Archive for August 17th, 2009

Black Swallowtail at Solar One

Black Swallowtail at Solar One

Black Swallowtail 004

In the herb garden just outside of Solar One, we spotted 4 Black Swallowtail caterpillars. The were munching on the seedlings of last years dill plant.

At first glance we thought the caterpillars were Monarch caterpillars only because they are the only caterpillars we ever see in that garden, and from a distance they have similar stripes. But on closer inspection we noticed that they were definitely not Monarch caterpillars, nor were they on the correct host plant. These caterpillars were on our dill plants which are one of the host plants for the Black Swallowtail along with carrots, parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace, and a few other species.

The Black Swallowtail starts its life as a cream colored egg, it then goes through 5 larval instars and then forms its chrysalis (cocoon). After the chrysalis it emerges as an adult Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

The instars are different stages of growth the larva goes through to reach its mature size. The first two instars the larva or caterpillar is brown with a white band in the middle of its body. The following 3 instars the caterpillar is light green with black bands that have yellow dots on them (as shown above). It is the larval stage that these insects do most of their eating, in fact is seems like they never stop!

When the caterpillar enters the pupal stage, the time it forms it’s chrysalis, it begins the process of metamorphosis. This is when it changes shape from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Depending on the time of year the pupal stage can last from 8-12 days (if formed in early summer)  or it can over winter (if formed in late summer) and emerge 8-9 months later. The time of year also determines the color of  the chrysalis;  green in summer brown in winter.

It seems as though we may have to wait till next year to see the beautiful Black Swallowtail butterflies emerge from their chrysalides. In a few days these caterpillars are going to form their chrysalides, they seem to be in the 5th instar now.

Check back with us on our flickr account @ solaronenyc for updated photos of the caterpillars, chrysalides and hopefully the butterflies.


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Black Swallowtail at Solar One

Black Swallowtail at Solar One

Black Swallowtail 004

In the herb garden just outside of Solar One, we spotted 4 Black Swallowtail caterpillars. The were munching on the seedlings of last years dill plant.

At first glance we thought the caterpillars were Monarch caterpillars only because they are the only caterpillars we ever see in that garden, and from a distance they have similar stripes. But on closer inspection we noticed that they were definitely not Monarch caterpillars, nor were they on the correct host plant. These caterpillars were on our dill plants which are one of the host plants for the Black Swallowtail along with carrots, parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace, and a few other species.

The Black Swallowtail starts its life as a cream colored egg, it then goes through 5 larval instars and then forms its chrysalis (cocoon). After the chrysalis it emerges as an adult Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

The instars are different stages of growth the larva goes through to reach its mature size. The first two instars the larva or caterpillar is brown with a white band in the middle of its body. The following 3 instars the caterpillar is light green with black bands that have yellow dots on them (as shown above). It is the larval stage that these insects do most of their eating, in fact is seems like they never stop!

When the caterpillar enters the pupal stage, the time it forms it’s chrysalis, it begins the process of metamorphosis. This is when it changes shape from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Depending on the time of year the pupal stage can last from 8-12 days (if formed in early summer)  or it can over winter (if formed in late summer) and emerge 8-9 months later. The time of year also determines the color of  the chrysalis;  green in summer brown in winter.

It seems as though we may have to wait till next year to see the beautiful Black Swallowtail butterflies emerge from their chrysalides. In a few days these caterpillars are going to form their chrysalides, they seem to be in the 5th instar now.

Check back with us on our flickr account @ solaronenyc for updated photos of the caterpillars, chrysalides and hopefully the butterflies.


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Hoku Materials Granted Foreign Trade Zone Status by U.S. Commerce Department

POCATELLO, ID–(Marketwire – August 17, 2009) – Hoku Materials, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hoku Scientific, Inc. (NASDAQ: HOKU) established to manufacture and sell polysilicon for the solar market, today announced it had been granted foreign-trade zone (FTZ) subzone status by the United States Department of Commerce for its polysilicon manufacturing plant currently under development in Pocatello, Idaho.

Hoku reported that it expected the subzone status would contribute to the facility’s long-term global competitiveness, explaining that FTZ procedures would exempt the Company from customs duty payments on foreign materials used in export production.

Specifically, the ruling will allow Hoku to import foreign-sourced raw materials in a duty-free status, provided they are destined for export overseas as components of finished polysilicon. Under its existing customer supply agreements, more than 80% of Hoku’s total annual production capacity of polysilicon, and 100% of what has been presold to date, is destined for export to China, meaning that an equivalent percentage of the Company’s raw material inputs would be eligible for import in a duty-free status.

Hoku explained that it had been granted subzone status under the existing Foreign Trade Zone established for Boundary County in Northern Idaho, the only FTZ in the state. Hoku Materials’ facility will be the only designated Foreign Trade Subzone in Idaho.

“We are pleased to have been granted the Foreign Trade Subzone status,” said Dustin Shindo, chairman and chief executive officer of Hoku Scientific. “This ruling helps ensure that our facility will remain globally competitive over time.”

“For many reasons, Hoku is a unique case study in today’s economy,” said Gynii Gilliam, Executive Director of the Bannock Development Corporation. “Hoku’s Pocatello plant will not only be a net exporter to China, but thanks to the Commerce Department’s ruling, it will have the ability to compete internationally on a level playing field. This outcome is not only good for Idaho’s emerging clean energy manufacturing base, but it is good for the U.S. renewable energy industry in general.”

When complete, the Hoku Materials facility is expected to produce up to 4,000 metric tons of polysilicon per year.



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NEA Welcomes Solar Industry Veteran and Former SunPower COO PM Pai as Venture Partner

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ — New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA), a leading global venture capital firm, today announced that solar industry veteran PM Pai has joined the firm as a Venture Partner. Mr. Pai, who has more than 30 years of manufacturing and mass production expertise spanning several industries and is the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SunPower, will work with NEA’s energy technology team to advance the firm’s robust portfolio of more than two dozen companies in the sector.

“PM brings a wealth of expertise in manufacturing and production to bear at an incredibly pivotal moment for the industry, and NEA is very excited to welcome him to our energy technology team,” said Peter J. Barris, Managing General Partner of NEA. “Only by rapidly commercializing promising new technologies can the U.S. reduce its dependency on foreign resources and lower the cost of clean, renewable energy, and PM is among the most highly regarded leaders in this space.”

“I am very pleased to be associated with NEA and to play a role in the fast-track development of the firm’s renewable energy portfolio companies,” said Mr. Pai. “NEA has some very innovative technology companies in its portfolio and I look forward to strategically assisting these companies throughout their growth and expansion to be leading players in the sector.”

Mr. Pai is currently a director of two NEA portfolio companies, Suniva, Inc., a manufacturer of high value monocrystalline solar cells, and Deeya Energy, developer of an advanced energy storage platform. From April 2005 to July 2008, Mr. Pai was the COO of SunPower and was responsible for strategic planning, production expansion, and supply chain development on a worldwide basis. Prior to SunPower, he served for four years as president of Moser Baer India Ltd., the world’s second largest manufacturer of optical storage media. Mr. Pai graduated from Mysore University, India, in Mechanical Engineering. His graduate work also includes an M.Tech Industrial Engineering, with distinction, from IIT Chennai and the Advanced Management Program (ISMP) at Harvard Business School.

NEA’s portfolio companies in the energy technology sector represent approximately $500 million of committed capital. The firm’s broad portfolio of investments includes companies in solar, nuclear, advanced batteries, fuel cells, smart grids, lighting, and energy-efficient building material.



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ZEBASOLAR INC’s Indian Subsidiary Awarded 10MW PV Power Station in the State of Gujarat

BEDMINSTER, N.J., LONDON and DELHI, India, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ —

ZEBASOLAR INC is proud to have been chosen out of the numerous applicants as one of the allotted companies for India’s first major allocation of Solar farms in the State of Gujarat. The 743MW award of Solar concessions thus far is the largest in India and one of the largest allocations in the world to date by a Government.

The Gujarat PV Project involves an investment of 35 million euro on the part of ZEBASOLAR PVT LIMITED INDIA, a 85% subsidiary of ZEBASOLAR INC USA. This plant will have an annual power production of 16.37 million kWh, and a franchised operation term of 25 years. This win, the first for ZEBASOLAR in India, is on the heels of more than 500MW of Solar plant applications the company has made in various Indian states in early 2009.

In late January 2009, The Gujarat State Energy Agency (GEDA) planned an open tender to confirm the on-grid electricity price and technical solutions. An estimated total of 70 International majors and domestic energy players bid for with over 5,400 MW worth of tendered applications.

“We are very proud to have won our concession in The State of Gujarat, we commend the Honorable Chief Minister of the State, Mr. Narendra Modi as well as the Secretary of Energy Mr. Jagdeesan, for their vision and foresight in bringing Gujarat as the State which is not only leading the push in India to go GREEN, but also making an impact on the world market by announcing a concession of this size. ZEBASOLAR will bring its partners and technology to ensure that the State succeeds in its plans and initiatives and helping India become a renewable energy leader”, stated Shahal Khan, Founder and President of ZEBASOLAR INC.

“The project is expected to start construction within 5 months and has to be completed within the 6 following months. Coming online estimated in mid-2010 and supplying the State with clean and efficient Solar Power”, commented Majid Khan, Director of ZEBASOLAR INDIA.

All PV systems will be PV tracker panels, installed on land. ZEBASOLAR is in the process of setting up the GUJARAT joint venture company and confirming the EPC contract.



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Acro Energy Announces Los Angeles Area Expansion

HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Acro Energy Technologies Corp. (TSX Venture: ART) a leading residential solar installation company, has signed a Letter of Intent to acquire Energy Efficiency Solar, Inc. (“EE Solar”) of Pomona, California.

Under the Letter of Intent, Acro Energy would acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of EE Solar for a purchase price of $1,950,000 consisting of a combination of cash, a promissory note, common stock in Acro Energy, and assumption of EE Solar debt.

EE Solar is a full-service solar energy company, installing residential and commercial solar systems in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties since 1989. EE Solar generated approximately $4.2 million in revenue in 2008, servicing customers from its offices in Pomona and Orange. Bill Korthof is the President of EE Solar today and will join the Acro Energy team.

“We are excited about adding Bill Korthof and EE Solar to Acro Energy,” said Harry Fleming, Chief Executive Officer at Acro Energy. “The acquisition of EE Solar is the first step in Acro Energy’s movement into Southern California. We believe that EE Solar and Acro Energy will build on each other’s strengths. This transaction is consistent with Acro Energy’s strategy of acquisition of leading independent solar installation companies, in addition to organic growth,” added Fleming.

“Southern California promises to be a strong growth market for us,” said Nat Kreamer, President (Interim) of Acro Energy. “Together, Bill Korthof and the team at EE Solar have a solid foundation for profitably delivering our high level of service to consumers planning to save money by going solar in the Los Angeles metro region.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to a number of conditions, including negotiation and execution of a definitive acquisition agreement, completion by Acro Energy of a satisfactory due diligence review of EE Solar, receipt of all necessary contractual, regulatory and governmental consents and approvals, the absence of any material adverse change affecting EE Solar, and any necessary approval of the transaction by the TSX Venture Exchange.



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Veeco Introduces NT9100S Optical Profiling System

PLAINVIEW, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Veeco Instruments Inc. (Nasdaq: VECO), a leader in scientific and industrial metrology, today announced the release of its NT9100S Optical Profiler System specifically designed to optimize photovoltaic (PV) cell production and process development. The new NT9100S combines the renowned performance of Veeco’s NT Series of white light optical profilers with new features and options to enable rapid, three-dimensional surface measurements on 6-inch crystalline silicon PV cells.

“Veeco has a very strong presence in the solar market,” said Mark R. Munch, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Veeco Metrology. “Now, with our customized NT9100S, we can offer unprecedented capability to monitor and control surface texture and, more importantly, to match specific surface measurements to solar cell efficiency early in the manufacturing process.”

Andrew Masters, Veeco’s Vice President of Segment Marketing and Business Development, added, “The NT9100S brings the power and flexibility of the NT Series Optical Profilers, along with a PV-specific stage and chuck, to solar cell production monitoring. We are excited to deliver an affordable, feature-rich metrology platform that can enable such a wide scope of efficiency-enhancing applications in solar cell research and production.”

About the NT9100S Optical Profiler

The NT9100S is based upon the workhorse NT Series product line, and adds a custom 156-millimeter programmable stage for edge-to-edge measurements on a 6-inch PV cell. Other standard features include a porous vacuum chuck that securely and safely affixes a standard PV cell, automation software, field stitching software, and patent-pending, ultra-uniform dual-LED illumination. Running on the industry-leading Vision® software platform, the NT9100S provides access to over 200 distinct analyses, and over 1000 critical parameters for process control and monitoring.



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Solar Trust of America, LLC Targets Southwestern U.S. for Development and Construction of Utility-Size Solar Thermal Power Plants

CLEVELAND & BERKELEY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solar Trust of America, LLC, a newly formed integrated industrial solar solutions company, today announced that it has entered into contractual arrangements with its business partners Solar Millennium and MAN Ferrostaal to provide the U.S. market with a complete turnkey solution in connection with the development, construction and financing of large-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in the southwestern region of the United States.

The services offered by Solar Trust of America include Project Development; Plant Layout Design; Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC); Supply Chain Management; Plant Operations and Management; ready access to large-scale project financing; and equity participation. Solar Trust of America also announced that it has entered into an agreement to use Solar Millennium AG’s proven, in-house Flagsol parabolic trough technology exclusively in North America.

“We believe that we are the only CSP company providing a completely integrated solar solution using proven technology for utility size plants currently generating electricity for the grid,” said Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Trust of America. “With thousands of fully-funded and completed industrial projects in the combined portfolios of our business partners, we expect to become the industry leader in the development and construction of these solar thermal power plants in the U.S.”

The company’s business partners include Solar Millennium AG, an international project and technology developer and supplier of parabolic trough collector technology used in powering solar thermal power plants; and MAN Ferrostaal Incorporated, a U.S. subsidiary of MAN Ferrostaal AG, a worldwide provider of industrial services and plant construction and engineering. As part of the launch of its business, Solar Trust announced that Solar Millennium, LLC, of Berkeley, California, a leading U.S. developer of solar thermal power plant technology, has joined the Solar Trust family as a wholly-owned subsidiary and will serve as the company’s solar thermal power plant development arm. Solar Millennium and MAN Ferrostaal are both contributing assets and technical expertise to Solar Trust of America and will be shareholders in the new company.

Utilizing the Project Development and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) experience of its business partners and its exclusive arrangement for Flagsol’s parabolic trough technology and services in North America, Solar Trust is ideally positioned to build on the success of Solar Millennium, LLC’s June 17, 2009 announcement of the execution of power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison (SCE). The agreements, which are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, call for the development of two, 242 megawatt (MW) power plants, with the option to expand to include a third 242 megawatt plant, for a total of up to 726 megawatts of capacity, and provide for the purchase of the output by SCE over a 20-year period. These solar thermal power plants are expected to begin operation between 2013 and 2014.

Solar Millennium AG is the company responsible for the development of the Andasol 1, 2 and 3 solar thermal power plants constructed in Spain. Andasol 1 and 2, Europe’s first commercially operating parabolic trough power plants, are currently supplying electricity to consumers and businesses in Andalusia, Spain with environmentally friendly power that are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 150,000 tons per year, per plant compared to modern coal-fired power plants. Two of these plants feature large-scale thermal storage technology capable of extending power production for up to 7.5 hours per day after the sun sets. MAN Ferrostaal AG is leading the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) for Andasol 3, which is currently under construction in Andalusia and scheduled to be connected to the local grid in 2011.

“America’s energy future is at a critical crossroad,” said Josef Eichhammer, President and Chief Operating Officer of Solar Trust of America. “The challenge is to reduce our carbon footprint and energy dependency from imported fuel. Solar thermal energy is strategically critical to ensuring a sustainable energy future for America. The sun radiates enough energy in 40 minutes to supply the world’s entire power needs for a year, we simply have to harness it. We are working diligently with the region’s utilities to meet their future demand for renewable energy with proven parabolic trough solar power plants and energy storage solutions. With our new positioning we will leverage the experience of Solar Millennium AG in Spain and strengthen our efforts to achieve our growth objectives in the U.S.”

The company currently has multiple solar thermal power plants in advanced stages of development in the southwestern region of the United States. Each plant, if constructed, will feature highly efficient, environmentally friendly solar thermal power plants generating approximately 250 megawatts of electricity each, or enough energy from each plant to power 80,000 homes for a year.

Solar Trust embraces U.S. federal and state government policies and initiatives to provide significant infrastructure investments, job creation and supplier opportunities in renewable energy through such programs as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program for renewable energy projects.

Eichhammer said new government legislation will stimulate significant development of cost-efficient solar power plants across America’s Sunbelt region. “Solar energy provides comparatively low long-term generation costs with no additional fuel costs such as coal, oil, gas or uranium. As a result, solar thermal plants deliver clean, carbon-free power and an effective hedge against rising energy costs. Our goal is to secure 20 percent of the solar thermal energy market and set the benchmark for facilities of this size and capacity. We intend to be at the forefront in powering America’s future.”

Uwe Schmidt emphasized that the development, engineering, local procurement and construction of the utility-size thermal solar power plants should provide an economic boost to the region. “Each of these plants will include investments of more than $1 billion. Each plant is expected to directly employ more than 800 skilled workers during the initial construction phase and create approximately 100 permanent jobs for operations, maintenance and management employees. And, each plant is expected to indirectly create thousands of additional jobs as Solar Trust of America procures materials, goods and services for each facility in the U.S. We expect to generate sustainable revenue throughout the value chain by developing, constructing and operating the plants, while helping the region meet its renewable energy goals and stimulating its economies.”

Proven, Bankable Solar Thermal Technology

The solar thermal energy technology employed by Solar Trust of America has been technically viable for more than a quarter century. Today, there are dozens of solar thermal power plants currently in development, under construction or in operation worldwide using similar technology. A solar thermal power plant features large-scale, line-focusing parabolic trough collectors arranged in long rows of “farm-like” arrays that concentrate, capture and transfer the sun’s heat energy and feeds that energy into a steam-driven turbine that generates electricity. Members of our engineering team were instrumental in the development and construction of parabolic trough power plants which have been in continuous commercial operation and successfully feeding “peak load” power to the California grid for more than 25 years.



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GM’s Newest Fuel Cell May Extend Life of Program – Or Not

A couple of weeks ago I was wondering out loud if General Motor’s Project Driveway would survive given their cuts induced by the bankruptcy courts. According to CNET, GM’s plans to keep charging full steam ahead with hydrogen cars are safe, for now.

According to Alan Taub who takes over October 1, 2009 for Larry Burns, the Executive Director of GM R&D, “Technology leadership is one of the pillars of the company. That is going to remain, and it will probably be emphasized as part of the brand of GM.”

As part of GM’s Project Driveway program, their engineers have reduced the size of the automaker’s 93 Kw 5th generation fuel cell stack to the same size of the four-cylinder Ecotech engine on their other cars.

Some of the R&D for hydrogen fuel cells has moved from the Honeoye Falls, NY plant to one in Warren, Michigan. And, while the 5th generation fuel cell is about half the size of the one currently running the in the Chevy Equinox FC, using less than ½ the platinum it still has a ways to go before becoming cost competitive.

Alan Taub would not discuss the terms of cuts to the fuel cell program coming out of bankruptcy. So, we may just have to find out the real scoop when he takes over his official role on October 1.


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Honey, I shrunk the fuel cell! Next-gen GM hydrogen stack gets small

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GM next generation and current fuel cell stacks – Click above for high-res image gallery

In spite of the cuts at General Motors over the past year, work has continued in the powertrain labs at the Warren, MI tech center on hydrogen fuel cells. Back in 2007, GM shifted much of its fuel cell work from the Honeoye Falls, NY research facility to the production engineering group in Warren. The result is the fifth-generation fuel cell stack shown above on the left. The unit on the right is the stack from the fuel cell Equinoxes that are running as part of Project Driveway in California, New York and Washington, DC. The new generation unit matches the 93 kW output of the Equinox unit but occupies the same volume as the 2.4-liter EcoTec four cylinder.

GM has engineered this new stack specifically with the aim of making it producable in volume at a much lower cost than previous designs. That means it gets a cast case with integrated cooling passages and other subsystems. One of the highest cost elements of a fuel cell stack is the platinum used as a catalyst. Read on after the jump.

Photos Copyright (C)2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading Honey, I shrunk the fuel cell! Next-gen GM hydrogen stack gets small

Honey, I shrunk the fuel cell! Next-gen GM hydrogen stack gets small originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Mon, 17 Aug 2009 09:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Predicting Climate Change Using Facebook

Editor’s Note: Michael Brito is a social media strategist at Intel. You can find him roaming the intrawebs on Twitter, Facebook or his social media blog.

Climate change is upon us, indeed; no need to argue that point. But how on Earth are we supposed to react to its affect on food production, water resources, ecosystems, energy demand, insurance costs, etc?  Current research suggests that the Earth will warm over the next century and the rate of warming is steadily increasing. So the question needs to be asked, “What are we doing to prepare ourselves for these changes and how can people easily get involved in affecting positive change?”

Recently, Intel officially launched Progress Thru Processors; a new Facebook application that uses idle PC processor power for projects that are geared toward life changing research such as finding cures for deadly diseases and combating climate change.

Read more of this story »


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Zebasolar wins 10 MW Gujarat power station bid
The Indian unit of a U.S.-based solar company said it
plans to spend €35 million on a new solar PV station, expected to come online in mid-2010.


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Cleantech and the summer blockbuster

Cleantech and the summer blockbuster
EEStor, the U.S. coal lobby and a handful of failed cleantech companies: will they Transform or be Terminated by the financial Ice Age? It’s… the Cleantech Avenger!


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Joule Biotech Sun-Powered Fuel – Biofuel vs Solar PV

Algae Biofuel Joule Biotech

This post was written by Paul O’Callaghan, founding CEO of the Clean Tech consultancy, O2 Environmental Inc. and lecturer on Sustainable Energy at the BC Institute of Technology.
There was much furore recently surrounding the story ‘Joule Biotech comes out of stealth with sun-powered biofuel’.

The premise is that the technology can take solar energy and use it to convert carbon dioxide directly into fuel. A one stop-shop to soak up carbon dioxide and produce a biofuel.

Having dug into it a little, the conclusion I came to is that it’s not as radical as it sounds. It is basically directed photosynthesis: same principle as oil from algae, or biofuels. The overall efficiencies are likely to be 10 times lower than that from solar PV processes, but, in terms of where biofuels are heading, it is on the right track.

Read more of this story »


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