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

Gigaom

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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UK Gov’s “Independent” Review Of Sharing Economy To Be Led By Sharing Economy Startup CEO

TechCrunch

Today the UK government threw its weight behind the so-called sharing economy, epitomised by companies such as Airbnb and Zipcar, with the stated aim to make the country “the global centre for the sharing economy” and ensuring it can compete with Silicon Valley. To do this it’s ordered an “independent” review to look into policy and regulation issues and how to create a climate where the sharing economy can reach its potential in the UK.

Curiously, however, the review is being headed up by Debbie Wosskow, CEO of — brace yourself — Love Home Swap, the holiday home-swapping startup and a company playing hard in the collaborative consumption/sharing economy. That doesn’t strike me as particularly independent, to put it mildly. Though, with the review’s remit already pre-disposed to view the sharing economy as a good thing, perhaps any qualms about who is leading the review are somewhat of…

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

Gigaom

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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The World’s First Genetically Modified Babies Will Graduate High School This Year

TechCrunch

Remember the sci-fi thriller GATTACA? For those who never saw the film and/or eschewed all pop culture in the late 90’s for some reason, it was a popular movie that came out in 1997 about genetically modified human beings. Now some literally genetically modified human babies born that same year are entering their senior year of high school.

The first successful transfer of genetic material for this purpose was published in a U.S. medical journal in 1997 and then later cited in a Human Reproduction publication in 2001. Scientists injected 30 embryos in all with a third person’s genetic material. The children who have been produced by this method actually have extra snippets of mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, from two mothers – meaning these babies technically have three parents.

It’s still unclear whether all 30 babies turned out healthy.  The Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science (IRMS) at St Barnabas, participants of…

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