[17/05/19]: Spreading the solar gospel
Landmark initiative by Nottingham City Council, UK, installing solar panels on affordable homes, enabling residents to save on gas and electricity bills while playing an important role in the fight against climate change.
I spent MANY wonderful weekends in Nottinghamshire staying with friends in Newark, enjoying picnics in secluded spots and Sunday pub lunches in one of Britain's most dynamic, youthful regions. The sooner solar panels cover the entire county, the better for local people and the planet. Well done #nottingham @MyNottingham.
Across the pond in Arizona, US, the Solar Summit 2019 focused minds on the power of this vital resource in the renewable
energy mix. Hosted by Greentech Media, 14-15 May, public and private sector speakers presented energy efficiency strategies, analysed key market trends over the last 12 months as well as the
growth of software applications used in research, monitoring and management
Following a weekend in Vegas eons ago (my ex-partner won hundreds of $$$ playing Black Jack), our San Diego-based friend treated us to a personal flight over the Grand Canyon, Arizona's most popular visitor attraction – has to be seen to believe nature's true bounty and beauty.
Setting a shining example for us all, UNEF's Solar Forum will meet 22-23 October 2019 at Hotel Puerta de América, Madrid – a stand-out design and architecture marvel I reviewed a decade ago. WTS for updates on both events @UNEFotovoltaica and check out Summit details at https://www.intersolar-summit.com/en/spain/intersolar-summit-spain.html.
[09/05/19]: Green Speech of the Week
“I have an agenda of things to do in design before I start pushing up daisies.” – Professor Ken Yeang, Green Architect, Principal, T R Hamzah & Yeang.
Before climate change concerns reached fever pitch, CNBC interviewed eco-starchitect Ken Yeang from the summit of a green skyscraper, re-broadcast this week on Managing Asia with Christine Tan.
Providing top leadership insights against the backdrop of 360° views, this money-minded Malaysian singled out Singapore as Asia's green hub, describing his design process behind the country's National Library Board – “a climate responsive building with lots of sunshades to imitate, emulate and replicate the properties of nature.”
Yeang calls this “eco-mimicry”, highlighting his latest project in Réunion near Madagascar (solar blog 30/04/19), based on “ecosystem services” weaving natural habitats into the built environment.
In the face of “sustainability inflation” – where green credentials are blown out of proportion to environmental realities – Yeang aims to teach ecological literacy to the next generation, changing perceptions of architecture to improve its impact on communities.
Ms Tan revealed Yeang's 4 Pillars of Design:
Function – the Holy Grail of architecture, along with Form
Criteria – budgets, cost controls, biodegradable materials, well-built structures
Beauty – speaks for itself
Happiness – gives people pleasure, marrying quality with cost.
At 72, Yeang adds Architecture as the 4th of the 3Rs: Re-use + Recycle + Restore + Reintegrate (that's 4 or 5, not counting Reading, Writing, Arithmetic!)
Key characteristics in collaborators? Leadership and entrepreneurial ability.
Legacy? “Ongoing endeavour; life. I have an agenda of things to do in design before I start pushing up daisies.”
@hamzahyeang @ManagingAsia @ChristineCBNC #green #solar #SustainableEnergy @CNBCEnergy
Contact Chris Dove: email@example.com
[08/05/19]: Steps in the green direction
@europeangreens quick off the mark today, launching their European Parliament manifesto @TheGreenParty.
The week started badly with worrying conclusions from the latest UN biodiversity report – thanks to selfish human action, 1 million animal and plant species are at imminent threat of extinction.
Among the 150 experts who spent three years writing the report, Greenpeace forests and climate campaigner Dr Christoph Thies says from Hamburg, Germany: “We are consuming for two planets and we only have one. We can change it.”
We're reminded that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture show the need for managed grazing models to achieve carbon neutrality and reduce beef, pork and lamb consumption (oh dear, the latter is my favourite).
The International Institute for Sustainability in Rio cites 80% deforestation of the Amazon, saying there's time before we completely destroy the planet but efforts “need to be scaled up.”
Glad I visited Rio and stayed in an Amazon eco-lodge 15 years ago...
[03/05/19]: Galvanising climate action – finally!
Britain announced a national climate emergency yesterday with the Climate Change Committee publishing a report aiming for the nation to lead the 21st century Green Revolution as it led during the 18th century Industrial Revolution.
The previous day, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey sought to “spur on the excitement” of the Green Deal, critical of government for “reducing almost all support for solar power” and urging it to “properly seize the economic opportunities within the green economy.” A view echoed by the Scottish National Party's Drew Hendry.
Business Minister Chris Skidmore highlighted the government's “good news story when it comes to solar capacity”; Barry Sheerman MP called for “passion, innovation and enterprise”; while Alex Chalk MP warned the planet is “hitting climate change tipping points.”
Where there's political will, there's a way.
[30/04/19]: Heat, light – solar action
Solar made simple is the theme for this month's Sustainable Energy on CNBC, all we want – and need – to know about solar in one easily digestible format.
The show excelled itself with features on India's Solar Sahelis (Solar Friends) from Frontier Markets – an inspiring network of female entrepreneurs fighting fuel poverty in rural areas through the distribution of solar charged household appliances. As I write from Spain's sun-soaked Sohail district in Málaga, Costa del Sol, there's a natural connection following my journeys through Mumbai and Goa.
3GSolar, Jerusalem, just launched life-long solar batteries for indoor use in smartphones and domestic gadgets – bringing the benefits of solar tech to small home devices for the first time.
A friend of a friend lives in La Réunion – a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean. She's no doubt among the residents welcoming Reuniwatt's revolutionary solar rooftop solutions for futuristic weather forecasting today.
Sustainable Energy's lead feature is an interview with Upendra Tripathy, Director-General of the International Solar Alliance, attending the 'Green Grids: connecting Asia Conference' – a collection of the brightest industry brains pushing renewables and solar-generated electricity, key components of the clean global energy mix.
Held at Wilton Park, West Sussex, England, the event coincided with mass media attention on climate change in London and beyond.
CATCH UP NOW – Solar: Sustainable Energy, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/26/innovative-ideas-are-transforming-solar-power-part-one.html
[02/04/19]: Japan's solar searcher springs back to life
Continuing its mission to reveal secrets of the solar system, Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe sprang back to life after a dormant period recharging its solar batteries.
According to JAXA Space Agency, minerals have been found containing water within rock samples, as well as asteroids preserved intact since the birth of the solar system.
The search goes on for more fascinating finds.
Source: Newsline, NHK World Japan, 02/04/19
SEE BELOW: Jap-tech strikes again... [22/02/19]
[12/03/19]: Solar storm coming our way?
Researchers at Lund University in Iceland have found that two severe solar storms that caused massive power failures in Quebec, Canada in 1989 and Malmö, Sweden in 2003 weren't the last to impact Earth.
While the sun's radiation constantly bombards our planet, evidence based on ice core samples formed 100,000 years ago show a powerful solar storm occurred in 660BC.
The university's professor of geology, Raimund Muscheler, says: “If that solar storm occurred today, it could have severe effects on our high-tech society. Our research suggests that the risks are currently underestimated. We need to be better prepared.”
As Phys.org report, such a storm “poses a risk to the electrical grid, communication systems, satellites and air traffic.”
If we thought unregulated drones caused havoc with air space...
[22/02/19]: Jap-tech strikes again...
There's no stopping Japanese innovation and who'd want to?
Only this morning, reports flooded through cyberspace of Japanese probe Hayabusa2 landing on an asteroid 300 million kilometres away, the beginning of its mission to collect space rocks holding secrets of the 4.6 billion year-old solar system.
An earlier attempt was aborted due to the asteroid's uneven surface, one had to be found “that was flat like a football pitch,” a JAXA mission spokesman explained.
Another enthused: “Touchdown was no problem, it was a success. This is a new beginning in asteroid science.”
A Tokyo University prof could barely contain his excitement saying, “We want to collect more rocks this time,” while mission manager Takashi Kubota said, “Today, mankind's hand has reached a small bright star.”
Way to go, Nippon nerds – the probe is scheduled to return to Earth at the end of 2020 – in time to sprinkle stardust on the host nation's Olympic medal winners.
(Sources: Phys.org & NHK World Japan, 22/02/19)
[08/02/19]: Mijas, Spain – Turning Japanese? Hope so.
Back in 2014 – five years, already – I planned to launch a Solview360© smartphone app promoting Fuengirola, Mijas and Marbella walking tours, based on a Japanese TV programme I love, Somewhere Street.
Now NHK World Japan has come to our streets, screening Sunday 10 Feb, 15:10 + 23:10 Spanish time (or On Demand after).
Visiting the Costa del Sol for the first time (as far as I know, they previously toured Cuenca), the camera crew extol the quiet charm of Mijas – “a spectacular village with colourful flowers and whitewashed walls to fend off the powerful rays of the sun.”
Only last week, Marbella tourist information chatbot Venus was launched to help explore the town.
Japanese love tech, cameras and architecture. They had plenty to snap and chat about along the silent sloping streets in Mijas.
[26/01/19]: Spanish PM's great green speech, Davos 2019
While Spanish citizens basked in winter sun, snowy slopes in Davos welcomed Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for his Special Address at the World Economic Forum.
Before delivering a great speech about job creation in a digital age with opportunities to combat climate change under the Green New Deal, he summarised Spain's current position and future priorities (full transcript by Chris Dove, scroll down for green speech):
“Since the crisis, we run the risk of forgetting how we suffered, our mistakes and what we promised to change. Once the danger had passed we set our sights lower...our societies are still bearing the burdens of globalisation, reactionary populism and inequality...we must change now while we have some degree of freedom to do so.
“The economy is not self-serving, it serves people. We run the risk of creating new tech divides through loss of jobs to new digital platforms. We must ensure citizens are participants in this modernising revolution and we must devote every effort. Inequality is destroying us and all our societies; it is a source of destabilisation.
“We must go beyond the balance sheet to decisions that result in marginalised men and women, young people with limited prospects and workers that live in inadequate conditions despite their best efforts. The economy must always be at the service of the people.”
Referring again to the crisis: “If we have lost a decade, we have the obligation to win the one ahead, to recover what we have lost and take advantage of oppporuntites ahead.”
He went on to highlight tech as a source of progress. “We´re seeing ecology and the fight against climate change offer economic activity and gains in social well-being. We're seeing globalisation perceived as a challenge of national identity rather than a source of cultural wealth. We're seeing feminism distorted as pitting men and women against each other rather than a campaign for truly equal opportunities. We're seeing young and old as a chance for generational equity.
“Each of these challenges is the line that separate social progress from privilege. This contravenes our social contract and weakens our societies.
Citizens need to feel that their fates are in their own hands; that effort, talent and courage count for something; that they can make autonomous physical life plans.
“Our priority is to reverse this negative model for people to feel solidarity. This can only be reversed if politics and economics go hand-in-hand.”
Reaffirming his pride in Spain and denouncing the instability populism creates, the PM said: “Spain continues to lead growth among the main European economies and our prospects continue to be robust. According to the European Commission, Spain will grow above the Eurozone average until 2020.
“In 2019, we will create over 330,000 jobs; our risk premium is stable. In 2018, Spain was visited by over 82 million tourists. Spain inspires trust as seen in high levels of foreign direct investment for 3 reasons:
1. Social harmony including in the area of labour relations
2. Legal certainty
3. Strong institutions and companies
“I add a 4th: Spain is a singularly Europeanist country. Our identity is a modern Europe as a driver of change and community of values. Our identity also values the UN 2030 Agenda [on Sustainable Development Goals].
“One of my government’s priorities is to strengthen social cohesion out a sense of justice and to contribute to a more balanced economy.
“Another economic priority is energy transition under the Green New Deal to create new jobs. Spain is in a privileged position to make this change: we know what we need to do and we're going to do it.
“This change will mobilise €200 billion in investments over the coming decade, 80% of which will correspond to the private sector. We are creating wealth, jobs, opportunity and equality.”
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Special Address by Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain, 23/01/2019, https://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting/sessions/special-address-by-pedro-sanchez-prime-minister-of-spain#
[18/01/19]: It's official – sunshine makes us healthy!
Sunworshippers in Spain have long appreciated the sun's capacity to brighten our lives, and now there's a growing focus on the power of the sun from an unlikely quarter – British author Linda Geddes, formerly of The New Scientist.
In her new book, Chasing The Sun: The new science of sunlight and how it shapes our bodies and minds, she says it isn't really a new science at all.
Recognising the sun's curative properties, Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians slapped liberal amounts of oily herbal concoctions all over their bodies and lay out under the sun for hours. Before Costa del Sol sunbeds were ever invented, these were the original sunbathers – no doubt kept cool being fanned by some unfortunate eunuch, passing out from weary arms and an absence of shade.
According to Geddes, it was late-18th century Danish doctor Niels Ryberg Finsen who discovered the ability to magnify sunlight as a cure for TB. Originally from the Faroe Islands, and due to low light levels in Arctic regions, he found artificial UV sunlight could heal all manner of ailments.
As the number of health spas increased, sunbathing went to extremes – even babies suffering from rickets were forced to wear dark goggles while standing in front of walls of UV lights. Luckily the craze died down as the benefits of Vitamin D absorption in moderation was discovered for maintaining healthy bones, and medication in the form of affordable pills became available.
Next it was nurse Florence Nightingale who recommended the sun's energy to enhance people's moods. Sunlight stimulates the production of regulatory cells which prevent what Geddes calls “wayward actions” in our bodies – only 20 minutes of sunlight helps reduce high blood pressure.
Those of us enjoying the Costa's abundant sunshine know science is on our side.
Check out Linda’s latest book, Chasing The Sun: The new science of sunlight and how it shapes our bodies and minds.
[03/01/19]: China reaches dark side of the moon
Pink Floyd's hit album 'Dark Side of the Moon' is being played to younger audiences as China celebrates its successful mission to the furthest reaches of the moon.
Spacecraft Chang'e 4 launched with minimum fanfare until scientists could guarantee success and will collect samples to study past and future development of the lunar system. Chang'e 5 and Chang'e 6 will work on the return mission by the end of the year.
Results of China's lunar exploration will be shared with the international community, including the US, Russia, India and the European Space Agency.
While I listened to Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' in the 80s – the original 33rpm vinyl, sitting in a darkened room wearing crystal clear headphones – space exploration was far from a priority for China.
This lunar milestone shows the leaps and bounds China's tech and science fields have made – it plans to have its first manned lunar base by 2030.
[27/12/18]: Solar Stat of the Year – 28.7%
After asking the public to highlight which stats sparked their interest this year, medical statistician Dr Jennifer Rogers tells us 30 June saw a 28.7% uptake in the use of solar installations. It was the middle of summer.
My stat of the year is 55°C – the terrifying temperature global warming could result in, according to a COP24 reporter.
These stats coincide with a fascinating series, The Sun, Our Star, analysing every aspect of solar energy, space weather, and the sun's impact on health and beauty. Listen and learn on Radio 4 before we're overcome by sunstroke.
Or head to London's Science Museum for “the dazzling 4-star” special exhibition, T S L W O S , ends 06/05/19. Free for under-16s with paying adult.
[21/12/18]: “How are we going to get to Málaga?”
This was the question posed by two passengers stranded at Gatwick airport, responding to Sky News last night.
A fortnight ago, Málaga Police reacted quickly to my reports of unauthorised drones invading residential areas.
Not as serious as Gatwick, but a sign of the times.
Pity the passengers.
[15/12/18] Wrapping up the climate conference
The COP24 climate change conference wrapped up in chilly Poland this week as winter made its present felt. Sunny but freezing temperatures hit Britain and Germany – the latter's mountainous ski regions plummeting to a record-breaking -37°C for the first time so early in the season.
COP24 has been extended an extra day while delegates bicker over climate stats, carbon markets and finance. The UK mercifully bucked the trend, committing an extra £100m to the Renewable Energy Performance Platform in its support for 40 new green energy projects in Africa over the next five years.
As Business Green reports: “The fund is expected to support developers of small-scale solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects with a view to providing new or improved access to clean power for up to 2.4 million people a year.”
Britain's already invested £48m on the Platform with 18 projects across the continent , including solar power for 70,000 people in Tanzania of whom 6,000 are able to access electricity for the first time.
Similarly, in Kenya – which shares Spain's “super-abundance of sunshine” – kids are now taught all manner of subjects using tablets powered by solar-generated electricity.
China's role mass manufacturing solar panels has drastically increased global supply and demand while previously crippling prices have dropped.
Diary date: 02/07/19 – the next Total Solar Eclipse.
“The sun puts out enough energy in one hour to power the entire needs of the earth for one year.” This and everything you need to know about 'The Sun, Our Star', https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csy1qh
[02/12/18]: Poles apart on climate change
As the COP24 climate change conference kicks off in Katowice, Poland (03-14/12/18), a worrying and widening gap has appeared in collective efforts to combat global warming.
In our good books:
Freiburg in Germany's Black Forest – described as a 'City of the Sun' with its City Hall committed to blanketing solar panels across public and private building façades and rooftops. Only 20% of its residents use cars and diesel, while 80% get around by bike or all-electric public transport featuring low-floor entrance for elderly and disabled passengers. (Reported on Arirang TV, South Korea)
In our bad books:
Brazil's Bolsonaro – President-elect, backtracking on advances made to protect the Amazon Rainforest in this beautiful country I visited 15 years ago. As he threatens to join the ranks of climate change deniers, led by Trump, CO2-absobring trees spanning 12 times the size of London are being chopped down on a regular basis.
[25/11/18]: The power of powerful advertising
Like any good copywriter, I sit up when a powerful ad packs a punch – grabbing attention by its simplicity, getting a message across effectively in those crucial seconds.
They don't come thick and fast like they used to in terms of pure quality.
So applauds to the brains behind GE's current solar energy ad, seen in a CNN slot for 'Going Green', great viewing.
GE – “The Power To Bask In The Sun By The Light Of The Moon.”
Also nice in my back yard (rather than often heard “NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard”), Spain has stepped up to the grid with CNBC reporting a major investment by UK-based Solarcentury to build four solar parks in Alcalá de Guadaíra, Seville.
The town lies 220km from my home in Málaga so isn't literally in my back yard, but Solarcentury's strategic vision and welcome principle count with both located in sun-drenched Andalucía.
Described by Solarcentury's MD for Iberia as “an environmentally friendly net generator of employment with no public subsidies”, the new plant will generate electricity for 105,000 homes, bringing clean, green renewable power to the people.
General Electric, https://www.ge.com/solar
[22/11/18]: “Hope is a rainbow”
VITAL LISTENING, what the #world needs now more than ever?
In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, best episode yet, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00017vl
[21/11/18]: Drone regulation
As a follow-up to my drone invasion blog (17/11/18), BBC radio reported the “wild West” of unregulated drone use this morning with a drone owner in the UK becoming the first to be prosecuted this week for dangerous use of the spy tech.
This coincides with today's launch of the ISL Working Group for Global Drone Standards comprising 150 experts from around the world, tasked with regulating the growing industry to make us all safer.
[20/11/18]: Modernising Madrid
Great to read the Olive Press announcing the forthcoming four-storey Axis building in the middle of Madrid, designed by Pritzker-Prize-winning modern architect, Sir Norman Foster.
“The cube-shaped steel and glass structure will harness solar power to turn the capital's 2,769 hours of sunshine into energy...adapted for Madrid's climate, pulling light, life and greenery inside.”
I often mention Málaga's 3,059 hours of sunlight per year (AEMET State Meteorological Agency), and I previously published a profile of Sir Norman – he's welcome to visit our neck of the woods anytime.
[17/11/18]: Drone invasion
The Environment section of my local council's website proudly boasts it “was the first municipality to require new buildings to be installed with solar panels” – a directive this blog naturally supports. The need for local environmental action is plain to see in the fight against global warming.
In a less welcome aerial display – as I lounged on the sofa watching TV between 18:10-18:20 yesterday – a drone flew directly in front of the windows of my shared apartment building, red lights flashing as it recorded the neighbours.
Not so much a UFO – more an IFO: Identified Flying Object.
This is a gross invasion of privacy and a frightening experience.
Drones play an important role in society under strict operational guidelines.
On behalf of the neighbours, I've asked our Environment Councillor to investigate the owner of the drone to confirm if they have a legal license to record us without our permission.
[09/11/18]: Solar discoveries and innovation
News this morning shines a light on foreign objects discovered within our solar system as scientists use ever larger telescopes to find more floating objects. Super high-powered lasers orbiting at 27,000km/hr were fired to capture some of the 170 million pieces of space junk and abandoned satellites swirling around the universe.
Not only are we polluting our precious planet, it's predicted we have only 12-25 years before space junk starts falling on us or collides with vital tech that could wipe out all digital communications.
Back on terra firma this week – in Eniwa city on Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido, to be exact – 81-year-old 'J-innovator' Josuke Nakata, Chairman of Sphelar Power, has launched what I count as 'The Most Outstanding Renewable Energy Discovery to Date'.
In 1995, Nakata explains, “with no rules stating a solar panel had to be flat”, he began researching spherical solar cells, succeeding three years later manufacturing tiny bead-like solar batteries, 2mm in diameter.
Flat solar panels capture sunlight with one surface only, however, Nakata says: “A sphere-shaped solar cell can absorb direct and reflective light from any direction, this means it can produce electricity very efficiently.”
Two types of semi-conductors are stacked on top of each other and electrodes added, heating the tiny silicon balls. When the sun reaches the space between electricity is produced.
As if this green innovation wasn't enough, when a side of the balls is cut off, millions of beads lined up against each other are manufactured together to form light-weight, flexible, semi-transparent flat or curved surfaces, DOUBLING the power produced.
A solution for roof installations, Nakata demonstrated with a lantern charged with spherical solar cells, doubling its lighting power from 4 to 8 hours.
The smaller the cells, the more applications they can be used – including textile material, a key development in materials technology where we're seeing electrically-charged cells embedded in futuristic clothing.
A shining example defying any signs of ageing, Nakata said of his future ambitions: “There are a lot of places and buildings where solar cells can be used. I want to create materials that can also generate electricity.”
No price for the solar cells has been given, but I'm contacting SPHELAR POWER for info, their motto: Invite the sun.
Watch the demo on Science View, NHK World Japan, broadcast 06/11/18, [start 20:05 min], https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/vod/scienceview/2015203/
Image courtesy Sphelar Power Corporation
[05/11/18]: “Move him into the sun.”
A touching testament by war poet Wilfred Owen on behalf of fallen WWI soldiers, commemorating 100 years since Armistice Day signalled war's end, 11/11/1918.
Owen died days before.
For the first time in public the bugle he took from a Western Front battlefield was blown.
[02/11/18]: Waking up to solar
"Every hour, enough energy to power the earth for an entire year comes from the sun...New technology is ready to harness that power. Most people don't stop to think about the energy that powers their homes or charges their phones. Without access to energy, people struggle to complete daily tasks, communities can't rely on health services due to power cuts, citizens cannot power their dreams."
Málaga, southern Spain, basks in 3,059 hours of sunlight per year (State Meteorological Agency), yet the absence of solar panels on home and business rooftops surprised a British electrical fire engineer visiting the region this week.
As the public, private and non-profit sectors wake up to solar power's full potential, the UN is putting its money where its mouth is in a Quest for universal energy.
[01/11/18]: NASA touches the Sun
NASA's Parker Solar Probe will make space history on Bonfire Night – 05/11 – with the closest-ever approach to the sun.
In its first mission since lift-off on 12/08, the probe cruised within 42.73 million kilometres of the sun this week, surpassing the previous record-breaking Helios 2 probe back in 1976.
Parker will help researchers “better understand the sun's structure, composition and activity,” Space.com reported.
Counting down with bated breath to Parker's final flyby in 2025, the craft will come within 6.16 million km of the sun's surface at a top speed of 690,000 km/h.
These increasingly vital studies coincide with yet another climate change report released today by the journal Nature, claiming – based on more reliable measurements – that ocean temperatures are rising 60% faster than previously estimated.
Not 6% or 16%, a massive 60%, further threatening marine life and island nations. See [11/08/18]: Touching the Sun
[17/10/18]: Long live Spain!
Spain tops a new list of the world's longest-living people (that's a tongue-twister!).
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme, the World League Table of Future Life Spans published by The Lancet analysed 79 different health risks, including smoking, weight and air pollution.
Average life expectancy in the UK is forecast to rise from almost 81 years to 83 by 2040, up to 23rd place, according to researchers at the University of Washington, US.
No doubt helped by its sunny disposition – and healthy fish and salad based diet enjoyed by all ages – Spain tops the table with people forecast to live to almost 86, closely followed by Japan, Singapore and Switzerland.
Japan – again based on a seafood and raw veg diet – is traditionally cited for its rapidly aging population with an extraordinary number of active, mentally-alert centenarians, so Spain's leap forward in this demographic is music to our ears as we sing ¡Viva España!
Sadly, the US is predicted to drop down the table, gaining only one additional year by 2040.
[11/10/18]: Worsening weather warnings
"The negative impact of climate change" is a phrase we all know yet few in the West are rarely exposed to as we pity the devastation heaped on helpless communities elsewhere.
The deaths of six people during flash flooding on the Spanish island of Mallorca – including two Brits in a taxi – brings the catastrophe closer to home.
Such was the speed and ferocity of the downpour that BBC radio breakfast news reported red weather alerts issued on the mainland in normally sun-drenched Marbella, 20 minutes from my apartment.
At time of blogging – and on the other side of the world – Florida is being hammered by another deadly Category 4 hurricane...
Can we afford to sit by with arms folded?
This just two days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported from Incheon, Korea, making its most dire warning yet on the drastic need to keep global warming below 1.5°C.
Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, Panmao Zhai, said: "One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from
this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes."
Note: this is below the 2°C previously signalled, and which I wrote about a decade ago in a series of articles, 'What On Earth Does Global Warming Really Mean?'
Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, said: "Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals."
The IPCC's Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) highlighted direct solar energy as an integral part of the resources and technologies playing a key role in climate change mitigation in terms of market and industry development, environmental and social impacts, cost trends, and potential deployment.
Summary: IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments (SR15), 08/10/18, https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15
[06/10/18]: Winds of change hit solar sector
Hope fills the air that Spain's notorious red tape – strangling the growth of its solar industry and creating barriers to self-consumption – will soon be swept away.
Green Tech Media reported this summer that Spain's 7% 'sun tax' has forced Spanish solar developers to push plant production over the border to Portugal.
Despite evidence that "Spain is experiencing a solar boom, with around 20 gigawatts of production looking for permission to join the grid", the tax, applied since 2102, adds to steep set-up costs along with "a barrage of national, regional and local regulation obstacles."
Daniel Pérez Rodríguez, Chief Legal Officer for Barcelona-based energy retailer Holaluz and director of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union, is hopeful that the new Socialist government will give greater priority to the solar sector by ditching the tax as part of an ongoing electricity system review.
In partnership with Irish developer WElink Energy, present in Madrid and Barcelona, Holaluz avoided both tax and red tape by signing a power-purchase agreement for Europe’s largest subsidy-free solar installation – a 46-megawatt plant in Ourique, Portugal, 50 miles from the Spanish border.
See 'sun tax' blog below, [23/11/15]: Solar power shines again
[25/09/18]: Brilliant, funny
“The (Tory) Party who promised to fix the roof while the sun was shining is now intent on burning the house down.”
– Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary, UK Labour Party
[13/09/18]: Ghana's solar sector heats up
Renewable energy investment in Africa and the Middle East exceeded global output in 2017, reaching $400 billion, according to CNN's Marketplace Africa this week.
Some $10 billion of this was generated in Ghana, helped by a system of 5 solar panel mini-grids built in 2015 at a cost of $2 million.
While Ghana enjoys the continent's highest rate of electrification – 80% across the nation – those without regular access have trouble powering their homes, charging mobile phones, radios and TVs.
With the mini-grids located near coastal and island communities, convenient mobile money cards pay for topping up their energy supplies.
“It's possible to generate electricity from solar at a price less than 15 cents per kilowatt hour, so one can easily invest in solar to reduce the bill we get from the national grid,” explains Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo from the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy.
“These are areas where solar plays a very good, complementary role, even in urban centres.” By 2020, they aim to reach 90% nationwide electrification through solar mini-grids.
“There's plenty of sunshine for 100% renewables across Africa using solar, hydro and wind,” CNN report.
A man committed to solutions for African communities coping with climate change will be laid to rest in Accra today: former Ghanaian UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.
'Investing in solar as a complement rather than a substitute', CNN's four-minute video, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2018/09/11/marketplace-africa-ghana-solar-power-mobile-money-vision-a.cnn
[03/09/18]: Spain's renewable energy goals off track
Spain will struggle to meet its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals towards zero greenhouse gas emissions.
While signs of a recovering economy are evident, “emissions grew by 4.4% in 2017 – the biggest year-on-year spike since 2002,” according to press reports.
The new Socialist government held discussions with the EU this summer, emphasising a more ambitious energy plan to tackle climate change in order to achieve the Goals.
“The Spanish government could also eliminate existing barriers to self-production and consumption of solar energy,” El País reported.
According to the latest Voluntary Review Report by the Spanish Government: “The gradual penetration of renewable sources into the energy mix would bring various benefits, both of an environmental nature, in the form of emissions reduction, and in economic terms, through job creation, the existence of a new business fabric, reduced external dependence, improved balance of payments, etc. Such a transition must be technically feasible and economically efficient.”
Spain was a shining example with its pioneering renewable energy sector until 2011, yet between 2000 and 2016, while EU-wide emissions were reduced by 24%, this was only 14% in Spain.
Spain's Sustainable Development Goals, 2018 Report, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/203295182018_VNR_Report_Spain_EN_ddghpbrgsp.pdf
[11/08/18]: Touching the Sun
Though aborted by NASA until tomorrow, for first time in history a satellite is in launch mode on a mission to touch the sun.
The mission to the solar corona aims to find out more about the solar winds that build the solar system.
The skyscraper-size rocket will send the car-size Parker probe speeding through space at 700,000 km/hr as it reaches its closest point to the sun.
The probe will be in operation unti 2024 with enough fuel for a few more years.
With extreme heat being experienced around the world, NASA's results can't come soon enough.
[01/08/18]: Scorched earth follows lunar spectacular
This week's Blood Moon framed by Earth's close encounter with Mars was a special occasion for all, allowing us to gaze in wonder at the night sky and the solar system beyond.
Back on terra firma, no more evidence of global warming is needed with the string of inter-connected "extreme heat events" showing no signs of abaiting – fish boiled to death at freak 38°C in China's rivers; uncontrollable wildfires spreading across Europe with weekend temperatures set to reach 48°C in southern Spain and Portugal; countless hectares of northern California ravaged by flames and loss of life.
I spent a three-week fly-drive holiday in California one summer – trying to cover long distances in 45°C is not recommended.
[13/07/18]: Near-reality climate change
Friday. The 13th. Unlucky for some, great news for the Planet.
While Trump tears strips off Theresa on her own turf, back on his home turf he's been given a wake-up call with VR images showing Times Square underwater – boats floating through the air, marine mammals swimming on dry ground.
Artist Mel Chin puts a creative spin on New York's climate change challenges with his “Wake” and “Unmoored” exhibits, futuristic scenarios with an unsettling ring of truth – unlike every word Trump utters at home or abroad.
View Flooded Times Square, Earther, https://earther.com/new-virtual-reality-art-exhibit-brings-sea-level-rise-t-1827541612
[07/06/18]: Solar innovation – Japan to the Middle East
Manually cleaning thousands of solar panels has never been an enviable task.
Yet it’s a task Tokyo sheet metal factory Hamano Products took to with gusto.
Not by the firm's physical workforce getting their hands dirty, but by adding new technologies to an existing solar panel-cleaning robot.
With solar power installation increasing across the Middle East, a robot prototype was put on trial in Qatar ahead of World Cup 2022, requiring no water to clean countless rows of slanted solar panels.
According to robot designer Tohru Miyake, however, enough desert sand could build up in one month around the robot's wheels, slowing operations by 15%.
Taking the robot he'd developed over three years to the small precision engineering factory in Tokyo's blue collar district, CEO Keiichi Hamano came up with the idea of resolving the robot's design flaws by tackling the numerous screws which held the parts together but hampered its movement and prevented the robot's brushes from removing the solar panels' sand effectively.
By swapping some screws for welded fixtures and using heat-transmitting aluminium for the robot's chassis, the number of screws was reduced from 168 to 52, drastically reducing the amount of assembly work and the robot's weight while standardising its construction to make its functions more precise.
Ready for mass production in 2017, more than 50 units were sold to the Middle East and India with projected sales of 1,000 units per year by 2020. “They never say they can't do it,” said a clearly pleased Miyake.
“We try to find solutions for the world's problems”, said Hamano. “It feels like something we should do.”
A selfless objective we could all learn from.
See the solar-panel cleaning robot at action on 'Innovators Find a Home in Local Tokyo Factory', Rising, NHK World Japan, start 08:25 minutes until 21/06/18, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/vod/rising/2042040/
[21/05/18]: Ansasol extends solar footprint on Spain's Costa del Sol
Providing the answer to Málaga’s green energy needs, it's great to read Marbella-based renewable energy specialist Ansasol are opening a 5-hectare solar power plant near Archidona, 52 kms north of Málaga.
Green construction methods are at the heart of the venture, demonstrating Ansasol's experience in ground-mounted and roof-top solar systems. "The top soil and ground vegetation are undisturbed by concrete intrusions," according to SUR in English, 18-24/5/18.
Some 28,000 solar panels will generate electricity to be fed into the national grid, providing up to 40% savings on users' electricity bill, Ansasol's website explains.
Currently at public consultation phase, the Ansasol team deserve A++ for their strategic investment as does Archidona Council for awarding the contract to the company.
Founded in Germany before launching in Spain in 2004, Ansasol specialise in large scale plants ranging from 50 to 200MWp.
Ansasol in English, German, Spanish http://www.ansasol.de/
[03/05/18]: "Spain is looking attractive again...the outlook is decidedly sunny."
A glowing forecast for Spanish real estate by Samantha McClary, Deputy Editor of Global Investor Guide.
The spring issue focuses on Spain with a second celestial comparison: "Spain represents a rising star in Europe [to] capitalise on cross-border opportunities," says Mark Ridley, Chief Exec, Savills UK & Europe. "Foreign investors have increased y-o-y, accounting for 63% of buyers in Spain during 2017."
Yet more praise for Spanish property comes from Malcolm Dalgleish at Burlington Ventures: "There's now a lot of opportunity...it's crying out for new ideas and new schemes...Spain has a can-do economy at the moment."
"At the moment" means "strike while the iron's hot". It doesn't get much hotter than a Spanish summer.
BV's plans for a retail site in Marbella dovetail with a residential investment opportunity on the exclusive Marbella Bay Estate – better known as Urbanización Bahía de Marbella.
This 2-bed, 2-bath home with separate 2-bed apartment has the option for immediate occupation or renovation.
Better still, built on a 1,590m² plot, this prime real estate has planning permission in place for a 2-bed, 2-bath extension.
A sunny outlook indeed for astute buyers and investors alike.
Private messages welcome from interested parties or firstname.lastname@example.org
[23/03/18]: Solar disco...in Berlin!
“We're always looking for ways to save energy and protect the environment.”
Not a typical statement from your average school kid, but schools in Germany are training pupils to manage energy efficiency by themselves.
As well as regulating and checking radiator output and electricity usage, a single solar panel installed in the playground produces enough clean energy to power their stereo for a 20-minute outdoor disco!
KEEPING FIT AND HAVING FUN – ANYTHING TO ENGAGE THE NEXT GENERATION.
"Climate change is becoming more evident," according to Marbella ecologist Javier de Luis in SUR in English newspaper (16-22/03/18).
His comments come after heavy storms battered the tourist resort with aerial colour photos taken in 1990, 2010 and last week showing the full effects of beach erosion on one frontline villa.
I know the villa owners and I frequently relaxed on that beach. Not anymore – the beach was consumed by the sea.
Sadly it won't be the last.
[12/03/18]: Solar solidarity, Europe, India, USA
Compared to German Chancellor Merkel's mild-mannered demeanour, French President Macron is known for his neo-Napoleonic posturing.
He redeemed himself yesterday praising individuals' efforts to promote solar energy while committing €700m to the 1st International Solar Alliance in New Delhi, India.
Together with India's Prime Minister Modi – the brains behind the initiative – they plan to promote solar energy in 121 countries “to mobilize $1 trillion in funds for future solar generation, storage and technology”, Reuters report.
So far so good: of the 60 current signatories, 30 have ratified the agreement.
France is a leading light in power generation with EDF and Schneider Electric among the delegates accompanying Macron to open a solar plant in Uttar Pradesh, built by Engie.
All this ahead of Solar Summit 2018 on 1-2 May in California with themes such as 'Solar as an Electricity Market Disruptor' for hot-headed innovators, and 'Fitting Solar with EVs, IOT, HEMS and Other Fun Acronyms' for the really hard-wired!
That's electric vehicles, Internet of Things, home energy management systems.
Having enjoyed holidays all over France, parts of India and Solar Summit location La Jolla, San Diego, they're converting sunlight into a sustainable power source while convincing the rest of us to do the same.
[07/03/18]: Struggle for sustainability
The drastic fall in global solar panel prices should be cause for celebration. While big industry and municipal authorities welcome the price reduction, it's not good news for small-scale solar energy promoters.
A report on NHK World TV highlights communities in Japan struggling to reap the rewards of their financial investment in solar panels.
Having spent their meagre savings “doing the right thing” – switching to solar as government environmental policy dictates – they now find themselves in an unenviable position, unable to sell the solar energy produced back to Japan's power grid at a satisfactory profit level.
[03/03/18]: Comic solar panel design sends right message
Had to smile seeing a cartoon panda waving at me through the TV screen from Datong solar farm in China.
Located 350 km from Beijing, the 248-acre power plant puts an entertaining slant on two serious subjects – the need to step up renewable energy infrastructure and protect endangered species from man-made climate change.
Three cheers to China Merchants New Energy Group – the country is still the world's biggest industrial polluter.
[26/02/18]: Málaga’s talent show, Brussels
Interesting to read Málaga mayor Francisco de la Torre celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in Brussels where he highlighted Málaga's role as an intelligent city and various local EU-funded projects. ('El Noticiero de Fuengirola', 23/02/18)
[18/02/18]: Solar shines in the Land of the Rising Sun
Couldn't agree more with CNBC's 'Sustainable Energy' last night, promoting high-tech personal mobility options and the low-tech art of walking!
"We should try to use more of our own energy than the planet's". Love it.
As someone who's shunned umbrellas since student days – too uncool – I walk through rain and shine to reach my intended destination, literally under my own steam!
Given the flaky nature of weather patterns, we're increasingly reliant on renewable energy storage to produce electric power round-the-clock with solar stealing a bigger slice of the pie.
In Nanao, Japan – Land of the Rising Sun – it's nearly a year since the country's first solar power plant came on stream on the western coast of Noto Peninsula.
The partnership between Toyama-based ISE Foods and Total Solar/SunPower supplies 9,000 households with 27 megawatt-peak (MWp) installed capacity come wind, rain or shine thanks to 80,000+ highly efficient solar panels.
Spread across 25-hectares of brownfield land, the Nanao plant is a shining example of blue sky thinking and green cooperation in arguably the world's most tech-obsessed nation.
Image courtesy Total Nanao: Solar Power, Wind, Rain or Shine
[08/02/18]: Bulgaria on the slagheap
Bulgaria on the back burner more fittingly describes the country's expanding coal industry, much to the detriment of its flailing solar sector.
Deaf to air pollution concerns, the policy is irrational considering Sofia is blessed with 2,177 hours of sunshine per year compared to the 2,769 hours recorded in Madrid.*
Among the few EU states backing Trump's off-green agenda, Bulgaria's coal production stood at 31.3 million tonnes in 2014, 45% of the country's energy**, while electricity produced from solar fell from a five-year high of 1,383 GWh in 2015 to 1,286 GWh in 2016.***
The massive investment in solar by world-leading polluter China puts Bulgaria's race to the coalface in perspective.
[26/01/18]: Solar tops Abu Dhabi, Davos agendas
It's been a busy couple of weeks for the solar tech industry with solar power, panels, cells and floating farms topping the agenda at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi (14-17/01/18) and World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (23-26/01/18).
As the guiding light in renewable energy, solar power generation has tripled in three years in the US where more people are employed producing electricity than in the oil, gas and coal industries combined.
China's under attack in a bitter row with the US over cheap solar panels flooding America. According to TIME, the surge in demand for panels has led to prices falling 80% over two years. Panels that previously cost $1,000 are now $80 with all but 20% of global supply manufactured and exported by the Communist-Capitalist state.
This achievement failed to please Trump who slapped a 3% import tariff on Chinese solar panels as the Energy Summit and Davos kicked off.
Heavily criticised as the world's biggest air polluter, China's admirable attempts to cut its deadly CO2 emissions have seen the country's Sungrow Power Supply Company build the world’s largest floating solar farm.
Comprising 166,000 panels installed in a Huainan lake (600 km from Shanghai), the Solar Institute of George Washington University believe "China’s investment in solar really is a gift to the world."
Even Britain – "more soggy than sunny" according to a BP director – is making waves in solar generation with Europe's largest floating solar farm erected by London-based Lightsource at Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir, Surrey, in partnership with Thames Water at a cost of £6.5 million. "Solar is the fastest growing part of the energy mix," BP confirmed.
The most innovative "take away" from the solar presentations surrounded a revolutionary material which is simple to manufacture on a massive scale without using silicone in the production process, distributes solar energy twice as efficiently as panels, and is set to see solar costs tumble further.
Developed at Caltech (California Institute of Technology), CD-sized discs are coated in an active layer of perovskite – a light, hybrid, organic-inorganic compound that "unleashes power directly from the sun and acts like a high performance rain jacket or pool cover."
"Solar research is one of the 'Holy Grails' of 21st century chemistry – the efficient and economical conversion of solar energy into stored chemical fuel." – Caltech
[22/01/18]: Sun seekers unite
Following what British press called "Sunshine Saturday" – the rush for holiday bookings during the first week in January 2017 – the BBC announces that more holiday bookings will be made by close of play today, 22/01/18, than on any other day of the year.
Hideous weather across Britain, France, Germany and the rest of Northern Europe helps drive sun seekers to Spain's "Sizzling South" in droves.
[09/01/18]: Award-winning rebels with a cause
Two telling quotes to start the year, both put global challenges in sharp perspective:
“A new day is on the horizon.” – Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes Ceremony, USA, referring to female empowerment (08/01/18). Watching rays of sunlight from my high-rise apartment as they spread over open sea, a new day begins for us all.
Follow to read my articles on modern architecture around the world:
[03/01/18]: Winter sun, super moon
Málaga’s wall-to-wall winter sun shines on my high-rise balcony.
From 08:00 'til the slightest gust of wind at 15:15 when orange rays dip behind the mountains, I make the most of t-shirt weather, stunning sunsets and 360º panoramic views from 130ft above sea level.
Vantage point for the New Year super moon, silent and silver on the surface of the sea.
[12/12/17]: Life with no Sun
Surreal frosty scenes indoors and out around Hamburg, Germany.
Smothered in four-inch blankets of snow, hardened road and bridge builders braved brutal winds and blizzards along 30km stretches of the A7 Neumünster autobahn, continuing non-stop with SHEER, HARD WORK in stinging -2ºC temperatures. In Málaga it was 17ºC.
Roads and intersections lead to more transport, trade and jobs, fuelling Germany's runaway car industry and the busy Hamburg Port. A successful economic model in action – come rain or shine.
I put the brakes on manipulative mind games from one moody individual whose idea of lifting a finger involved a solo cake binge on the sofa, devouring all but 1 slice of a 20-cm home-baked sponge under the pretext of eating for 2. Comfort food in a cold climate, sure. Parental responsibility? Nil points.
Warm welcomes, delicious dinner and Jägermeister overflowed thanks to Willi Rickert's milestone birthday celebrations – hair-tingling vocals by Lonya while me, multi-lingual minder/cool chic extraordinaire Bo Ja, party animal Dagmar Ohm and long-lost guests danced ourselves dizzy.
Lübeck's sedate Holstentor, historic Christmas Market and hot mugs of Glühwein spread the warmth even further.
[02/12/17]: Solview360 in the Olive Press
Moved to respond to the Olive Press feature on Spain’s future solar sector (Jack’s Corner, 08-21/11/17), editor Jon Clarke didn't hesitate to publish it in the current issue, page 12.
Lead story and Opinion – the drought threatening Andalucía and the rest of Spain – sum up the massive challenge: “All of us need to do more to protect the environment, whether it's recycling more, using less water, voting green, installing solar panels or lobbying government for action.”
Well said, Jon.
[25/11/17]: The sun shines on Nantwich
Weeks, months, even years go by without Nantwich, my hometown in Cheshire, UK, hitting the news.
I'd already booked flights to spend my first Christmas there in 20 years, so imagine my shock propped up in bed at 7am in my current home in Spain Tuesday morning (6am in the UK…), tuning into online radio as the weather presenter announced: “The warmest temperature in England yesterday was recorded in Nantwich, reaching 19°C.”
Compare this to Málaga the same day – a pleasantly typical 21°C.
Unsure I was hearing things, I phoned Mum to confirm – true enough, she'd spent the day weeding and preening her back garden, wearing little more than a long-sleeved shirt.
Then came last night's comedy slot 'The Now Show' with Andy Zaltzman noting a bitter outcome of Brexit means cancelling the UK's turn to host European Capital of Culture 2023.
“Why were we not told this before we voted [in the Referendum]? Surely there'd have been a 110% Remain Vote…surely Nantwich could have a new inflatable theatre? Imagine the difference it could have made!”
As an unrepentant Remainer, I have happy memories of Crewe and Nantwich theatres, including a backstage chat at Crewe's Lyceum Theatre with 80s heartthrob actor Lewis Collins, kindly arranged by Mum, wardrobe mistress at the time.
Two mentions on the Beeb in one week – suddenly Olde Worlde Nantwich is on the modern map!
The Now Show (at 20:05 min), BBC Radio 4, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09fzt7z
[21/11/17]: Global warming for real
An online radio weather report this morning mentioned the Cheshire town of Nantwich enjoying the warmest autumn temperature in England – a barmy 19°C. In Málaga, southern Spain, which receives 3,059 hours of sunlight per year (according to Spain's AEMET State Meteorological Agency), it was a typical 21°C.
I spent my youth in tiny Nantwich before relocating to Málaga. The town's unusually high temperature is proof, if needed, that global warming is a FACT. Not fiction.
[17/11/17]: Designer solar architecture
Having published 400 articles on what I call 'ABCD' – architecture, building, construction and design* – I'm pleased to see the World Architecture Festival in Berlin highlighting renewable energies (15-17/11/17).
With its focus on green innovation to overcome key challenges, the WAFX Prize is awarded to projects covering climate, energy and carbon, water, ageing and health, re-use, smart cities, building technology, cultural identity, ethics, power and justice.
While tackling rising sea levels saw the Hydroelectric Canal by Massachusetts-based Paul Lukez Architecture announced overall winners and Climate, Energy & Carbon category winner, a multifunctional building at Ackerstraße 29 in central Berlin by Tchoban Voss Architekten was shortlisted in the Housing category. Comprising apartments, offices on the top floors, a restaurant and shops, a suite of solar panels on the roof generate its own electricity with a geothermal system supplying heating and air conditioning.
* “We were all very impressed, the feature is great!!” – Zaha Hadid Architects, designer of London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Arena and Stadium
See all WAFX Prize category winners at https://www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/wafx-winners-2017
[08/11/17]: Solar energy – cheap as chips
Even shattered Syria signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement at the COP23 conference in Bonn (Germany) yesterday, leaving head-in-the-sand Trump and America the only party poopers.
Reviewing the state of global energy, Co-leader of the UK Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, told Today, BBC Radio 4:
“Already solar is now the fastest growing source of new energy globally. Renewable energy sources are set to represent almost three-quarters of the 10 trillion dollars that the world will invest in new power generating technology until 2040. The economics are going in the right way. Countries are coming together to make this happen. What we need now is finance on the table and a bit more political will.
“It is deeply concerning that any day now we're expecting an announcement from our own government that will be giving the green light to the first UK fracking in six years to start in North Yorkshire. It [fracking] doesn't give us that so-called 'energy security'. What it does do is set up a whole new fossil fuel industry at exactly the time when scientists are telling us we need to leave around 80% of known fossil fuels in the ground if we're to have any chance of avoiding the worst of climate change.”
With trademark urgency, Lucas claims: “Renewables, solar and on-shore wind are already cheaper than fossil fuels. If we're concerned as we should be about keeping people's fuel bills down, invest in renewables, and crucially, in energy efficiency as well.”
[22/10/17]: Sunlight + H2O = green gas
That's solar energy + water = hydrogen: an easy lesson learned during CNBC's 'Sustainable Energy' on the process of producing and storing hydrogen for industrial applications.
Green enterprise H2 Energy strips oxygen out of water to produce pure hydrogen, used to generate clean gas from a solar source, water being the only by-product.
“Hydrogen is an endless enabler of society,” a spokesman explained.
“Zero-emission tech and decarbonisation for hydrogen-fuelled transport. Because of the scaling effect of solar, hydrogen clean energy must now do the same.”
Europe's oil capital turns to clean, green hydrogen buses https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/20/europes-oil-capital-turns-to-clean-green-hydrogen-buses.html
[03/10/17]: Sun up – new science and economics models
Consciously and subconsciously, the Sun is worshipped by every living being.
Hot on the heels of America's total solar eclipse (21/08/17), innovative science and economics models are breathing new life into everything we thought we knew about the glowing orange orb.
American scientists Michael W. Young, Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey C. Hall – winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, announced yesterday – are at the forefront of research on plant, animal and human body clocks.
Known technically as molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm, they isolated a 'period' gene that controls normal daily biological rhythm, discovering these are synchronised with Earth's revolutions to anticipate and adapt sleep patterns, feeding behaviour, hormone release, blood pressure and body temperature depending on different phases of the day. In non-technical terms: we get up and go to bed due to the light-dark cycle of the sun.
Hours later, Russia's RT TV interviewed radical Australian economist @ProfSteveKeen, whose once-criticised ramblings about rotten economics are finally being taken seriously. Describing some of the failures of mainstream factors of production theories, Keen highlights the fact that “all wealth comes from the land – the possibility of stuff that we can all consume comes from the sun: plants absorb it, farmers harvest plants, the rest of us convert them into different forms – the only correct theory of economics according to the laws of thermodynamics,” adding in jest, “a solution I came up with last year.”
As a traditionally trained economist, I should have known better than to sit without shade in a Melbourne park, erupting in huge facial blisters after hours exposed to Australia's notorious ozone layer, forcing me to hide indoors for days.
Meanwhile, BBC Radio's 'The Life Scientific' this morning described the sun as “that giant turbulent wall of burning gas” while astrophysicist Lucie Green explained her research on “coronal mass ejections.”
Her team at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, study space weather impacts as solar activity picks up, frantically collating data to counter potentially catastrophic socio-economic damage.
Coronal mass ejections are disruptive hot gas emissions from the sun, having “a dynamic, violent impact on the Earth's magnetic field – like stretching and twisting elastic bands.”
If an intense coronal mass ejection occurred today, “we'd lose 10% of the space satellites we all rely on and it would potentially shut down electrical systems,” Dr Green explained.
We can work, rest and play knowing solar studies of such magnitude are in the untiring safe hands of the world's best boffins.
[02/10/17]: Africa's rising solar star on the horizon
Countdown has begun to Africa's most highly-anticipated event of the year – 'Unlocking Solar Capital: Africa', organized by Rotterdam's Solarplaza International , GOGLA clean energy association, Utrecht, and Brussels-based Solarpower Europe, 25-26 October 2017 in the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan.
Bringing together some of the brightest minds under the sun, this powerhouse of renewable energy professionals includes 350+ decision makers from development banks, investment funds, solar developers, independent power producers (IPPs), engineering, procurement and construction managers (EPCs), and a host of other solar stakeholders.
Their objectives: to harness global interest in Africa as a rising star in solar capture, power generation and distribution.
Attendees will “engage in extensive discussions to solve Africa's solar energy funding gap and get projects realized,” organizers stated, with “in-depth discussions on on-grid/off-grid/mini-grid solar financing and development,” and “guaranteed matchmaking through our customized software and interactive networking breaks.”
As the planet's 2nd largest continent, Africa is the focus of Solarpower Europe project RECP – the European Commission-funded Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme.
Bridging the gap between European and African information providers, partners and funders, RECP identifies solar project opportunities and targeted match-making activities.
'Unlocking Solar Capital: Africa', http://www.solarpowereurope.org/events/events-page/71114ff1b9cdc4ab9ba443b19a146cb8/?tx_news_pi1%5Bnews%5D=230
EuroAfrica Magazine Online, https://www.euroafricamedia.eu/index.php/en/blog/164-africa-s-rising-solar-star-on-the-horizon
[18/09/17]: Campaigning for peaceful environments
Ahead of the UN's annual celebration of International Peace Day on 21st September, it's worth remembering that the exploitation of the environment is a major cause of conflict.
Notable initiatives to protect the wellbeing of humanity and planet Earth include '11 Days of Global Unity', a campaign under the Peace Day umbrella.
The principle pillars of its environment agenda are:
Cleaner environments breed more peaceful societies. Who'd wish for anything less?
[08/09/17]: Kenyans highest solar users; Spain's wind power investment
Africa's abundant sunlight is finally reaping rewards for some of the world's poorest communities on a continent making headway in globally-recognised enterprise and cultural activities, yet still facing pressing social, economic and political challenges.
Following the distribution in 2015 of two million high-quality solar systems to Kenya's energy poor households, schools and health clinics by Canadian company SkyPower, Kenyans have become the highest users of solar technology per capita, according to CNBC's 'Sustainable Energy' (07/09/17).
The programme compared the benefits of wind and solar power in the “sustainable energy mix” as part of the “green transition” with wind power aiming to account for 3% of the world's energy by 2050.
Spain is cited as a key player in wind powered electricity generation. Madrid-based Vortex Bladeless claim “one day, wind will complement solar” with its aim to “target homes, most of which use solar, we want wind to fill the gap in 2019.”
Vortex Bladeless comprise elegant low-cost wind funnels of compact size, designed to reduce manufacturing and operating costs compared to conventional wind turbines.
Simplicity is the beauty of Vortex Bladeless which require no energy input, no lubrication and no technical training to use, and are easily attached to the side of domestic homes. Capable of producing 4Kw to 100W of electricity, another major selling point is that they don't produce noise – a complaint often made against conventional wind turbines.
A welcome addition to householders' green energy choices, Vortex Bladeless was developed with support from the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.
[04/09/17]: Yemen: selling out of solar panels
A decade ago, a Cuban colleague told me a fact I was unaware of: “Yemen is at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator and the most alienated country in the world.” To my shame as a qualified, long-practicing economist, I'd never given the downtrodden country a second thought.
Today, in Yemen of all places, solar panels are selling like hot cakes – the ONLY good news amid the horrors of a series of seemingly endless wars its innocent citizens are forced to endure.
While electricity becomes an increasingly rare source of power in the capital, Sana’a, green shoots of hope have risen from the ashes in the form of solar energy as carpets of shiny new blue solar panels – indicators of advanced, high-tech economies – adorn the roofs of its buildings.
Speaking to Inc. Arabia, Saad Sabrah, country head for Yemen at International Finance Cooperation, part of the World Bank, said, “The total shut-down of power generation (in mostly populated and conflict areas) took place during the early months of the current war, around June 2015. However, power generation through public resources has resumed only in some (more stable) sub-regions while access to public power in highly populated regions remains very moderate to date.”
The solution? Regions switching to solar panels.
Yemenis with their heads screwed on have spotted enterprise opportunities, seizing on solar as a vital source of energy in a nation receiving a daily average of 13 hours and 3 minutes during which the sun is visible (weatherspark.com).
“Necessity is the Mother of invention,” my mother often said. Yemen's innovative citizens are proof of that mantra.
“The renewable energy sector in the country has developed in the past two years more than anyone could have imagined,” Sabrah explained. “Businessmen who used to do across-the-board retail or services have shifted to becoming suppliers of solar solutions. The evolution in that regard has been tremendous.”
Founder of the Sana'a Center for Strategic Studies, Farea al-Muslimi, told Inc. Arabia, “You obviously can't say good things about the war, but Yemen would have taken 10 years to move into solar energy, and that happened in one year when people no longer had electricity from the government. It has become a source of innovation, a source of energy, a source of wealth and a very good friend of the environment in the last few years.”
This green rush has fuelled a spike in demand for cheap solar panels from China as those from Germany are currently considered too expensive for many. An opportunity for Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) to steal a march on its Chinese competitors? ('SolarWorld Germany, Qatar see bright future' below.)
Thanks to QSTec's recent acquisition of Germany's SolarWorld Industries, and its location as a neighbour nation, Yemen is only 1,124 km from Qatar compared to a distance of 5,926 km from China – drastically reducing shipping time and energy costs would be another green goal for the Arabian Gulf.
Follow Twitter: @dovechris1
[20/08/17]: SolarWorld Germany, Qatar see bright future
What a difference a week makes...
As the sun sets on another glorious summer, Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) has come to the rescue of Germany's SolarWorld Industries after insolvency threatened to stall progress at its solar manufacturing plants (see 'Solar industry eclipsed but resurfaces' below).
According to a QSTec press release, SolarWorld Industries will continue to develop their advanced proprietary technology to capitalise on increasing global demand for solar.
QSTec's Chairman and CEO, Dr Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri, said: “The synergies between SolarWorld Industries and QSTec enable the development of a sustainable business platform that will assist both companies to develop new products and expand their global market reach. The opportunity to strengthen our relationship with SolarWorld Industries and continue the production of high quality solar technologies in Germany fully aligns with QSTec's vision of being a world leading integrated solar company.”
SolarWorld Industries' Founder, Dr Frank Asbeck, added: “We have the best products, the right partners and we share a common vision for the future of SolarWorld Industries, QSTec and the global solar industry. The industry is expanding, new markets are opening up daily and together with QSTec, SolarWorld Industries will continue to manufacture modules of the highest German quality and standards.”
Commenting on Germany's worldwide reputation for quality and reliability, HE Sheikh Saoud A. Al-Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Federal Republic of Germany, said of the deal: “It is in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the strategic plans of Germany to cease nuclear power production by 2022. With solar energy now being the world’s number one technology choice for new electricity generation, the synergies between SolarWorld Industries and QSTec will no doubt make a positive impact on our environment, and transform the lives of millions of people around the world.”
Find out how this promising Germany-Qatar partnership is enabling solar power, http://www.qstec.com
[18/08/17] Solar industry eclipsed but resurfaces
Ahead of Monday's total solar eclipse across America (21/08/17), the solar energy industry takes one step forward, two steps back with the collapse of the sector's biggest operators.
Just two days after my last blog bigging up Germany's green credentials (see 'Solo attempts going solar – a brief German history' below), insolvency administrators shifted into gear to sell SolarWorld Americas, the US arm of German-owned SolarWorld AG which produces high-efficiency solar cells in Hillsboro, Oregon, the very same state in which the total solar eclipse will begin.
The plant had a full-load capacity of 500MW for solar cells and photovoltaic modules with sales of €405.7 million in 2016, according to PV Tech News. This accounted for 51% of SolarWorld AG's total sales of €803 million last year, however, blaming competition from lower cost Chinese products, the company could no longer cover its debts.
Yet it's not all gloom and doom for America's solar sector with the eternally sunny state of Florida aiming to increase the nation's solar power contribution from its current 3% over the next five years.
According to South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard, a long-time advocate for renewable energies, his city will become the first in Florida to require the installation of solar panels in homes.
While critics complain the new law would force homeowners to spend $25,000 or more to install the panels, the green lobby insist a generous 30% federal tax credit would considerably lower installation costs and the panels would save homeowners thousands of dollars in electricity each year.
Stoddard emphasised the importance of the move now that solar panel prices had fallen substantially in recent years. “We are running out of time. It benefits everybody except auto companies and the utilities,” he said.
The new law is fully supported by Florida Solar Energy Center.
[14/08/17] Solo attempts going solar – a brief German history
The outskirts of Hamburg provided the location 25 years ago for an enterprising farming family's foray into renewable energies.
One branch of the family managed a 200-herd of dairy cows on 150 hectares producing fresh whole milk, cream and beef supplied to local homes, schools, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants.
The second branch of this family owned and managed a pine forest in which deer and wild boar were legally hunted before being transported just a quarter of a kilometre away to the family's slaughterhouse where they were hung then dissected by four generations of the family's qualified, licensed butchers.
In no time at all skilled craftsmen’s hands turned fresh game and venison into a tempting array of seasonal sausages, steaks and stews. Again, this local produce pleased the palates of households and catering establishments within the vicinity and further afield.
Marrying ancient traditions with ground-breaking technologies to generate electricity for business and domestic use, and as a means of lowering their operational costs despite the initial high financial investment, the dairy farmers sought to install solar panels while the wild meat butchers drew up plans to install a wind turbine.
Germany isn't the first country that springs to mind in terms of sun-blessed destinations, but its northerly regions enjoy more than their fair share of wind power, the electricity output from both renewable sources were to be shared among the local community. After weighing up the challenges and opportunities, both branches of the family applied for the appropriate equipment licenses from the relevant authorities and were stunned to learn they'd been turned down...
Even in a technologically advanced nation like Germany, corporate interests held the upper hand – fearing the loss of income from the national power grid solar generation was seen as a growing threat while the wind turbine was classed as an unsightly nuisance that would create noise pollution!
Needless to say the family was back where it started although Germany has come leaps and bounds in the green energy stakes ranking 18th out of EU-28 countries in 2015 for its share of renewables in gross final energy consumption compared to Spain's 14th position and the UK's 24th placing.
© Chris Dove as told by the Timm family, Hamburg
[01/08/17] 'Solar Power to the People'
With global concern increasing about the damage plastic bottles are inflicting on oceans and marine life, I can hold my head high in the knowledge that my plastic footprint is minimal – I don't drink cola, manufactured lemonade or beer, so I buy one 1-litre mineral water bottle every three months, drink it then fill it with tap water, and using a BRITA water filter, it's reused more than 100 times before it's taken to the recycling bin where I trust my local authority correctly disposes of it.
It's what our local taxes are paid for though I dread to think where it actually ends up...
Probably in Third World countries like the Philippines. Here, trillions of carelessly discarded plastic bottles carpet streets and beaches, forming a blight on the landscape before drifting out to sea and killing innocent fish and seabirds. Fed up with the destruction of their communities, enterprising environmentalists in the capital, Manila, launched a plastic bottle recycling initiative that harnesses the power of the sun.
Wearing specially designed t-shirts proclaiming 'Solar Power to the People', this small band of eco-warriors brave the filth to collect and clean plastic bottles – their aim: transforming them into solar light bulbs in a simple yet highly effective win-win scenario.
Non-biodegradable bottles are filled with water and bleach then suspended through tin roofs of the modest buildings millions of Milanese residents are forced to call home. Refracted by sunlight, the plastic bottles bring cost-free illumination to people for whom reliable electric lighting is a far-off luxury, helping to combat energy poverty by freeing up households to spend their minimal incomes on other priorities.
“This will really help people save money for their food in Manila and beyond,” an NGO representative said in '21st Century' on South Korea's Arirang TV.
Meanwhile, sun worshippers from Britain to India and beyond enjoyed more than half an hour of intelligent analysis of the sun's strengths and weaknesses listening to 'The Power of the Sun', BBC Radio 4, first aired on 30/07/17, a Sunday of course!
And only this morning, it was announced that Los Angeles will host the 2028 Olympics Games – its motto: 'Follow the Sun', another shining example of power to the people in a city I had the pleasure of sun worshipping some 15 years ago.
[24/07/17] UK promotes solar energy
Sunny news on BBC Radio 4 this morning: “The Government says consumers could save up to £40 billion by 2050 with a shake-up of the energy market. The rules will be changed to make it easier for people to produce their own power with solar panels, store it in batteries and sell it to the national grid”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_fourfm.
[21/07/17] Solar planning in frozen Finland
Sunshine is rare in Finland so every ray of illusive natural energy is welcomed.
That's the thinking behind an innovative open source 3D modelling initiative by Helsinki urban planners using digital photos to show highly accurate images of the city's streets and buildings.
The models effectively track carbon emissions and analyse energy use including the best locations to place solar panels.
“We are the first city in the whole world that delivers both of these models as open data”, explained Jarmo Suomisto, urban planner from the City Executive Office.
The city has collaborated with Rotterdam, Hamburg, Vienna and Singapore to become a world leader in this field.
[15/07/17] Solar panels suddenly funny
The dry topic of solar energy took a funny turn yesterday with who else but Trump repeating his threat to build a 900-mile wall along the US-Mexico border.
His typically deluded idea that Mexicans will pay for a fence preventing them reaching their Promised Land is side-splitting enough until you hear Trump proposing a “see-through wall probably made of solar panels.”
I'm fully supportive of solar tech applied to as many industrial and social uses as possible, but in this instance Trump really takes the biscuit.
Good luck with the wall, Mr President – you're going to need it.
[05/07/17] Germany-China renewable pandas
Ahead of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany (7-8 July 2017), two Chinese pandas en route to Berlin Zoo have unknowingly stolen the show – not a difficult feat for the cute and cuddly pair when compared to the dry meetings lined-up between cool, calm, collected German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the world's most powerful grey-haired men wearing obligatory grey suits.
Never known to miss an opportunity to bang their own drum, China is cosying up to Merkel in a bare-faced display of environmental concern having quickly occupied the role of lead climate change advocator following Trump's naive decision to take a back seat regarding this pressing global issue.
With China already accounting for 1/3 of German exports, the pandas are a large but welcome sweetener for the Germans – a highly visible, newsworthy symbol of China's push for renewable energy investments.
[03/07/17] Solar concentration “from hi-tech to smart-tech”
A quote by HELIOVIS spokesman Farhad Shikhaliyev, the company behind a solar concentration plant in Spain, speaking on 'The Edge', CNBC during Expo 2017 Astana (10 June to 10 September, Kazakhstan).
Using a series of HELIOtubes, the innovative process brings back memories of school science experiments – concentrating the power of the sun through a hand-held magnifying glass to generate heat and flames.
As Mr Shikhaliyev explained: “We don't actually use magnifying glasses – this is a figure of speech to better explain the concept behind the technology. The HELIOtube is made from 3 types of plastic film. Inside HELIOtube, a reflective film runs lengthwise, forming two air-tight chambers. The arch is achieved by creating a small difference in air-pressure between the chambers. The arched film concentrates the sunlight onto the thermal receiver and thus heating the coolant flowing through.”
Each HELIOtube produces 1MW of thermal energy and the energy produced is used in industrial processes or converted to electricity by a turbine.
Currently 55% cheaper in capital expenditure (CAPEX) compared to glass-based technology, HELIOVIS was pilot tested on a small scale in Spain in 2013 to prove the fundamental principles of the technology. After a successful large scale plant was commissioned on the 23rd of June 2017 in Villalgordo del Júcar, Spain, HELIOVIS are set to take the solar industry by storm.
Check the website for more fascinating details about this ground-breaking renewable energy source. https://heliovis.com
[27/06/17] Spain's web streaming video to reach 79% in 4 years
Streets ahead of the game in 2014, I planned Solview360° solar time-lapse camera app, live streaming 360° landscape photos 24/7 to smartphones, tablets, PCs and TVs.
Now Cisco's Visual Networking Index reveals video will comprise 79% of Spain's internet traffic in 2021 – virtual and augmented reality accounting for most traffic. (kippel01.com; Barcinno)
From 'mobile first' to 'video first' in the race for all-round entertainment with consumption in Spain estimated to exceed 46 million minutes per month, and from 38 megabits per second in 2016 to 65 megabits per second in 2021.
Any forward-looking collaborators interested in pushing Solview360° through – swapping the solar camera for a recreational drone – please drop a line to email@example.com.
Business plans in English and Spanish available.
Solar Blog: Korean techies cite Solview360° concept, https://www.solview360.com/solar-blog
Chris Dove, BA (Hons) Econ: SEO Cert.
Global Content Producer/Mobile App Developer
Pro Write and Edit
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Location: Málaga, Spain – “A cultural hub” (The New York Times, August 2016)
[18/06/17] First solar oven sparks interest
Simple green tech innovations crop up every day.
Enterprising engineers dubbed “makerspace” at Eco Teclab in Togo have buyers lining up for their solar-powered oven, a first for a West African country suffering energy poverty.
The foot-square oven comprises 25 solar discs and is made of wood, plywood, glass and sheet metal.
Speaking in French, solar oven inventor Ousia Foli-Bebe explained: “When you open the oven, rays of sunlight pass through the glass to optimise the rays received. The cover traps the sunrays and transfers them to the glass. Once the rays reach inside the oven they turn into heat. This heat can't come out of the glass so is stored inside the oven and cooks the food.”
Users like its small dimensions making it less cumbersome, and they no longer worry about cooking.
“I take my time doing the laundry because the solar oven takes care of cooking and adds taste to the food,” one user explained after using it for two months.
Best BBQ idea – ever.
No need for electric or fossil energy, widespread use of solar cooking could meet deforestation challenges around the world.
Why didn't we think of this before?
Follow Twitter @dovechris1
'Sun baked', China Global Television Network, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6twgYdgPZ8U
[08/06/17] China's 'man-made sun'
As part of the “Future Energy” theme during the Astana Expo 2017 (10 June-10 September), China Global Television Network (CGTN) highlighted the 'man-made sun' exhibition in the China Pavilion – a revolutionary development in China's nuclear fusion energy.
The artificial sun developed by the Chinese Academy of Science features a super-heated long pulse plasma discharge exceeding 50 million degrees in temperature.
First initiated in January, the 102-second discharge is “the longest discharge at such a high temperature, which marks an important breakthrough in artificial sun research.”
As the world's largest energy polluter, China, unlike Trump's America, is throwing its almighty weight behind the climate change agenda and is keen to demonstrate scientific advances few countries are willing or capable both of pursuing and funding, evidenced by the Chinese Premier's attendance at the Astana Expo opening ceremony in Kazakhstan.
Trump's abscence was noted.
[20/05/17] One soul promoting solar
An enterprising individual in the West African country of Cameroon aims to change the fortunes of his homeland by transforming it into a tech hub.
Within the context of the 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who have no or limited access to electricity (World Bank), renewable energy engineer Bolivie Wakam installs low-cost solar panels to charge batteries which are then used to purify drinking water in rural areas.
Having made it his mission to teach local communities about the benefits of solar energy, he set up Africa Tech Solar as an NGO with the goal of spreading clean energy from his hometown, Batoufam, to the furthest reaches of the country.
“Solar energy does not pollute the environment; it’s clean energy and it’s renewable”, says Wakam.
His solar system has made great advances and is now used to power computers in schools and libraries, enabling young people to continue their studies with a reliable energy source when electric power lines fail or are non-existent.
See Eco@Africa on Channels TV, http://www.channelstv.com/programmes/ecoafrica/
[22/04/17] Less coal, more sun
While Britain celebrated its first full day without coal-powered electricity – a feat to be cheered after Brixton's Electric Avenue, south London, became the first to use electric street lighting in 1888 – millions of environmentally concerned citizens took to the streets in support of World Earth Day.
Not to be outshone, Málaga’s Costa del Sol in southern Spain put plans in gear to launch the world's first solar car. Designed by local company Evovelo, the dinky two-seater called Mö is made from sustainable materials and will run for up to 90 kilometres when fully charged by 2-3 days of sunlight.
The green driving machine can be ordered from www.evovelo.com, price: €4000-5000.
This enlightened approach is a far cry (and we will be crying) from that of Chief Climate Change Denier President Trump who's threatening to pull out of the COP21 Paris Agreement to reduce global CO2 emissions. Signed by 195 countries and ratified by 143, citizens of the States – the world's biggest polluter – aren’t (yet) compelled to wearing breathing masks all day as those in China are forced to do, the second biggest polluter.
Let's hope the People's Climate March in Washington, D.C. on 29 April sends the blinkered billionaire a clear message.
NO COP-OUTS AT COP21, PLEASE, [02/12/15] below
[11/04/17] Green Matters media on verge of launch
Green Matters, launching this month, is a media company dedicated to making news and topics across sustainability and innovation accessible.
Led by experienced media executives, backed by distinguished venture partners, and built using start-of-the-art technologies, they seek to develop awareness, conversations and communities to inspire real-world change.
Watch this space for upcoming articles on solar energy, wind farms, geothermals, hydroelectric power, sustainable electricity generation, storage and distribution; also marine conservation, the blue economy and sustainable fisheries local and global.
Green Matters launch coincides with Al Jazeera's repeat broadcast of 'Pricing the Planet' which discusses the economic invisibility of nature and asks what financial price would we pay for the Sun to rise and set every day?
“Our ecological footprint is escalating. To satisfy our needs we're using the resources of one and a half planets. If we continue at this rate, by 2030 we'll need two planets, by 2050 two and a half.”
Talk about costing the Earth.
[11/03/17] Egyptian Sun God rises from the ashes
If only the Egyptian Sun God had risen from the ashes of a Cairo square during my visit 15 years ago...
Led by a German archaeologist from the University of Leipzig, a 26-foot statue was discovered in a construction site in El Matariya, northern Cairo, and bets are on that the bust and head belong to all-powerful Pharaoh Ramses II.
This hugely respected deity took to the throne while just a teenager, reigning from 1279-1213 BC. King Ramses II was so revered that it's believed he was a human representation of Sun God Ra to such an extent that his statue at Abu Simbel Temple was strategically located to evoke the highest praise when sunshine fell on his face.
I soaked up the Pharaohs' aura during my visit to Karnak Temple in Luxor as strong sunlight bathed the entire edifice in ancient glory.
At the beginning of this month, Egypt's Antiquities Minister described "the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite" in an area known as Heliopolis 3,000 years ago.
The Minister went on to explain: "We removed the head and found the crown and the right ear and a fragment of the right eye", which goes to show that the famous Egyptian Eye of Horus as a symbol of royal power and good health has been watching events unfold in this embattled country from his city centre underground tomb.
[01/03/17] People power shines through in Hamburg
It was refreshing to hear a group of Hamburgers insist on managing their electricity grid themselves during last week's Al Jazeera broadcast, 'Europe's Forbidden Colony'.
Having led a gruelling three-year campaign and citizen's initiative titled 'Our Hamburg – Our Grid' (OHOG), they held a 'Yes/No' referendum to wrest control from power-hungry private network operators – and won.
Putting pressure on the Hamburg Senate and City Parliament, the referendum demanded to "fully remunicipalise the Hamburg electricity, district heating and gas distribution grid" to achieve "socially just, climate-friendly and democratically controlled energy supply from renewable sources."
Home to my long-term German partner and a city I've visited on several occasions – first one Christmas when temperatures plummeted to minus 4° – OHOG faced an uphill battle against self-interested political parties and trade and industry representatives, and were outnumbered 1:100 in campaign resources.
"We had one Euro and they at least a hundred to place respective ads, print materials, etc.", explained Friends of the Earth Germany.
Read the original heart-warming story on Power to the People, 'Energy Remunicipalisation: How Hamburg is buying back energy grids', http://www.power-to-the-people.net/2016/10/energy-remunicipalisation-how-hamburg-is-buying-back-energy-grids-part-i/
[22/02/17] Funny side up
"If Al Gore wants to fix solar panels to my roof, he's welcome any time."
These are the words of American editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez, discussing the power of political cartoons on Al Jazeera's interactive programme, 'The Stream' (22/02/17).
I don't care how 'satirical' he thinks he is, it's proof that in the world's second biggest greenhouse gas polluter, some aren't taking climate change seriously enough.
[12/02/17] "Solar panels are the future. Period." – Tony Seba
I was fired up again watching renewable energy promoter Tony Seba on Bloomberg's 'Forward Thinking: What Would a Sustainable World Look Like?'
After hearing Mr Seba's salient words during the programme's first broadcast (29/06/16, repeated 11/02/17), he reminds us: "Solar panels are the future. Period."
Based in Silicon Valley, he couldn't be clearer than that and I, for one, am right behind him as he describes widespread economic and social advantages we'll accrue as cost-effective technologies impact our energy and transportation habits.
Writing from southern Spain – a region enjoying 3000 hours of sunlight annually – I was taken aback learning how enough sunlight is emitted per day to power Earth for a year. How long will it take for the powers that be to switch on to this untapped natural resource?
Watch Tony Seba on Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-29/forward-thinking-what-would-a-sustainable-world-look-like
[07/02/17] Solar lamps light up Africa
Reporting on the 'Grass roots' section of China's CGTN Africa Business News (07/02/17), the West African country of Burkina Faso enjoys 900 watts per square metre of sunshine every day, but when the sun goes down it's lights out – literally.
Spotting a green business opportunity, French company LAGAZEL captures this sunlight to produce 1000 solar lamps each week, creating local jobs by employing 20 people to assemble the lamp components.
Each lamp sells for US$21-46, providing an affordable earth-friendly solution which one local resident welcomes, saying: “I don't need oil or batteries anymore.”
LAGAZEL aims to produce 1 million solar lamps by 2020, brightening up the future in one of Africa's sunniest regions.
[04/02/17] Russia invests future in solar
A country not known for its wealth of sunshine, Russia stakes the future of sustainable electricity generation, storage and distribution firmly in the solar sector via the Russia Direct Investment Fund.
According to The CNBC Debate: Future Energy (04/02/17), 2015 was a record year for solar output from photovoltaics (PV) representing about 30% of renewable power generating capacity added worldwide and accounting for the “great outlook for renewables by 2021.”
In similar vein from its HQ in Abu Dhabi and European base in Germany, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) attributes: “The rapid growth of solar PV to game-changing storage innovation, the success of fine-tuned policies and new financing mechanisms” in its report, 'REthinking Energy 2017'.
In 2014, Spain's renewable electricity generation from solar stood at 13,673 GWh and in 2015 at 7,132 Mw.
Check your country's solar credentials on page 118 of the report, http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/IRENA_REthinking_Energy_2017.pdf
[12/01/17] Korean techies cite Solview360° concept
Korean tech is streets ahead of many global rivals, so when its directors predict trends in consumer engagement, you know they know what they're talking about.
Discussing demand for image technologies and related content to satisfy the growing appetite for VR experiences (virtual reality), Korean TV channel Arirang highlighted drone cameras capturing and transmitting images to VR headsets and other wearables that place users in the 3D space they're viewing ('UPFRONT', 12/01/17).
Solview360° solar camera concept was considered too futuristic for Spanish tourism authorities when presented in 2014. The simple idea involved strategically placed solar cameras live streaming 360° panoramic images across coastal and inland areas for real time viewing on smartphones, laptops and tablets so visitors see year-round visuals alongside tourist info promoting local landmarks.
“No one uses coins anymore”, explained one CEO commenting on the growth of FinTech (financial technologies) where mobile payments using computer chips, PINs and eye/voice/fingerprint recognition come to the fore.
We may not be as far ahead as tech wiz Korean consumers when it comes to notes and coins, but the time might just be right to take Solview360° into the virtual realm.
Watch this space.
[18/12/16] Solar in South Africa
South Africa may be struggling to provide decent homes for all its people but it's taken great strides in the solar energy stakes.
As reported on CNN's 'Africa's Energy Surge', Solar Capital is using the natural gift of the sun to generate much-needed electricity with 700,000 solar panels installed on the nation's largest solar farm covering 500 hectares on the 175-megawatt facility in De Aar.
A fantastic outcome given the 70,000 jobs it will create, and uplifting news for the rapidly ascending continent.
[11/12/16] Best ever Christmas TV
'Snow Magic' takes kids and adults on an unusual educational nature trip across Japan's Lake Shumarinai, “the Kingdom of Snow”.
Narrated in English through the eyes of a wizard accompanied by haunting background music, you'll see the fluffiest fox, stunning sunrises and sunsets, and 3D ice crystals.
Watch in darkness for the full effects.
'Snow Magic', NHK World, https://www.facebook.com/nhkworld/videos/1124017004311721/
[16/10/16] Spain in solar spotlight
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Spain's Miguel Arias Cañete, will participate in the III Spanish Solar Forum on 29 & 30 November in Madrid. He'll be joined by Alberto Nadal, Secretary of State for Energy in the caretaker government, and Jorge Barredo, President of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union, UNEF.
The Forum's motto: “Photovoltaic 2.0: the sector's new opportunity”.
I interviewed Cañete online when I was editor with responsibility for Spain, Diversified Business Communications, USA.
[08/10/16] Kenya keen to power solar industry
More than half-way through this 21st century decade, I'm still scratching my head wondering why more African countries haven't jumped on the solar energy bandwagon.
So it was uplifting to see today's report on China's CCTV News banging the drum for the industry in its Global Business programme.
Over in Kenya, conscious of the perennial problem of domestic and corporate power cuts, technological innovation is providing a sustainable solution in the form of multi-junction solar convectors.
While the term doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, these are in fact highly efficient semi-conductors being developed in the US for installation at a fraction of the cost of standard solar panels. Early days maybe, but proof there's light at the end of the renewable energy tunnel.
[10/09/16] Haircuts sunnyside up!
Africa's star is definitely rising with the first passengers taking off and landing at the upcoming continent’s first solar-powered airport.
And a barber with his head screwed on is taking full advantage.
As Al Jazeera report today from George Airport, Western Cape, power cuts cost SA's economy up to $780 million per month, and as solar panels have become more affordable, two more airports are in the pipeline.
Excess electricity feeds into the national grid, creating new business opportunities as companies start occupying unused land near the airport.
A shining example being the world's greenest barber, Steven Goitseone, using two small solar panels in his portable barbershop: “It's all in one,” he explains, “and powers everything from hair clippers to phone battery charger.”
SA's aiming high, predicting 40% of its electricity needs will be from renewable energy by 2030.
Solar panels prop up South Africa's electricity grid, Al Jazeera, 10/7/16, http://video.aljazeera.com/channels/eng/videos/solar-panels-prop-up-south-africas-electricity-grid-/5119582030001
[07/09/16] Weather outlook
“It was raining and FREEZINGLY cold.” – South African community worker, Cape Town
A new word for the dictionary, heard today, a good description of conditions, made me laugh as I basked in Spain´s 32-degree sunshine.
[05/09/16] Rosetta found at last!
After two years lost in a shaded corner of a comet, Rosetta´s Philae lander has been found, phew!
Finally able to complete its mission, we'll soon be star struck by the valuable information collected.
Watch this SPACE for more...
[31/07/16] Rio Carnival 2.0
The world's most extravagant street party – Rio Carnival – had me in tears of joy and sadness during my 2004-05 trip.
Every soul invests their time and pride in this (at least) once in a lifetime event, money no object despite the financial strain on households, families, businesses, authorities.
They don't do it for show, they do it for themselves. Tourists reap the biggest rewards then fly home.
A low point was witnessing the diversion of countless millions of much-needed public funds to house these people, perched precariously on top of each other with little access to life's bare necessities.
Granting the Olympic Games to Brazil put South America on the sports and sponsorship maps – BUT WAS NEVER TO BENEFIT 'THE PEOPLE'.
Residents protesting over the weekend distributed paper doves to the public, drawing attention to their cause, bemoaning the drastic downturn since its days as the biggest of the BRIC group of growing countries with Russia, India, China.
Days before the circus commences is too little, too late.
Original image not online for posting.
[26/07/16] Mission accomplished
Today marks the end of the first sun-powered flight around the world as Solar Impulse touched down in Abu Dhabi.
I was unaware my stopover in the country years ago would hail such historic news.
Congratulations to the technicians and pilots – your feat signals a watershed in renewable energy use.
[07/07/16] Solar soars to new heights
Ref America's sunshine state: “Ambitious renewable energy goals are fuelling a boom in solar energy across California. The state passed a climate bill requiring 50 percent of each utility’s retail sales to come from renewable energy by 2050. California now boasts enough solar energy to power an estimated 3.3 million homes.”
California Outshines Other U.S. States In Solar Power, Statista, 7/7/16, http://www.statista.com/statistics/289149/revenue-solar-power-industry-united-states/
A fortnight earlier, while I was holidaying in sun-starved Germany, Solar Impulse 2 touched down in Seville after a 3-day flight across the Atlantic from New York – “one of the longest legs of the first ever fuel-less flight around the world,” according to Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-solar-plane-seville-landing-idUSKCN0Z90GB
[21/06/16] Are Solar Panels Just for Rich People?
The price of solar has plummeted since the late 1970s. Back then you’d pay US$77.67 per watt for solar cells, and you still wouldn’t be able to produce electricity – not until you connected a bunch of cells together to form a solar panel.
Last year, the price for a fully made solar panel – including the glass cover, aluminium frame, and electrical wiring—reached 57 cents a watt.
Perpetual sunseeker David Yorke died suddenly on 27 May 2016.
David was my step-father – though not married to mum, they were together 30 years, longer than either of their first marriages.
We´re waiting for the post-mortem results, early indications are that it wasn´t a heart attack as suspected.
David was a much-loved father to me in ways my dad NEVER was.
I´m attending his funeral in England, 23 June.
[11/05/16] Solar tech growth forecast
Mike McNamara, CEO, Flex smart wearables: “Solar tech is the first exciting area where we´re seeing a lot of our capital investment, e.g. in Malaysia producing 3 million solar modules…high profitability and high growth rates = sustainability for the next 20 years.” (Managing Asia, CNBC, rebroadcast 11/5/16)
The company´s investing in solar farms, creating dynamic energy fields by tilting solar panels to track the sun.
[24/04/16] SOLAR IMPULSE has landed!
Touchdown went to perfection for Solar Impulse airplane this morning, successfully landing in California on the 9th stage of its round-the-world trip from Hawaii having completed its jaunt around the Atlantic.
Powered only by renewable energies, clean techs and the Sun, next stop: New York in June before soaring over the Pacific.
[11/03/16] Mother Nature in Spain & Japan
As Japan commemorates five years since an earthquake triggered a tsunami, 11,000 kilometres away in Málaga, southern Spain, residents like me were shaking in our beds at 05:45 in the morning as a noticeable tremor shook our tower block.
My first experience of such a tremor – mild compared to the one my partner underwent in January while I was in Barcelona – but unnerving nevertheless.
We fear it won´t be the last. nor so gentle next time.
[09/03/16] Solar eclipse over Asia
Wonderful watching TV footage of Indian worshippers in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, gathered for the solar eclipse over the region.
Only their counterparts in select areas of Indonesia caught the total eclipse, many missing out on the spectacle thanks to a well-timed burst of cloud cover. Disappointed faces said it all.
At least they don´t have long to wait for the next, nor, apparently, do onlookers in the West: all eyes will be gazing skywards in autumn 2019.
[25/02/16]: Chinese sun and smiles
The absence of smog and the rare sight of clear blue skies forced people in Beijing to take to the hills today (NHK World News, Japan).
“I just wanted to see the sun,” one woman sighed, another: “I love taking photos when the sun is shining,” while yet another summed it all up saying, “I finally saw sun today.”
The report ended on a bright note: “The sun's rays in winter bring smiles to people's faces.”
[12/02/16]: Tesla SolarCity
Interviewed on CNN Talk Asia re their forthcoming driverless car, Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO said: “Our goal is sustainable transport. Goal posts for solar are getting hotter as coal and oil energy go slow.”
I wrote about Tesla´s wireless remote control making advances in home automation for Modern Design Magazine in 2007. These guys have come a long way.
[10/02/16]: Solar shines in all sizes
Two TV broadcasts shine a light on the power of solar energy – regardless of installation size.
In Brooklyn, NY, an animated opening introduced a pair of guitar-strumming, folk-singing Truck Farm directors describing their back-of-the-DODGE mobile garden producing toms, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, parsley et al year-round, aided by an innovative greenhouse cover fitted with just one solar panel. (Community Channel, 09/02/16)
At the other end of the scale, a Japanese car factory maintenance worker was all smiles explaining he'd prefer to be building the vehicles, but gained tremendous satisfaction as a dedicated team HAND-CLEANING the plant's 20,000 solar panels. (NHK World, 09/02/16)
Clearly, size DOESN'T matter!
[17/01/16]: Solar on the rise in West Africa
Anyone who´s anyone in the solar power industry will be hotfooting to Accra, Ghana – my family roots – for the Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa Conference, 19-20 April 2016.
Aiming to “aid in speeding up the uptake of solar in West Africa”, delegates from across this up and coming continent will gather to exchange best practice initiatives for commercial and consumer use.
According to Solar Media: “With approximately 58MW of solar installed in West Africa so far, our market analysis points that in the next 2 years the installed capacity would increase exponentially going past 400MW.” Glow Ghana!
Watch the video, http://westafrica.solarenergyevents.com/
[2013.02.28] Grow Ghana: West Africa’s regional development gathers pace http://www.prowriteandedit.com/news.php?idn=163
[2013.03.10] Ghana – The Great And The Good http://www.prowriteandedit.com/news.php?idn=165
[24/12/15]: Sun god Helios to stand tall in Rhodes
Greece has a mountain of socio-economic problems to deal with, but plans are afoot to erect a 150-metre high statue of titan sun god Helios on the island of Rhodes.
The original 30-metre Colossus of Rhodes was built to celebrate Greeks´ victory over Cyprus in 305 BC, and, prior to being destroyed in a 226 BC earthquake, was said to have been constructed from enemy weapons.
This new statue will use light generated by solar panels, visible from as far as Turkey, but will it lessen the impact of an ongoing Greek tragedy?
Over in the US, my solar camera concept received a boost when a “solar webcam in a box” was selected as one of the year´s best inventions. Designed by California-based Planet Labs to capture the Earth´s images, it featured on CNN´s `Make. Create. Innovate.´ broadcast 23/12/15.
[20/12/15]: WTO Women in Business
For the first time ever, the World Trade Organisation held its Ministerial Conference in Africa – a sign of the continent's ascendancy with the honour going to Kenya – and the first chaired by a woman, Somali-Kenyan Dr Amina Mohamed (15-18/12/15).
The International Forum on Women in Business included case studies on Namibia and its innovative use of solar drying to prolong the shelf-life of agri-products during cross-border transit.
Many parts of Europe are experiencing their warmest winter temperatures, with reports of spring flowers like irises and snowdrops carpeting the British landscape.
Daffs in December indeed! Some premature blooms flower only once a year so won´t appear next spring. Strange...
[17/12/15]: So much for solar
Seats occupied by climate change representatives have barely had time to cool, yet cop-outs on COP21 have already appeared.
Less than a week after signing the “historic” Paris Agreement limiting global temperature rises to 2°C, the UK government announces a cap on solar industry subsidies.
Short-sighted or just stupid?
[06/12/15]: Nippon rising in lighting technologies
Futuristic Japanese lighting designers have set the stage for public art and entertainment. LEDs and solar powered creations by Motoko Ishi transform city nightscapes into serene 4D artworks, while supercharged performances by squeaky clean electro pop trio Perfume feature psychedelic tech projections and chic neon costumes. Far out, man.
[02/12/15]: NO COP-OUTS AT COP21, PLEASE
Returning to the UK in 1990 after a prolonged stint in Spain, the first TV programme that piqued my interest was 'The Green Sell'. It focused on environmental marketing and the dangers of green-washing, where products and services are flogged under the eco banner despite possessing the flimsiest earth-friendly credentials.
My two-part series 'Global warming – what on Earth does it all mean?' was published in 2008 in the wake of 'The Inconvenient Truth', putting the pressing issue in a modern design context with its threat to our carefree lifestyles. 'Green vs Greed' followed in 2010 for a Barcelona business magazine.
Read COP – What's it all about? for stark facts we're finally waking up to www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/learn/what-is-cop21/
Also posted at www.prowriteandedit.com/news.php?idn=238
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[23/11/15]: Solar power shines again
Global energy policies
have dampened demand for solar power by effectively taxing the sun – Spain being a noted culprit introducing unfavourable industry regulations in June 2014, hampering the competitive and innovative
nature of photovoltaic facilities converting sunlight into electricity up to a maximum 120 MW.
Now though, the Moroccan Sahara finds itself in the eye of the storm, enjoying an outbreak of commercial interest in the unbeatable value of solar power.
In a report by BBC Environment and Energy Analyst Roger Harrabin, a vast installation equivalent to 35 football fields of concave, solar-collecting mirrors have begun tracking the sun – where else than in the middle of the Sahara (I wonder whose great idea that was). Oil-filled pipes are heated by sunlight, generating enough constant electricity to power 1 million households up to 20 hours per day.
“Climate change is a unique opportunity for our nation,” explains the Moroccan project director. “Solar will be the dominant source of energy by 2050. This is a moment in history.”
Currently, less than 1% of global electricity is solar-generated, and fears persist that solar can't be scaled up fast enough to meet global electricity demand – one fifth of all energy consumed, and rising.
In January 2015, Spanish tourism authorities rejected my Solview360© solar camera plan to develop an app for smartphones, tablets and online streaming...perhaps now they'll see the light: Andalucía alone produces 3000 hours of sunlight per year, look out the window! www.solview360.com
Roger Harrabin full report: BBC Radio 4, 23/11/15 at 8pm GMT @RHarrabin
Also posted at www.prowriteandedit.com/news.php?idn=236
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[25/11/14]: Solar power to the people
The waves of media
interest generated by space probe Rosetta in its mission to unlock the secrets of the Solar System have shone a light on solar panel usage as never before.
Aided by lander Philae as it touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko a fortnight ago, Rosetta is the first space mission to travel through the main asteroid belt powered solely by solar panels.
Low-intensity low-temperature solar cells – a revolutionary technology used at the European Space Agency (ESA) – allowed Rosetta to operate more than 800 million km from the Sun where sunlight is only 4% of the strength of Earth's.
The mission was monitored from ESA's Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany by the DLR German Aerospace Agency, while closer to familiar terra firma, a German innovation is empowering us to install solar panels on our own homes.
Based in Freiburg, the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems, in collaboration with scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, have developed a way to produce efficient solar panels that reduce home assembly time and installation costs and make intelligent savings.
After inventing a highly efficient solar cell under the Smart Energy Buildings and Cities initiative, the new lightweight flexible panels are easy to install, don't require a mounting frame, traditional cables or qualified technician.
Installing traditional solar panels on a roof takes an average 26 hours' work by an electrician which the Institute calculates at €3.88 per watt.
The team solved the problem with cables which simply connect one after the other, reducing time taken to 10 hours at the low cost of €1.18 per watt.
Although solar power accounted for 10.5% of all the EU's electricity generated from renewables in 2012, increasing from just 0.1% in 2002, Eco-Tech Energy of the Future announced earlier this year: “There's lots of energy that comes from the Sun which we're still not using.”
Also posted at www.prowriteandedit.com/news.php?idn=207
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