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Solar Energy: Spain takes lead with government commitment, enforces building code, erects more solar power plants

Toledo Solar - Installation began in Feb 1993, completed in May 1994, on schedule & to budget. Production reached 1,270 MWh in 2000. This landmark project was a successful field demonstration of PV and European institutional cooperation

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As researchers continue to explore new ways to promote and improve solar power, Spain forges ahead with plans to build concentrating solar power plants, establishing the country and Spanish companies as world leaders in the emerging field. At the same time, the number of installed photovoltaic systems is growing exponentially, and researchers continue to explore new ways to promote and improve solar power. This is the seventh in an eight-part series highlighting new technologies in Spain and is produced by Technology Review, Inc.’s custom-publishing division in partnership with the Trade Commission of Spain.

mirrors focus the power of about 600 suns on a receiver at the top of the solucar tower  read more »

Mickey Mouse turns 80 - symbol of optimism, fun, sheer zest for life, a little fellow trying to do the best he can

Walt Disney with his most famous creation, Mickey Mouse

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You may have missed it, but one of the great inspirational figures of the last century celebrated his 80th birthday a few days ago. Born in Los Angeles in 1928, he has surely brought more pleasure to more people than anyone of his generation. His features are recognizable in almost every city on earth, and he has probably raised a smile from almost everyone whose life he has touched.

And while his name has become a metaphor for anything gimcrack, cheap or childish, he remains the supreme symbol of American optimism, fun and sheer zest for life. He is, of course, Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Wille, 1928

Oddly, the Disney corporation is not making a big deal of Mickey's birthday, perhaps because it is worried that mentioning his great age will damage his reputation among his youngest fans. So it is up to the rest of us to celebrate for him - and celebrate we should. For while Mickey's first 80 years coincided with some of the darkest moments in history, and while Disney has become a byword for commercialism, the great Mouse reminds us of the best in humanity. Sure, he may not have the muscles of Michelangelo's David, but he has a much better sense of humor.

Mickey serenades Minnie in Hawaiian Holiday, 1937  read more »

Warren Buffett said in Mar. US in recession; now, recession declared by Germany, Italy, 15 Eurozone nations, Japan

Germany declares official recession

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Germany has become the first of the G7 powers to declare an official recession. After Germany and Italy officially declared recession status, it was the turn of the entire 15-nation euro zone to make a similar declaration on Friday, November 14, 2008.

Gross domestic product in the Eurozone fell by 0.2 percent for a second consecutive quarter in the third quarter, according to figures from Eurostat, satisfying the technical definition for a recession. The contraction means that two of the world's three major economies, Japan and the Europe's euro zone, are now in recession.

Frankfurt's Eurotower, which houses the European Central Bank

Germany and Italy logged third quarter declines on their gross domestic products by 0.5 percent for July to September and 0.4 percent for the second quarter. France narrowly missed joining the recession club because it had a 0.1 percent GDP growth rate in the third quarter after it had a minus 0.3 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Like the UK, the group of 15 countries has been hit hard as the crisis that started in the US banking sector feeds through into the wider economy. The worst affected has been Germany, Europe's biggest economy, where GDP fell by 0.5pc in the third quarter after a 0.4pc in the second. Italy suffered falls of the same proportion in both quarters.  read more »

Global financial summit from G7 to G20; new strong voice of BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia, India and China

Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy

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Western nations began to cede some control as countries including Brazil, India and China – which with Russia form the so-called BRIC nations – managed to guarantee a greater presence on the international stage.

All three will now join the board of the Financial Stability Forum – the global economic policy powerhouse that to date has been the bastion of the G8.

an overall view of world leaders attending the first Plenary Session at the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy at the National Building Museum in Washington, November 15, 2008

Each is likely to play a stronger role in the reform of major institutions such as the International Monetary Fund than might previously have been witnessed under the old economic order.

The final summit communiqué also gave particular reference to emerging and developing economies, urging them to undertake commitments consistent with their capacities and roles in the global economy – a clear admission of their increased importance.  read more »

Europe loves bikes; biggest facility in Europe started production, to make one million bikes in 2009

a customer of Bicing, Barcelona’s bicycle-sharing program. For a yearly fee of about $30, each user receives an electronic card that can be used to check out and return bicycles from 375 stands scattered about the city

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SERZEDO, Portugal – Recently the biggest bike facility in Europe started its production. That facility is located in Portugal; is operated by a company called RTE and is to produce one million bikes in 2009.

RTE is the parent company of Portuguese bike producer Decanor

RTE’s assembly lines have an average output of 3000 bikes per day, depending on the season and the model. When a new collection is being launched or there is an urgent need for big quantities, RTE can produce 3400 units per day. Otherwise the assembly line only needs to work one 8-hour shift per day. Normally, the total daily production is shipped on the same day to a Decathlon centre of distribution.

In addition to Paris' Velib bike rental program, Barcelona, Seville and Stockholm all have bike rentals available.

Europe loves bikes  read more »

World's first biofuel-powered flying car - Parajet Skycar drives like a car and flies like a plane

Gilo Cardozo’s flying car

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To Timbuktu by flying car: it sounds the most unlikely journey on earth; a sci-fi voyage from the pages of Jules Verne. But this is no fantasy. The car really flies. And the journey will become reality early in the new year when two explorers set off from London in a propeller-powered dune buggy heading for the Sahara.

The seed of this improbable adventure was sown four years ago when Gilo Cardozo, a paramotor manufacturer, had a eureka moment. For those not familiar with paramotors, picture a parachutist with a giant industrial fan strapped to his back, which provides forward motion and boosts lift for the parachute - or wing - during takeoff. Cardozo’s brainwave was to attach a car to the fan. “I started making a paramotor on wheels that you sit on and take off and it suddenly occurred to me, ‘Why not just have a car that does everything?’” recalls Cardozo, whose Wiltshire-based company Parajet built the paramotor that the adventurer Bear Grylls used to fly near Everest last year.

world’s first bio-fuelled flying car  read more »

Extreme adventure & challenge: 23k-mile Vendée Globe, non-stop no-assist round-the-world single-handed yacht race

Marc Thiercelin had to pull out of the Vendée Globe race because of damage to his yacht’s mast

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The French do not lack for creativity, and some of it has been expended over the years to develop sports events. The French were the driving force behind the modern revival of the Olympics. They played a vital role in starting soccer’s World Cup and European Cup, which is now better known as the Champions League, and in Alpine skiing’s World Cup. They also dreamed up the Tour de France and the Vendée Globe yacht race.

all aboard: Ellen MacArthur onboard her BT sponsored boat is anticipating the best Vendee race ever

That last event is surely the most obscure. But in France, the Vendée Globe is a major happening - a quadrennial opportunity for Gallic sea dogs and landlubbers alike to reacquaint themselves with the iceberg-infested dangers of the southern oceans and man’s (and woman’s) capacity for salt-stained, sleep-starved solitude. The concept is brutal if attractively simple: competitors race alone around the South Pole and back in 60-foot monohulls without stopping. There are strict limits on outside assistance once the sailors leave Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France.

Vendee Globe route  read more »

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