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Homemade hydropower lights up Tajikistan

Anora Sarkorova and Takhmina Ubaidulloeva, Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region had until recently largely escaped the energy crisis gripping the rest of the country. But on the night of February 5 the lights went off following an accident at the local power station that flooded the turbine room and shut down vital equipment. It’s not yet clear how long it will take to fix the damage though officials have promised some service by mid-March.

In the meantime, electricity is restricted to three hours a day in the region’s administrative centre Khorog. Schools, factories and construction projects have shut down and bread shortages have been reported. Residents are coping with freezing winter temperatures by chopping down trees to burn as fuel and sending children to stay with relatives with wood burning stoves. ..

Such hardships have forced Tajiks living in rural communities to take matters into their own hands. Some villagers in isolated and mountainous regions have built mini-hydroelectric stations which can provide electricity for an entire village.

Ustokadam Saodatkadamov built one out of used car parts and it now provides electricity to 30 homes in the Shugnan region’s Bachid village in Gorno-Badakhshan. Abdolbek Nazarshoev, a resident of Khuf in the Rushan region of Gorno-Badakhshan, has also built his own hydroelectric station for around 1,300-1,500 US dollars. He harnessed water from a nearby canal and diverted it through a turbine which powers an engine that produces electricity for the village.

He says the station has already paid for itself, though needs careful monitoring to make sure it doesn’t break down. “We don’t have problems with light anymore,” said Nazarshoev. “Imagine how hard it is to have a wedding or funeral in winter. It’s impossible to do this without electricity, but now everything is in order here. We reached an agreement with our neighbours, and every night one of us watches over the station, checks the state of the units and whether the river has frozen over.” ..
(21 Feb 2007)

First bulbs, now a push to turn hot water green

Wendy Frew, Sydney Morning Herald
A FEDERAL Government proposal to phase out inefficient light bulbs in a bid to tackle climate change has been welcomed by energy experts and environmentalists, who hope it will lead to other energy efficiency programs.

The plan to introduce new lighting standards legislation by 2010, announced yesterday by the Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, could be replicated in areas such as home insulation and hot water systems, they said. ..

The founder of the “Ban the Bulb” campaign, Jon Dee, said statistics from the light bulb manufacturer Philips showed there were 135 million incandescent light bulbs in Australian homes, about 17 per household.

Replacing them with compact fluorescents, which last about six times as long, represented a saving to the consumer of $30 over the lifetime of the bulb, or a $170 cut to electricity bills every year.

On a national basis, the change-over would knock off $1.3 billion from the annual household electricity bill, and save 13.2 billion kilowatts of power a year.

Although the proposal was a good first step, it did not take much political courage because it didn’t upset any industry lobby groups, the managing director of the energy efficiency company Big Switch, Gavin Gilchrist, said.
(21 Feb 2007)
Contributor David Bell writes: While the banning of incandescent globes is a small step, its important we keep taking such steps. Solar hot water in Australia is another no brainer, with off peak hot water systems is another relic of the past. These are really about culture change and thinking differently.

Contributor MA cites a related story from MSNBC (Australia to ban incandescent bulbs) and writes:I had a comment published in The Independent’s article on solutions to Global Warming. The comment was “ban the incandescent lightbulb” I wonder if Mr Howard saw it?

Compact fluorescent bulbs of course are not perfect, as they contain small amounts of mercury and need to be disposed of carefully. -LJ

Running the numbers: art with a message

Sarah Rich, WorldChanging
Just a few years ago, photographer Chris Jordan was corporate lawyer Chris Jordan, working long hours in Seattle and snapping pictures on the weekend. But as he approached his fortieth birthday, he began to wonder if in forty more years he’d look back with regret at having relegated his passion to the realm of hobby and never tried to make it as a professional artist. So he resigned.

It didn’t take long before Jordan’s jarring, perspective-changing images of consumer waste and electronic detritus made it to the pages of the New York Times. The series they featured, “Intolerable Beauty,” shows mountains of cells phones, shipping containers and palettes, crushed cars at the junkyard, cut timber, filling the frame with a blur of overconsumption. Later, Jordan produced an arresting series entitled “In Katrina’s Wake” (no explanation needed for the subject of that collection).

And now, he’s released his newest series, “Running the Numbers,” which uses imagery to illustrate some incomprehensible statistics.
(21 Feb 2007)
See Christ Jordan’s site with reproduction and explanations: Running the Numbers / An American Self-Portrait. Hat tip to Jason Bradford.