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Using solar energy: four ways

SOLAR energy is the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source available. The countries which have been able to capture this great source of energy have cut down their running expenses of homes, commercial plazas and industrial units. In Sri Lanka most of the industrial and commercial units are run on solar energy. We have a bright sun from Peshawar to Karachi throughout the year. Today`s technology allows us to capture this power in several ways, giving public and commercial entities flexible ways to employ both the heat and the light of the sun. Solar energy is the ultimate solution to our problem. Continuous rise in the prices of furnace oil and diminishing resources of natural gas compel us to switch to some alternative and viable source of energy. The greatest challenge the Pakistan solar market faces is scaling up production and distribution of solar energy technology to drive the price down to be on a par with traditional fossil fuel sources. As a matter of fact, it is one-time investment but still consumers (both residential and commercial) fail to understand the long-term benefits of this technology. Our economy has changed from a mainly agricultural base to a strong service base. Agriculture now only accounts for about 20 per cent of the GDP, while the service sector accounts for 53 per cent of the GDP. Significant foreign investments have been made in several areas, including the telecommunications, real estate and energy. Other important industries include apparel and textiles (accounting for nearly 60 per cent of exports), food processing, chemicals manufacture, and iron and steel industries. Pakistan`s exports in 2008 amounted to $20.62bn. Pakistan is a rapidly developing country that needs multiple sources of energy to fulfil its needs in agricultural, as well as industrial, sector. Mechanised farming has increased needs of energy even in rural areas many times. In remote areas like Balochistan with thin population density, solar energy is thought to be the most appropriate alternative. Solar energy can be produced on a distributed basis, called distributed generation, with equipment located on rooftops or on ground-mounted fixtures close to where the energy is used. Large-scale concentrating solar power systems can also produce energy at a central power plant. There are four ways we harness solar energy photovoltaics (converting light to electricity), heating and cooling systems (solar thermal), concentrating solar power (utility scale), and lighting. Active solar energy systems employ devices that convert the sun`s heat or light to another form of energy we use. Passive solar refers to special siting, design or building materials that take advantage of the sun`s position and availability to provide direct heating or lighting. Passive solar also considers the need for shading devices to protect buildings from excessive heat from the sun. The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) is located in Islamabad. The government created the AEDB in May 2003 to act as the central national body on the subject of renewable energy. The Gharo Wind Power Plant is one of the first projects of the Alternative Energy Development Board. To great surprise, the AEDB has not been able to put forward any thing viable and practical. Probably it has become our usual practice to make committees, boards, commissions, etc . Pakistan needs result-oriented efforts to overcome the energy crisis in the country. It is hoped that the AEDB will concentrate on solar energy options that suit to our climate and weather conditions.

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