UKRAINE TO WITHDRAW TROOPS IN CRIMEA
According to The Moscow Times, Crimean authorities released a Ukrainian officer who had been detained after a naval base was stormed yesterday following a request from Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.
Kiev now fears that Moscow will attack the pro-Russian eastern and southern regions of the country. According to its UN ambassador Yurii Klymenko, “There are indications that Russia is on its way to unleash a full-blown military intervention in Ukraine’s east and south.” Russia’s representative challenged his statement.
This comes after President Barack Obama ruled out a U.S. "military excursion" in Ukraine. “Obviously, we do not need to trigger an actual war with Russia,” he said. “The Ukrainians don't want that. Nobody would want that.”
EU leaders are gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit, where they are expected to discuss a third wave of sanctions against Russia. According to AP, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU would expand its list of people who were hit by visa bans and whose assets were frozen. She also said the G8 “no longer exists” due to the current “political climate.” The Daily Telegraph reports, however, that EU leaders are divided over the scale of sanctions, with British PM David Cameron said to favor more “far-reaching” measures.
In a New York Times piece, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny (currently under house arrest in connection with a criminal case) says the West should freeze the financial assets and seize the properties of oligarchs in Putin’s inner circle. Yesterday, a Russian television network accused him of taking bribes and of having links with the CIA. Read more from AFP.
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MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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.
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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