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Norway’s Innovative Solar Panel Project Lights Up Arctic Darkness

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Solar Panel

Norway has initiated a groundbreaking project to install solar panels in its Svalbard archipelago, a region characterized by round-the-clock darkness throughout the winter season. This pilot project aims to facilitate the transition to green energy for remote Arctic communities.

Positioned neatly in six rows within a field, a total of 360 solar panels will begin generating electricity for the Isfjord Radio, a former shipping radio station converted into a base camp for tourists. The Svalbard archipelago, also known as Spitsbergen, is situated approximately 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from the North Pole and is accessible primarily by boat or helicopter, weather permitting.

Mons Ole Sellevold, a renewable energies technical adviser at the state-owned energy group Store Norske, described this project as what they believe to be the world’s northernmost ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) system. It is the first instance of deploying solar panels at this scale in the Arctic. Another 100 solar panels have been placed on the radio station’s roof, aiming to fulfill around half of the station’s electricity requirements while reducing its CO2 emissions.

During the summer, the region experiences abundant sunlight, featuring a “midnight sun” that never sets. Solar panels in the Arctic also benefit from the “albedo” effect, where snow and ice reflect sunlight, as well as low temperatures that enhance their efficiency. In contrast, the region is immersed in complete darkness from early October until mid-February during the winter, making it impractical to entirely eliminate fossil fuels at Isfjord Radio.

Store Norske is exploring additional alternatives, including wind farms, to further the station’s transition to green energy. This initiative is driven by environmental concerns and economic factors, given the cost and logistical challenges of diesel usage in the remote region. Solar panels are cost-effective, require minimal maintenance, and have long lifespans.

Moreover, this installation serves as a pilot project to evaluate whether this technology can be adopted by approximately 1,500 other Arctic sites or communities lacking access to traditional electricity grids. These regions also require a transition to sustainable energy sources.

The overarching goal is to establish Isfjord Radio as a testing ground to develop Arctic-proven technology that can subsequently be applied in similar locations. The Arctic has experienced nearly four times the rate of warming compared to the rest of the world over the past four decades, leading to accelerated ice melting and ecosystem disruptions. This initiative seeks to address environmental challenges while providing a model for sustainable energy in remote Arctic communities.

 

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North Korea says deal between Putin and Kim requires immediate military assistance in event of war

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A new agreement between Russia and North Korea reached by their leaders requires the countries to use all available means to provide immediate military assistance in the event of war, North Korean state media said.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday reported the language of the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement reached by its leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang on Wednesday. The agency said Article 4 of the agreement states that if one of the countries gets invaded and is pushed into a state of war, the other must deploy “all means at its disposal without delay” to provide “military and other assistance.”

The deal could mark the strongest connection between Moscow and Pyongyang since the end of the Cold War. Both Kim and Putin described it as a major upgrade of their relations, covering security, trade, investment, cultural and humanitarian ties.

Russia and North Korea sign partnership deal, vowing closer ties as rivalry deepens with West

The summit came as the U.S. and its allies expressed growing concerns over a possible arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions for its war in Ukraine, in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

Following their summit, Kim said the two countries had a “fiery friendship,” and that the deal was their “strongest-ever treaty,” putting the relationship at the level of an alliance. He vowed full support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Putin called it a “breakthrough document” reflecting shared desires to move relations to a higher level.

North Korea and the former Soviet Union signed a treaty in 1961, which experts say necessitated Moscow’s military intervention if the North came under attack. The deal was discarded after the collapse of the USSR, replaced by one in 2000 that offered weaker security assurances.

South Korean officials said they were still interpreting the results of the summit, including what Russia’s response might be if the North comes under attack, and whether the new deal promises a similar level of protection with the 1961 treaty. South Korean officials didn’t immediately comment on the North Korean report about the details of the deal.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years, with the pace of both Kim’s weapons tests and combined military exercises involving the U.S., South Korea and Japan intensifying in a tit-for-tat cycle.

The Koreas also have engaged in Cold War-style psychological warfare that involved North Korea dropping tons of trash on the South with balloons, and the South broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda with its loudspeakers.

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Tesla shareholders voting yes for Musk’s $56 bln pay package, CEO says on X

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Tesla shareholders are voting to approve a $56 billion pay package for Elon Musk and to move the electric vehicle maker’s legal home to Texas, Musk said on social media platform X on Wednesday, adding that passage was by wide margins.

Shareholders of the electric-car maker are voting on a proposal to ratify CEO Musk’s 2018 incentive package, valued at up to $56 billion at the time and the largest in US corporate history, after a Delaware judge voided the plan approved by its board “beholden” to Musk.

The result will be announced at a meeting on Thursday.

A person familiar with the preliminary tally confirmed Musk’s post, and said that a combination of big institutional investors and retail investor got the ‘yes’ result over the line.

Shareholders, however, are allowed to change their vote up to the start of the annual meeting.

Tesla shareholders also cast ballots on other proposals including the move of Tesla’s legal headquarters from Delaware to Texas, as well as the re-election of two board members: Musk’s brother Kimbal Musk and James Murdoch.

Musk referred to the resolutions on his pay package and the move in his tweet, thanking shareholders for their support.

Some investors viewed the vote on Musk’s pay as a test of confidence in his leadership. While he is undoubtedly Tesla’s driving force, and is credited with much of its success, the company has recently seen slowing sales and profits.

The board said the world’s richest person deserves the package, because he hit all the ambitious targets on market value, revenue and profitability.

The pay package is also needed to keep Musk devoted to Tesla, the board said, even though the Delaware judge said the 2018 pay plan failed to make sure that Musk committed a substantial amount of time to Tesla.

Musk has threatened to build AI and robotics products outside Tesla, if he fails to gain enough voting control, which requires the 2018 pay package to be approved.

Some large shareholders including Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and California’s two largest pension funds have said they will vote against the compensation, saying the pay is excessive.

Tesla has been drumming up support for Musk’s pay package, especially from retail investors, who make up an unusually high percentage of its ownership base but who often do not vote.

Company executives have posted messages on X, saying Musk is critical to Tesla’s success. Tesla has run social media ads, and Musk has promised a personal tour of Tesla’s factory in Texas to some shareholders who cast votes.

COURT BATTLE

The same package was previously rejected by a Delaware judge who invalidated it as an “unfathomable sum” granted by a conflicted board with close personal and financial ties to its top executive.

The board held the shareholder vote as a way to bolster its appeal of the ruling, in which the judge cited the board’s failure to fully inform shareholders before approving the pay package in 2018.

Musk has to wait months or years to get his pay package restored as appeals wind their way up to Delaware’s Supreme Court.

Tesla could also face more litigation from some shareholders. One of them this month filed a lawsuit challenging the upcoming shareholder vote on Musk’s pay package and the change of domicile.

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Fire in Mangaf Workers’ Accommodation Claims 41 Lives

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A devastating fire broke out early Wednesday in a building housing workers in Mangaf, southern Kuwait, resulting in the deaths of at least 41 people, according to Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad Yusuf Saud Al-Sabah.

During his visit to the site, Sheikh Fahad, who also oversees the interior and defense ministries, criticized real estate owners for their violations and greed, attributing these factors to the tragic incident.

“Unfortunately, the greed of real estate owners is what leads to these matters,” Sheikh Fahad stated.

The blaze was reported to authorities at 6:00 a.m. local time (0300 GMT), according to Major General Eid Rashed Hamad.

“The building was used to house a large number of workers. Dozens were rescued, but sadly, many succumbed to smoke inhalation,” a senior police commander informed state television.

He further emphasized the longstanding warnings against overcrowding in worker accommodations, though he did not specify the workers’ occupations or nationalities.

The fire has been contained, and authorities are currently investigating its cause, officials said.

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