Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Harnessing Africa for Europe

Rhetorical questions: Did anybody ask the Africans about this grand scheme? Isn't it typical of Europeans to assume that they are entitled to do what they like? Do we need electricity more than Africa? What benefit will the millions of destitute people in Africa get from this scheme?

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe's electricity, says EU

· Huge £35bn supergrid would pool green sources
· Brown and Sarkozy back north African plan

A solar power plant in Spain

A concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Spain that uses panels to refl ect light on to a central tower to produce electricity. Similar plants are proposed for north Africa. Photograph: AP

A tiny rectangle superimposed on the vast expanse of the Sahara captures the seductive appeal of the audacious plan to cut Europe's carbon emissions by harnessing the fierce power of the desert sun.

Dwarfed by any of the north African nations, it represents an area slightly smaller than Wales but scientists claimed yesterday it could one day generate enough solar energy to supply all of Europe with clean electricity.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona, Arnulf Jaeger-Waldau of the European commission's Institute for Energy, said it would require the capture of just 0.3% of the light falling on the Sahara and Middle East deserts to meet all of Europe's energy needs.

The scientists are calling for the creation of a series of huge solar farms - producing electricity either through photovoltaic cells, or by concentrating the sun's heat to boil water and drive turbines - as part of a plan to share Europe's renewable energy resources across the continent.

A new supergrid, transmitting electricity along high voltage direct current cables would allow countries such as the UK and Denmark ultimately to export wind energy at times of surplus supply, as well as import from other green sources such as geothermal power in Iceland.

Energy losses on DC lines are far lower than on the traditional AC ones, which make transmission of energy over long distances uneconomic.

The grid proposal, which has won political support from both Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown, answers the perennial criticism that renewable power will never be economic because the weather is not sufficiently predictable. Its supporters argue that even if the wind is not blowing hard enough in the North Sea, it will be blowing somewhere else in Europe, or the sun will be shining on a solar farm somewhere.

Scientists argue that harnessing the Sahara would be particularly effective because the sunlight in this area is more intense: solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in northern Africa could generate up to three times the electricity compared with similar panels in northern Europe.

Much of the cost would come in developing the public grid networks of connecting countries in the southern Mediterranean, which do not currently have the spare capacity to carry the electricity that the north African solar farms could generate. Even if high voltage cables between North Africa and Italy would be built or the existing cable between Morocco and Spain would be used, the infrastructure of the transfer countries such as Italy and Spain or Greece or Turkey also needs a major re-structuring, according to Jaeger-Waldau....continued at link

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Media blind to Israeli terrorism

When an Arab runs riot with a digger, it becomes front page news. Headlines scream about another 'terror' attack. Yet, when Jewish extremists run riot and destroy a Palestinian village, it warrants a small paragraph at the very end of an article about settlement expansion in the Guardian, and is ignored by the BBC and other major media outlets. What would have been the media priority if this attack was by Arab on Jewish settlers?

Palestinian officials said yesterday that a group of Jewish settlers had attacked a Palestinian village, Burin, near the West Bank city of Nablus, smashing cars and windows and cutting electricity wires. The attack was filmed by an Israeli group, Rabbis for Human Rights. The village was close to a settlement where an Israeli was arrested this month for allegedly trying to fire a rocket at the Palestinians.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Is it a virus or is it a bacterium?

The Gruniad find it difficult to tell the difference:

· The TB virus is spread by mycobacteria through people coughing and sneezing and affects patients' lungs and pulmonary systems, making it difficult for them to breathe.

· The disease is thought to have either originated in cattle or to have stemmed from a bacterium that evolved separately to infect both species.

· In 2006, 1.6 million people died of TB. India currently has the highest rate of infection with about 3.5 million patients, compared to around 7,000 in Britain.

· Famous TB victims include Robert Burns, George Orwell, Immanuel Kant and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Real Job Advert

I'm mildly surprised that Mr Halliburton hasn't got the job already! Then again perhaps they don't want to repeat the same kind of 'reconstruction' in London that Baghdad enjoys on a daily basis.

The Embassy of the Republic of Iraq would like to invite qualified and experienced contractors to tender for the:

1. Repairs and refurbishment of its offices at 21 Queens Gate, London, SW7 5JG.

2. Repairs and refurbishment of the residence of the Ambassador.

Interested and qualified contractors should obtain full set of tender documents and drawings by contacting:

Mr Sadik Shaker

Tel: 07778 247708


Bidders should demonstrate their capabilities by listing similar work executed with relevant references.

Site visit is mandatory.

Tenders should be submitted no later than 4pm on 10th July 2008 Link