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ROAD TO RECONCILIATION
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AseanAffairs Magazine September - October 2010
CONTENT • BEYOND ASEAN 
• ASEAN BAZAAR • ASEAN TALK
ASEAN AVIATION • INSIDE OUT
• ASEAN ENERGY • OPINION
• ASEAN TRAVELLER • SAVE OUR PLANET MALYSIA

Thai Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva

Four months on in the reconciliation process Asean Affairs examines the progress and shortcomings of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s plan to bridge

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GREEN, AT WHAT PRICE ?
RENEWABLE ENERGY BRINGS CONTROVERSY, CONFLICT 

Wind turbines spread out on this body of water give the appearance of being a barrier.

Ask almost anyone on the planet about the need to develop alternative energy sources and I predict an overwhelming number of those questioned would say it’s a great idea. After all, deriving power from wind and sunlight present a much prettier image than coal-fired power plants, massive dams or nuclear reactors.

However, ask the same interviewees about putting a wind or photovoltaic farm in their backyard and many more negative responses will be elicited. Even more negative would be the response of a worker at an existing coal-fired power plant if he or she feared the loss of their job. All of these issues are swirling across the globe as companies move to claim their stake in the developing renewable energy market.

GREEN, AT WHAT RENEWABLE ENERGY BRINGS CONTROVERSY, In Spain, the home base of many wind power and photovoltaic (PV) energy companies, at issue is an academic report that concluded that for every renewable energy job created it would cost 2.1 existing jobs. The report formally titled, “Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources,” has become known as the “Calzada report,” after its research director Gabriel Calzada, Ph.D. The report was quickly pounced on by critics of the Obama administration in the United States, notably Fox News, in yet another attempt to discredit the policies of the president.

Wind turbines spread out on this body of water give the appearance of being a barrier.

The controversy then moved to Washington in July where at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on green jobs the issue was broached.

Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer introduced a study by the Spanish government contradicting the Calzada report that included a letter from Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Spain’s Secretary of State for Climate Change. Among other facts she hurled at the Calzada report were employment figures showing the renewable energy field employed 73,900 direct workers as opposed to the 52,200 direct and indirect jobs listed in the Calzada report.

In addition, the ISTAS-CCO (labor union institute) projects more than 270,000 direct jobs in 2020, based on a 2 percent annual growth rate in the renewable energy field. Critics of Calzada also suggest that it is important to follow the funding sources of Calzada that include a number of corporations, including Exxon Mobile. other issues swirling are military security concerns and scenic-tourist values.

The security concerns are coming from the western United States, where that country’s army and air force control large amounts of air space that is used for test flights and other research activities. The military claims that wind turbines distort the radar used to track and evaluate flights. Clusters of wind turbines, it is claimed, appear like “storms” on radar. These military concerns have already delayed the installation of wind turbines in these “wide open spaces”.

Another issue that is raised specifically about wind turbines is their location in scenic regions that attract tourists. Should wind turbines be placed near the Grand Canyon or perhaps on top of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor or in the Washington Mall?




  

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