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Macron visits the U.S.: the diplomatic pulse to avoid a transatlantic trade war

Emmanuel Macron’s trip to Washington this week is shaping up as a crucial diplomatic track as Europe tries to persuade the US to relax its policies vis-à-vis the EU. The Inflation Reduction Act is the latest thorn in the side of the subsidy tensions across the Atlantic hitting the Old Continent’s electric vehicle exports. A transatlantic trade war would be inevitable, in the event of a refusal to modify it, as allies respond to the global effects of the Russian war in Ukraine.

Two former allies on the brink of a trade war that they are trying to stop.

President Emmanuel Macron’s three-day official trip to the United States has been announced with pomp by the White House and described by spokesman John Kirby as the arrival of the “dynamic leader” of Washington’s oldest ally.

But behind the first state visit under Joe Biden’s administration lies a series of disagreements that the two leaders will try to untangle, marked especially by the commercial plane.

The fuse that could ignite the umpteenth trade conflict in history between Europe and the United States lies in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which Joe Biden signed into law on August 16.

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The rule, passed in an attempt to mitigate the inflationary effects in the midst of the Russian war in Ukraine, entails a subsidy package of around $370 billion for the construction of wind turbines, solar panels and microprocessors.

The measure also includes up to 7,500 dollars in subsidies for buyers of electric vehicles manufactured on US soil, a blow for this economic sector in the Old Continent, where France and Germany are the main producers of this type of cars.

From the other side of the Atlantic, they claim that the United States would be taking advantage of the first conflict in Europe since the Balkan War in the 1990s to build a commercial advantage over the European Union (EU), its political ally but economic rival.

Brussels says the Biden administration’s extraordinary contributions to its industries, which favors companies like Elon Musk’s Tesla, exclude Germany’s BMW and France’s Renault from the U.S. market and leave Germany’s BMW and France’s Renault at a disadvantage.

“I think this is not in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is not in line with friendship,” Macron stressed in early November after a meeting with representatives of 50 French industrial sites.

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“A protectionist and “aggressive” approach: Macron will try to dissuade Biden”.

The main argument from the European side is that the first power must show greater solidarity with the Old Continent, which is bearing the worst economic burden from Vladimir Putin’s war and Moscow’s respective hydrocarbon sanctions that have impacted the global market.

As if it were not irritating enough that EU energy prices are now well above those of the U.S., Europeans are outraged at their partner’s new trade measures that put them at a disadvantage.

Against a backdrop of growing frustration in Europe, the U.S., which is energy independent due to the development of shale or unconventional oil and gas, benefits from lower and more stable prices.

Macron has already accused Washington of adopting an “aggressive” protectionist approach and claims that US gasoline prices are not “friendly”.

In this regard, the Elysee Palace noted that during his visit, the French leader will push for “more transatlantic unity” on investment policies and the impact of the war in Ukraine.

The concern is not for nothing, as the US plan, which could create a significant distortion of competition, could cause France to lose “10 billion euros in investment” and “10,000 potential jobs”, as assured this week by the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne.

Macron has a clear list of demands. The key breakthrough for Macron would be some kind of concession for European allies to get equal rights in IRA subsidy deals, as happened with Canadian and Mexican companies.

On gas, it raises a thornier issue as prices are set by the market, but the Elysée says the U.S. president has several “options” to reduce prices.

Biden “must take into account what happens after the war. The EU is bearing the brunt of sanctions and the impact of this effort against Russia is quite clear (…) There is a risk that imbalances will worsen as the EU pays higher energy prices and the US takes steps to boost investment in the industry,” a French executive official said.

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However, some experts stress that the Biden Administration is unlikely to back down on its push. “It is important to understand that this is not in the spirit of the United States, which has always privileged its trade and its economy to the detriment of other powers,” explained Stéphanie Villers, an economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A tit-for-tat measure?

The risk is that in the face of a possible refusal by Washington, the EU is considering a series of countermeasures. Among them, the creation of a law to buy only products from Europe to protect green energy industries in their countries and in response to similar action on U.S. purchases of local products that compete with those of their European allies.

If Biden does not accede to the requests, a transatlantic trade war could be inevitable, amid a tit-for-tat policy in the face of possible retaliatory tariffs.

If the US does not amend its Inflation Reduction Act, the EU should use “coercive” measures to ensure that European companies benefit from the same conditions as US companies, French Trade Minister Olivier Becht said last Friday, November 25.

Macron himself has repeatedly signaled that he would not stand idly by and watch the Americans and Chinese pursue aggressive state subsidy policies. France is pushing for the EU to roll out its own wave of subsidies and reserve them for European manufacturers.

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However, there is still no consensus and in the face of the risks posed, Brussels may consider supporting its industries, but leaving subsidies out of the equation. “We have to be very careful with subsidies to avoid a trade war,” stressed Jozef Sikela, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

“The question is whether Europe really has room to maneuver to counter these provisions. We could implement the same protections at the European level, but we know that in this game it is a win-win situation,” Villers summed up.

Faced with difficult concessions, Macron is expected to negotiate some exemptions and adjustments, but it is not yet clear whether the U.S. will give in to French demands.





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When and where will the Qatar 2022 World Cup Final be played?

The Qatar 2022 World Cup has already accumulated enough matchdays to think about the really decisive phase of the competition. The participating teams have already tested the Qatari carpet, checked what their feelings are and how far the tournament can take them. The desired destination, in all cases but especially in the case of the favorites, is none other than the final of the world championship, which already has a date, time and stadium for its dispute. Only the two best teams will be able to taste the sweetness of success of reaching the title match, and one will lift the cup that certifies the best team on the planet for the next four years.

What day and time will the 2022 World Cup Final be played?

The 2022 World Cup final will be played on Sunday, December 18, almost a month after the kick-off of the world’s biggest international event in Qatar. The match is scheduled at 18:00 hours in Doha, the venue, so the local time to follow it in Spain from the start is 16:00 hours. Other Spanish-speaking countries, in addition to being participants in the World Cup, are Mexico, where it can be seen from 9:00 hours, the United States, where on its east coast it will be seen from 10:00 hours, and Argentina, one of the candidates to be in the final, which in its territory and time zone starts at 12:00 hours.

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Where will the Qatar 2022 World Cup Final be played?

Among all the spectacular and expensive complexes built by Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, the one chosen to host the final of the tournament is the Lusail Stadium, located 20 kilometers from the capital and major city of the state, Doha. The stadium has a capacity of more than 80,000 spectators and will be filled, with a very high probability, regardless of who the two teams/countries fighting for the title of world champion on December 18 are.

The Lusail Iconic Stadium is an idyllic setting for soccer, newly built, with a huge capacity in its stands and will therefore host up to nine matches at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, including one of the semifinals and the grand final for the title, where the new World Cup champion will be known. The grass surface is natural and has a technology that makes the difference. The architecture of the stadium is the responsibility of Albert Speer Jr, now deceased, and its design was presented on December 15, 2018, with construction beginning months later.

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There is talk that the cost of the Lusail Stadium was two billion dollars, highlighting its roof covered in silver color and with lights that illuminate it on its facade, providing a golden color that is the same as the trophy that will decorate the champion of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. It should also be noted that the entire roof of the stadium is covered by solar panels, which provides electricity for the stadium itself and the surrounding areas. Weather conditions will determine whether the World Cup final will be held under cover or whether the roof can be opened, an option that is also available for this stadium.




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Visualizing the remarkable progress of solar energy in the United States

Solar power is now at the center of U.S. plans for a decarbonized economy, accounting for 70% of planned utility-scale power capacity through 2025.

Solar’s rise to the top as a key energy resource now seems inevitable, but its fate was not always sealed. The technology was contributing a negligible amount of power less than ten years ago, and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) did not begin reporting annual net PV generation until 2014. In that year, solar contributed 27 TWh of electricity to the U.S. grid. Seven years later, it generated 164 TWh in 2021, multiplying generation sixfold.

Installed solar power capacity has climbed to 77 GW this year, the EIA reports, and has 72 GW of high-probability projects queued in the late stages of development, ready to come online through 2025. This will effectively double total installed capacity in three years.

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This progress has been made possible by supportive industrial policy, economies of scale, improved technological efficiency and business innovations. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) has declined over the years, and the benefits of solar power and energy storage become more apparent as the threats of climate change increase over the years.

The U.S. solar industry already has more than 250,000 workers, so far. In 2015, solar’s share of electricity sales was miniscule in many states, with California and Hawaii leading the way with a contribution of around 7%.

Just six years later, in 2021, solar has carved out a niche in every U.S. state, and in markets such as California, Nevada and Hawaii it has reached close to 20% of all power sales.

Solar-generated electricity was expensive in 2010. In the West, the LCOE was $173 per MWh, and reached nearly $400 per MWh in the East.

As of 2021, the LCOE has plummeted, as costs in PJM are nearly one-tenth of 2010, and projects in the West average less than $30 per MWh.

Crystalline silicon solar panels are the most widely used PV technology, although there have been promising advances in TOPCon, HJT, perovskites, tandem cells, and other emerging technologies. In the 1970s, solar cells achieved an efficiency of about 15%. Now, many commercial solar cells range from 21% to 27%, and emerging laboratory technologies have demonstrated efficiencies of up to 47.1%, reaching heights that researchers thought impossible.

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Looking to the future

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 contains $370 billion in spending for renewable energy and climate measures and calls for a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Princeton University released a Rapid Energy Policy Evaluation and Analysis and Assessment Toolkit (REPEAT) in collaboration with Dartmouth College, Evolved Energy Research and Carbon Impact Consulting outlining the potential impact of the law.

The impact on the U.S. solar industry could be enormous to say the least. The Princeton report notes that solar deployment could accelerate from 2020 rates of 10 GW of capacity added per year to nearly five times that by 2024, adding 49 GW of utility-scale solar each year. Solar deployment could be well over 100 GW per year by 2030, according to Princeton.

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Solar investment could reach $321 billion by 2030, nearly double the $177 billion projected under current policy. According to the report, the bill would mean a cumulative capital investment of nearly $3.5 trillion in new U.S. energy supply over the next decade.


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Mexico’s second largest solar park is in Yucatán

Atlas Renewable Energy reported Friday the inauguration of the second largest solar park in Mexico, called “La Pimienta” and located in the southern state of Campeche, which is estimated to benefit more than 300,000 families in the Yucatan Peninsula.

More than one million solar panels were distributed over 651 hectares in the municipality of Carmen and are expected to produce 789 gigawatt hours per year of clean energy for the Federal Electricity Commission.

During the premiere, as expressed by the U.S. company specialized in renewable energy projects in a press release, the already installed capacity of 300 megawatts could be appreciated.

In addition to the reduction of 1.7 million tons of carbon dioxide, those responsible for the project highlighted the more than 1,000 jobs generated, mainly occupied by local labor.

The U.S. Consul General in Merida (capital of the state of Yucatan), Dorothy Ngutter, emphasized that “the commitment of our governments (U.S. and Mexico) to clean energy and energy transition pays off for the benefit of our nations and the planet”.

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Campeche’s Secretary of the Interior, Aníbal Ostoa, focused on the business benefits of the new solar park.

They also highlighted the company’s work to support women through the “We are part of the same energy” social program, which trained more than 355 women from local communities in technical skills, 165 of whom were hired during the construction of the park.

This raised the representation of women from 2 % to 15 % in the construction of this type of infrastructure.

Atlas Renewable Energy also promoted the “Carmen Project”, focused on supporting the surrounding communities through the construction, rehabilitation and equipping of two health centers created in alliance with the Health Secretariat of the State of Campeche.

And on the environmental front, they implemented a program to protect local fauna and flora through the construction of a natural corridor within the plant to support the preservation of the natural habitat.

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“We are very proud that our largest project to date is now fully operational. With it we are able to supply clean energy to the Yucatan Peninsula and avoid the emission of more than 1.7 million tons of CO2″, said the company’s general manager in Mexico, Camilo Serrano.




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New agricultural revolution

Combining agriculture and solar energy is easy linguistically. It is enough to join a prefix and a suffix to create agrovoltaics, a concept that promises to take the countryside to another dimension. The tricky part comes when this alliance is transferred to the field. But according to the first experiences, the communion is possible and the result is satisfactory. Agrovoltaics consists of installing photovoltaic panels above arable land to give a dual use to the soil. The idea is to place solar panels in the form of a canopy, so that a vineyard or an avocado plantation extends underneath.

In theory, the technology has many advantages. Apart from the obvious generation of renewable energy, the mobile panels create shade in times of excessive radiation, reduce water evaporation and protect crops from frost or heavy rain. The quality and quantity of the fruit increases, so the farmer gets a higher income from the harvests. The energy produced by the panels allows producers to reduce costs and achieve self-sufficiency, thanks to the creation of charging points to connect the cold rooms where the crops are stored. Renewables grow and the farmer continues to farm the land, guaranteeing his livelihood and reducing food dependence on the outside world.

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The Fraunhofer Institute ISE, which is based in Freiburg (Germany), has 1,400 professionals dedicated to renewable energy research, with a special focus on solar energy. They published a study two years ago showing the results of an agrovoltaic project in Baden-Württemberg (southern Germany). The efficiency of land use in a potato plantation with solar panel canopies reached 186%. In other words, soil yields are almost doubling without leaving the farmer, the ultimate key player, out in the cold.

Pilot project in Aranda de Duero

In Spain, steps are already being taken in the development of this technology. Powerful Tree, a Vitoria-based startup dedicated to the research and implementation of agrovoltaic energy, has teamed up with Repsol to launch a pilot project in vineyards at the San Gabriel School of Oenology in Aranda del Duero (Burgos). It consists of studying changing variables, such as solar radiation or rainfall, and fixed variables, such as soil characteristics, and developing models to replicate this technology at other latitudes and in other crops. According to Inmanol Olaskoaga, CEO of Powerful Tree, fruit trees such as figs or apricots, or tropical species such as mango or papaya – crops that bear fruit for which a high price is obtained – are the ones that benefit most from regulating the amount of sunlight received.

Olaskoaga states that “the revolution has not yet taken place in the field compared to the industrial world”. This engineer is referring in part to this new technology and the sophistication of the jobs it can trigger. In the case of vineyards, winemakers work with engineers, data experts and mathematicians to decide, based on temperature measurements or plant transpiration, when and for how long the panels need to be lowered to create shade at the bottom, where the clusters are located, or rotated to receive full radiation. The operation of the installed panels is the same as that of any photovoltaic park.

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Alberto Tobes is the Director of Experimentation at the Ribera del Duero Regulatory Council. This agronomist engineer finds it positive to give shade to the vineyards some days of the year due to “the strange summers we are having, with such high temperatures”. Torbes explains that the plant’s metabolism stops when the heat is extreme, which causes the grapes to ripen more slowly. Torbes also points out the advantage of protecting the vines when it freezes. “It’s a few tenths of a second difference that condemns you or saves you,” he says. The Ribera del Duero expert highlights the added value that these technologies bring to wineries because “being energetically self-sufficient is positive for selling more”.

This incipient technology has the approval of Jacobo Feijóo, from the Unión de Pequeños Agricultores y Ganaderos (UPA). “It’s worth giving it a chance and testing it. There is a real possibility of creating synergies in the countryside,” says this forestry engineer. In addition, the implementation of agrovoltaics involves automation processes that will require experts in data collection or sensor technology. “The rural world urgently needs to attract talent,” says Feijóo. “We have to exploit that need,” adds the UPA expert.

Olaskoaga adds that the generation of qualified jobs with good conditions will contribute not only to fix the population in the rural environment but also to make it attractive for new profiles. Decisions in the field are made based on the measurement of sensors installed on the plots. Artificial intelligence, over time, does the rest. Information is gathered so that fewer and fewer pilot tests are needed. The goal is to develop a model that allows replicating what has been successfully experienced in Aranda del Duero to other places with different weather conditions, such as Jumilla (Murcia), to give an example. The algorithm learns, shall we say.

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The pilot initiative with the San Gabriel school will have a vocational training degree from next year so that future experts in agrovoltaics will come out of its classrooms with the aim of “giving opportunities to the rural world”, says Olaskoaga. Workers in charge of the assembly, commissioning and maintenance of agrovoltaics will be trained. The field is growing upwards.


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40 Puerto Rican companies, churches and groups support a multi-billion dollar solar energy allocation

Washington D.C. – More than 40 businesses, organizations and churches from Puerto Rico and the Diaspora today advocated before Congressional leadership for a $5 billion appropriation for the installation of solar panels and energy storage systems on the roofs of residences on the island.

In this way, they have embraced the proposal of the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Democrat Raul Grijalva, three dozen other congressmen and a dozen senators to allocate the money to the U.S. Department of Energy, which would be in charge of the plan to place solar panels and storage batteries on roofs of residences of low-income and/or disabled people.

Grijalva’s initiative was welcomed by President Joe Biden, although the White House’s recommendation to Congress – which must prepare a budget bill in December with allocations for disaster mitigation – is that the funds to be granted be $3 billion.

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“It’s been five years since Hurricane Maria and we still suffer from frequent power outages. It is time to solve this problem. Solar power and battery storage is the solution. This will save Congress billions of dollars in the future every time we are affected by a storm.” stated David Ortiz, director of the United Neighbors Puerto Rico Solar Program.

The letter – addressed to the leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations committees – is signed, among others, by Latino Justice, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Coalition of Anti-Incineration Organizations, UTIER, the National Institute for Energy and Island Sustainability (INESI), Boricuas Unidos en la Diaspora and Power4PuertoRico.

Also signing the petition are businesses such as Park Gardens Bakery, Villa Andalucía Supermarkets, Manny’s Pizza, Trujilllo Alto Pharmacy, Agroval Supermarkets in Guaynabo, Alexis Barber Shop in Guaynabo, Greenville Restaurant, and Ferreteria y Agrocentro Dejaos Comercial, in Bayamón.

They indicated that “Congress has the ability to create a climate-resilient distributed energy system that saves lives that are needlessly lost with every severe weather event.”

“Five years after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s power grid continues to have regular setbacks that affect those with the least resources. The Puerto Rican government’s privatization initiative, which led to a contract with LUMA Energy, resulted in significant service problems and poor service restoration after Hurricane Fiona,” the organizations, businesses and religious institutions noted in the letter, which is addressed to, among others, the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, Democrats Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut) and Patrick Leahy (Vermont), respectively.

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The petition has also been sent to the Republican leaders of those committees, Congresswoman Kay Granger (Texas), and Senator Richard Shelby (Alabama), among others.

“As religious organizations that provide places of worship, meeting spaces and community offerings to our congregations, non-profit organizations that operate every day to improve the lives of Puerto Ricans, and businesses that provide goods and services to affected households, we have seen firsthand the struggles that hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans go through every time there is an extreme weather event or the grid has problems, which unfortunately happens regularly on the island,” the petitioners added.



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The big numbers for Qatar 2022

The Qatar World Cup is a World Cup conceived on a grand scale. First of all because of the huge investment made in the construction and adaptation of its stadiums, but also because it will move record figures in terms of revenue, visitors and viewers. We review the major figures that this World Cup will leave us:

More than 220 billion euros
The World Cup with the highest investment in history

The World Cup in Brazil was the World Cup with the highest investment of all time, with 15 billion euros. It was followed by Russia with 11.6 billion euros. And in fourth place was the World Cup in Japan with 7 billion euros.

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2.105 billion euros of investment
Lusail National Stadium

This stadium will host the final of the World Cup. The Lusail stadium has a capacity of 94,500 spectators. With the planting of solar panels, this stadium is self-sufficient, as it powers the stadium facilities and surrounding areas. A hotel is located inside the stadium. It also has a roof to protect the players and attendees from the desert sun, as well as a water channel to lower the temperature. However, as soon as the World Cup is over, the Qatari authorities plan to dismantle it.

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674 million euro investment
Al Bayt Stadium

This is also the venue for various Qatar World Cup matches. It has a capacity of 60,000. The peculiar design emulates the Bedouin tents.

286 million euro investment
Al Janoub Stadium

The award-winning architect, Zaha Hadid, has been in charge of this spectacular design. She was inspired by the sails of ships sailing in the Persian Gulf. The Al Janoub stadium can accommodate up to 40,000 people.

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575 million euro investment
Al Thumama Stadium

This stadium is also inspired by Qatari culture, as it tries to emulate the Arabian headdress. This spectacular stadium has a capacity of 40,000 people.

700 million euro investment
Education City Stadium or Qatar Foundation Stadium

his stadium, which is shaped like an irregular diamond, can hold 45,350 people.

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717 million investment
Stadium 974

Undoubtedly one of the most different and perhaps never before seen stadiums. Stadium 974 is built using containers. This if not more different stadium has a space to accommodate 40,000 people. And like the Lusail National Stadium it will be dismantled after the World Cup.

420 million euro investment
Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

This is one of the stadiums that is not a new construction, it was inaugurated in 2006. However, it received an investment to increase its capacity to 44,740 people.

374 million euro investment
Khalifa International Stadium

The stadium with the longest history in Qatar is the Khalifa International Stadium. The stadium was inaugurated in 1979. The Khalifa International Stadium underwent a renovation for this World Cup that involved an outlay of 374 million euros and a capacity of 50,000 fans.

22 degrees Celsius
Inside the stadiums

The works in the stadiums have been pharaonic and seven of the eight stadiums will have a cooling system that will bring the temperature to 22 degrees, beyond the outside climate, which in the months of November and December is cold in the country of the United Arab Emirates.

5 billion viewers
FIFA’s figures

The World Cup in Qatar is expected to be watched by some 5 billion people around the world. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the viewing figures were record-breaking, with more than 3.5 billion people.

6.56 billion euros
World Cup revenues

If we talk about expectations, FIFA has valued World Cup revenues at €6.56 billion. For its part, the Qatari government had priced World Cup revenues at €20 billion, but in June 2022 lowered its expectations to €17 billion, Bloomberg reports.

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1.2 million tourists
This is the Qatari government’s estimate

As the days go by and the Qatar World Cup gets closer and closer. The Qatari government initially expected 1.5 million tourists, but, after the latest estimate, this figure has dropped. According to the government, 1.2 million tourists are expected.


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What was the function of the mysterious space plane that exceeded 900 days in orbit?

The Boeing-designed X-37B experimental orbital test aircraft broke the record for staying in space by marking 908 days in Earth orbit, eclipsing its previous endurance record.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle-6 (OTV-6), the U.S. Space Force’s unmanned, reusable space plane, successfully de-orbited and landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center shuttle landing facility early yesterday morning. This vehicle resembles NASA’s retired space shuttle in 2011, but is much smaller, measuring only 8.8 meters from nose to tail. The space shuttle was 37 m long and piloted, another key difference, as the X-37B is autonomous.

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Space Force and Boeing describe the X-37B primarily as a test platform; the vehicle allows researchers to see how payloads perform in the space environment and then examine them on the ground. “Since the X-37B’s first launch in 2010, it has broken records and provided our nation with an unmatched ability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing Space and Launch.

OTV -6 was the first mission to introduce a service module – a ring attached to the rear of the vehicle that expands the number of experiments that can be performed during a mission. “This mission highlights the U.S. Space Force’s focus on collaborative space exploration and expanding low-cost access to space for our partners, inside and outside the Department of the Air Force (DAF),” explained General Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations.

This space feat was accomplished by the U.S. Space Force’s Space Delta 9, which operates the 3rd Space Experiment Squadron’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. Designed as part of a pilot test program intended to demonstrate technologies for reusable unmanned space tests, the X-37B remains one of the most unique aircraft in the U.S. arsenal.

The U.S. Air Force has previously flown five X-37B missions, OTV-1 through OTV-5. And OTV-6 launched to Earth orbit in May 2020 on its sixth mission for the program that also involves NASA.

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems was selected by NASA in the late 1990s to design and produce an orbital vehicle. The company’s advanced prototyping arm, Phantom Works, was charged with the task. Originally founded by McDonnell Douglass, this branch continued to operate within Boeing and has been instrumental in past projects such as the Bird of Prey and the X-32 Joint Strike Fighter. Over four years, approximately $192 million was spent on the X-37B project. In 2002, NASA’s new Space Launch Initiative framework allocated an additional $300 million contract to Boeing to partially fund the current project.

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Successful mission with many experiments

OTV-6 tested the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s photovoltaic radio frequency antenna module. This pizza-box-sized device is designed to convert solar energy into microwaves, which can then be transmitted to Earth. Its work could help bring space-based solar power closer to reality, experiment team members said.

OTV-6 also carried the FalconSat-8 satellite designed by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, which has five experimental payloads of its own. The X-37B deployed FalconSat-8 in October 2021 and the satellite remains in orbit today, Boeing representatives said.

Multiple NASA experiments were also deployed on OTV-6. The Materials and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS-2) exhibit included thermal control coatings, printed electronics materials and candidate radiation shielding materials. METIS-1, which flew on OTV-5, consisted of similar sample plates mounted on the flight vehicle. NASA scientists will take advantage of data collected after the materials have spent more than 900 days in orbit and compare the observed effects with ground-based simulations, validating and improving the accuracy of models of the space environment.

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Another NASA experiment aims to investigate the effect of long-term space exposure on seeds. Scientists are interested in the resilience and susceptibility of seeds to the unique stresses of the space environment, particularly radiation. The seed experiment will inform the production of space crops for future interplanetary missions and the establishment of permanently inhabited bases in space.

“The X-37B continues to push the boundaries of experimentation, thanks to an elite government and industry team behind the scenes,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Fritschen, X-37B program manager for DAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office. “The ability to conduct experiments on orbit and bring them home safely for in-depth analysis on the ground has proven valuable to the Department of the Air Force and the scientific community. The addition of the service module on OTV-6 allowed us to host more experiments than ever before,” he added.

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The U.S. Space Force is believed to have two X-37B vehicles, both provided by Boeing. To date, the duo has flown six orbital missions, each of which is known by the meaning OTV (“Orbital Test Vehicle”):

-OTV-1: Launched on April 22, 2010 and landed on December 3, 2010 (duration 224 days).

-OTV-2: March 5, 2011 to June 16, 2012 (468 days).

-OTV-3: December 11, 2012 to October 17, 2014 (674 days).

-OTV-4: May 20, 2015 to May 7, 2015 (718 days).

-OTV-5: September 7, 2017 to October 27, 2019 (780 days).

-OTV-6: May 17, 2020 to November 12, 2022 (908 days).



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Is it time to install solar panels?

Using electricity to turn on the lights, run the air conditioner and dry clothes is becoming increasingly expensive. Last year, retail electricity prices in the country rose at the fastest pace since 2008 and reached a record 13.72 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency expects electricity prices to rise nearly 4% this year, so the economic impact to your pocketbook is likely to continue.

At the same time, the cost of generating electricity with solar panels that convert sunlight into energy has been declining for a decade. Ten years ago, an average 6 kWh residential solar system cost $50,000 or more. Today, however, a typical home installation costs between $16,200 and $21,400. This represents a reduction of more than 60%, according to Sunrun, a manufacturer of residential solar panels.

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To increase affordability, the federal government still offers a generous tax credit to homeowners who install solar systems, but the incentive program is scheduled to be phased out in 2024. Add to this the fact that homes with solar energy systems sell for 4.1% more, according to online real estate company Zillow, and renewable energy is more environmentally friendly, and the solar energy outlook is looking a little sunnier.

“The main reasons to power your home with solar are to reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills and to be more environmentally friendly by reducing your ecological impact,” says Nick Liberati, communications manager at EnergySage, a renewable energy marketplace that helps people compare solar projects.

In fact, a recent survey by SaveOnEnergy and CNET found that the main motivations for switching to solar were “saving money on electricity bills” (82%) and “environmental reasons” (65%).
So should you make the sacrifice, pay the upfront costs and switch to solar? It depends on a number of factors. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision.

Tax credits offset installation costs

If you want to reduce the cost of installing a rooftop solar PV system and shorten the time it takes for your investment to pay off, taking advantage of the federal government’s tax credit is key. It’s the best economic incentive for solar. Unlike a tax deduction, which reduces your taxable income, a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of tax you owe.

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Currently, the government provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed between 2020 and 2022 and a 22% credit for installations completed in 2023. However, unless Congress renews the credit, it will expire in 2024. (Still, there is always the possibility that the solar investment tax credit could be extended, Liberati notes. President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, he adds, proposed a 10-year extension of the solar investment tax credit that would again increase the tax credit to 30%. However, it is unclear whether the bill will pass).

If you want to claim the tax credit, the solar installation must be put into operation during that tax year and must either generate electricity at a primary or secondary residence (such as a vacation home) in the United States, or be part of a community solar project where you subscribe to local solar farms for power. That means you won’t be able to take advantage of the credit if you bought solar panels and don’t install them by the end of 2023. You also have to own the system, which must be new or used for the first time, and you must pay cash or finance it.

Here’s how the savings are calculated. Let’s say it costs $20,000 to install a solar PV system by December 31, 2022. The tax credit would be calculated like this: $20,000 x 0.26 = $5,200. That means the actual cost of your system would drop to $14,800. “That’s a substantial reduction in out-of-pocket costs,” says Ben Airth, director of distributed generation policy at the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE). You may also qualify for rebates from your utility, or state and local governments, as well as state tax credits. So do a little research to find out.

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If you want to get an idea of whether solar makes financial sense in your situation, enter your information into a solar cost “calculator,” such as the one offered by EnergySage. Estimates are based on your roof, your electric bill, and offers in your area.

Keep in mind that the solar investment tax credit is not refundable. That means that if the tax credit exceeds your tax liability, you won’t get a refund for the amount of the credit that exceeds your tax bill. However, you can apply any unused amount of the credit to the next tax year.

When would it be best to switch to solar?

While there is no universal answer as to what types of homes benefit most from solar panels, there are some key factors you should consider. For starters, it’s a big advantage to live in a state where the sun shines virtually all the time, such as Arizona, Florida and California. Also important is which side of the street you live on, since the more sun you get, the better.

“Generally speaking, owning a single-family, detached home with a south-facing roof that is in good condition and receives little shade is an optimal fit for solar use,” Liberati notes. Homeowners with high electricity costs are also good candidates, he adds, since the more you spend on electricity, the more you’ll save with solar.

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There are other benefits of solar that go beyond cost. One advantage of not relying on the traditional power grid is what we call “resiliency,” Liberati notes. “When combined with a battery, a solar panel system can maintain electricity supply during power outages,” he explains. Batteries for a solar system cost between $5,000 and $7,000.

Is it worth the investment?

The answer is “yes,” says Airth. The savings on electric bills are immediate. And “over time, the system fully pays for itself,” he notes. “The bottom line is, instead of paying for all your electricity consumption, you invest in your own energy system.” The payback period for solar is typically between seven and 10 years, he adds.

How much will you pay for electricity once you install the solar system? It depends on how much solar power your system produces and where you live. However, the savings can be significant.

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“In a productive solar month, usually in the spring and summer, the bill can be reduced to $0 or even reflect a negative amount when credits are refunded on the customer’s utility bill,” Airth explains. “In the fall and winter, when there are fewer hours of sunlight, it is possible for the utility bill to vary from 25 to 100% of your pre-solar bill.” There are many variables, he adds, such as system size and monthly energy consumption.



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Sonora’s moment

This weekend was presented at the world summit on climate change taking place in Egypt, the joint proposal of Mexico and the United States, to promote the “Sonora Renewable Energy Plan” as the main card of the North American bloc to curb global warming. Renewable Energies” as the main card that the North American bloc brings to curb global warming.

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard and the person in charge of the White House for this issue along with the president of the Council for Sustainable Development of Sonora, made the presentation on Saturday, which proposes the construction of 6 solar parks that provide a total of 6 gigawatts and are incorporated into the electrical systems of Mexico and the United States as a source of energy to supply the growing digital industry.

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According to international press reports, Mexico committed to increase from 22 to 35 percent of the goals it had set for 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, highlighting that it will double the generation of clean energy in the country.

The model is based on the construction of the first solar park, which is already in its second phase of construction in Puerto Peñasco, and consists of 2 thousand hectares of solar panels and a high voltage link to Baja California, said project has an investment of 1 thousand 644 million dollars, that is, 32 billion pesos.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, after attracting the attention of the U.S. government. Interest from the U.S. government, decided to up the ante and has already determined that 6 billion dollars, or 120 billion pesos, will be invested in Sonora in order to quintuple this model park and locate the solar parks in Cajeme, General Plutarco Elías Calles, Nogales (where 2 solar parks will be built), Nogales (where 2 solar parks will be built) and Sonora (where 2 solar parks will be built), Nogales (where 2 solar parks will be built) and San Luis Río Colorado, while doubling the size of the park already under construction in Puerto Peñasco from 2,000 to 4,000 hectares, which will have the capacity to produce 2 gigawatts, making it the largest solar park in the world.

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Sonora is therefore the axis of this policy and projected investments of more than 150 billion dollars in energy projects, it will also take a very large step forward to become a strategic state in terms of energy self-sufficiency.

The keys to Sonora are its richness in solar irradiation resources, our landscape is desert and the heat in summer can be suffocating at 54 degrees Celsius in the shade and that for many decades has marginalized us from development and to have more population, however this may change in the short term.

Sonora is also on the verge of receiving huge investment flows, on the one hand there is the solar plan, but in parallel there is the need to build new industrial facilities in order to attract investments in high technology that come along with this process.

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Governor Alfonso Durazo Montaño told me a few days ago that the construction of 6 new high technology industrial parks has already been incorporated as an essential project to this process, in order to attract the investments that are being made as a result of the investment relocation process in the North American region. In this process the government of Sonora plans to invest around 2.1 billion pesos, in addition to the large infrastructure projects that are already underway to relaunch the port of Guaymas and connect Sonora with the U.S. border in a more efficient manner.

Based on these arguments, Sonora has already become a letter of introduction of what Mexico is at a competitive level and indeed, by consolidating these projects together with the Transítsmico and the Mayan Train, our country will achieve a much more competitive platform to boost its development.

According to information from the Secretary of Economy, Raquel Buenrostro, there are at least 400 large corporations with plans to move their production processes from the Asia-Pacific region to the North American region. These are large U.S. capital companies, which for geoeconomic and political reasons need to be located in the North American bloc and will preferably seek to invest in Mexico based on a better cost-benefit equation.

Based on this reality, it was decided to invest in the solar parks network and the Sonora logistics hub has been promoted, including the industrial parks, Guaymas, Sonora customs and the highway network.

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Today Sonora has a better outlook for the future and this is the result of the strategic vision designed by the governments of the Fourth Transformation, Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the presidency and Alfonso Durazo in Sonora.