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New 24,000-panel solar facility to help UK utility save cash and green its operations

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A new solar facility with 24,000 panels is set to meet the power needs of a water treatment plant in South Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The £7 million ($9.50 million) Dunore Solar Farm has been built on a 33-acre site on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh and will supply energy to the Dunore Water Treatment Works, water services company NI Water said in a statement Thursday. The new solar farm is expected to save the business more than £500,000 per year in energy costs.

“As the largest user of electricity in Northern Ireland, we are committed to finding innovative renewable energy projects to reduce our expenditure on power, which has already tumbled by £5 million over the last three years,” NI Water’s CEO, Sara Venning, said in a statement.

“The Dunore solar farm is a major step toward reaching our goal of increasing electricity consumption from renewable sources from the current 13 percent to 40 percent by 2021,” Venning added.

Venning went on to state that the business was committed to operate as efficiently and cleanly as possible. “Dunore is one of many innovative renewable energy projects which NI Water is developing to ensure we become more energy efficient while also making cost savings to our business,” she said. “This flagship project will also save around 2,000 tons of carbon every year.”

The world has invested $2.9 trillion in green energy sources since 2004, according to new research, with China leading the way in recent years with its push towards solar power.

The “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018” report, published at the beginning of April by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Center, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, found that 98 gigawatts (GW) of new solar capacity was installed in 2017.

Solar power attracted $160.8 billion of investment, more than any other technology. China, where a staggering 53 GW was added and $86.5 billion invested, was described as a “driving power” behind the increase in solar.

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Armin Laschet picked as new leader of Germany’s ruling CDU party 

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Candidate for the chairmanship of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party, Armin Laschet, gestures as he takes part in a discussion at the party’s headquarters in Berlin on Jan. 8, 2021.

CHRISTIAN MANG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s ruling CDU party picked Armin Laschet to be its new chairman on Saturday, possibly paving the way for him to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor at elections later this year. 

Laschet is currently the prime minister of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, the most populous federal state in the country. He beat rival Friedrich Merz by 521 to 466 in a vote that was forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Born in 1961, he was first elected to the Bundestag (German Parliament) in 1994 and his election is seen as a continuation of Merkel’s policies, as he has pledged to keep the CDU firmly in the “middle of society.” 

With him as chairman, the CDU will likely stay on message and focus on more climate change policies and environmental topics. He has a strong Catholic background which brings him support from Christian circles within the party. 

He is a trained lawyer and also worked as a journalist at the time of German reunification between 1986 and 1991. He is seen as being very liberal and is popular with the immigrant community in his home state.

If he becomes the CDU’s candidate for chancellor at September’s elections, he could be open to various coalitions — power sharing is somewhat of a recent tradition in German politics.

He has floated the idea of a government alongside the liberals, the FDP, in a bid to win over parts of the business camp inside the CDU. But he is also seen as a natural fit for a coalition with the Greens too, as he is on good speaking terms with the party and favors environmental issues.

But the CDU’s candidate for chancellor will only be determined in the spring. And it’s not certain that the newly-elected chairman will automatically move into Merkel’s role. Markus Söder, the very popular Bavarian prime minister, and also Jens Spahn, the current health minister, may also join the race to lead Europe’s largest economy.

Merkel stepped down as leader of the CDU in 2018, and her replacement Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer quit in February 2020 after a series of communication mishaps exposed her as being too weak to lead the chancellery.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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