Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)

The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change
In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Google: Earthday 2013

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Switch off, save planet message goes global

By Michael Perry and Jeremy Lovell


SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) - People switched off lights around the world on Saturday, dimming buildings, hotels, restaurants and bars to show concern at global warming.

This combination of two images of the Sydney skyline were photographed at 8:20pm on March 28, 2008 (top) and during earth hour at 8:20pm on March 29, 2008. Thousands of lights that illuminate office buildings, public structures and monuments were switched off Saturday evening, darkening the city's iconic skyline for one hour, in an effort to publicise the effects of climate change. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

Up to 30 million people were expected to have switched off their lights for 60 minutes by the time "Earth Hour" -- which started in Suva in Fiji and Christchurch in New Zealand -- has completed its cycle westwards against the sun.

More than 380 towns and cities and 3,500 businesses in 35 countries signed up for the campaign that is in its second year after it began in 2007 in Sydney alone.


"Earth Hour shows that everyday people are prepared to pull together to find a solution to climate change. It can be done," said James Leape of WWF International which was running the campaign.


Lights at Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge were switched off and Australians held candle-lit beach parties, played poker by candle light and floated candles down rivers.


In Bangkok some of the city's business districts, shopping malls and billboards went dark, although street lights stayed on. One major hotel invited guests to dine by candle light and reported brisk business.


In Copenhagen, the Tivoli and the Royal Palace and the opera darkened for an hour, along with many street lights.


"In the central square a lot of people were standing looking at the stars," said Ida Thuesen, spokeswoman for WWF Denmark. "It's not often you can see the stars in a city."


In Norway, at the Kvitfjell ski resort that was host of the 1994 Winter Olympic downhill, some late-season parties were held by candle light as heavy snow fell outside.




In Britain, 26 town and city councils signed up to switch off non-essential lights as did several historic buildings including Prince Charles' private residence Highgrove House, London City Hall, Winchester Cathedral and the Government Communication Headquarters radio monitoring station.


The south coast town of Brighton turned off the lights on its pier and pavilion to mark the event.


The British arm of Internet search engine Google turned its home page black and added the message: "We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn."


Floodlights went out at landmarks in Budapest, including its castle, cathedral and parliament.


The movement will now cross the Atlantic to the United States and Canada,


San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago's Sears Tower and Soldier Field Stadium football ground, as well as the 553-metre (1,815 ft) CN Tower in Toronto were due to be plunged into darkness. The lights at Niagara Falls were also to go out.


Buildings account for about one-third of the carbon emissions that scientists say will boost global average temperatures by between 1.4 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century bringing floods and famines and putting millions of lives at risk.


Organizers of Earth Hour said that while switching off a light for one hour would have little impact on carbon emissions, the fact that so many people were taking part showed how much interest and concern at the climate crisis had taken hold.


(Additional reporting by James Thornhill in Sydney, Chisa Fujioka in Tokyo, Ploy Chitsomboon in Bangkok and Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Related story:

Climate change progress too slow - Rudd

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

UN issues first green certificate for RI

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 03/25/2008 11:20 AM 

After two years, the United Nations has issued the first saleable "certificates of emissions reduction" (CERs) to Indonesia's publicly listed cement maker, PT Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa Tbk. 

The UN executive board on climate change issued a total of 17,635 CERs to Indocement's alternative fuel projects on March 14. 

"It is good news for Indonesia. Hopefully, more companies will be encouraged to switch to greener projects to tap into cash from the carbon trade scheme," Prasetyadi Utomo, secretary of Indonesia's designated national authority (DNA) on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) told The Jakarta Post on Monday. 

Under the CDM, projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to sustainable development can earn saleable CERs. 

Countries with an emissions reduction or limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol can use the CERs to meet part of their obligations under the protocol. 

The certificates can be traded to 36 highly industrialized nations which have legally binding emissions limitation and reduction commitments. A CER currently sells for between 13 and 15 euros. 

The UN will also issue 23,474 CERs to PT Indotirta Suaka Bulan Farm on Tuesday. The company's project, located on Bulan Island near Batam, involves methane capture and combustion from swine manure and is expected to cut 166,000 tons of emissions per year. 

Prasetyahadi said the UN had informed Indonesian environmental officials of a plan to issue another 63,332 CERs to Indocement on Wednesday. 

DNA data shows PT Indocement registered two projects that reduce emissions through the use of alternative fuels such as biomass, rice husks, sawdust and used tires. 

The projects were developed in cooperation with the World Bank. 

The issued CERs are transferred electronically from the CDM Registry through an international transaction log, administered by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, to national emissions registries. 

As of March 1, the UN had issued CERs to 306 projects, mostly in China and India, totaling 126.6 million CERs. 

The CDM is expected to generate more than 2.6 billion CERs by the time the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. 

The UN has said there are currently more than 948 registered CDM projects in 50 developing countries, and another 2,000 projects in the registration pipeline. 

The government has so far approved 47 CDM projects, of which half were registered this year following the UN climate change conference in Bali. 

Among the approved projects are a fuel switching project conducted by PT Asahimas Flat Glass Tbk at its flat glass manufacturing facility in Sidoarjo, PT Gikoko Kogyo Indonesia's gas flaring project in Palembang and a waste recovery project in Ubud, Bali.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Climate change 'is accelerating'

avid Parsley
, The Observer, Sunday March 23 2008

The growth of developing economies in Africa, Asia and South America has accelerated global warming far beyond official predictions and it is developed nations that must act to halt the potentially catastrophic consequences, according to a new study from the world's leading temporary power supplier, Aggreko.

The warning, which has shocked environment campaigners, comes from Aggreko's chief executive, Rupert Soames, who said: 'The threat of global warming is far greater than people have previously thought. The consensus figure on the world's power consumption going forward to 2015 is simply wrong.'

Soames is referring to the findings of a report Aggreko commissioned from Oxford Economics, the commercial arm of Oxford University's business college. While the International Energy Authority (IEA), states the annual rate of growth in the planet's power consumption will be 3.3 per cent until 2015, the Aggreko study, which studied the growth of developing economies in greater detail than the IEA, puts the figure at 5 per cent.

'What's happening is the developing economies are growing like topsy,' said Soames. 'There's work coming into these countries and when people earn they want to buy mobile phones, TVs and fridges. Now, who are we to tell the developing economies to go without these things to protect the earth from global warming?

'However, Soames believes the study has produced a solution to increasing concerns over global warming.

'There are about 8,000 power stations in the world and the vast majority are highly polluting coal-fired things,' he said. 'If the world is serious about making an impact against global warming, then just turn the worst 150 polluters around the world into clean nuclear stations and the effect would be the same as if you immediately took every single car in the world off the road. It'd be that dramatic.

Mary Taylor, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the report from Aggreko painted a 'grim picture indeed. The increasing emissions are of huge concern,' she said.

Salt could shake up world energy supply

Reuters, by Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

TOFTE, Norway (Reuters) - Only up to powering light bulbs so far, "salt power" is a tantalizing if distant prospect as high oil prices make alternative energy sources look more economical.

Two tiny projects to mix sea and river water -- one by the fjord south of Oslo, the other at a Dutch seaside lake -- are due on stream this year and may point to a new source of clean energy in estuaries from the Mississippi to the Yangtze.

A view of an industrial estate at Tofte near Oslo, Norway, March 2, 2008,
where state power group Statkraft will build an experimental "salt power"
plant in 2008.(REUTERS/Alister Doyle)

The experiments, which seek to capture the energy released when fresh and salt water are mixed, build on knowledge that has been around for centuries -- in one case imitating the process of osmosis used by trees to suck water from their roots.

Although they are far from being economically viable, if eventually successful they might help a long-term quest to diversify away from fossil fuels such as coal and oil, widely blamed for stoking global warming.

"We might well be able to find new promising solutions such as generating power naturally from osmotic forces occurring when salt and fresh water are mixing," Norwegian deputy Energy Minister Liv Monica Stubholt said in a speech earlier this month.

And rivers flow around the clock, an advantage compared to variable wind or solar power.

Oil, currently trading not far from a record $112 a barrel, is forecast to peak this year as a U.S. slowdown reduces demand, but analysts polled by Reuters in February still saw the average price above $80 in 2010.

The U.N. Climate Panel said in 2007 energy sources such as waves, tidal power or salt are a long way off -- unlikely to make a significant contribution to overall power needs by 2030.


The science at the heart of the projects is the fact that when salt and fresh water mix at river mouths, they are typically warmed by 0.1 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit). Dutch scientists say such energy at all the world's estuaries is equivalent to 20 percent of world electricity demand.

The plants may support hopes the technology can overcome hurdles, the most significant of which is poor cost-effectiveness of the membranes used in the process.

In Norway, power group Statkraft, which says it is Europe's top producer of hydro and wind energy alongside Electricite de France, is building a test plant costing $20 million.

"Ours will be the world's first saline power plant based on osmosis," said Stein Erik Skilhagen of the state-owned company.

The plant, at Tofte on the Oslo fjord, will have output of up to about 5 kilowatts -- enough to run household appliances such as washing machines or heaters or a few dozen lightbulbs.

The Dutch Centre for Sustainable Water Technology (Wetsus) will also in three to four months start a pilot "blue power" test at IJsselmeer in the Netherlands, from where water flows into the sea.

"At the start, it will be on the scale of 100 watts...but we aim at this salt factory to obtain 1-5 kilowatts within one year," said Jan Post, a researcher at Wetsus.


The Norwegian and Dutch plants use different systems but both depend on membranes placed between the salt and fresh water, which are currently prohibitively expensive and highly energy-intensive to produce.

"The Achilles' heel for this process is that there is no commercial membrane," said Menachim Elimelech, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale University in the United States. "It's not even close to being economical."

The membranes are similar to, but thinner, than those used at many desalination plants, when sea water is pressed against membranes that allow only fresh water through in a process known as reverse osmosis.

Makers of membranes such as General Electric, Dow Chemical, Hydranautics or Japan's Toray Industries focus most on membrane technology for desalination -- a market growing by about 15 percent a year worldwide.

Ellen Mellody of GE Infrastructure, Water and Process Technology said the company has "an aspirational goal" of producing fresh water from salt through membranes at a cost of 10 cents per cubic meter, down from 70 cents to a dollar.

Asked about prospects for a separate market for power-generating membranes, she saw one "potentially, but not for about 5-10 years".

The Norwegian project will include 2,000 square meters (21,530 sq ft) of plastic membranes, through which fresh water will be sucked into salt water by osmosis.

Osmosis' power was shown in 1748 when French physicist Jean-Antoine Nollet put a pig's bladder filled with alcohol in a trough of water. The bladder swelled and burst -- the more concentrated liquid draws pure water into it.

At Tofte, the power exerted by salt water sucking in fresh water is equivalent to water falling 270 meters in a waterfall. The only emissions are brackish water.

Unlike the osmosis of the Norwegian system, the Dutch scheme captures salt particles which give off electrical currents.

Yale's Elimelech said a full scale plant would demand membranes covering perhaps 100 acres, at risk of damage by pollutants dissolved in the river or the sea.

Also, filters have to be in place to avoid sucking in fish and there are environmental concerns about drawing water away from estuaries, perhaps threatening plants and creatures in the area.

"The membrane is the challenge," agreed Skilhagen. "In tests we have come over three watts per square meter (of membrane), but we have to reach five. When we do that it will be industrially interesting."

The Dutch project is close to producing two watts per square meter of membrane. "In theory, both techniques use the same energy source and you could in theory get the same amount of energy out," said Sybrand Metz, project leader at Wetsus.

The Dutch government, utility Eneco and Redstack research group are also making a feasibility study of a plant on the Afsluitdijk dam between the IJsselmeer and the Wadden Sea, with a 10-50 kilowatt installation to be built that could lead to a 200 megawatt capacity if it works.

"Membrane-based technologies are voracious energy consumers," said France's Veolia, which runs huge desalination plants. It wants to cut energy consumption of membrane desalination by 80 percent over 15 years.

-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on:

(Editing by Sara Ledwith)

Related Article:

Hydrogen Production

Monday, March 10, 2008

EU told to prepare for flood of climate change migrants

Global warming threatens to severely destabilise the planet, rendering a fifth of its population homeless, top officials say

Ian Traynor in Brussels, The Guardian, Monday March 10 2008

In its half-century history, the EU has absorbed wave upon wave of immigrants. There were the millions of political migrants fleeing Russian-imposed communism to western Europe throughout the cold war, the post-colonial and "guest worker" migrants who poured into western Europe in the boom years of the 1950s and 60s, the hundreds of thousands who escaped the Balkan wars of the 90s and the millions of economic migrants of the past decade seeking a better life.

Now, according to the EU's two senior foreign policy officials, Europe needs to brace itself for a new wave of migration with a very different cause - global warming. The ravages already being inflicted on parts of the developing world by climate change are engendering a new type of refugee, the "environmental migrant".

Within a decade "there will be millions of environmental migrants, with climate change as one of the major drivers of this phenomenon," predict Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's chief foreign policy coordinator and the European commissioner for external relations. "Europe must expect substantially increased migratory pressure."

They point out that some countries already badly hit by global warming are demanding that the new phenomenon be recognised internationally as a valid reason for migration.

The immigration alert is but one of seven "threats" that the two officials focus on in pointing to the security implications and the dangers to European interests thrown up by climate change.

Their report, the first of its kind to be tabled to an EU summit - opening on Thursday in Brussels - amounts to a wake-up call to the governments of Europe, a demand that they start taking account of climate change and its impact in their security and foreign-policy decisions.

Read whole story

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Arctic polar cap may disappear this summer

(Xinhua) - Updated: 2008-03-01 14:24

OSLO -- The polar cap in the Arctic may well disappear this summer due to the global warming, Dr. Olav Orheim, head of the Norwegian International Polar Year Secretariat, said on Friday.

The shrinking of the Arctic ice cap has been astonishing, Orheim said in an interview with Xinhua.

"Ice sheet hit the historical low of 3 million square km during the hottest weeks last summer, while it covered 7.5 million square km on average before the year 2000, " he said.

A map of Antarctica indicates first time persistent melting detected within the study period from 1987-2006. Areas where persistent melting took place are shown in darker shades of green. (Credit: NASA/Rob Simmon)

"If Norway's average temperature this year equals that in 2007, the ice cap in the Arctic will all melt away, which is highly possible judging from current conditions," Orheim said.

According to a UN report last year, the world's average temperature could rise by as much as 6 degrees centigrade by the end of the century, causing serious harm to ecosystems worldwide.

Human activity has been the primary driver of the observed changes in climate. Emissions of the key greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere result in the greenhouse effect.

Shrinking ice cap in the Arctic Ocean even produced a new sea route from the Bering Strait to Oslo last summer, said Orheim. Maritime enterprises in some industrial nations such as the United States and Britain have started mulling on how to use it to cut cost over the past six months, he added.

"We are deeply concerned for the situation," he said, adding that any leak from oil tankers will exert irreversible impact on ecological security in the Arctic region.

Even if no such disaster occurs, too much human activities will cause unpredictable results for the vulnerable ecological environment in the region, Orheim said.

Orheim believed such actions actually reflected the short sight and irresponsible stances of developed nations on the issues of climate change.

Asia will be hardest hit with the rising sea level caused by global warming, said the expert. "A meter higher of the sea level will bring impacts to nearly 100 million people on an area of 800,000 square km in Asia and direct economic loss will amount to 400 billion U.S. dollars." he said.

The developed nations should take the lead in confronting the challenges and reducing their reliance on fossil fuels by turning to clean and recyclable energy, he added.

Since the beginning of 2007, a series of high-level international conferences have made climate change one of their key topics.

Representatives from over 180 countries adopted the Bali Roadmap on December 15 in Indonesia's resort island of Bali after two weeks of exhausting bargaining and negotiations.

The roadmap includes a clear agenda for the key issues to be negotiated up to 2009, so a pact will be ready when the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Top UN climate change official Yvo de Boer said the developed countries should take the major responsibility for the climate change and do more in curbing greenhouse gas emission.

Climate change brings exotic visitors

Mar 8 2008 by Sally Williams, Western Mail

RARE birds from America and southern Europe are arriving unexpectedly on Welsh shores because of climate change, experts claimed yesterday.

Over the past week there has been a spate of sightings of exotic species which, under normal conditions, would never appear in this country.

The great white egret and the cattle egret, both native to tropical areas of Asia, have been spotted in parts of Wales.

Ornithologists claimed yesterday that the migrating birds may have been blown way off course by violent storms, which are evidence of climate change.

Andy Hirst, of the internet birdwatching site Bird Guides, was surprised to receive reports of several bird species he says should not reach our shores at all.

Mr Hirst said migratory birds from Northern Europe and America have been blown here due to sea storms, that are likely to become more severe and frequent in future.

He added, “Great white egrets, found in Southern Europe, have been seen at Caersws in Powys.

“They are members of the heron family only they are bigger and pure white, with dark legs. They are extremely rare here because they tend to like warmer waters.

“The fact they have ventured so far north could be because they have also been blown here in storms and could be a sign of climate change. They probably like Powys because they, like herons, need to be alongside water, whether it is a brook, pool, a lake or just a ditch or a brook. The important thing is the water is warm and not too fast flowing.

"And cattle egrets have ended up at Pwlldu Bay, Gower. They should not be seen any further north than central France.

“They like to be in fields where sheep and cattle graze because they are keen insect feeders. And the rose-coloured starling has remained in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. It usually breeds in the heat of Greece and Romania.”

He said three drake American wigeon, seen this week at Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire, had probably been brought here on the Gulf Stream, which has been pointing towards Wales since last summer, bringing exceptionally warm and wet weather from the Atlantic.

He added, “These birds are found in North America. They are different from the European wigeon. It appears that they get picked up in strong winds and blown across the Atlantic.

“Birds from America that fly at 20,000 to 30,000ft can get caught in the Gulf Stream over the Atlantic and it only takes them a day or two to reach Wales. While the bigger birds survive; the smaller ones perish. Some drop into the water and hitch a ride across the Atlantic on boats.

“We have heard reports of Arctic snowy owls, like the one featured in Harry Potter, flying out to sea in America, landing on container ships, being fed scraps by the crew and getting off at ports in Liverpool.”

He said another American visitor, a spotted sandpiper, has been reported at Lisvane Reservoir in Glamorgan.

He added, “These are tiny American wading birds. And ring-billed gulls from America have been seen at Lamby Lake, Glamorgan, Penrhos on Anglesey and an adult was in the roost at Llys-y-Fran Reservoir Pembrokeshire.”

Stuart Thompson, head of public affairs for RSPB Wales, said it was not uncommon for birds to be blown off course while following a jet stream.

He said, “However, it can provide exciting glimpses of birds that are uncommon to our shores.

“Jet streams are large currents of air that, especially for larger birds, provide increased uplift and momentum. When migrating, birds often seek effective jet streams that are usually found at higher altitudes.”

The UK recorded the sunniest February since UK-wide records began in 1929, according to the Met Office.

And the UK, England and Wales have all had one of the sunniest winters since records began in 1929.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Netherlands' 'ugliest' city home to huge solar power venture

The Earth Times, Energy Environment News , DPA , Thu, 06 Mar 2008 02:10:06 GMT

Amsterdam - The central Dutch city of Almere is to be home to the world's third-largest solar energy installation, built on a 7,000-square-metre artificial island, and is set to provide 10 per cent of the city's domestic hot water. The solar energy installation will provide around 10 per cent of the energy used to supply hot water to some 2,700 homes in the city.

On February 29, Almere and the energy provider Nuon signed a contract for the development of the solar power field.

"The size of this solar power field is unprecedented in the Netherlands," Nuon press spokeswoman Susanne Klawer told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"It is also the third largest solar power field in the world. Only Denmark and Sweden have bigger ones."

With an area of 7,000 square metres, the size of approximately three football fields, the solar power field covers just less than half the surface of the 15,000 square metre island. The solar power island is scheduled to open on June 21, 2009 - a symbolic date since June 21 is the longest day in the northern hemisphere.

The energy will be used for a city-heating system.

Usually, each home has its own central heating boiler or immersion heater which heats up the water used in a home's radiators and taps. In city heating, the water is heated centrally for an entire city or city quarter.

Once heated, the water runs through an underground system of pipes and tubes to all homes and buildings, providing them with hot water for heating and domestic use.

Nuon and the municipality claim the solar collector island will not only be environmentally-friendly, but also "a landmark piece of design."

It is, however, doubtful the Dutch inhabitants will agree with that.

Almere, founded in 1976 and now with some 178,000 inhabitants, has traditionally advertised itself as a city of modern and trendy design - but the Dutch public perceive it as desolate and boring.

Late last week, Almere was dubbed as the "ugliest city of the Netherlands" after a survey by the Dutch daily Volkskrant newspaper.

Nuon says the sun collectors are expected to cut by 50 per cent the carbon dioxide levels required to generate the necessary energy for the 2,700 homes.

"The sun collector island is one of several large-scale revolutionary initiatives by Almere that will benefit the environment," says Almere spokesman Peter Spek.

"We have also commissioned American architect William McDonough to develop an entire cradle-to-cradle neighbourhood, called Almere Poort (Gate of Almere). It will be completed within the next five years," he says.

Cradle-to-cradle is the theory that says everything humanity needs can be made from environmentally-friendly, 100-per-cent sustainable material.

In 2002, McDonough and German chemist and university professor Michael Baungart published their theory in a book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

The two have since been commissioned to develop a number of cradle- to-cradle projects.

Last year, the town of Venlo in the southern Netherlands began to develop Western Europe's largest horticulture centre - serving some 30 million consumers within a 150-kilometre radius stretching from the Netherlands to Germany's industrial Ruhr heartland - according to the cradle-to-cradle ideology.

Almere, the eighth largest city of the Netherlands, has now followed suit.

"Almere Poort will contain sustainable homes and the energy provided for these homes will also originate from sustainable energy," says Spek.

Asked whether the consumer will also benefit financially from solar energy, Nuon spokeswoman Klawer diplomatically says "the consumer will not see prices rise."

Spek points out that "building a sun collector field and other environmentally-friendly facilities requires a major investment."

"Someone has to pay for that," he adds.

Nuon says it is receiving a 1.5 million euros (2.27 million dollars) in a subsidy for the solar collector project, as part of European Union projects Crescendo and Concerto.

Asked about the total costs of the project and the number of years until the investment will start to pay off for Nuon, the company says it "does not release such information until after the project has been completed."