Mixed energies hold key to future: Shankar

 The oil reserves will be over within next 40 years and coal reserves would end in 130 years. Combination of energies is the answer for future requirements, said Dr K N Shankara, Satish Dhawan Professor, ISRO headquarters, here on Friday.

Addressing the students at the National Institute of Engineering (NIE) on ‘Innovative Applications of Space Technologies and Future Possibilities’, Dr Shankara said a combination of energy resources will have to be applied to meet the future needs, he said.

“Sun seems to be dominant solution since it provides high levels of energy compared to all other renewable sources. In fact, energy resources being used by us today are a a one percent of solar energy,” he said.

Observing that windmills too have ‘theoretical potential’, Dr Shankara said in practice it would be much lower because of restrictions for placing windmills. “However it can serve only as intermedial solution.” he said adding, ocean thermal has poor thermodynamic efficiency and hence, not a promising solution.

Hoping that Hydro Electric is a good solution, which depends on the availability of strategic waterways and needs to preserve aquatic ecosystems in order to safeguard the equations within the ecology, Dr Shankara said Solar power makes sense in the long term, economically.  “There are two primary methods – Solar cells – not economical and has environmental impact, though convenient for decentralised power production,” he added.

Revealing two emerging energy solutions, Dr Shankara said: “Solar thermal collector, a
low-tech option is more superior.  It uses curved mirrors to focus sunlight on a container of water to create steam, which runs a turbine to produce electricity. Another alternative is powering the vehicles by hydrogen fuel cells or using hydrogen as fuel to replace petrol.”

However, he was quick to add no single energy would play a major role in providing solution to world’s energy demands. “Solution to the global energy supply problem is to diversify with a mix of power sources.

In the light of it, we should look at some high-tech solutions for future generation such as fossil fuel, nuclear fuel, wind power, ground solar, hydro energy, bio fuels and space solar energies,” he observed.

Speaking about Indian scenario, Dr Shankara said average energy consumption in India was lowest compared to world average, but is supposed to grow in the future years. “India plans to bridge the peak deficit suing a number of avenues. Many of them rely on increasing the fossil fuel footprint and hence indeed increase our reliance and dependence on these fossil fuels,” he said.

NIE Chairperson Dr S Subbarao presided over the event. Principal Dr G L Shekhar welcomed the gathering, while E&E HoD Dr Saikumar delivered vote of thanks.

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