Britain opens first subsidy-free solar power farm

A worker inspects solar panels at a solar Dunhuang, 950km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province in this September 16, 2013 file photo. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 26 September 2017
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Britain opens first subsidy-free solar power farm

LONDON: Britain’s first solar power farm to operate without a government subsidy is due to open in eastern England on Tuesday, as a sharp fall in costs has made renewable energy much more economical.
Britain needs to invest in new energy capacity to replace aging coal and nuclear plants that are due to close in the 2020s. But it is also trying to reduce subsidies on renewable power generation.
“The cost of solar panels and batteries has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and this first subsidy-free development at Clayhill is a significant moment for clean energy in the UK,” Claire Perry, minister for Climate Change and Industry said.
The 10 megawatt (MW) solar farm, in Clayhill, Bedfordshire, can generate enough electricity to power around 2,500 homes and also has a 6 MW battery storage facility on site.
In an effort to curb spiraling renewable subsidy costs the government has moved to scrap new subsidies for solar projects and onshore wind over the past few years.
The project “proves that the government’s decision to withdraw subsidies doesn’t have to signal the end of solar as a commercially viable technology,” Steve Shine, chairman of the Clayhill project’s developer, clean tech firm Anesco, said.
Falling costs have seen solar power capacity soar in Britain to around 12 gigawatts (GW), from around 2 GW five years ago, and on one sunny day in May this year solar hit a record, providing almost 25 percent of the country’s electricity.
Britain has a target to meet 15 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, up from 8 percent in 2015.
The country’s renewable subsidy auction for offshore wind hit a record low earlier this month, falling well below the cost of subsidies promised to French utility EDF to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.


Massive diamond cache detected beneath Earth’s surface

Updated 6 min 48 sec ago
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Massive diamond cache detected beneath Earth’s surface

  • “This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral..."
  • These naturally occurring precious minerals are located far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached

WASHINGTON: There’s a load of bling buried in the Earth.
More than a quadrillion tons of diamonds to be exact — or one thousand times more than one trillion — US researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported this week.
But don’t expect a diamond rush. These naturally occurring precious minerals are located far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached, about 90 to 150 miles (145 to 240 kilometers) below the surface of our planet.
“We can’t get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before,” said Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
“This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the scale of things, it’s relatively common.”
Using seismic technology to analyze how sound waves pass through the Earth, scientists detected the treasure trove in rocks called cratonic roots, which are shaped like inverted mountains that stretch through the Earth’s crust and into the mantle.
These are “the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates,” explained MIT in a statement.
The project to uncover deep Earth diamonds began because scientists were puzzled by observations that sound waves would speed up significantly when passing through the roots of ancient cratons.
So they assembled virtual rocks, made from various combinations of minerals, to calculate how fast sound waves would travel through them.
“Diamond in many ways is special,” Faul said.
“One of its special properties is, the sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as in the dominant mineral in upper mantle rocks, olivine.”
They found that the only type of rock that matched the speeds they were detecting in craton would contain one to two percent diamond.
Scientists now believe the Earth’s ancient underground rocks contain at least 1,000 times more diamond than previously expected.
Still, very few of these gems are expected to make their way to the jewelry store.
Diamonds are made from carbon, and are formed under high-pressure and extreme temperatures deep in the Earth.
They emerge near the surface only through volcanic eruptions that occur rarely — on the order of every few tens of millions of years.