Zeppelins Over Paris... Again?

SÜDKURIER (Germany), AIR PARIS (France)


PARIS - The first time zeppelins flew over Paris, it was to bomb the city during World War I. Now, a German zeppelin company says it is nearing agreement with a company in Paris that plans to offer flights around the Eiffel Tower.

The company, Air Paris, already has a website showing the zeppelin over Paris. According to the south German newspaper Südkurier, the builder of the blimp-like craft would lease the first zeppelin by 2013 to the French company, and Air Paris’s own zeppelin would be finished by 2014.

French air authorities have not yet given the necessary permission, says Südkurier. However, the Air Paris website says it will “soon” allow visitors to book zeppelin tours starting in July 2013.

The zeppelins will fly 300 meters above Paris and Versailles, in cabins with “large panoramic windows.” The flights will not be cheap, 450 euros per person. According to the company, there will be little disturbance from the balloon, whose noise is comparable to that of “a dishwasher.”

In the early 20th century, zeppelins filled with hydrogen were popular for travel, as their cabins, attached below the balloon, were larger and more comfortable than those of the airplanes of the time. But after the live transmission on the radio and newsreels of the accident of the transatlantic Hindenburg expand=1] airship, which killed 36 people in a spectacular blaze in 1937, such airships fell out of style.

The Friedrichshafen zeppelin manufacturer, a descendant of the original company, was founded in 1993. Modern zeppelins are now filled with helium, which is an inert, almost non-flammable gas, not the hydrogen that caused the Hindenburg fire.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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