Gold mining the Amazon: Deforestation 2.0 [w/videos]

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The scarred rainforest witnessed by the CAO mission.

Rainforest exploitation is a concept we have been sadly used to for years. Images of deforestation have long been a common sight in tropical countries, as illegal logging of trees and ever increasing pressure from agriculture keep claiming thousands of square kilometres of virgin forest every year. We’ve even grown accustomed to the idea of one forest being “replaced” with another: from rainforest trees to palm oil trees, millions of them. An industrial forest. But while these issues have long been known of, and are now beginning to be tackled by new policies in several countries, a new and increasing threat to rainforests is quickly emerging in the Amazon: illegal gold mining.

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Photo of the week (1st Oct 2013)

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This is a new section of the blog, photography. It’s a great passion of mine, so it will be a different and meaningful way to express myself, rather than just by writing. Photos posted here will be related to the environment (built or natural) and to energy. Inevitably, pictures will be (greatly?) influenced by my travelling, past and future.

Enjoy!


A misty morning in London (24 September 2013).
The first fog of the season wraps London in the early morning. Once a stable feature of the city’s autumns and winters, fog is now ever rarer, as climate patterns have turned generally drier and milder over the years.

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Plans for World’s largest solar plant unveiled in India

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India is set to build the largest solar power project in the World, with a proposed capacity of 4,000MW. The Government has announced the massive scheme in a press release by the Ministry for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. The huge solar plant will be built on 23,000 acres of land (about 93 square km) belonging to Sambhar Salts Ltd, some 75 km from Jaipur, in Rajastan.

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Can we save Canada’s wilderness from human exploitation? [w/video]

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Canada’s hidden natural treasures are under threat. Tar sands developments in the Alberta region are already causing a devastating impact on the local environment, which many of us will have already witnessed through dramatic pictures of barren landscapes and polluted waters. And if the proposed, infamous Keystone XL project weren’t enough (a 1897km long pipeline to transport tar sands bitumen to Nebraska through sensitive natural areas), more trouble is always around the corner.

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Posted in Environment, Fossil Energy, Photography, Water | Leave a comment

Largest tidal project in Europe gets go ahead

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One of the AR1000 Turbines to be deployed at the Pentland Firth site.

The largest tidal energy project in Europe has been granted permission by the Scottish Government. MeyGen Ltd., a joint venture between American investment bank Morgan Stanley, French independent power generator International Power and Australian tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources Corporation, has been awarded consent for an 86MW array, following the completion of the statutory approval process with regulators.
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Let’s name storms after climate change deniers! [w/video]

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What if we named the most devastating storms caused by climate change after climate skeptics? This is exactly what folks at ClimateNameChange.org have done!

Since 1954, the World Meteorological Organization has been naming extreme storms after people. But we propose a new naming system. One that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy. If you agree, sign the petition at http://www.climatenamechange.org/#/petition

Hilarious and poignant at the same time.

Posted in Environment, Gotta Be Kidding, Water | Leave a comment

PV market topped 21 GW in 2010, recession ahead

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As more reliable data are released over last year’s photovoltaics installations figures, the picture of solar market’s growth is getting clearer. The latest information gathered from the World’s top markets have been summarised by EPIA (the European Photovoltaic Industry Association) in their recent publication, “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics Until 2015“. By all means, 2010 will be remembered as a triumphal period for the progress of solar power in the energy sector. Which countries led to such results, and is this exponential growth set to continue?

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Italian ‘killer’ Decree threatens global solar industry

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Italy's Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani

In a move that will shake the global PV industry like an earthquake, the Italian Government approved on 3rd March a long awaited Renewable Energy Decree that marks an unanticipated, early end to its incredible solar race. After months of intense negotiations with Parliament and Industry representatives that seemed to have reached positive results, the Italian Minister for Economic Development, Paolo Romani, presented a final, “surprise” version of the Decree that will set the new standards for all future renewable energy incentives. The Decree was due to address Italy’s path to its EU 2020 renewable energy targets (17% of primary energy consumption and 30% of electricity from renewables). The result? All that had been discussed until now is no more valid, and the deadliest blow goes to solar power, effective immediately.

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Italy’s solar market booms beyond all predictions: 6 GWs in 2010

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Photo: Enrico Matteucci on Flickr

Just a few days ago I was about to start an article on the fast-rising pace of the Italian solar market, based on the available data from GSE (the Italian Government’s Energy Agency). I was to comment on what I thought would be a banner year, with total installations for almost 3,000 MWs, over four times the previous year’s levels (718 MWs in 2009), with a total installed capacity now touching 4,000 MWs. My figures were wrong.

The Gestore Servizi Energetici (GSE) has now issued an updated press release with their latest forecasts on photovoltaic power installed capacity in Italy at end of 2010. It is now anticipated that cumulative installed capacity should be around 3,000 MWs with over 150,000 plants producing electricity throughout the country. This would mean an increase of 1.850 MWs for 2010, or 160% more than 2009. There is a catch though: given the skyrocketing demand for grid connection of new PV plants, the Italian government decided last year to warrant 2010-level incentives to all PV plants built within 2010, but not yet connected (such is the backlog of requests to the national grid), with a connection deadline of 30 June 2011. Well, on this side GSE received requests for additional 55,000 PV plants totalling an astonishing further 4,000 MWs. This means that total capacity at end of 2010 is around 7,000 MWs, up from just 1142 MWs twelve months before.

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Italian roads go solar with first sun powered motorway

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Photo: Paolo Margari on Flickr

Most people will be surprised, but Italy was the first country in the world to build motorways. In fact, the A8 “Milano-Laghi” motorway (“Milan-Lakes”, as it connects the city of Milan to Lake Como and Maggiore) was completed in 1926. Time has passed and all developed nations now boast wide motorway networks, a strategic infrastructure that helps interconnecting people, places and is ultimately essential to economic growth. But Italy will soon be able to claim a new “first”: the A18 Catania-Siracusa motorway, a 30km addition to Sicily’s 600km motorway network, will be a fully solar-powered motorway, the first in its kind.

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Posted in Clean Energy, Green Architecture | 2 Comments