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Non-conventional Sources of Energy

  • Last Updated : 22 Sep, 2021

Renewable energy sources, often known as non-conventional energy, are sources that are renewed by natural processes on a continual basis. Solar energy, wind energy, bio-energy (bio-fuels cultivated sustainably), hydropower, and other sustainable energy sources are some examples.  

A renewable energy system transforms energy from the sun, wind, falling water, sea waves, geothermal heat, or biomass into heat or electricity that humans can utilize. The majority of renewable energy originates from the sun and wind, either directly or indirectly, and can never be depleted, which is why it is termed renewable.

However, traditional energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas provide the majority of the world’s energy. Non-renewable energy sources are the word used to describe these fuels. Despite the fact that the accessible amount of these fuels is enormous, they are finite and will, in theory, ‘run out’ at some point in the future.

Why is it necessary to use non-conventional energy sources?

With rising energy use, the population is becoming increasingly reliant on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. Because the prices of gas and oil continue to rise with each passing day, it is necessary to guarantee future energy supplies. As a result, we must employ more and more renewable energy sources. The government of India has established a distinct department called the “Department of non-conventional sources of energy” for the effective exploitation of non-conventional sources.

Some advantages of Non-conventional energy sources: 

  • They are renewable in nature.
  • They produce little or no pollution as compared to traditional energy sources.
  • They require little maintenance.
  • They are a long-term cost-effective choice.

Some disadvantages of Non-conventional energy sources:

  • The initial setup cost is greater.
  • Energy cannot be taken 24/7, year-round, because certain days will be windier than others, and the sun will shine. stronger on other days.
  • Energy must be stored. Geographical locations might be difficult to navigate.

Non-conventional Sources of Energy

1. Solar Energy

Since prehistoric times, solar energy has been the most easily available and free source of energy. Every year, solar energy estimated to be equivalent to approximately 15,000 times the world’s annual commercial energy consumption reaches the planet. For 300 to 330 days per year, India receives solar energy in the range of 5 to 7 kWh/m2. This energy is enough to run a 20-megawatt solar power plant per square kilometer of land.  

The NTPC project would have nearly twice the capacity of Rajasthan’s Bhadla solar park, which is presently the country’s largest single-location solar power plant. By 2032, NTPC hopes to have built 60 GW (gigawatts) of renewable energy capacity.

“Longer-term benefits will come from the development of affordable, unlimited, and clean solar energy technologies,” the International Energy Agency declared in 2011. It would strengthen countries’ energy security by depending on an abundant, limitless, and mostly import-free supply. It boosts sustainability, decreases pollution, cut climate change mitigation costs, and keep fossil fuel prices lower than they would be otherwise. These benefits are widespread. As a result, the increased expenses of early deployment incentives should be viewed as learning expenditures that must be carefully spent and equitably shared “. Australia has the highest amount of solar power in the world, accounting for 9.9% of total electricity demand in 2020.

Solar thermal devices are utilized in residential and industrial solar water heaters, air warmers, solar cookers, and solar dryers.

a) Solar water heaters:

It comprises a thin, flat, rectangular box installed on the roof of a building or residence with a transparent cover towards the sun. Small tubes go through the box, carrying the fluid to be heated, which might be water or another fluid like an antifreeze solution. The tubes are connected to a heat-absorbing absorber plate, which is coated with specific coatings. Heat is generated in the collector and transferred to the fluid flowing through the tubes.

The most efficient, but also the most expensive, form of hot water solar collector is the evacuated tube collector. Glass or metal tubes with a vacuum are used in these collectors, allowing them to work in colder areas.

b) Solar cooker:

A solar cooker is a device that cooks using sun energy, reducing the need for fossil fuels, wood, and electricity to a considerable amount. However, it can only be used to augment cooking fuel, not to completely replace it. It is a basic cooking device that is suitable for home use throughout most of the year, with the exception of the monsoon season, overcast days, and the winter months. Solar cookers in a box: In India, the box solar cookers with a single reflecting mirror are the most common. These cookers have become quite popular in rural regions where women spend a significant amount of time gathering firewood.

c) Solar Photovoltaic (PV):

Using the photoelectric effect, a photovoltaic system transforms light into electrical direct current (DC). Solar PV has grown into a multibillion-dollar, fast-growing business that is continuing to increase its cost-effectiveness and, together with CSP, has the highest promise of any renewable technology. Lenses or mirrors, as well as tracking systems, are used in concentrated solar power (CSP) systems to focus a wide region of sunlight into a tiny beam. Concentrated solar power facilities were first produced commercially in the 1980s.

The technical name for solar electric is photovoltaic. Photo is short for “light,” while voltaic is short for “electric.” PV cells are typically constructed of silicon, a material that releases electrons spontaneously when exposed to light. The amount of electrons emitted by silicon cells is proportional to the amount of light shining on it. The silicon cell is encased in a metal grid that guides electrons along a route to produce an electric current. This current is directed into a wire that connects to a battery or a DC device. One cell typically produces 1.5 watts of electricity. Individual cells are linked to make a solar panel or module with a power output of 3 to 110 watts. Solar panels may be linked in series and parallel to form a solar array that can produce as much power as space allows. Modules are typically intended to provide 12 volts of power. The peak Watt production of PV modules is measured at solar noon on a clear day.

d) Pumps for Solar Water:

The pump in a solar water pumping system is powered by a solar-powered motor rather than traditional energy taken from the utility grid. A solar array placed on a platform and a motor-pump set compatible with the photovoltaic array make up an SPV water pumping system. It transforms solar energy into electricity, which is then utilized to power the motor-pump system. Water is drawn from an open well, a bore well, a stream, a pond, or a canal via the pumping system.

2. Wind Energy

Wind energy is the process of harnessing wind power to generate electricity. The wind’s kinetic energy is transformed into electrical energy. Because of the earth’s curvature, various parts of the atmosphere are heated to varying degrees when solar radiation enters the atmosphere. The equator receives the most heat, while the poles receive the least.

Winds are created as air moves from warmer to colder locations, and it is these airflows that are captured in windmills and wind turbines to generate electricity. Wind power is not a new discovery; it has been utilized for millennia in the form of conventional windmills – for grinding maize, pumping water, and sailing ships. With improved technology, wind power can now be used to create energy on a bigger scale.

With a potential of 20,000 MW, India has been identified as one of the most attractive countries for wind power development. As of September 2001, the world’s total installed capacity of wind power generators was 23270 MW. Germany has 8100 MW, Spain has 3175 MW, the United States has 4240 MW, Denmark has 2417 MW, and India has 1426 MW. As a result, India is ranked fifth in the world for wind energy generation. Tamil Nadu has 39 wind potential stations, Gujarat has 36, Andhra Pradesh has 30, Maharashtra has 27, Karnataka has 26, Kerala has 16, Lakshadweep has 8, Rajasthan has 7, Madhya Pradesh has 7, Orissa has 7, West Bengal has 2, Andaman Nicobar has 1 and Uttar Pradesh has 1. Seven of the 208 eligible stations had a wind power density of greater than 500 Watts/m2.

3. Biomass Power

Biomass is a renewable energy source made up of carbon-based waste from human and natural activity. It comes from a variety of places, including wood industry by-products, agricultural crops, forest raw material, domestic trash, and so on. Biomass does not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since it absorbs the same amount of carbon throughout its growth as it emits when burned. It has the benefit of being able to generate energy using the same equipment that is now used to burn fossil fuels.

Biomass is a significant source of energy and, after coal, oil, and natural gas, the most important fuel on the planet. Bio-energy, in the form of biogas, is anticipated to become one of the most important energy sources for worldwide sustainable development. Biomass, in the form of Biogas, has a better energy efficiency than direct burning.

Biogas is a clean and efficient fuel made from cow dung, human waste, or any other biological substance that has been fermented anaerobically. The biogas contains 55-60% methane and the remainder is mostly carbon dioxide. Biogas is a non-toxic fuel that may be used for cooking and lighting. The by-product can be used as high-quality manure.

Biomass fuels make for roughly a third of the country’s overall fuel use. It is the primary source of energy for over 90% of rural families and around 15% of urban households. Energy and manure are produced using solely local resources, such as cow dung and other organic wastes. As a result, biogas plants are low-cost energy sources in rural regions.

4. Hydropower

The commencement of the industrial revolution was driven by the potential energy of falling water, which was collected and transformed to mechanical energy by waterwheels.

Rivers and streams were dammed and mills were erected wherever there was enough head or change in elevation. A turbine spins because water under pressure flows through it. The Turbine is linked to a generator, which generates power.

The potential of small hydropower in India is estimated to be over 10,000 MW. By the end of March 1999, India has installed a total of 183.45 MW of small hydro projects. Small hydropower plants with a capacity of 3 MW have been erected separately, while a 148 MW project is now being built.

5. Ocean and Tidal Energy

a) Tidal Energy:

The building of a barrage across an estuary to prevent the incoming and outgoing tides is required for tidal power generation. As with hydroelectric dams, the head of water is utilized to drive turbines that create energy from the raised water in the basin.

Barrages can be built to generate power on the ebb, flood, or both sides of the river. The tidal range can range from 4.5 to 12.4 meters depending on the location. For cost-effective operation and adequate head of water for the turbines, a tidal range of at least 7 m is necessary.

b) Ocean Power:

Oceans encompass more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, making them the biggest solar collectors on the planet. Ocean energy is derived from water waves, tides, and thermal energy (heat) stored in the ocean. The sun warms the topwater far more than the deep ocean water, storing thermal energy in the process.

6. Geothermal Energy

It is a type of energy that comes from the earth. It is trapped in the Earth’s crust at a depth of 10 km in the form of hot springs, geysers, and other natural phenomena. About 250 hot springs with temperatures ranging from 90 to 130 degrees Celsius have been discovered in areas like Puga Valley in Ladakh, Manikaran in Himachal Pradesh, and Tattapani in Chhattisgarh, indicating that India’s geothermal potential is largely found along the Himalayas. The National Aerospace Laboratory in Bangalore has established a pilot project near Manikaran for research and development as well as data collection in order to construct larger geothermal power plants.

India boasts the world’s largest renewable energy programs. In India’s villages and towns, a variety of renewable energy solutions have been created and utilized. In 1992, the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) was established to oversee all aspects of non-conventional and renewable energy. The government of India also established the Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) to assist and give financial assistance for renewable energy projects in the form of subsidies and low-interest loans.

Any country’s long-term economic success and progress are inextricably linked to the development and security of its energy sectors. In light of conventional energy sources’ finite and limited reserves, as well as their environmental effect, a strong focus should be placed on the development of non-conventional energy sectors and their efficient usage for the benefit and advancement of society. Such efforts would also aid in the creation of a large number of job possibilities at all levels, particularly in rural regions. As a result, for emerging countries, mainstreaming non-conventional and renewable energy technology is becoming increasingly important. The non-conventional and renewable energy industries in India have a lot of room for growth. India is the only country with a dedicated ministry for non-conventional energy sources. India has the world’s biggest decentralized solar energy program, the world’s second-largest biogas and improved stove program, and the world’s fifth-largest wind energy program.


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