What is power?
The word “power” is associated with authority, clout or control, which generally means ability or capacity to act. It is generally associated with political power, which can be abused and can corrupt. Even so, it is desirable when we want as we do in the case of empowerment of women, so that with power, women can protect themselves and get their due place in the society. In the present situation, power more importantly means energy, the generation of which becomes more and more essential, not only for comfortable life, but also for economic life by being the need for production. The clean energy causing negligible pollution is what is most desired, so that renewable energy which is the main source of power is vital for development. There is considerable research going on all over the world in search of less expensive and more effective power causing least pollution.
How is it measured?
Fuel like dry wood or coal has been the source of energy from time immemorial. One kilogram of coal releases much more energy than a kilogram of TNT, when detonated. Power is measured by the work performed over a period of time. Power in mechanical systems is the combination of forces and movement. In particular, power is the product of a force on an object and the object’s velocity, or the product of a torque on a shaft and the shaft’s angular velocity. Unit of power is watt and the other units of power are erg per second, horse power, metric horse power, cheval vapeur or foot pounds per minute. There are other measures depending upon the industry as tons for refrigeration. In short, power is measured by the work performed.
Sources of power
Sources of power may be wind or the Sun apart from the natural resources like coal and petroleum which, however, get depleted. Power and solar power are also relatively pollution free. Energy in one form is created from hydraulic power converting mechanical energy into electricity. Availability of coal in plenty had delayed the use of the other forms of power but increasing attention is now being shown to renewable energy all over the world. India has a National Power Grid enabling free transmission of power over vast distances. Coal which triggered industrial revolution, later substituted by wood and biomas, has been gradually replaced by fossil fuels mainly petroleum. But this too gets depleted over the years.
Oil has become a source of politics with oil embargo in 1973 and energy crisis in 1979 spelling out a major shift and offering a boost for wind and solar energy.
International Energy Agency is a multi-national effort for development of affordable, inexhaustible and clean solar energy. With energy efficiency, it is possible to decarbonise global economy paving the way for greener society and limiting the climate change, giving hope that the human race can survive even when the natural resources of coal and petroleum get completely exhausted. The technology for energy has developed by leaps and bounds. An International Organisation for Standardisation has been set up.
Storage of power
The storage of energy is the main problem and has been a subject matter of study and research. Paraffin wax and glauber’s salt were materials for thermal storage. Solar energy is stored in molten salts to retain the high temperature. Rechargeable batteries are another source of storage. Conservation of energy through power grids is what is feasible for storage, whether it is from hydraulic power, wind and solar energy.
Federal Photo Voltaic Universal Programme by the US and Sunshine Programme in Japan with Germany with its solar energy projects not far behind in 1990s have developed means of storage. The growth has been phenomenal with solar energy amounting to 20 per cent of the available energy needs in China. Solar water heating meets household needs. Energy in the process of cooling is another major technological discovery.
Use of solar power
Solar powered car is on the way. So is the solar powered aircrafts with research in U.S. and in Africa. Solar boat has been commissioned in 1995. The first solar powered crossing of the Atlantic Ocean was achieved in the winter of 2006-2007. There are plans to circumnavigate the globe with transport vehicle. Unmanned solar flight has also come within the reach of possibility. Solar balloons can offer inexpensive human flight but now limited as playthings. Passenger boats now use solar energy. It is widely used for air-conditioning. High-rise buildings are now required to set up solar panels for supplementing its needs.
Solar architecture to make maximum use of nature has a history in India with Le Corbusier who has designed and planned Chandigarh City in India. Both Germany and U.S. have made considerable progress in solar architecture with solar lighting, heating and ventilation, all being made available in a solar designed package. Cool Communities Programme in Los Angeles is one such effort. Probably all major housing colonies will soon ensure solar architecture with law requiring it to be followed.
Green houses which convert solar light into heat can be used for agriculture. In fact, such green houses were in use from Roman times. Considerable savings in creation of energy is possible with improvement in technology. Agriculture has immense scope from solar
Pollution free solar power is converted into electricity using the photoelectric cells. India has MW Charanka Solar Park comparable to such power stations in the rest of the world. Countries like Spain and Middle East have also gone a big way for using the solar energy. Indonesia has used it for disinfection. Conversion of sea energy to potable drinking water has been successful in Israel, some Arab countries and Chile. Countries which are not located in tropics can collect solar power and store them for use during the lean period by technology, which has been popularised by World Health Organisation to ensure daily drinking water. Heating process is used for drying marigolds in Coimbatore and coffee beans in Costa Rica. A vast commercial enterprise has been set up as Solar Total Energy Project (STEP) in Shenandoah, Georgia in U.S.A. Solar cooker by producing steam is used for cooking in Auroville in Puducherry.
China claims to be the world leader in solar heating water system. Commercial adaptations of the use of the solar power is an ongoing process. UN development programmes in 2000 keeps a tab and has created an international energy agency in 2011.
The next alternate source of renewable energy is the wind power. Windmills used for drawing water from the wells had been in common use in Netherlands in former times. Wind farms to produce mechanical power is one of the main source of power assuming greater importance world over. Denmark has been producing 20 per cent of its need from the winds. American Midwest and Australia also rely upon wind energy to a large extent. Wind mills have a long history as old as hydraulic power from water falls. The largest production from wind farm is from China with Muppandagal Wind Farm in India occupying a second place with Jaisalmar Wind Park again being one of the largest wind farms in India. Most of the bigger farms are in U.S.
By location of the turbines in land, direct use for agriculture is possible from wind power. A wind farm may even be offshore. Offshore wind farms are in vogue mainly in UK and to some extent in Denmark and Germany. Transformers connected with high voltage power enables transmission. An elaborate transmission system connects the wind farm to the grid.
US Government has taken many steps to encourage renewable energy by installation of wind farms. It is making pioneering efforts to harness wind energy with power capacity increasing from year to year. It has got a separate Department of Energy to monitor progress of use of renewable energy. There has been a significant world-wide development. A study in 2014 shows that there are sources like wind turbines with a total capacity of about three lakh MW with China alone producing 50000 MW.
Most of the countries other than US, Germany and China and now France, Canada and Sweden and Australia participate in harnessing wind energy. Countries traditionally backward in science and technology, have also made significant progress in wind energy as in Turkey and Brazil.
Development of renewable energy is an unexpected development in matters relating to environment and green technology. Kyoto protocol is an international agreement with the object of replacement of polluting energy generating technologies by replacement of greener equipments causing lesser pollution. Credits are given to industries which adopt techniques causing least pollution, so that there is a direct encouragement for industries, which cause lesser pollution, while polluting industries are required to purchase the credit from others as compensation. It has greatly helped, because industries now find that in view of the ability to cash the green points earned by them, they are able to afford equipments causing lesser pollution, so that there has been a welcome development in reducing the pollution which is now a world wide effort.
Hon’ble Minister for power Mr. Piyush Goel has admitted the present shortage of power and hopes with atomic power now proposed to be extended and the power for renewable energy would solve the issue in course of time. Tax incentives would help to expedite the achievement of this goal. Sun and Rain are our gods but getting their boons is now in our hands.
Prolific Writter and Renowned Tax Consultant