Can Solar Energy Replace Oil Based Fuels?

In short, no. Over the last seven years, the governments of the world have spent billions of dollars on renewable energy sources with the hope of eliminating the need for oil based fuels. Most of the money was spent with good intentions. Unfortunately, several projects did not meet the projected goal and the money was wasted.

A recent article I read highlighted a solar farm built in India by Greenpeace that is an example of this waste. Some people touted the solar farm as the solution to India’s electrical power needs. In the city of Dharnai was provided a solar farm to fill its electrical needs. The people of this village were not happy with the solar farm because it does not connect them to the countries electrical grid. They connected the city to the grid until 1981. Greenpeace became involved because it wants India to stop all new coal mining and coal-fired power plants because of emissions (Activists, 2015). In one example the solar grid provided a family one light bulb and one electrical outlet for their house. When the system came online, the usage was so heavy that it drained the batteries used to store the electricity. Many were left without power. The solution was to limit the power to five hours at night. The citizens were also told not to use high energy usage devices. The Indian government then connected the city to the main electrical grid. The solar farm is now used only by a few and when the grid drops power. Some had hoped this city could have been a model solution that other locations could emulate.

I really wish we had solved the problem of providing electricity to everyone without polluting the environment, but we have not. Nor will we have solved this problem for at least two more decades. The use of micro-grid solar farms to reduce emissions does not work. First in the case of Dharnai the solar farm does not reduce any emissions because the village was not on the coal-fired electrical grid. Unfortunately, the cost of this is also beyond what most people in the village can afford. In the future, I hope that green energy projects are vetted to ensure they will meet the goals of the project before any money is spent.

Bibliography:

NATIONS: Activists say solar can power India, but politics .., http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060026477 (accessed July 18, 2016).

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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