HAVANA, Jun 22 (Tierramérica).- The production of solar water heaters will be stepped up in Cuba as part of efforts to promote the use of renewable energy sources.
A factory in the central province of Ciego de Ávila that renewed operations in February, after a one-year closure, has enough raw materials to manufacture some 4,500 water heaters over the remainder of this year and next year. The main purchasers of the heaters include the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism.
Luis Bérriz, president of Cubasolar, a non-governmental organization that promotes the use of alternative and environmentally sustainable energy sources, told Tierramérica that the installation of one million household solar water heaters could save 400 megawatts of electricity generated throughout conventional means.
Bérriz added that investment in the heaters is recouped in one or two years through savings in conventional fuel alone.
Community Demands Halt to Construction of Thermoelectric Plant
SANTIAGO, Jun 22 (Tierramérica).- On behalf of a group of residents of the northern Chilean municipality of Huasco, the non-governmental organization Oceana has called on the Environmental Assessment Commission of the region of Atacama to deny authorization for the Punta Alcalde thermoelectric power plant to be built by Endesa-Enel.
The request submitted to the commission stresses that the company has not complied with the requirements established by the Regional Health Ministry Department to ensure that the plant does not worsen the air quality in the surrounding area.
“It is unconceivable that authorization would be granted for a coal-fired thermal power plant like Punta Alcalde in Huasco, which has just been declared a latent zone because of the high degree of air pollution,” Ocean executive director Alex Muñoz told Tierramérica.
The new thermoelectric plant is to be installed on the coast of the municipality of Huasco, 700 km north of Santiago, where the Guacolda thermoelectric complex, comprising four carbon-fired plants, is already operating.
External Aid for Disasters and Security
TEGUCIGALPA, Jun 22 (Tierramérica).- The World Bank has announced the approval of 80 million dollars in new loans for Honduras, which will be primarily invested in natural disaster prevention and public security.
Giuseppe Zampanglione, the World Bank representative in Honduras, told Tierramérica that additional efforts and policies are needed to mitigate disaster risks, since this country is considered the world’s third most vulnerable to extreme weather events.
The reasons behind its vulnerability include the loss of 60,000 hectares of forest annually due to illegal logging and forest fires, according to figures from the Forest Conservation Institute, a government agency.
More effective environmental policies must be implemented to ensure sustainable use of the country’s natural resources, said Zampanglione.
Bio-Detergent Cleans Up Oil Spills
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 22 (Tierramérica).- Researchers at the Microbiology Institute of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro have developed a bio-detergent that eliminates oil residue resulting from spills.
The process begins with collecting bacteria capable of absorbing fossil fuels from the site of the oil spill. These microorganisms are multiplied in the laboratory and then taken to the site to be cleaned up.
“The aerobic fermentation of certain bacteria produces an organic compound that is able to penetrate and degrade the carbon chains in petroleum,” explained Alexandre Rosado, a member of the research team.
In order for the method to work, the contaminated site must be the habitat of microorganisms that have the capacity to digest petroleum. “In an experiment conducted in a mangrove forest, the recovery time was reduced from 30 years to three,” Rosado told Tierramérica. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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