World’s Wind Power Capacity Increases Nearly 20% in Record Growth
The growing demand for renewable energy led to record setting growth in wind power capacity as technology has made harnessing wind power increasingly efficient and more wind farms have been completed and have joined the electrical grid, according to The Telegraph.
The Global Wind Energy Council reported that in 2019 wind power capacity grew by 60.4 gigawats, which was 19 percent more than 2018.
The report credited growth in offshore wind, which made up one-tenth of new wind farm installations for the first time. As for onshore wind power, the report noted that the U.S. and China were the world's largest markets for wind power development. The two resource intensive countries while producing an outsized amount of greenhouse gasses also make up nearly two-thirds of the world's growth in wind power, according to The Guardian. India, Spain and the UK rounded out the top five.
The Global Wind Energy Council had expected this year to set more records with a forecast of 20 percent growth in the year ahead, but it cautioned that it may not come to fruition due to the novel coronavirus global pandemic. The importance of maintaining physical distance around the world could slow the construction of energy projects as part of a slowdown in infrastructure development.
However, the council urged governments around the world to use an investment in renewable energy to spur economic recovery, according to The Guardian.
Ben Backwell, CEO at the Global Wind Energy Council, said wind energy was continuing to enjoy consistent growth as a result of having "unequivocally established itself as a cost-competitive energy source worldwide," as Business Green reported.
"Established market players such as China and the US accounted for nearly 60 per cent of new installations, however, we see emerging markets in regions such as South East Asia, Latin America and Africa playing an increasingly important role in the years to come, while offshore wind is also becoming a significant growth driver," he added.
Recently, the head of the International Energy Agency, Dr. Fatih Birol, warned that the world would lose momentum in its transition to clean energy sources unless governments around the world use renewable energy infrastructure as a means to galvanize a workforce and grow global economies, according to The Guardian.
"We have an important window of opportunity," said Birol. "Major economies around the world are preparing stimulus packages. A well-designed stimulus package could offer economic benefits and facilitate a turnover of energy capital which have huge benefits for the clean energy transition."
Despite the growth, Blackwell noted that the world needs an overwhelming investment and commitment to a rapid and dramatic shift to renewable sources of energy in order to keep global heating under 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.
"We are still not where we need to be when it comes to the global energy transition and meeting our climate goals," he said, as Business Green reported. "If we are to have any chance at reaching our Paris Agreement objectives and remaining on a 1.5C pathway, we need to be installing at least 100GW of wind energy annually over the next decade, and this needs to rise to 200GW annually post-2030 and beyond. This will mean stronger measures to push incumbent fossil fuels off the grid and a shake-up of administrative structures and regulation to ensure we can go out and build."
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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