereby attenuating the panel. Solar panels might be seen as a viable option in the deserts due to the low maintenance and huge input but they require water as a part of their maintenance due to the huge sunlight and dirt that accumulates on to them. Hot spots build at these spots causing the panel to overheat and to overcome the problem clean water is required to wash away the dirt. At places which are already fighting the battle for potable water, using waters at such farms seems implausible and unethical. While solar farms don’t have any associated greenhouse emissions during the production of energy, but still the emissions during the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, decommissioning need to be considered.
To bring down the carbon emissions to compelling values governments should provide incentives for solar installations and those incentives should reach the consumer rather than being used up in bureaucratic friction. Since this technology is still embryonic, researches are still going therefore it won’t be wise to comment. But looking at the aforementioned points it is wise to have rooftops solar panels rather than solar farms.

Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash