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Chinese Nomads Leapfrog to Solar
Sarah Rich, 31 Aug 06

solaryurt.jpgAt the moment, China is almost undoubtedly burning coal faster than it's going green; but the renewable energy agenda is nevertheless charging ahead. An article in The Christian Science Monitor touts the benefits of solar for nomadic peoples whose lifestyle has been dramatically altered for the better thanks to government-subsidized photovoltaic units that can sit atop a yurt and power a small heater, radio, TV and a few lightbulbs.

The panels -- which are manufactured by Shell subsidiaries -- are underwritten in part by the Chinese and Dutch governments, leaving the cost to the consumer at approximately 1/10 of a year's income for the average rural nomad. Among the users, there's no doubt that the price is worth paying. One woman interviewed in the article explains that the panel has increased her access to knowledge, helped her children pursue their studies, and protected her animals from predators (thus saving her money):

"Before we had a TV, it would take months for us to find out about news. These are big changes."[...]She favors dramas and news programs in Uighur and her native Kazakh language, but after TV opened new worlds, she switched her children from the local Kazakh school to that of the Han Chinese. Her children will be educated in the language of China's ethnic majority.
"From TV I learned [Mandarin] Chinese is very important to the future, to getting jobs," says Sitkan, her voice becoming insistent. "I hope they go to college. I don't want them to be nomads; it's too hard."

Ambitious deadlines and serious funding have been laid on the line for achieving major reductions in carbon output in China over the next 5-15 years. Corporations, governments and major institutions are getting behind the idea for a host of reasons, but as this article makes clear, it's also important for common citizens - urban and rural alike - to get on board and see [and demonstrate] the far-reaching benefits of adopting clean, efficient, self-sustaining technology.

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Great find, I recently read an article about people in African developing nations are also using solar power much in the same way. Can't recall where I saw it... probably on your site.

We also found a story yesterday reporting that Malaysia is also implementing a solar power plan, these are all small steps, but they will hopefully add up to a giant leap!

Posted by: Kevin Grandia on 31 Aug 06

Apologies for my pathetic grammar, I really should preview these things before I hit post.

Posted by: Kevin Grandia on 31 Aug 06

Watched the very end of the End of the World special on ABC last night. In it, the host asked Gore: With India and China growing so much, what use is it for the US government to get seriously behind global warming mitigation efforts? (I paraphrase) He said that we should be leaders and show China and India the way. I laughed. Because I read this website, and I thought I remembered that China was going to pass the US pretty quickly in its efforts. Don't know if this article supports my thought, but it probably does.

Posted by: ERic on 31 Aug 06

My response to that question that Gore answered would be "would you rather be part of the solution or part of the problem?"

Posted by: Erik on 31 Aug 06

It's great to see some serious efforts in implementing a technology and knowledge "sharing" ideology in remote areas.

I knew of a professor at the University of Calgary who designed LED light systems for villages in Nepal that were dynamo powered and allowed the villages to have light to read by at night. There was another who had designed a robust water filtration system that could by built and transported for very little cost.

Often it's the simple applications of modern technologies that make the most difference in remote lives.

Great article and links.

Posted by: Mike on 1 Sep 06



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