Thou Shalt Not Sell.
To live and die in L.A.
1. Out of the rolling yellow dunes of the Kubuqi desert arises what appears to be an oasis, shimmering blue beneath the northern China sky. Row after row of hundreds of solar panels cover this otherwise barren stretch of Inner Mongolia, about 500 kilometers (311 miles) inland from Beijing. They’re the centerpiece of a clean energy project the size of 20 Central Parks that provides enough electricity for 1.1 million homes. The mammoth site is just one small piece of President Xi Jinping’s plan to deliver the largest ever deployment of man-made power capacity. By the end of this decade, China aims to build the equivalent of 225 more of these massive renewables bases across vast swathes of the country’s interior. It’s a campaign that promises an upheaval across the energy sector: curbing China’s demand for fossil fuels, trimming its reliance on energy imports and steering the world’s biggest polluter toward a feasible path to zero out its greenhouse gas emissions. Once complete, the renewables bases will total 455 gigawatts of wind turbines and solar panels. That’s more clean energy generation capacity than is currently available in any nation outside China, and almost the size of the entire power network — including coal plants and nuclear reactors — in India, the world’s third-largest system. “It’s mind-blowing,” said Cosimo Ries, a Shanghai-based energy analyst with Trivium China. “There’s nothing in history you can benchmark this against.” (Source: bloomberg.com)
2. There is no shortage of bad green-energy news. Automakers are fretting about electric-vehicle growth, higher interest rates are smashing financial plans, permitting for big projects still takes forever and offshore wind is a mess. But for every setback, there is a Sun Streams. This cluster of solar farms will cover more than 13 square miles of desert west of Phoenix. By 2025, it will provide enough electricity for roughly 300,000 homes, bringing Arizona’s largest utility closer to its goal of a zero-carbon grid. The scale of the development, mostly owned by renewables company Longroad Energy, is part of a staggering surge in renewable energy. Driven by falling costs and better technology, growth in renewables has consistently exceeded expectations. (Source: wsj.com)
3. CRISPR–Cas9 is best known as a laboratory tool for editing DNA, but its natural function is as part of the immune system that helps certain microorganisms to fight off viruses. Now, researchers have used an algorithm to sort through millions of genomes to find new, rare types of CRISPR system that could eventually be adapted into genome-editing tools. “We are just amazed at the diversity of CRISPR systems,” says Feng Zhang, a biochemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and co-author of a 23 November paper in Science that describes the systems. “Doing this analysis kind of allows us to kill two birds with one stone: both study biology and also potentially find useful things.” If you’re interested, this profile of Professor Zhang is worth reading in full. (Sources: broadinstitute.org, nature.com, mcgovern.mit.edu, wbur.org, italics mine)