Santiago's Metro System to Become World's First to Be Powered Largely by Solar and Wind
The subway system in Chile’s capital will soon be the world's first to run largely on renewable energy sources.
Santiago's metro has 103 kilometers of tracks and 108 stations, making it the second-longest metro system in Latin America after Mexico City. Photo credit: Flickr
The Metro de Santiago, the second-longest metro system in Latin America after Mexico City, has signed two agreements, one with a solar energy provider and another with a wind power company, which will provide 60 percent of metro's energy needs by 2018.
An announcement of the $500 million deal was made last week by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet during a visit to the National Stadium station that's currently under construction.
"More than two and a half million passengers use the Metro daily," she said. "[They] will not only be able to travel faster and safer; they will also be able to travel in a means of transport that cares for the planet, which reduces our carbon footprint and that makes possible a sustainable future for all."
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet announces on May 23 that the Metro de Santiago will become the world's first metro to run mostly on renewables. Photo credit: SunPower Corp
California solar company SunPower, an affiliate of French oil company Total, will begin construction of the El Pelícano Solar Project, a 100-megawatt facility near the municipalities of La Higuera and Vallenar. The solar plant, expected to go live by the end of 2017, will supply 300 gigawatt hours per year of clean energy to Metro de Santiago, or 42 percent of its annual energy demands.
"SunPower is proud to serve Metro of Santiago's growing energy demand with cost-competitive, renewable solar power," Eduardo Medina, the executive vice president of SunPower's global power plants, said. "Solar is an ideal energy source for Chile because of the country's high solar resource and transparent energy policies. In partnership with Total, SunPower is committed to the continued growth of our business in Chile."
As for wind power, the metro will receive 18 percent of its energy needs from a 185-megawatt San Juan wind project developed by Spain-based Elecnor and owned by Brazilian renewable energy firm Latin America Power, according to Quartz.
Y con todo el power de las energías renovables no convencionales, te decimos que #TodalaRed está disponible. https://t.co/BcKuvH9vSo— Metro de Santiago (@Metro de Santiago)1464023353.0
Quartz noted that both solar and wind projects will start service in 2018 and supply the metro for the next 15 years. The metro will receive its remaining 40 percent of its energy needs from the Chilean electric distribution company Chilectra.
The Natural Resources Defense Council noted that the amount of energy generated by the wind and solar projects for the metro will be equivalent to the energy needs of 104,000 homes. Not only that, the impressive initiative is expected to mitigate 130,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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