Largest solar farm in Japan to break ground in November, backed by GE


A huge solar panel farm is set to go under construction in Setouchi, Japan in November thanks to recently closed funding from GE, which owns a 60 percent stake in the project, as well as Kuni Umi Asset Management and Toyo Engineering Corporation. The farm will cost $1.1 billion to build, and the group just closed a $867 million loan from Japanese banks, which is the largest amount of debt raised for a clean power project in Japan to date, according to GE.

The solar panel farm will stretch across 1,210 acres, and will cover a former salt field. When done, the project is supposed to provide solar power starting in the second quarter of 2019 and sell power to Chugoku Electric Power Company over a 20-year contract. Toyo Engineering and Shimizu Corporation will build the plant and a company called Chudenko Corporation will operate and maintain it.

Solar panel, Image courtesy of Andreas Demmelbauer Solar…

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EU home affairs chief secretly worked with US to undermine new privacy laws, campaigners claim


The digital rights group Access has revealed an email that suggests outgoing EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström collaborated with the Americans in a successful attempt to water down Europe’s new privacy laws.

EU home affairs chief Cecilia Malmström EU home affairs chief Cecilia Malmström

The email, dated January 12, 2012, was uncovered through a freedom-of-information request in the U.S., Access said in a weekend blog post entitled “Big brother’s little helper inside the European Commission.” The campaigners say it shows that Malmström’s department, which has responsibility for law enforcement, worked to undermine the department of erstwhile Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who proposed the data protection reforms — currently awaiting final approval by EU member states – on January 25, 2012.

If this assessment is correct, the revelation may jeopardize Malmström’s confirmation by the European Parliament as the EU’s new trade commissioner. That role would put her center-stage in negotiations over the controversial U.S.-EU Transatlantic…

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