Top Stories

January 13, 2017


Solar power to rise from Chernobyl’s nuclear ashes

Two companies from China, a subsidiary of Golden Concord Holdings (GLC) and a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Machinery Corporation (Sinomach),   plan to build and run a one-gigawatt solar power plant on 2,500 hectares of land in the exclusion zone to the south of the Chernobyl plant. “It is cheap land, and abundant sunlight constitutes a solid foundation for the project,” says Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources. “In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.” “There will be remarkable social benefits and economical ones as we try to renovate the once-damaged area with green and renewable energy,” says Shu Hua, chairman of the GLC subsidiary. As yet, neither the Ukrainians nor the Chinese have disclosed the safety measures that will be adopted during the construction of the solar plant. (Guardian)

Innovation & Technology

Amazon Patent Train for Delivery Technologies Rolls On

Amazon is developing technology that will allow drones to fly in a convoy, allowing the machines to cover longer distances and carry heavier loads. The company has been granted the patent for a “collective unmanned aerial vehicle.” The Amazon patent says that individual drones could detach from the collective drone body once they were no longer required, allowing them to operate independently to deliver smaller parcels. A collective one would be capable of transporting “virtually any size, weight, or quantity of items”. Amazon was also awarded another patent for a “dedicated network delivery system” concept, so as to “avoid congestion experienced by traditional transportation networks and enable the delivery using one or subterranean or above-ground elements.”, though it could face delays and disruptions. Finally, Amazon has also just received a patent that covers technology to give it extra anti-hacking protections when drones are out doing deliveries.  (Supply Chain Digest)

Corporate Reputation

E.P.A. Accuses Fiat Chrysler of Secretly Violating Emissions Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday accused Fiat Chrysler of installing secret software that allowed more than 100,000 of its diesel vehicles to emit pollutants above legal levels. The case has echoes of one against Volkswagen. Concerning this one, illegal software caused cars to shut down emissions controls completely during normal driving conditions. In the case involving Fiat Chrysler, emissions controls in the affected cars shut down only during some driving conditions, according to the E.P.A.  Still, the agency believes that the software in the Fiat Chrysler cars caused emissions controls to shut down in too many situations; including normal driving conditions . CEO Mr. Marchionne rejected the accusations. Fiat Chrysler’s emissions control systems met legal requirements, he said, and the carmaker had not willfully hidden any aspect of those systems. Sales slowed after news of the inquiry. The company sold 2.24 million cars and light trucks last year, a decline of 0.4 percent from 2015. (The New York Times)


P&G steps up circular economy commitment with bold zero-waste pledge

Multinational consumer goods firm P&G has announced a major environmental New Year’s Resolution: to effectively eliminate all manufacturing waste from its global network of more than 100 production sites by 2020. Half (56%) of P&G’s production sites already hold zero-waste-to-landfill status but by making its entire operations closed-loop will mean eliminating or beneficially reusing roughly 650,000 metric tonnes of waste that would typically go to landfill. P&G’s pledge follows hot on the heels of fellow FMCG firm Unilever, which at the beginning of 2015 confirmed it had successfully hit zero-waste-to-landfill status across its global manufacturing network of 240 factories in 67 countries, saving more than €200m in waste costs. “We are accelerating progress towards our long-term vision and pushing ourselves to do more with less waste,” said Shailesh Jejurikar, P&G’s executive sponsor for sustainability and president of the group’s Global Fabric Care arm. (Edie)


Rio proposes ‘mugging tax’ for tourists

THE new Mayor-elect of Rio de Janeiro want to introduce a tourist “mugging tax” to raise compensation pay-outs for those visitors robbed in the street. The pay-out pot could be funded by a hike on taxes for air passengers. “Rio de Janeiro cannot continue treating its tourists as if they were an afterthought,” Marcelo Crivella said as he called for action to shatter the “negative image” of the city. After being mugged — one of the most prevalent crimes in the country — tourists would appeal to the Rio authorities for the compensation. However, travel industry leaders have expressed concern the charge is just as off-putting as Rio’s rocketing crime rate. “Creating such a tax makes no sense, unless the aim is to discourage tourism in Rio de Janeiro,” Mário Beni, who has served on the UN’s World Committee on Tourism Ethics, told The New York Times. The new idea has also caused consternation among residents of the crime-ridden city, who receive no such financial protection from the authorities. (

Image source:Entrance gate to the Chernobyl reactor zone. In the background: The sarcophagus of disaster reactor #4 by Tim Suess .Chernobyl Reactor Gate. CC- BY-SA-2.0