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India sets out ambitious solar power plan to be paid for by rich nations

Maseeh Rahman, The Guardian
India has decided to push ahead with a vastly ambitious plan to tap the power of the sun to generate clean electricity, and after a meeting chaired by the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, it wants rich nations to pay the bill.

Although India has virtually no solar power now, the plan envisages the country generating 20GW from sunlight by 2020. Global solar capacity is predicted to be 27GW by then, according to the International Energy Agency, meaning India expects to be producing 75% of this within just 10 years…

The plan provoked prolonged discussion at a meeting of the national climate change council in New Dehli yesterday, which resulted in major changes from early drafts. The draft document had envisaged a government subsidy of around $20bn (£11bn), and falling production costs, in order to achieve a long-term 2040 target of 200GW of solar power.

But experts pointed out that a large government subsidy contradicted the Indian government’s stated position in the negotiations to agree a treaty to fight global warming. India, along with China and others, has demanded that the costs of clean technologies should be carried by developed nations, which have grown rich through their heavy use of fossil fuels…
(4 August 2009)

Asian giants put the West’s targets for solar energy in the shade

Jeremy Page, The Times
For years India and China have been cast in the West as the biggest obstacles to international agreement on how to tackle climate change. Now the two emerging economic giants of Asia have challenged the West to match their bold plans to develop solar power.

India’s unveiling of a National Solar Mission comes soon after China revised its solar energy targets upwards to 2 gigawatts (2 billion watts) installed capacity by 201 and 20GW by 2020.

India now aims to produce 10 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2020, while China is targeting 20 per cent. China is already the world’s fourth largest producer of wind power and makes half of the world’s solar panels.

By contrast President Obama has set a goal of 10 per cent renewable energy use by 2012 and 25 per cent by 2025, but has yet to lay out a plan to achieve those targets — which are being watered down by Congress…
(3 August 2009)

Boom in hydropower pits fish against climate

Kim Murphy, Chicago Tribune originally in LA Times
The Rocky Reach Dam has straddled the wide, slow Columbia River since the 1950s. It generates enough electricity to supply homes and industries across Washington and Oregon.

But the dam in recent years hasn’t produced as much power as it might: Its massive turbines act as deadly blender blades to young salmon, and engineers often have had to let the river flow over the spillway to halt the slaughter, wasting the water’s energy potential.

The ability of the nation’s aging hydroelectric dams to produce energy free of the curse of greenhouse gas emissions and Middle Eastern politics has suddenly made them financially attractive — thanks to the new economics of climate change. Armed with the possibility of powerful new cap-and-trade financial bonuses, the National Hydropower Assn. has set a goal of doubling the nation’s hydropower capacity by 2025.

Expanding hydropower is fraught with controversy, much of it stemming from the industry’s history of turning wild rivers into industrialized reservoirs struggling to support their remaining fish. The emerging boom in hydroelectric power pits two competing ecological perils against each other: widespread fish extinctions and a warming planet…

…But here at Rocky Reach Dam, engineers say they believe there is a way to reduce emissions, increase power output and save fish at the same time — although at a cost…
(5 August 2009)

Are wind farms a health risk? US scientist identifies ‘wind turbine syndrome’

Margareta Pagano, The Independent
Living too close to wind turbines can cause heart disease, tinnitus, vertigo, panic attacks, migraines and sleep deprivation, according to groundbreaking research to be published later this year by an American doctor.

Dr Nina Pierpont, a leading New York paediatrician, has been studying the symptoms displayed by people living near wind turbines in the US, the UK, Italy, Ireland and Canada for more than five years. Her findings have led her to confirm what she has identified as a new health risk, wind turbine syndrome (WTS). This is the disruption or abnormal stimulation of the inner ear’s vestibular system by turbine infrasound and low-frequency noise, the most distinctive feature of which is a group of symptoms which she calls visceral vibratory vestibular disturbance, or VVVD. They cause problems ranging from internal pulsation, quivering, nervousness, fear, a compulsion to flee, chest tightness and tachycardia – increased heart rate. Turbine noise can also trigger nightmares and other disorders in children as well as harm cognitive development in the young, she claims. However, Dr Pierpont also makes it clear that not all people living close to turbines are susceptible…
(2 August 2009)
UPDATE August 9, 2009. EB contributor Carl Etnier wrote:
Thanks for your post to the article in The Independent about Wind Turbine Syndrome. I’ve spent quite a bit of time today looking at Nina Pierpont’s work and trying to decide whether she’s documented enough that it’s worth putting her on the radio.

My conclusion is that Pierpont’s self-published research doesn’t show causation of the symptoms by living near wind turbines, and so is insufficient for making any policy decisions. She raises enough issues that it seems worth doing follow-up studies, if they haven’t already been done.

Anyway, I thought Gar Lipow’s article and the conversation in the comments section added a good perspective. Would you post it next to the link to the article in The Independent?…