Infosys launches 6.6MW solar power plant on its campus in Telangana

Original article.

Infosys on Monday launched a 6.6 MW solar PV (photovoltaics) power plant on its Pocharam campus in Telangana.

With this launch, combined with the existing 0.6 MW capacity rooftop solar plant, the Infosys campus in Pocharam will be one of the first corporate campuses in India that will be run completely by renewable energy.

The plant, with a total capacity of 7.2 MW, has been successfully synchronized with the grid and is expected to generate 12 million kWh per annum. This initiative is expected to reduce the company’s CO2 emissions by 9,200 tons.

Currently, the company has installed 12 MW solar power plants (onsite) across its campuses and another 3 MW is expected to be completed within the next two months.

Ramadas Kamath, executive vice-president and head – infrastructure, facilities, administration, security and sustainability, Infosys, said, “Companies have a responsibility to the communities in which they are present and sustainable development and climate change are issues that businesses need to get actively involved in. We hope other companies will emulate us, aligning to the goals committed by India at COP21, Paris, with an overall objective of creating a sustainable future.”

The Infosys IT SEZ at Pocharam is a 450-acre campus. The Phase-1 of this campus has a built-up area of 30 lakh square feet with 16,000 seats, software development blocks, residential training facilities, food courts, recreational facilities, multi-level car parking, water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant and utility blocks.

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Determining the solar energy potentials of private homes

Original article.
Determining the solar energy potentials of private homes

EAGLESolar project calculates the suitability of individual homes for installation of solar facilities and potential energy savings based on 3D maps, weather data, and electricity tariffs. Credit: IPF, KIT

Recently, Google started the Sunroof project, a service that calculates potential energy savings of home owners due to solar facilities on their roofs. However, this project covers a few cities in the USA only. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and European partners have now finished the EAGLESolar research project. It covers the same activities in European cities and take into account local conditions. Among the test regions is Karlsruhe with its districts of Knielingen and Nordweststadt.

As a result of decreasing costs of solar thermal and , every house owner can produce electricity or heat on his own in principle. Often, an energy consultant is needed to decide to what an extent the house roof is suited for installation of photovoltaic systems and whether they are worthwhile. Under the EAGLESolar project funded by the European Union with EUR 2.4 million, scientists of KIT determined the suitability of roofs with so far unreached precision.

In a first step, the project partners provide high-resolution aerial photos or laser scanning data of various cities in Europe, including municipalities near Karlsruhe. The scientists of the KIT Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (IPF) then used these photos to generate three-dimensional maps similar to Google Maps, but with a much higher resolution up to 10 cm or better. This high precision of the maps was required for the researchers to develop an algorithm to calculate potential suitability of roof areas for the installation of solar facilities. The more precise the model is, the better is automatic analysis of roof areas usable for solar facilities and the closer are the calculations to reality.

Calculation of the potential of a roof is based on static data, such as the roof area available, orientation of the roof, and its inclination. In addition, variable data, such as areas shaded by other houses, trees, stacks, or dormers and reducing the efficiency of solar facilities, are considered. Determination of shaded areas is complex, as the sun casts variable shades depending on the time of day and season. Consequently, analysis has to consider all angles of incidence of solar radiation throughout the year.

To calculate these huge data volumes arising from the precision of the 3D maps and the sun’s course, the project partners for the first time used supercomputers. “Processing these data volumes with conventional computers simply is not time- or cost-efficient. Together with our project partners, including supercomputing centers, we redesigned workflows to obtain effective results by parallel computing,” Stefan Hinz, Head of the Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, says. On conventional PCs, calculations are divided into small packages and executed successively. When using supercomputers, these packages are calculated at the same time, i.e. in parallel, which produces the results significantly faster.

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The project partners combined these data on the suitability of roofs with regional weather data, such as average cloud density or number of sunshine hours, to prognosticate the expected power and heat production. Finally, automatic comparison with daily tariffs and funding options yields potential financial savings.

Explore further: Solar panels keep buildings cool

Provided by: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

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Italy’s Eni renews agreement for oil, gas search off Cyprus for 2 more years

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NICOSIA, Cyprus – The Cyprus government has renewed an agreement with Italian energy company Eni and its South Korean partner KOGAS to search for oil and gas in waters off the Mediterranean island’s southern coast.

Eni said in August that it discovered off Egypt’s coast what it called the biggest gas field ever found in the Mediterranean sea.

Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis says Eni’s license to search in three areas has been extended to February 2018.

He said after a Cabinet meeting Monday exploratory drilling could begin sometime in 2017, but a consortium study is still in its preliminary stage.

Earlier this month, French energy company Total also renewed its license to search for oil and gas off Cyprus for two more years.

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Boy Watches Owls On TV, Real Owl Shows Up To Join Him

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Marlo Sarmiento was a few minutes into watching an animated TV show about owls with his 5-year-old son Ollie the other night when he got distracted by a blur in his peripheral vision, “which then thumped into a large window.” 

“I took a look and was surprised to see a tiny owl, stunned and just sitting there on the windowsill,” Sarmiento told The Huffington Post. He immediately named the bird Elfis, inspired by the name of the cartoon owl on the TV.

Sarmiento, who lives in a woodsy part of Northern California that abuts a nature preserve, pieced together that the owl had flown in through an open front door and then banged into the closed window trying to get out again.

Birds have paid the family visits before, Sarmiento says, but usually more common blue jays and robins, and usually they fly right out of the house of their own accord.

Sarmiento speculates that Elfis decided to stick around for a bit, possibly “attracted by the owl screeches coming from the TV.”

“My sister quipped that it was a good thing we weren’t watching an episode about elephants,” he says.

Sarmiento fetched a towel to carry Elfis in and help him back outside, worried the bird was shaken up and unable to find his way out. He paused briefly during the rescue to take a couple of photos so folks would believe him when he told them about his nocturnal visitor.

“Probably 4-5 minutes total visiting time,” Sarmiento says. “Didn’t even finish the show or stay for a drink/snacks!”

 This was a lucky encounter in more ways than one. 

“Most birds that crash into a window or wall are suffering head trauma and could be in shock. Stress from being handled could kill them,” says Damen Hurd, a wildlife rehabilitator with Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center in southwest Florida, who believes that Elfis is a Western screech-owl

Hurd adds that if someone comes across an owl or other bird of prey that might be hurt, they should put the creature in a towel-lined box or dog carrier, and then get it to a wildlife rehabilitator for a checkup and any necessary treatment.

 “Sometimes a bird is only stunned shortly and can be released soon after, but many die after an accident like this,” he says. 

Rehabber Paula Goldberg, with City Wildlife in Washington, D.C., says that the Sarmientos are fortunate not to have gotten hurt.

“Although the little guy is as cute as a Steiff stuffed animal, it has talons, and when they latch, they don’t let go,” Goldberg says. “What an incredible moment and it is so nice to see someone else’s kids zoned out while watching TV seated next to an owl.  What a hoot!”

Sarmiento says his son has been demanding that the owl cartoon be played over and over again in the days since Elfis first dropped by.

As yet, Elfis has not flown back into their lives. Given all the risks, it’s probably for the the best that their feathered friend seems to have turned out to be more of a feathered acquaintance. But, still, if the family’s learned anything by now, it’s that you never know whoooo-whoooo might drop by.

“I am leaving the sliding back doors open just in case,” says Sarmiento.

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Homemade Bumper Device Helps Blind Dog Walk With ‘Confidence’

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A video featuring a homemade aid for a blind dog has grabbed the Internet’s attention — in part because of the sweet little guy who stars in it.

As shown in the viral clip, the “Bumper Buddy” is a harness with a small hoop at the level of the dog’s chest. The ring acts as a buffer as the dog navigates any space. When the bumper hits something, the dog knows to change direction.

The clever gadget gets its name from the demonstration video’s adorable pooch, Buddy, who went blind from cataracts.

Jesse, one of Buddy’s owners, told The Huffington Post that the device is a “reimagined” do-it-yourself version of halo-style devices on the market and is not for sale. He and his fiancee, Jordan, adapted the design from similar products by placing the ring at chest level in the hope of further protecting Buddy’s face, he said. He adapted the harness for Buddy, and the two of them came up with the idea of using a plastic hanger strap as the bumper. (A more detailed how-to explanation can be found here.)

“He continues to use his harness every day and he safely finds his way through the house and can explore again without fear!” Jesse wrote to HuffPost. “He used to shiver in place with his tail tightly tucked beneath him until he got too scared and just laid down waiting for one of us to get him.”

On Imgur, Buddy’s crew summed up the effectiveness of the device: “We gave him his confidence back!”

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“I hope more people can use this idea or purchase a pre-made halo for their dogs to aid them through their disability rather than giving up on them like too many people do,” Jesse told HuffPost. 

H/T Viral Viral Videos

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Africa’s Golden ‘Jackals’ Not Jackals At All, Scientists Say

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Scientists have long considered the “golden jackals” of East Africa and the jackals seen across Eurasia to be of the same species. But a new DNA study shows that we’ve gotten these cunning canines all wrong.

According to the study, the animals are distinct species — and the African “jackals” aren’t jackals at all but wolves. Dubbed Canis anthus, or the African golden wolf, this is the first new species of canid — the biological family that includes dogs, wolves, coyotes, as well as jackals — discovered in Africa in 150 years.

“Consistent with two previous studies also based on mitochondrial sequences, we find that golden jackals from Africa and Eurasia are not each other’s closest relative as we would expect if they were the same species,” Dr. Klaus-Peter Koepfli, a researcher at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., and the study’s lead author, told The Guardian.

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For the study, the researchers derived the evolutionary history of both the African and Eurasian animals by analyzing golden jackal DNA samples and extensive genomic data in both the jackals and gray wolves.

They noticed that African golden jackals (now considered to be the African golden wolf) split from their gray wolf and coyote ancestors around 1.3 million years ago. Eurasian golden jackals diverged some 600,000 years earlier — and the two species’ mitochondrial DNA differs by up to 6.7 percent, Science magazine reported.

“One of the main takeaways of our study is that even among well-known and widespread species such as golden jackals, there is the potential to discover hidden biodiversity and that such discoveries are made even more possible by using data sampled from whole genomes,” Koepli told Reuters.

The researchers think that scientists previously mistook African and Eurasian golden jackals for the same species because they shared many physical traits, including the shapes of their skulls and teeth.

That sounds reasonable, but not all scientists are convinced.

Previous research by Dr. Philippe Gaubert, a biologist at the University of Montpellier in France suggested that African golden jackals are a subspecies of gray wolf that’s separate from the Eurasian jackal. He told National Geographic that he stands by his original work — and isn’t yet convinced that the African golden wolf is a new species.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said.

But Dr. Greger Larson, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Oxford in England, voiced his support of the scientists behind the new study.

“They have phenomenal data and they do a nice series of analyses,” he told National Geographic. “It’s a super airtight case.”

The study was published online in the journal Current Biology on July 30, 2015.

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Wasting Food? It’ll Cost You

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By Don Willmott

Most of us have become accustomed to sorting and recycling our trash, but how far are we willing to go with our recycling? Are we really ready to wrestle with rotting lettuce leaves and the remnants of last week’s tuna noodle casserole?

As it turns out, food is the number one product in U.S. landfills, and one study found that 35 million tons of food were wasted in the U.S. in 2012, a shameful statistic when you consider the fact that one in six Americans (and 800 million people worldwide) are “food insecure.” Not only that, but decaying food waste produces methane, which is 10 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. A 2013 UN study found that if wasted food were a country, it would be just behind the U.S. and China as a producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

There are many ways to deal with food waste in both the commercial and household realms, but one idea gaining traction is to put the onus on all of us. Would we waste less food if local governments charged us by the pound for food waste removal?

That’s what’s happening in a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea, where 145,000 people are participating in a program that compels them to weigh their food scraps in special RFID-equipped containers that transmit the total to the local government. Exceed your allotment, and you pay a fine. The state-run Korea Environment Corp. has deployed automated canisters at apartment buildings around the neighborhood. Residents open the hatch using ID cards, and the canister weighs the food waste they drop in. (It’s a more streamlined version of earlier programs that required residents to buy special plastic bags in which to collect and discard food waste.)

This video from Yale Environment 360 shows the system in action.

As it turns out, the idea works, with food waste down 30 percent in the neighborhood. Now the pressure is on to expand the program dramatically. Of course, one wonders if such an intrusive idea could ever take hold in the U.S., where the belief in personal freedom often trumps consideration of the common good, and the idea of government-issued ID cards and RFID tracking is often seen as suspect. Still, in densely populated urban areas where hundreds of residents share a single recycling space, it would be an easy program to test.

Meanwhile, France now bans grocery stores from throwing away or destroying unsold food. Instead, the stores will have to donate the food for use as animal feed or compost. It’s a start, but only 11 percent of French food waste happens at grocery stores, so like Korea, France will also have to find a way to address food waste at home and in restaurants as well.

In fact, every nation needs to step up and face the issue. A 2013 report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that as much as 50 percent of all food produced around the world “never reaches a human stomach due to issues as varied as inadequate infrastructure and storage facilities through to overly strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free offers and consumers demanding cosmetically perfect food.” Yes, global supply chains for perishable food are incredibly complex, but there must be ways to build in more efficiency.  Food waste is one of the world’s Grand Challenges, and we need a radical breakthrough.

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Don Willmott is a New York-based journalist who writes about technology, travel and the environment for a wide variety of publications and websites.

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The Economic Argument For Killing Cecil The Lion Doesn’t Hold Up

Original article.

The Internet’s been in an uproar this week after news spread of the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist. Yelp reviewers called the man a murderer, locals set up a memorial outside his closed office in Bloomington, Minnesota, and officials in Zimbabwe, where the hunt took place, are calling for the man’s extradition.

Walter Palmer, who paid around $55,000 to kill Cecil, may face poaching charges for shooting the lion with a crossbow after it was lured out of a protected national park. Palmer said in a statement to a local paper that he believed his hunt was legal. “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he said.

Trophy hunts are lawful in many parts of Africa, including South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania, and buyers can shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the opportunity to pursue wildlife. Zimbabwe makes around $20 million each year from the sport, or about 3.2 percent of its tourism revenue. An estimated 600 lions are killed legally every year by wealthy tourists. 

Some argue that the fees earned from regulated hunting can be pumped back into conservation efforts. Last year, the World Bank allocated $700,000 to Mozambique to promote sport hunting as part of a $40 million conservation fund. But populations of lions, as well as other highly prized game, are already suffering, as resources are depleted and natural habitats vanish.Many conservation advocates regard the sport as needless killing, with hunters valuing dead animals higher than live ones. 

“If you’re just giving money to kill an animal, it doesn’t make you a conservationist,” said Jeffrey Flocken, a regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “We don’t have to kill an animal to save it.”

Some studies have found that only around 3 percent of the permit fees and hunting revenues go back to local communities. Instead, the profits are reaped largely by the national governments and foreign outfitters who arrange the hunts.

Nearly all of Africa’s “big five” game animals — elephant, black rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard — are threatened in some way. Rarity seems to heighten the frenzy to hunt these creatures.

Black rhinos are endangered and currently number under 5,000; but that didn’t stop a Texas hunter from paying $350,000 two months ago to kill one. Recently, studies found that ivory poachers had illegally slaughtered 100,000 African elephants in a span of three years, and that the population in the central region of the continent has more than halved in the last decade. There’s been a 42 percent drop in lion numbers in the past two decades, and just 400 remain in West Africa. 

Conservation relies on sustained funding, and in some cases, hunting permits can help conservation, said Evan Hjerpe, director of the Boise, Idaho-based Conservation Economics Institute. But it can be difficult to track where the money goes.

“Trophy hunting can maximize the price of permits, but it can create conservation backlash,” Hjerpe said. “Hunters are targeting the largest and most beautiful species, and that may impede other strains of conservation funding. If certain funders don’t like that there’s a trophy hunt going on, they may withdraw funding for that program. It’s a sticky situation.”

There are other ways to balance economic interests with conservation efforts, activists note. Nature tourism, which offers visitors wildlife photography opportunities, can be significantly more profitable than poaching: One report found that an elephant brings in over $1.6 million in ecotourism revenue, compared to the $21,000 that its ivory might fetch on the black market.

In addition, most people find regulated sport hunts distasteful. A 2011 poll commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that 70 percent of Americans would pay to view a lion, while fewer than 7 percent would pay to kill a lion.

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Open Letter to the Wimpy Dentist Who Killed Cecil, the Beloved Lion, for His Own Amusement

Original article.

Who the hell gets a kick out of killing a majestic lion?

Does luring a beloved lion out of a sanctuary so you can kill him for your own amusement make you a man? Does killing any lion anywhere make you a man? Lions aren’t exactly encroaching on suburban neighborhoods like yours or mine and threatening to eat our children or pets, now are they?

Lions aren’t tearing around in trucks waving black flags and shouting “Death to Americans!” They aren’t going on social media to spew hatred and incite violence in the name of their god, now are they?

Don’t we have real bad guys to fight? How about you focus your desire to fight to the death against people who traffic women and children as sex slaves? How about you aim that killer instinct against mass murderers who are still on the loose? Maybe go after people who want to commit mass violence against Americans in movie theaters or against Marines or policemen?

I’m not in favor of vigilantism but I’m also not in favor of what you did to that lion. You looked so proud of yourself when you posed for a photo in front of Cecil after you killed him. You disgust me. You are not a man. You are a rich killer who happens to be a dentist whose practice has now closed because your patients are disgusted by what you did and have found another provider.

Karma’s a bitch and you’re not a man.

photo credit: Le Lion via photopin (license)

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Three Myths Pushed by Polluters to Avoid Improving Air Quality

Original article.

Just days ago, the National Association of Manufacturers, an organization representing factories and other major polluters, launched a multimillion dollar TV ad campaign aimed at keeping the EPA from strengthening federal health protections from ozone pollution. Distortions and misinformation is a key tactic in their effort to avoid cleaning up their pollution. Here’s a look at three of those distortions:

Myth #1 – The polluters claim that national parks are “untouched and pristine,” implying they’re clean, pure and unpolluted.

But, actually, many of our national parks have a pollution problem. The air can be dangerous to breathe in these parks despite their beauty. And the damaging affect on people’s health from polluters is what the EPA must address.

As the L.A. Times just reported, the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit that works to protect public parks, released a report giving four national parks an ‘F’ for already having unhealthy levels of ozone pollution. Ozone can cause asthma attacks and affects the health of millions of Americans who vacation in these parks. According to NPCA, 75% of the 48 iconic national parks have air quality that’s unhealthy at times. And four parks–Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks–regularly have air that’s known to be unhealthy for most park visitors and rangers.

Myth #2 – The EPA’s proposal to strengthen protections from ozone pollution would cause national parks to be in violation of clean air laws.

First, some three-quarters of iconic national parks have air that’s unhealthy to breathe at times, even measuring under outdated standards. That pollution comes from heavy industry and from dirty cars and trucks, and it’s carried by the wind–even to national parks.

Second, the leading medical and public health associations all agree: the ozone standard needs to be strengthened because it’s currently set at a level that allows people to breathe dangerously dirty air. Three times, the EPA’s science advisors have told it unanimously that the current standard just doesn’t cut it. To protect kids, seniors, and everyone who spends time enjoying the great outdoors, we need a tougher ozone standard to clean up the air.

The polluter lobby wants to turn a blind eye to reality. But pretending the problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away.

Myth #3 – If national parks can’t comply with Clean Air Act requirements, how can your community comply?

Many areas of the country can already meet the proposed standard. And the EPA estimates that all but nine counties, with the exception of California, could meet the standard by 2025, the year, they’d have to comply.

Did the polluters get anything right?

Well, they’re right that we’re making progress in fighting air pollution. The Clean Air Act has made a huge difference. Since 1970, the Clean Air Act has helped reduce pollution levels — of ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead — by 68 percent and the economy has more than tripled.

So, why are the major polluters saying all this?

It all comes down to money and greed. Major polluters don’t want to pay the potential cost of buying pollution-control technology, which could reduce their profits.

And who would be hurt if the ozone standard is not strengthened?

Mainly, children, the elderly, people with asthma and those with sensitive conditions who are affected the most when air quality is poor.

The truth is the amount of ozone allowed into the air – 75 parts per billion is unsafe. And a more protective standard could save thousands of lives, and prevent nearly 1 million asthma attacks and up to 1 million missed days of school.

Instead of spreading lies, distortions and myths, major polluters should think about the 26 million who are affected by asthma, for many of whom the struggle to breathe is a daily battle. These are people who sometimes end up in emergency rooms and miss school and work when they just can’t get enough air into their lungs.

For African Americans and Latinos, who are more likely to live near sources of high pollution, the problem is worse. African Americans are three times more likely than white to be hospitalized because of asthma and Latinos are twice as likely to end up in the hospital.

In fact, some 71 percent of African Americans live in counties that are in violation of clear air laws, according to the NAACP.

Too often, people with asthma and breathing conditions have to avoid outdoor activity in the summer months when ozone levels are particularly high. And sometimes, they don’t get the treatment they need fast enough. Sometimes they lose their lives.

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