US company and China to build Solar Farm in Mongolian desert


Published: September 8, 2009

Associated Press via First Solar

Mike Ahearn, chief executive of First Solar, left, greets Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China. The memorandum of understanding between Chinese officials and First Solar would open a potentially vast solar market in China.

Set for completion in 2019, the First Solar project represents the world’s biggest photovoltaic power plant project to date, and is part of an 11,950-megawatt renewable-energy park planned for Ordos City in Inner Mongolia.

The memorandum of understanding between Chinese officials and First Solar, the world’s largest photovoltaic cell manufacturer, would open a potentially vast solar market in China and follows the Chinese government’s recent moves to accelerate development of renewable energy.

When completed, the Ordos solar farm would generate enough electricity to power about three million Chinese homes, according to First Solar.

First Solar, based in Tempe, Ariz., is also likely to build a factory in China to make thin-film solar panels, said Mike Ahearn, the company’s chief executive. “It is significant that a non-Chinese company can land something like this in China,” Mr. Ahearn said in an interview. ...


Scientists find CO2 link to Antarctic ice cap origin

Tue Sep 15, 2009

By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A team of scientists studying rock samples in Africa has shown a strong link between falling carbon dioxide levels and the formation of Antarctic ice sheets 34 million years ago.

The results are the first to make the link, underpinning computer climate models that predict both the creation of ice sheets when CO2 levels fall and the melting of ice caps when CO2 levels rise.

The team, from Cardiff, Bristol and Texas A&M Universities, spent weeks in the African bush in Tanzania with an armed guard to protect them from lions to extract samples of tiny fossils that could reveal CO2 levels in the atmosphere 34 million years ago.

Levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, mysteriously fell during this time in an event called the Eocene-Oligocene climate transition.

"This was the biggest climate switch since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago," said co-author Bridget Wade from Texas A&M University.

The study reconstructed CO2 levels around this period, showing a dip around the time ice sheets in Antarctica started to form. CO2 levels were around 750 parts per million, about double current levels.

"There are no samples of air from that age that we can measure, so you need to find something you can measure that would have responded to the atmospheric CO2," Paul Pearson of Cardiff University told Reuters.

Pearson, Wade and Gavin Foster from the University of Bristol gathered sediment samples in the Tanzanian village of Stakishari where there are deposits of a particular type of well-preserved microfossils that can reveal past CO2 levels.

"Our study is the first that uses some sort of proxy reconstruction of CO2 to point to the declining CO2 that most of us expected we ought to be able to find," Pearson said on Monday from Cardiff.

He said that CO2, being an acidic gas, causes changes in acidity in the ocean, which absorbs large amounts of the gas.

"We can pick that up through chemistry of microscopic plankton shells that were living in the surface ocean at the time," he explained.

Evidence from around Antarctica was much harder to find.

"The ice caps covered everything in Antarctica. The erosion of sediments around Antarctica since the formation of the ice caps has obliterated a lot of the pre-existing evidence that might have been there."

"Our results are really in line with the most sophisticated climate models that have been applied to this interval," Pearson added. The results were published online in the journal Nature.

"Those models could be used to predict the melting of the ice. The suggested melting starts around 900 ppm (parts per million)," he said, a level he believes could be reached by the end of this century, unless serious emissions cuts were made.

(Editing by Tomasz Janowski)