Focus on creating awareness of harnessing solar energy

CHENNAI DEC. 7. First it was rainwater harvesting, then came up solid waste management. And now, the State Government is focussing on creating an awareness of harnessing solar energy, according to speakers at a seminar on solar energy. A wide range of issues concerning generation of electricity to power electrical appliances such as water heaters, bulbs and tube lights, designing energy efficient buildings with passive solar cooling and ventilation, were discussed at the seminar on use of solar energy for architects, engineers and builders here on Saturday. K. Allaudin, Chairman and Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency, which organised the seminar, said suggestions were forwarded to the Government two months ago to instal solar water heating systems in hospitals, hotels, lodges, hostels, barracks of the army, police and paramilitary forces, marriage halls and community centres, railway stations, airports and other public places. ``The glazed materials used as an ornamentation for buildings can be replaced with solar panels.

R. Sethumadavan, coordinator, Institute for Energy Studies, Anna University, said air-conditioning consumed 65 per cent of energy while lighting accounted for 25 per cent. ``Replacing incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps that require only one-tenth of the energy and electronic chokes instead of the usual copper ones in tube lights can help reduce electricity consumption.'' Moin Singh D. Devadoss, professor, School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, spoke on maintaining the humidity level in buildings in Chennai through a passive approach to design, landscaping, site and building planning.

K. Ramamurthy, associate professor, Building Technology and Construction, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-Madras, said it was important to devise a climate-conscious architecture. ``We have deviated from this principle due to pressure for space,'' he said. ``In modern apartment complexes, ducts connected to exhausts in the terrace can create a negative pressure in toilets and kitchens. Automatically, air will be sucked in from living rooms and bedrooms which in turn take air from outside through doors and windows.'' Jayalakshmi and Sri Ram Surendranath, architects at the Measi Academy of Architecture, stressed on a need to create awareness of energy efficiency.

The U.S. Department of Energy was promoting solar power through a contest for designing and operating the most attractive and effective solar-powered homes, Ms. Jayalakshmi said, adding the awareness should begin at the school level itself. K.E. Raghunathan, entrepreneur, called for designing roofs with solar collectors as done in several hotels and hospitals in Chennai. The seminar was inaugurated by D. Jayakumar, Minister for Law, Information Technology and Electricity.