Tap renewable energy sources to save ecosystem

MADURAI, MARCH 28 . The concentration of carbon dioxide (Co2), a major green house gas, in the atmosphere has gone up in recent years, increasing the average temperature of the earth surface by 0.6 degree Centigrade. If the current energy supply and demand trends continue, the Co2 concentration could reach 2.5 to 3.5 times the pre-industrial level by 2100, leading to a temperature increase of 1.4 to 5.8 degree Centigrade, said the Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) Vice-Chancellor, P. K. Ponnuswamy, quoting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He was inaugurating a two-day workshop on `Testing and Maintenance of Solar Collectors and Cookers', sponsored by the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources and organised by the Regional Solar Energy Testing Centre, School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, MKU. He said such a condition could have devastating effects such as erratic changes in weather, spread of infectious diseases, rise in the sea level, reduction in crop yield and damage to the ecosystem. What was needed now was a clean energy that could be sustained through higher efficiency and greater use of renewable energy sources.

Around two billion people (one-third of the world population) did not use electricity or modern cooking fuels, and less than 30 per cent of the rural households used electricity and more than 55 per cent of the farmland was cultivated with animal power in the country. Since India was committed to reducing the green house gas emissions in phases and its energy import bill was a little over $ 17 billion a year, it had to go in for an optimal mix of non-renewable sources, such as nuclear power, and renewable sources such as solar, biomass, wind and hydro, he said. The aim was to achieve 10 per cent share, or 10,000 MW, of the total installed capacity from renewable sources by 2012 from the present three per cent, or 3,409 MW, he noted.

With the wind energy potential of 45,000 MW, biomass power of 19,500 MW, solar photo-voltaic power of 20 MW a square kilometre and solar thermal power of 1,400 lakh square metres of collector area, the main aim was to meet the rural needs such as pumping of water for irrigation through solar photo-voltaic batteries and drying of farm products through solar air heaters. The country had come of age in utilising the technologies of solar thermal energy, he said, adding the number of manufacturers of solar gadgets was on the rise, and the economics of these systems had been improving.

P. Muthusubramanian, Principal Investigator, Regional Solar Energy Testing Centre, Samuel Paul Raj, Syndicate Member and L. Venkatesh, Head, Department of Natural Resources and Waste Recycling, School of Energy Sciences, S. M. Vijayakumar, Senior Manager, Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency, and R. Kasturi Bai, Professor and Coordinator, School of Energy Sciences, participated in the function.