Water & Energy Solutions

Here Comes the Sun: Taking Solar Power to Grid-Scale

A line-concentrator solar power plant in the Mojave Desert, California.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
March 2008 World Rivers ReviewWhat renewable energy source is highly reliable and predictable, especially productive during the hours of highest electricity use, can be scaled small enough to power one building or big enough to electrify a town, is a proven technology whose costs keep dropping, creates more jobs than gas or coal, and could, with a major rollout, displace 2-3 billion tons of carbon annually worldwide? The answer is concentrating solar power, which uses mirrors and the power of the sun to run steam turbines. Unlike some other energy innovations being put forth today - "cle

Dams and Levees Heighten Flood Danger in a Warming World

Sunday, July 29, 2007
This op-ed first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, July 29, 2007 Floods are the most destructive, most frequent and most costly natural disasters on Earth. And they're getting worse. Large parts of central and western England are underwater in the worst flooding in 60 years. Insurers estimate the damage could reach $6 billion -- on top of the $3 billion in flood losses suffered in northern England in June. Over the past two months, the monsoon season in Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan has, conservatively, claimed hundreds of lives. Texas has suffered major flood damage, a

Rethinking Africa's Solar Market

Friday, December 1, 2006
A sea change is needed to get solar power widely distributed in Africa. An article by a solar expert in Kenya, from World Rivers Review, December 2006. Mark Hankins I was struck recently by an industry graph showing global demand growth for solar photovoltaics (PV). It revealed sharply rising sales in Europe, America, Japan and China – but Africa sales didn’t even register. In the heady early days of PV market growth, Africa was an important market and there was much talk about how PV would help solve the low access to power throughout rural areas of the continent. Today, Africa does no

Dams & Alternatives

This list provides information on issues of global significance relating to dams and alternatives to dams. Emails will include relevant articles, press releases, and action alerts. Expect 5–8 e–mails per week.

Tide Turns on Unconventional Hydropower

Saturday, September 15, 2007
From September 2007 World Rivers Review Dam-free Hydro Taps Power of Waves, Tides, Water PipesThe sea heaves up, hangs loaded o'er the land, Breaks there, and buries its tumultuous strength. Robert Browning, Luria The world's hydropower is now mostly produced by big, destructive dams. But new technological advances bring promise for a new wave of hydropower projects that leave rivers intact, flood no land, and produce energy around the clock. Tapping the nearly limitless power of the waves, tides, rivers, and constructed water-supply systems has the potential to supply much of the world's pow

Energy Solutions

Photo: Shannon Graham
Millions of people globally live without the benefit of modern energy services. Renewable energy technologies produce clean energy, can be better scaled to meet demand than large dams, reduce dependence on problematic energy sources such as fossil fuels and large hydro, and can be used in rural areas far from the grid, where most of the world’s un-electrified communities are located.

Creating a True “Trickle-Down Economy”

Pumping water with a treadle pump.
Monday, December 1, 2003
Low-Cost Drip Systems Bring Income, Food Security to Rural PoorWorld Rivers Review, December 2003 Paul Polak thinks big and designs small. He aims to cut rural poverty worldwide, and he’s using humble $1 micro-irrigation kits to do it. “Water is essential to alleviating poverty,” Polak says. “If you want to do anything about it, you have to start with small farmers and irrigation.” Unlike the big development agencies, which put their faith in “trickle down” economics fueled by mega-projects, Paul Polak is establishing a new kind of “trickle down” economy, based on individual

World Bank "New Investment Framework" A Great Leap Backwards for Sustainable Energy

Tuesday, December 6, 2005
The World Bank is failing to live up to its clean energy mandate, agreed at the 2005 G8 Summit, figures in a new report from the bank reveal. The revelation comes as the World Bank is taking an increasingly high profile and controversial role at the UN climate talks currently underway in Montreal. The Bank hopes to control several global funds and initiatives supposed to help solve the climate crisis. But the World Bank’s own energy report exposes the institution’s failure to act on its mandate from G8’s Gleneagles summit to "take a leadership role in creating a new framework for clean e

Powering a Sustainable Future: The Role of Large Hydro in Sustainable Development

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
This report, prepared for the "UN Hydropower and Sustainable Development Symposium" in Beijing, China on October 27–29, 2004, examines the role of large hydro in sustainable development and suggests principles to ensure cost–effective, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development of the world’s energy resources.From the report: One of the greatest global challenges facing the 21st century is how to improve the livelihoods of the two billion people who currently have inadequate or no access to modern energy services, while simultaneously reducing the energ

Before the Deluge: Coping with Floods in a Changing Climate

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
International Rivers Network’s second annual "Dams, Rivers & People" report explains the failure of dams and levees to stop rising flood damages and describes better ways to tackle flood management. It also surveys the world of rivers and dams in 2006 and hotspots for 2007. Floods are the most destructive, most frequent and most costly of natural disasters. Flood damages have soared in recent decades, despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on flood control structures. This is partly because global warming is worsening storms, and partly because of growing populations and economic


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