Viridian Note 00240: News from Europe

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
giant Danish windmills, French environmental diplomacy, huge Spanish solar project

Attention Conservation Notice: Makes Americans feel even more like grimy Neanderthals. Goes on at quite some length.


The International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York I'm keynoting there on May 19. Man, life is rich and full!

Okay, never mind the prospect of massive extinction: is that a cool-looking robot dinosaur, or what?

(((The Viridian List has been on pause while I assemble the Viridian issue of Whole Earth. With its 30,000 subscribers, that magazine is 20 times the size of this list, so a lost month in cyberspace was likely time well spent. Editing a no-kidding magazine instead of a mailing list is also 20 times the work. If I'd known how much hard labor those hippies were putting in on that rag, I'd have gotten myself a day-job spring-cleaning minefields.

    (((Nevertheless, the issue is shaping up, and by June we should have a (shall-we-say) markedly unusual magazine on the stands. And soon the list will once again be picking up speed, because the Greenhouse Effect couldn't be any sexier this season, and the material I've accumulated is tremendous.

    (((Meanwhile, as I was saying earlier, 2001 is America's 1983 Redux. People who didn't believe that Al Gore invented the Internet should be properly surprised to see it vanish so quickly without him around. In the corny zeitgeist of Bush II, 1989 never took place, so we've got Cold War II, Energy Crisis II, Star Wars II, and Stagflation Economy II, while telephone monopolies and giant oil companies rule the Congress.

    (((So much for the high-tech global superpower of the Clinton era. In Europe, rather interestingly, the 21st century is still progressing. This is a very good time for Europeans to stop watching Washington for answers. Because there aren't any there. As for Americans, there has rarely been a better time to watch Europe, while even poor comatose Japan is showing some feeble signs of political life.)))

Source: A Red Chinese news agency from sinister Beijing

"PARIS, May 3, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) == French President Jacques Chirac Thursday announced his environmental protection program, suggesting adoption of a Charter on Environment to the Constitution, opening of a debate of energy policy, and creation of World Environment Organization.

    "In a speech made in Orleans, northern France, Chirac said he was setting forth a conception of 'humanist ecology' based on a new approach to the ecology. (((One may hope that the malapropism "the ecology" is some kind of Franco-Chinese mistranslation.)))

    "'The right to protected and preserved environment should be considered equal as other public liberties,' he said, adding that the Parliament should adopt a Charter on Environment and add it to the French Constitution. (((Liberte, Egalite, breathable air.)))

    "Five principles == responsibility (defined as 'one pays when he pollutes,') precaution, prevention, integration of ecology into decision-making, and participation of citizens and decision-makers in transparent decisions == should be written into the Charter, said Chirac.

    "He also suggested the opening of a public debate over the energy policy in France while stressing the necessity of diversified energy sources.

    "On the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that demands rich nations to cut greenhouse gases emissions, Chirac once again called on the United States to join efforts with France and other European nations to take the responsibility of fighting against global warming.

    (((And here's the weird part: this guy is the right- winger.))) "Chirac will run for a second term in the 2002 presidential elections while French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who is from the Socialist Party and supported by the Green Party, might be one of his biggest rivals."

Source: Associated Press, May 7, 02001

"Danes Open Largest Windmill Park

By JAN M. OLSEN Associated Press writer

    "COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) == A string of 20 white windmills spinning at the entrance of Copenhagen's harbor stand as a symbol of Denmark's position as the worldwide leader and pioneer in the pollution-free wind energy sector.

    "The world's largest offshore windmill park, with a capacity of 40 megawatts of electricity == four times more than its nearest rival offshore windmill park in Sweden == will be inaugurated by city officials and start producing energy on Sunday.

    "The Middelgrunden park will supply 32,000 households or 3 percent of the Danish capital's electricity consumption.

    "Ever since the late 1970s, when renewable, nonpolluting wind power emerged as an alternative energy source, environmentally aware Danes have been up front.

    "'This is the fastest growing energy generating industry,' said Soeren Krohn of the windmill manufacturers' association, adding that Danish production was expected to double by 2005.

    "The local industry, which employs 12,000, held a 50 percent share in the world market last year by supplying 2,500 megawatts, the equivalent of a medium-sized nuclear power station.

    "Denmark's largest producer Vestas alone had 26 percent of that.

    "Middelgrunden's 211-foot-tall windmills with a rotor diameter of 250 feet are co-owned by Copenhagen Energy, the city's electricity company, and the 8,500-member Middelgrunden Wind Turbine Cooperative.

    "Spokesman Jens H. Larsen said 90 percent of the cooperative's members were Danes who 'wanted to be sure they get green energy,' while the remainder were companies and trade unions.


    "'You get a lot more support when people get a say,' said Tarjei Haaland of Greenpeace. 'People have no say when oil companies are in charge.' (((And how!)))


    "Today, more than 5,600 windmills dot the Scandinavian nation, producing about 10 percent of Denmark's electricity. In 2030, half of Denmark's energy should come from windmills, according to the government. (...)

    "Last year, Denmark exported windmills to key markets including the United States, Germany, Britain, India and China. Its sales have increased sixfold in the last five years, amounting to $1.5 billion in 1999, according to the industry association.

    "Middelgrunden will retain its position as the world's largest offshore park for at least a year.

    "Two bigger seaside parks are expected to open in Denmark next year, and more are planned off Sweden and the Netherlands, some producing as much as 160 megawatts == four times the size of the Middelgrunden."

Source:, April 30, 02001


"Joint Venture to Power World's Largest Solar Plant

"NEWARK, Delaware, US, 2001-04-30 <> A $65 million solar electric power park will be built in Spain, and will cover an area equal to 57 soccer fields.

    "AstraSolar, a Spanish joint venture of the U.S. manufacturer, AstroPower Inc., will supply 13 megawatts of APex(TM) solar cells for the facility in Murcia. When commissioned in two years, the power plant will be four times larger than any PV power plant currently in operation.

    "The consortium selected to construct and operate the project includes the Spanish utility Iberdrola and Atersa, co-owner of AstraSolar. A group of private investors are also participants. The consortium will capitalize on various incentives offered by the region of Murcia, the Spanish Government and the European Union.

    "'This project demonstrates the leadership position of the Spanish industry within the rapidly growing European market for solar electric power,' says Fernando Monera, president of Atersa. The company is a major solar power company in Spain and a key customer of AstroPower. It was founded in 1979, and has offices in Madrid, Cordoba and Valencia.

    "The solar power plant will generate up to 4 percent of the peak load for the Murcia region, which has one of the best solar resources in Spain. (...)

    "The AstraSolar solar manufacturing facility is based in Valencia and has been producing solar cells since March 2000. For the Murcia project, it will supply large-area Apex solar cells based on AstroPower's patented Silicon- Film(TM) technology.

    "AstroPower is based in Delaware and claims to be the world's largest independent manufacturer of solar electric cells, modules, panels and systems for off-grid and on- grid applications."

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