Eternal Energy Day
There is nothing new under the sun – least of all, the idea of solar energyBill Kovarik
in “The Surprising History of sustainable Energy”
20 August is celebrated as “Akshay Urja Diwas” in India to mark the importance of renewable energy resources and bring awareness amongst citizens. Started in 2004 with the release of a commemorative stamp and participation of many schoolchildren forming a human chain to promote renewable energy. When it started it has been linked to the birth anniversary of late Shri Rajiv Gandhi.
Not all energies listed under renewable energy sources are renewable. A search on the web would lead to the description of renewable energy is that energy derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. Falling under the category is Electricity and heat generated from solar, wind, ocean, hydropower, biomass, geothermal, biofuels with hydrogen joining the list.
“Akshay” translates in English to “Eternal”, “Imperishable”, “indestructible”. To bring awareness about alternate abundant sources of energy the description “Akshay Urja” is very appropriate.
Access to uninterrupted and affordable energy is the key to raise the quality of life and living standards of all segments of the population. With a population soon touching 1.4 billion and being one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India’s energy needs play an important role in the future world energy scenarios. India is making great strides towards affordable, secure, and cleaner energy. Significant progress has been made in reducing the use of traditional biomass in cooking, the chief cause of indoor air pollution that particularly affects women and children.
When humans started walking, they started generating energy use of domesticated animal power and moved to waterpower, wind, windmills, and firewood. Then coal as a source of energy in the middle of the 19th century and the use of electricity changed the way people live. Before the development of coal, nearly all energy used was renewable. The oldest known use of renewable energy is biomass. Harnessing wind energy is probably the second oldest, recall its use to navigate the ships across the oceans. Geothermal energy has been used in ancient times for heating the water bathing and space heating since ancient Roman times.
The fear of the world running out of energy sources was expressed by many thinkers and researcher’s way back to 1860s much before the energy consumption was not as rampant as it is now.
The time will arrive when the industry of Europe will cease to find those natural resources, so necessary for it. Petroleum springs and coal mines are not inexhaustible but are rapidly diminishing in many places. Will man, then, return to the power of water and wind? Or will he emigrate where the most powerful source of heat sends its rays to all? History will show what will comeAugustine Mouchot
(French researcher in 1873)
Harnessing the solar energy could be the answer, was indicated way back in 1885. Werner von Siemens, commenting on the discovery of the photovoltaic effect in the solid-state, said “the practical value of this discovery is in the supply of solar energy for countless ages after all the coal deposits of the earth have been exhausted and forgotten”
There are two issues for ensuring energy security. Most important of it is to ensure access and use of energy in a sustainable way. The second aspect of it is to avoid or minimise the impact of the use of energy on the environment and climate change. If coal and oil are used as an energy source, CO2 would continue to pollute the environment. Use of gas is no less polluting than coal as the primary process of extracting energy by burning gas results in the generation of CO2.
As it stands today, all forms of alternate energy sources suffer from limitations of uninterrupted availability. Hydro and Wind are influenced by seasonal factors, for harnessing Solar the struggle is the availability factors. At best it is available for 10 hours a day and that too not all the days of the years. The potential of geothermal is yet to be realised. The race for finding efficient and economical storage is to be won if coal and oil to be replaced by Solar. It is to be realised sooner if we need to save the planet from the perils of climate change.
One form of energy which would save the world is nuclear, which is renewable, large scale multipliable and capable of replacing coal. The fear and apprehensions in the public caused by accidents like Chernobyl or Fukushima need to be addressed. Same is the case with how to handle waste coming out of operating the nuclear plants. These need to be looked in the perspectives of environmental damages caused by large scale oil spills, accidents in mines. And the damage caused by this one molecule, CO2, and the resultant climate change. More importantly, the world needs to take urgent steps to reduce its carbon footprint. Earlier we do better is to mother earth.
In celebrating the “Akshay Urja Divas” all of us, the government, people and society to express our commitment, to reduce our consumption and use which is renewable. While the pursuit of progress and enhancing the quality of life should continue to make this world a better place, it is equally important that we leave mother earth inhabitable for the future generations and we owe it to them.
Toons: Reema Jaiswal and Chhavi Sharma
Logs: Sai Baba