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Solar Energy: Spain 4th in world, 2nd in Europe behind Germany; number of solar companies leapt from couple dozen to few hundred

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 »

Europe loves bikes. Assembly lines of biggest facility in Europe have average output of 3000 bikes per day, 1 million 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 »

World first. Ever-restless ocean wave farm generates electricity for 1,500 homes on shore: Pelamis in Portugal

moored a few miles offshore, four of these floating plants from Ocean Power Delivery power a town in northern Portugal. The Pelamis converts wave motion into pneumatic pressure to drive a set of turbines

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Three red snakelike devices bobbing in the waves three miles (4.8 kilometers) off the coast of Agucadoura, Portugal, represent the first swell of what developers hope will be a rising tide of wave power projects. These big metallic sea snakes bobbing in the ever-restless waves of the North Atlantic are generating electricity for over a thousand homes on shore. The world’s most ambitious, working wave farm for generating electricity, it is part of Portugal’s national effort to become energy self-sufficient as Denmark has done since the 1970s oil crisis. Portugal is not a wealthy nation and has no coal or petroleum. So wind and water and sunshine are their favored sources of energy. Portugal is also one nation encouraging local cities to become zero emission communities.

Pelamis Wave Power Generator  read more »

First international photography prize Prix Pictet: camera to communicate vital dispatch most serious issues facing us all

Sebastian Copeland: Stormy Weather. Series: Antarctica: The Global Warning Melchior Islands, Antarctica, 2006

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What is photography for? Can it change our minds? An exhibition just opened at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, of the 18 photographers short listed for the first Prix Pictet, poses these questions loud and clear.

The Pictet prize, established this year by Pictet & Cie, one of Switzerland’s largest private banks, and co-sponsored by the Financial Times, is the only international photography prize that concerns itself directly with sustainable development and environmental issues. In that sense it isn’t quite a conventional art prize but an award – of 100,000 Swiss francs (SFr) – to be given annually to the artist who best uses the power of the camera to communicate a vital dispatch on one of the most serious issues facing us all.

Sanggen Dalai, Inner Mongolia, China. Women flee the main street as dust fills the air. This shot is from Benoit Aquin's series, which has won the overall prize of £50,000. The Chinese Dust Bowl documents scarce water resources, desertification and ecological refugees in China  read more »

A greenhouse gas 17000 times more potent than CO2: NF3 gas used in making flat panel TVs, computer displays, microcircuits

full disk Western Hemisphere view of the Earth in September 2008 NOAA satellite image

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A gas used in manufacture of flat panel televisions, computer displays, microcircuits, and thin-film solar panels is 17,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and it is four times more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously estimated, according to a study released Thursday. Researchers using a new NASA-funded measurement network discovered there was 4,200 metric tons of the gas nitrogen trifluoride in the atmosphere in 2006, not 1,200 tons as previously estimated for that year.

In 2008 there are 5,400 metric tons of the gas in the atmosphere, an average of an 11 percent tonnage increase per year, said Ray Weiss, head of the research team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Nitrogen trifluoride, which could not be detected in the atmosphere using previous techniques, is 17,000 times more potent as a global warming agent than a similar mass of CO2. The rate of increase means that about 16 percent of the amount of the gas produced globally is being emitted into the atmosphere, the researchers estimate.

Scripps geoscientists Ray Weiss, left, and Jens Muehle in San Diego, Calif., amid collection cylinders used to collect air samples from a variety of locations around the world  read more »

Inventors in 800mi car race run on wood chips, cow dung, veg oil, no gas! Jagged Sierra Nevada, bleak flatness of Death Valley

Sharon Westcott, left, and Jack McCornack arrive in Las Vegas, winners of the Escape From Berkeley race

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Wayne Keith, a hay farmer from Springville, Ala. (population 3,000), pulled into Berkeley last week driving a lime-green pickup truck that runs mostly on wood chips but sometimes cow dung, too. Keith, who wore dirt-flecked overalls and a trucker's cap, was in town to compete in the first Escape from Berkeley race, a kind of mini Cannonball Run to Las Vegas for drivers of vehicles that run on anything but petroleum. Two other racers relied on vegetable oil, one on alcohol and one on steam power to run his carriage (mostly for show; after a few miles, it was put on a trailer to traverse some of the dicier terrain).

Shannon O'Hare made final adjustments to his vegetable-oil-fired, steam-powered vehicle, a highly modified horse cart  read more »

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