ScienceDaily (Nov. 27, 2007) – Wind power, long considered to be as fickle as wind itself, can be groomed to become a steady, dependable source of electricity and delivered at a lower cost than at present, according to scientists at Stanford University.

The key is connecting wind farms throughout a given geographic area with transmission lines, thus combining the electric outputs of the farms into one powerful energy source. The findings are published in the November issue of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.

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Amancio Ortega, the billionaire who runs Spain’s Intidex textile empire and founded the Zara fashion chain, is suddenly moving into alternative energy. He is creating a global network of renewable energy sources. The name of this new company is Capital Energy and Mr. Ortega is the Chairman and chief shareholder. He appears to have been motivated by an offer made by Galicia’s regional ministry for innovation and industry. In response, Capital Energy will provide up to 2,323 megawatts of energy from various alternative sources and independently set up some 20 energy “parks”.

Mr. Ortega is the richest man in Spain, having founded Zara fashion years ago from a kitchen table in his sister’s home in La Coruna. He is launching this new venture from the same modest area, Galicia, which is in northwest Spain. So far he has produced a handful of projects and established energy bridgeheads in three continents. The beginnings may be modest but his worldwide ambitions are obvious. I am sincerely hoping he is as successful with this new project as he has been with pantsuits in the past. As a measure of earnestness, he has said that he intends to invest more than 2.54 billion in Capital Energy over the next 18 months, which is more money than many struggling countries could provide for their own initiatives. Think of the lives that can be changed with this. Mr. Ortega obviously believes that renewable energy production on a world scale as the next big thing.

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Ethiopia has signed a 220-million-euro (=300 million dollar) deal with a French company for the construction of Africa’s largest wind farm. This contract was signed by representatives of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPC) in agreement with the French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet.

This ambitious farm is expected to produce 120 megawatts within two and half years, making it the largest project of it’s kind on the continent. This is a forward thinking project for the country as it faces great troubles from energy dependency and the effects of global warming. Ethiopia has been hit time and again by droughts, devastating the peoples of their country as well as crippling its electricity production, which is currently heavily reliant on hydroelectric dams.

“This is a very strategic project for us. The first (largest) in Africa for wind energy production with 120 megawatts, that is to say 15 percent of our present capacity,” EEPC chairman Meheret Debebe said. “This project will help us to fill the gap of hydrological risks we are facing in Ethiopia with the droughts.”

Ethiopia is a landlocked country in the horn of Africa with no access to the ocean. It is also Africa’s second most populous country and has been experiencing severe drought coupled with frequent power cuts in recent months. Already a dry, demanding and harsh landscape, Ethiopia is early in the field of geographical areas suffering as a result of the effects of global warming. Drought is considered to be a side effect of the overall warming of the planet just as the melting of the Arctic is.

“This contract is a very important one because with a budget in excess of 200 million euros it will be the largest wind farm in Africa,” French Minister of State for Foreign Trade Anne-Marie Idrac said at the signing ceremony. “It is also very symbolic of France’s commitment to developing renewable energies,” she added. Bravo, France! And God bless the people of Africa.

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