This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.


Magna and IBM to Develop Vehicle Systems

thanks to Susan and Bob for this one. could it be an opportunity to work on energy issues in that sector?

Magna and IBM to Develop Vehicle Systems
Wednesday September 13, 3:09 pm ET

Magna and IBM Connect to Develop Electronic Systems for Vehicles

TORONTO (AP) -- The Magna Electronics unit of Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc. has struck a five-year agreement to work with International Business Machines Corp. on developing vehicle electronic systems.

Magna and New York-based IBM "will partner in systems design, software development and engineering to enhance Magna Electronics' vehicle-based computing systems," the companies announced Wednesday.

Financial arrangements were not disclosed for the collaboration, which "enables both companies to best compete in the growing electronics sector through the synergy of IBM's extensive technical resources in information technology with Magna's recognized expertise in the automotive industry."

Magna Electronics was formed last year to concentrate on driver assistance and safety systems, wireless connectivity, power systems and body electronics.



World's largest solar power plant

Thanks to Norbert for this one
  • World's largest solar power plant begins operation (People's Daily)
    The world's largest solar power plant recently began production in Bavaria, a state in the south of Germany. Covering an area of 77 hectares, the power plant cost 70 million euros to build and has the capacity to generate 12 mega watts, enough electricity for 3,500 households.


Photos: World's largest solar power plantIn the fields outside a small Bavarian town, the solar panels add up to a whole lot of green power. The Gut Erlasee plant uses solar energy to generate about 14,000 megawatt hours annually, enough to meet the demands of a town of about 9,000 inhabitants.

Photos: World's largest solar power plant

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Germany isn't the sunniest of countries, but it is a
hotbed of solar power. And now it's home to what the companies involved are calling the world's largest solar electric power plant. On Friday, Silicon Valley-based SunPower marked the dedication of the Gut Erlasee Solar Park, a 12-megawatt facility located amid cropland near the Bavarian town of Arnstein. SunPower's solar cells are used in about one-third of the "mover" panels--from German solar technology company Solon--that tilt and rotate to stay facing the sun throughout the day.

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The Gut Erlasee plant uses solar energy to generate about 14,000 megawatt hours annually, enough to meet the demands of a town of about 9,000 inhabitants. Germany is said to account for 60 percent of the world market for solar energy.

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The dedication of the Gut Erlasee Solar Park came shortly before Monday's start of the 21st
European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Dresden. Conference organizers expect 2,500 scientists, politicians and industry representatives as interest continues to rise in solar energy, which last year accounted for worldwide revenue of $7.5 billion and a growth rate of 40 percent. In this picture, a worker at German company SolarWorld cleans solar cells.

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Silicon blocks like these at SolarWorld are used to produce solar cells. The boom in the market for solar energy gear has led to a
global shortage of materials.


This week's news.

Germany is the world's leader in wind power. The country has more than 18,000 megawatts installed; almost as much as second and third place contenders, Spain and the US, combined.

The race to first place began with the country's dedication and support of wind energy as well as an outreach to farmers. Farmers were told correctly that the air above their fields could be harvested for energy while the fields were still harvested for crops.

(The same outreach is now being made to US farmers and it's working here too. The nation's breadbasket - the center Plains States - are evolving into the nation's wind powerhouse.)

But wind power is not for everyone. Often where there are windy croplands there are also communities that don't want towering turbines casting shadows over their towns.

Fortunately, where farms and communities are neighbors, energy can still be harvested above fields by installing solar arrays mounted on pedestals. Those pedestals are raised high enough to allow the area beneath to be tilled or for shade for grazing animals, but not so high as to be considered a fixture on the horizon.

The 12-megawatt Gut Erlasse Solar Park in Bavaria, Germany - the largest tracking solar photovoltaic powerplant in the world - is built that way. Solar arrays and tracking devices are mounted above a working agricultural field. Those tracking devices at Gut Erlasse are known as Movers and are supplied by German company Solon, which recently dedicated the project.

The Solon Movers tilt and rotate throughout the day to directly face the Sun. On a square foot basis the Movers can generate up to twice the annual solar electric capacity than conventional fixed solar arrays. And cows, of course, can snooze underneath.

SunPower of San Jose, California supplied solar cells to about a third of the Movers at Gut Erlasse and since the SunPower A-300 cells are more efficient than other cells used in the project, the company's cells generate a higher proportion of energy at the facility.

Visit SunPower at and Solon at



An interesting questionaire