Mark Piazzalunga

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Everything posted by Mark Piazzalunga

  1. Sahara desert climate is hot and arid, everybody knows it. So how can this simple and well-known fact become the idea to power a continent like Europe? Let’s start from the principle: renewable energy is the future of energy; we assume that this sentence is true since all facts gets to this point. Second principle: European territory is restricted and allows the construction of a few plants that could use renewable energy. Paradoxically, countries like Africa have renewable sources, particularly solar, in abundance but scarce funds to make the best of these resources. Now find the connection. Is it possible to produce huge amounts of solar energy in Africa and transport them to Europe through energy infrastructures? Apparently yes, according to DESERTEC project developers and supporters. And what is DESERTEC? It’s an initiative of the Club of Rome (a global think tank that has its headquarters in Switzerland) started in 2009. Directly from the official website of the project (Desertec.org): "The DESERTEC concept was developed by a network of politicians, scientists and economists from around the Mediterranean, from which was born the DESERTEC Foundation. Demonstrates a way to provide climate protection, energy security and the development of sustainable energy generation from sites where renewable energy sources are at their most plentiful." In practical terms? Connect renewable energy power plants in Africa to Europe through a network of HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) systems. The Foundation target is to build several renewable power plants of various types (mainly wind, photovoltaic and solar concentration) throughout North Africa. To support the project financially, the Foundation and other 12 companies (including Deutsche Bank, E.ON, RWE and ABB) created an industrial initiative: Dii GmbH. The construction project would continue until 2050 and for that date, the cost is estimated at € 400 billion, which means $ 546,720,000,000, approximately seven times Bill Gates’ fortune. It’s little bit expensive (life on Mars seems cheaper) but the entire network could provide Europe with the 15-20% of electricity that it needs. We must also consider the drastic decrease of pollution, direct effect of the project. This project isn’t just an idea but it seems an accurate and long-term plan. This could be an opportunity to connect two continents and to give them economic opportunities and jobs. There could be some problems like the wars and the instability of some of North Africa countries or how to get all 40 nations to agree to an arrangement for subsidizing the green electricity. There’s also the possibility to build the plants in Europe, just $ 54 billion more, and doing some math it brings to a shocking number: €2 per citizen per year to keep tens of thousands of jobs in Europe -- and to prevent Europe from becoming dependent on foreign countries for its electricity. Well, the project just started and it has the funds to go forward. We can't wait to see the results. Photo from Desertec.org
  2. I am M.P.’s mother. He would have turned 16 in December. On Sept. 15, the first day of school, he went to the fourth floor of the school building and jumped. He died on Sept. 25. We have lost an intelligent boy who was full of ideas, poetry and love. This inexplicable act leaves us stunned and silent. In my infinite sorrow I find a little consolation in reading his thoughts here ... thanks to those who have shared them with him.

    1. Simon Leufstedt

      Simon Leufstedt

      I am so sorry for your loss, you have my deepest and sincerest sympathy. I will always be grateful that your son wanted to share his thoughts and ideas here with us in this community.

  3. Renewable energy companies have been in a tough situation for more than twenty years (since the beginning of renewables' sector). Two fires, two enemies to fight, the first is the entire fossil fuels' sector, the second is the internal competition in its own sector. The first is a strong, old and rich institution, with thousands of billion of dollars and has exponents like Shell, BP, Total, Exxon and Chevron. The second is also strong and in a long-term can monopolize the entire energy market, it's the internal competition in renewable energy sector, where companies double their profits in less than a year (like First Solar or SunPower) and hydroelectric sector growth rises every year of 3.1%. The slow but inevitable ascent of renewables in the energy market can't be stopped although it can be delayed and this delay can represent a high environmental price and the Earth (and also us) will pay it. We're talking about the deadly consequences of climate change, triggered by an abudance of fossil fuels usage. It's vital, for our lives and for our environment, that fossil fuels leave the market in the fastest way as possible and to do that alternatives are required, strong alternatives. To improve and strengthen remewable energy market one of the two enemies must be fought: fossil fuels (already happening) and internal competition. How can renewable energy companies overpass this obstacle and become a strong, united market? Joint ventures. Someone already thought about that, like Solar Power Inc. The company, which 71% is owned by China's LDK Solar Co., has formed a partnership with Wircon GmbH to build projects in the U.K. The joint venture intends to own and sell the projects it develops in the U.K., Roseville, California-based Solar Power said today in a statement. The company initially intends to build about 55 megawatts of capacity. This will go to reach U.K. goal of the 30% of the country's power from renewable sources by 2020. In Japan the lack of land territory brought Kyocera Corp. and Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. to build two solar power stations designed to float on the surface of reservoirs. I've mentioned it already before but it's here again: DESERTEC project, building renewable power plants in territories with an abundance of solar and wind energy and connecting three continents with energy infrastructures. The consortium which administrates the project is one of the biggest companies union in the world. The Dii GmbH is composed by E.ON, ABB, Siemens, Enel Green Power, Terna, State Grid Croporation of China, Deutsche Bank, Flagsol, Abengoa Solar, Schott Solar and RWE. This consortium administrates more than $500 billion and operates in three continents. Another consortium focused on energy infrastructures is Medgrid (focused more on Middle East) and formed by Abengoa, GDF Suez, EDF and other companies. Between the many examples of joint ventures in the world there's the cooperation between First Solar and BELECTRIC for the construction of PV power plants or 3SUN, the biggest solar power joint venture in Europe including Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics. Joint ventures help new companies to invest in foreign countries and strengthen relationships between companies increasing the profits and the total capacity of renewable energy power plants all over the world. But if we want to accelerate the process the number of joint ventures and consortia have to double. The final target? A global renewble energy network, connecting all the companies of the sector. In fact, a renewable energy OPEC doesn't exist, it must be created. In a world where everything is connected it's unthinkable that renewable energy companies are isolated and under the pressure of fossil fuels companies. Like oil is transported from Middle East to the U.S. so renewable energy must be an international fuel to power a clean and green future.
  4. Debates are good, healthy, and after a debate there’s always a winner. Believe me, in climate change debate action will win, action against the worst environmental crisis of human history, action against a deadly enemy which kills 7 million people a year. Climate change debate landed in Japan after the tragic facts of Fukushima in 2011. After three years Japan is ready to move on (at least the government is). In fact, the Nuclear Regulation Authority vouched last month for the safety of two reactors in Sendai. Still, the proposal of the government depends more and more from the public opinion which is skeptic through nuclear. And with April coal power plan, renewable energy seems very far away. There are interests in restarting nuclear reactors, higher than the safety of Japan people. In 2011, after the meltdown of Fukushima’s reactors, 160,000 people were evacuated and in Germany it was decided to shut down all nuclear plants by 2022. Still, 32 reactors will start to be operative by 2018. Local governments are trying to protest since if they approve the restarts and something happens they will be responsible. Although, someone in the government is taking another direction. The minister of the environment said Japan must aim to get 30% of its power from renewable sources by 2030. According to IEA (International Energy Agency) Japan renewable energy share should reach 28.2% of total generation in 2035. So, considering that the prime minister has decided for a coal power long-term solution, it’s a good starting but not enough. Another light sparkle in the dark of coal emissions: Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry wants to increase the budget to boost the use of fuel cells and install more energy-saving devices. The ministry is requesting $2 billion (an increase of 32% from the previous year). The budget for hydrogen-related projects has more than doubled and the ministry wants to use this money to begin sales of fuel cells cars. For clean energy, the ministry is asking an increase of 16.5%. The funds will be used for wind and geothermal research. Also solar energy is seeing a bright future in Japan. Kyocera Corp. and Tokyo Leasing Corp. plan to build two solar power stations that are designed to float on the surface of reservoirs. The idea addresses the problem of the missing space in Japan for large-scale solar projects. One of the station will have capacity of 1.7 MW making it the world’s largest floating solar plant. The venture of the two companies is aiming to develop about 60 MW of floating solar. The energy debate goes on and, although fossil fuels have big supporters, a bright future expects Japan. References from Bloomberg.com In the photo the explosion of Fukushima.
  5. This photo show just how bad the drought in California really is

    This is the worst drought Califronia has ever seen and it's lasting more than three years! California's agriculture is destroyed and the drought is turning the Golden State into a desert. Govern Brown would build an aqueduct from Nevada to California but it's expensive and it takes too much time. Republicans said it's normal,the normal weather of California but there are no precedents of this situation. If this isn't global warming... also California needs to do the ice bucket challenge.
  6. Which plants and flowers will attract bees the best?

    And what a noble act is yours. Apparently bees are attracted by blue, white, yellow or purple flowers, some examples: fuchsia, daisy, sunflower, cosmos, gaillardia, asters. Plant them in a sunny spot where bees will come. Pesticides are out of business, if you have to use them start with the less toxic. Also fruit trees attract them. Regarding the herbs I suggest basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, borage and balm. So, flowers must be well spotted, different colors, different shapes. Good lcuk with the new house and the new garden!
  7. Fantasy European high-speed rail network

    Wonderful project! The idea is very illuminating, to condensate and unite the energies to be competitive in a global scenario. I'm sure they'll complete it in a few years. But that's the North of Europe, another reality, much more efficient than the South. Think to the bridge of Øresund is a massive project. Here in Italy we have many unfinished projects, especially we have a 500 km highway started fifty years ago and it's not finished yet. Returning to high-speed rails we have Turin-Lyon, started a few years ago but on the French side there are no problems, on ours there's the police 24 hours a day and Beppe Grillo and his entire movement against the project. Lucky us!
  8. Today a U.S. reporter was killed by ISIS fighters. Let's hope this madness will finish.

  9. Today a U.S. reporter was killed by ISIS fighters. Let's hope this madness will finish.

  10. Fantasy European high-speed rail network

    On the old traces of TEN-T project a new high speed rail system could be built basing on the "European corridors". Some high spped rails already exists but are unfinished and non-linear. The main corridors should be five: three verticals, two horizontal. The vertical corridors: 1. Blue. Lisbon-Edimburgh. Lisbon-Madrid-Bordeaux-Paris-through Eurochannel-London-Birminghan-Manchester-Edimburgh-Glasgow. Also another line wich connects Dublin to Belfast. Let's not forget Ireland. 2. Red. Rome-Stockholm with extentions from Naples to Oslo. Naples-Rome-Florence-Bologna-Milan. - The first branch is Bern-Munich-Lipsia-Berlin-Hamburg-Copenhagen-Stockholm-Oslo. - The second is Strasborug-Luxembourg-Bruxelles-Amsterdam. There are some extensions to Prague, Frankfurt, Liechtestein and Lyon. 3. Yellow. Athens-Helsinki. Athens-Skopje. - The first branch is Sofia-Bucarest-Chisinau-Lviv-Minsk-Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn-Helsinki with extensions to Istanbul. - The second is Sarajevo-Zagreb-Ljubijana-Wien-Prague with extensions to Belgrade and Bratislava The horizontal corridors: 1. Green. Lisbon-Kiev (also known as Corridor 5). Lisbon-Madrid-Valencia-Barcelona-Marseille-Lyon-Turin-Milan-Venice-Trieste-Ljubijana-Budapest-Lviv-Kiev with extensions to Bratislava and Genoa. 2. Light-blue. Paris-Moscow. Paris-Bruxelles-Amsterdam-Berlin-Poznan-Warsaw-Minsk-Moscow with extensions to Prague.
  11. Fantasy European high-speed rail network

    It would be a wonderful project, unfortunately we're still waiting the new commission. The TEN-T project failed and the most unsuccessful was Corridor 5 which should have connect Lisbon to Kiev but Portugal and Spain governments had the economical crisis to handle. Italy had no connection with Slovenia and Hungary wanted to invest money in highways. Here's the link for a complete article about that: http://www.voxeurop.eu/en/content/article/2126661-lisbon-kiev-departure-delayed It will be wonderful to restart everything from zero. The idea of Paneuropean Corridors is interesting but with the current situation in Ukraine...
  12. Renewable energy companies are just at the beginning but when the shift to renewables will take place would oil giants just go away? In this ranking there are just oil producers or traders. The first renewable company is 31st and is Iberdrola. 1. Exxon Mobil Corporation It's American multinational oil and gas corporation headquartered in Irving, Texas. A direct and the richest descendant of the famous Stantard Oil company. In 1999 Exxon merged with Mobil forming the biggest energy company in the world. It's the biggest company in the world and guilty of one of the worst oil spills in history: Exxon Valdez. It's one of the six Supermajors with Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Total. Revenue: $ 422.33 billion (it could buy Chile and Vietnam and still have money to buy an army, a large one). 2. Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabian Oil Company) It's a Saudi Arabian company, operating in the sector of petroleum and natural gas. It's based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It has the largest oil reserves in the world. It produces 3.479 billion barrels (553,100,000 m^3) every year. Revenue: $313.34 billion. 3. Vitol Group It's a Dutch company and somehow the “white sheep” in this ranking since it doesn't produce oil, it just trades it. In fact, it's the largest energy trader in the world. In 1995 Vitol supplied Milošević's government with oil (still a client) and paid a Serbian criminal war to deal with Milošević. The company trades also natural gas, LGP, coal, power (1.5% of global electricity) (1.5% of global electricity) , methanol and sugar. Revenue: $309.43 billion. 4. Royal Dutch Shell Plc Who doesn't know Shell? It's a Dutch oil and gas company. It's around since 1907 and it's quoted on the London Stock Exchange and on Euronext Amsterdam and the NYSE. Shell revenue is equal to 85% of the Netherlands GDP. Apparently it also has owners: Capital Group (which administrates $1 trillion) and Blackrock. Shell is specialized in oil and has minor renewable power plants. It's one of the Supermajors. Revenue: $257.77 billion. 5. Chevron Corporation Here's another descendant of Rockfeller's Standard Oil, Chevron is specialized in oil and natural gas although is opening its eyes to renewables investing $2 billion in this sector. Standard Oil California became ChevronTexaco and then Chevron. It's one of the Supermajors. Revenue: $239.45 billion. 6. Petrochina Company Limited It's a Chinese oil and gas company, traded in Hong Kong, Shangai and New York. It's part of the state-owned China National a Petroleum Corporation. It's the biggest oil producer in China. Since CNPC was too big it was decided to inject some of the assets and liabilities to Petrochina which was founded in 1999. Revenue: $238.41 billion. 7. Total SA A French company, specialized in oil and natural gas, based in the La Défense district, West Paris, in a skyscraper called Tour Total higher 190 m. The company is one of the six Supermajors and with Shell the main producer of oil in Europe. It owns 60% of SunPower since 2011. Revenue: $150 billion. 8. BP Plc British Petroleum, the masters of oil spills, no one can win against them. They're guilty of the destruction of Mexican Gulf. In 2010 an explosion of one of their oil platform spilled 4.9 million barrels in the sea causing great damages to the environment and the death of 11 people. It's a British (easy to guess) oil and gas company. It's one of the Supermajors and is in the blacklist of all the seagulls in the world. Revenue: $144.47 billion. 9. China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation Also called Sinopec Limited is a Chinese oil and gas company based in Beijing. It's listed in Hong Kong, New York and Shangai. In 2010 an explosion in one of their factories killed 12 people and in 2013 another explosion of a pipeline killed 35 people. Revenue: $103.36 billion. 10. Statoil ASA A Norwegian oil and gas company headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. The government is the largest shareholder in Statoil with 67% of the shares. The company is specialized also in biofuels and hydroelectric power. It has many platforms in the Arctic Sea and it's listed on the Oslo and NY Stock Exchanges. Revenue: $89 billion (like Bill Gates).
  13. China is expanding in renewable energy market. Suntech is a Chinese company and one of the biggest in the renewable sector. It has delivered more than 13,000,000 solar panels to thousands of companies in more than 80 countries around the world including Google. It has a revenue of $3.15 billion and the competition against China lower prices is very weak right now.
  14. The U.S. now uses more corn to fuel their cars than to eat

    Here's an alternative to biofuels: Electrofuels. Current biofuel production methods are intensive and require additional resources, such as water, fertilizer, and large areas of land to grow crops. Electrofuels bypass photosynthesis altogether by utilizing microorganisms that are self-reliant and don't need solar energy to grow or produce biofuels. These microorganisms can directly use energy from electricity and chemical compounds like hydrogen to produce liquid fuels from carbon dioxide (CO2). Because these microorganisms can directly use these energy sources, the overall efficiency of the fuel-creation process is higher than current biofuel production methods that rely on the more passive photosynthesis process. Scientists can also genetically modify the microorganisms to further improve the efficiency of energy conversion to liquid fuels. And, because electrofuels don't use photosynthesis, they don't require the prime agricultural land or water resources of current biofuels.
  15. These maps show Tesla's plan to blanket (most of) the world in superchargers

    Tesla Motors has few rivals in a sector which is quite new. And their cars are very beautiful althought its CEO is a strong opponent of hydrogen cells. This expansion seems very strong, we'll see where this is going...
  16. Summer leaves

    Thanks! The day I took the picture there was a wonderful light.
  17. Summer leaves

    From the album Earth's beauty

  18. The U.S. now uses more corn to fuel their cars than to eat

    The first generation of biofuels isn't green and polluting (less than oil but still high) although they could be a "transition" to renewable energy. Unfortunately solar cars aren't totally advanced and improving biofuels technology (methanol is a good alternative, it is produced from CO2) could have positive effects.
  19. Google Plus

    I don't like "generalist" social networks like Facebook and Google+ (I don't like Google) that's why I prefer Flickr or Tumblr but you're right Simon, there are few apps in the Windows Marketplace. It's a shame, Windows 8 is a good OS.
  20. Why others do not believe in global warming?

    Most people aren't scared from climate change because they can't see and directly feel the consequences. What are some degrees over the usual? People must understand that the consequences will be catastrophic and that the effects of climate change are unpredictable, like Polar Vortex in the USA this winter is a consequence of global warming, strange but true.
  21. How can we avoid climate fatigue?

    I'm sure green movement won't become like Republican oil lobby. There's one thing the global green movement doesn't have: money (and some marketing to get sponsored). It's horrible that climate change is considered less important than Orlando Bloom punching Justin Bieber...
  22. Wind power actually saves money!

    Nice video, what a beatiful truth. Let's hope it becomes reality as soon as possible in the entire world.
  23. What's your occupation?

    I'm a student but during this summer I'm "jobless" (I'm really enjoying it).
  24. How can we avoid climate fatigue?

    Twenty years ago renewable energy was science fiction and climate change didn't exist, well, it did but nobody knew that. Now renewable energy sector is a market of billion dollars. Companies like Sun Power and Abengoa are quoted in the stock exchanges all over the world. From zero to a hundred billion dollars in just twenty years, with 6.5 million jobs and the constant target to fight climate change. In twenty years where will the green movement be? We just have to keep the movement alive, keep telling people the risk of climate change is high, keep acting for a greener world. This website is the demonstration of how a green community is beautiful and rich of people from every part of the world.
  25. While here in Northern Italy there are 18º and a lot of rain, storms and a Autumn climate California is a little bit hotter. Here's a news for the people who believe climate change doesn't exist: California’s three-year drought just went from bad to dreadful. In the course of the last week, the crimson expanse of “exceptional drought” grew to engulf the northern part of the state. The following chart , showing the drought's progession since 2011, speaks for itself: All of California is in "severe drought" (shown in orange), and 82 percent is rated “extreme drought” (in red). The agency’s highest drought rating — “exceptional drought” (crimson) -- now covers 58 percent of the state, up from 36 percent a week ago. California is becoming Sahara. Cheer up, beautiful people, it’s not the worst drought California has ever seen: in 1977, the state’s water storage was at 41 percent of the historical average but conditions are still getting worse. California is famous for its agriculture sector, especially wine grapes which are located most in the Cental Valley, the heart of agriculture, that now is in a terrible crisis. To face this drought Governor Jerry Brown has called for a statewide voluntary reduction of water use by 20 percent, and residents now face fines of as much as $500 a day for wasting water. They should have think to that earlier but it's the nature of humans, thinking that prevention is useless and not effective. Let's here what NASA said about the drought (spoiler alert: they made a joke): “California is supposed to be the Golden State. Make that golden brown” sad but true “According to the US Dept. of Agriculture and NOAA, dry conditions have become extreme across more than 62% of California’s land area—and there is little relief in sight”. California produces 20% of U.S. GDP and this drought is effecting the economy of the state and the people, because of the situation thousands of farmers are losing their jobs. On January 18th 2014 Govern Jerry Brown declared the state of emergency and it was a winter month. Now it's Summer and with a further increase of temperatures the situation's getting worse. Any solutions? Not really, this problem is effecting California for decades but this time is the worst because of climate change. The best solution should have been prevention, too late for that. Preventing any waste of water, low the levels of CO2. Everybody keep saying that, let's hope this time things will change. References from Bloomberg.com and Nasa.gov Photo from BusinessInsider.com