Europe to be powered by the Sahara?

BERLIN, (Reuters) – A 400-billion euro ($554 billion) project linking solar power produced in the Sahara to energy users in Europe and North Africa is a ‘win-win’ for both continents and could also promote integration around the Mediterranean, a German minister said.

Guenter Gloser, deputy foreign minister, told Reuters 20 gigawatts of concentrated solar power (CSP)—the equivalent of 20 large conventional power plants—could be harvested each year by 2020 if the project called Desertec got off the ground.

New hope for Chinas’ polluted cities

pearl river tower 310mA new skyscraper that is being constructed in Guangzhou in southern China is being heralded as a change of direction for China’s green credentials.

The 310m Pearl River Tower is going to be off the electricity grid of China, in one of it’s most polluted cities, and will be run on a combination of wind turbines, solar panels and fuel cells. The building is expected to be finished in late 2010.

Other energy efficient features include a double-layer curtain-wall system to reduce heat absorption and slab concrete vaulted ceilings that enhance natural daylight. Chilled water will run through metal panels in the ceiling, helping to cool the building.

Hopefully China is finally waking up to the threat of global warming and can lead the world in sustainable building.

Good news for a close relative

bonoboGood news for one of the lesser known great ape species! A partnership between local villages and conservation groups, headed up by the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, has led to the creation of a new 1,847 square mile (4,875 square kilometre) reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The reserve will save some of the region’s last pristine forests: ensuring the survival of the embattled bonobo—the least-known of the world’s four great ape species—and protecting a wide variety of biodiversity from the Congo peacock to the dwarf crocodile.

However, the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is worth attention for another reason: every step of its creation—from biological surveys to reserve management—has been run by the local Congolese NGO and villages of Kokolopori.

Solar Lanterns to light up developing World

solar_radio_e4b508About 2 billion people in developing countries worldwide lack electricity, which in turn impacts the health, ecology and safety of rural households. Many are forced to rely on inefficient and environmentally damaging kerosene lamps.

Developing nations alone burn 470 million barrels of oil and release about 400 billion pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as a result of using kerosene. Other sources of light fuel include cow dung, precious forest firewood or crop residue.

But in a massive new study carried out in Gujarat, one of Western India’s poorest states, hit hard by drought in recent years, researchers have proposed that solar photovoltaic lanterns could represent a solution for rural communities with insufficient lighting.

This is particularly true in India, where the average number of sunny days ranges from 250 to 300 per year, generating a solar energy equivalent greater than the country’s total energy consumption. With India’s large and growing population, solar lanterns, using the country’s abundant sunlight, could be the cleanest and most practical energy alternative available.

The silver lining of climate change

polar-bearFrom GoodNewsStories.org

Believe it or not, climate change could be the best thing that ever happened to the amazing array of animal and plant species that make up the Earth’s biodiversity.

Climate change is still the most serious environmental threat we have ever encountered, and it is already taking a terrible toll on species, as well as people, all over the world.

However, there is a silver lining to this rather acidic cloud. Climate change has triggered an international wake up call and never before have so many sectors of society been equally concerned and motivated to combat an environmental threat.

Some pessimists say it’s too late, but consider the positive results of the latest meeting of the WCC in Spain that brought together representatives from governments, indigenous peoples, industry and environmental groups are meeting to present innovations and create partnerships. The fact this type of meeting took place is a big positive stride for protecting the world and it’s inhabitants.

Regardless of whether you believe in climate change or not, it cannot be denied that the whole subject has highlighted many global issues and brought about a and positive change in attitude and to the environment and our rich biodiversity.