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Japan could become second biggest solar power nation

With nuclear power on the ropes in Japan, it could be solar power’s time to shine. Minamisoma City in Fukushima prefecture has signed an agreement with Toshiba to build the country’s biggest solar park. The deal comes weeks after Japan introduced feed-in tariffs to subsidise renewable energy – a move that could see the nation become one of the world’s largest markets for solar power.

Parts of Minamisoma are around 10 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and land there has been contaminated by radiation fallout. “Moving away from a dependency on nuclear is of course involved [with the agreement to build the solar park],” a city official said. More Here

Humans and nature turn American West into a tinderbox

Eleven new large fires raced across the American west last week, adding to a conflagration that has left more than 30,000 homeless and scorched nearly one million acres of forest. Besides the adverse conditions, earlier success at fighting smaller fires is also contributing to the disaster.

“This hot, dry, windy weather is killing us,” says Jeff Jahnke, of the Colorado State Forest Service in Fort Collins, Colorado. “The wind spreads fire like you wouldn’t imagine. And our equipment and crews don’t work as well as they could when you have three-digit temperature and single-digit relative humidity. More here

Churchill County merges solar and geothermal energy

Reno Gazette-Journal—Located more than 10 miles east of downtown Fallon, Enel Green Power’s Stillwater Geothermal Plant received a bright boost this year with the addition of a solar facility comprised of 89,000 solar panels on the 110-acre property. More here

4 Bold Ideas to Make America’s Energy Supply Safer, Cleaner & Virtually Inexhaustible

Discover Magazine —Perhaps it is time to retire the term “energy crisis.” People have been talking about one crisis or another since at least the early 1970s, for so long that the term has nearly lost its meaning. At any rate, we are not about to run out of energy: We have enough fossil fuels on the planet to power civilization for another half century or more.  More here

Global warming heats up tornado debate

New Scientist — LAST year was a particularly deadly year for tornadoes in the US, with the second highest death toll in 137 years. Already this year, major outbreakshave killed 63 people. All eyes are now on May, when the season usually peaks, amid talk in some quarters of another year of extremes. More here

In Search of the Best (Energy) Ideas: A Q&A with ARPA-E’s Arun Majumdar

Scientific American —Majumdar is stepping down after three years at the head of the U.S. Department of Energy’s advanced energy research arm More Here

Abandoning nuclear energy may not boost renewables

New Scientist—The after-effects of Japan’s megaquake and tsunami continue to be felt. Two planned UK power stations have become the latest victims of the anti-nuclear sentiment that followed the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant last year. However, renewable technologies are unlikely to benefit. More here

Climate Engineers Get a PR Lesson

Discover magazine—When you talk about messing with the planet, people can                 get pretty jumpy. More here