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Bloomberg invests $5 million in portable solar-powered lamp for off-grid African populations

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation on Tuesday announced a $5 million investment in an artsy-looking solar-powered lamp designed for use in off-grid populations in Africa. The lamp, called Little Sun, provides clear, affordable energy to places dependent on costly and toxic kerosene lighting in sub-Saharan Africa, said Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity of the billionaire businessman and former mayor. The foundation said it will provide a low-interest rate loan to help the business grow.

Japan Diet OKs civil nuclear pacts with Turkey, UAE

The Diet on Friday approved civil nuclear agreements with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates that will help Japan export atomic power reactors to the rapidly developing economies, in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's growth strategy. The accords, both concluded last year, require the peaceful use of nuclear materials and devices provided by Japan. Their approval by the House of Councillors in a plenary session followed their endorsement by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress want laws to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Republicans, who hold the majority in the House of Representatives, have blocked all legislative efforts since 2011.

Japan to face tight power supply in summer; blackouts not expected

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's power supply will be tight this summer if all its nuclear reactors remain shut, although blackouts are not expected as long as there are no problems at the thermal fuel plants now providing the bulk of the country's electricity. Overall, the nine local power monopolies will have a supply surplus of 4.6 percent in August, barely above the 3 percent minimum required, if their nuclear reactors remain shut due to the prolonged safety checks by the nuclear regulator, the trade ministry panel on power projected on Thursday.

Panasonic solar cell achieves world-record conversion efficiency

Panasonic Corp. said Thursday its newly developed solar cell has achieved the world's highest conversion efficiency of 25.6 percent, breaking the 25.0 percent world record set by Australia's University of New South Wales in 1999. The cell is a major component of the Japanese electronics company's HIT solar panels for homes, and the manufacturer hopes to cash in on the cell's high conversion efficiency in competing with Chinese and South Korean rivals that sell similar products at lower prices.

Japan may only be able to restart one-third of its nuclear reactors

By Mari Saito, Aaron Sheldrick and Kentaro Hamada TOKYO (Reuters) - Three years after the Fukushima disaster prompted the closure of all Japan's nuclear reactors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is moving to revive nuclear power as a core part of the energy mix, but many of those idled reactors will never come back online.

Shimane assembly rejects citizens' motion to phase out nuclear power

The prefectural assembly in Shimane, which hosts a Chugoku Electric Power Co. nuclear power plant, has rejected an ordinance backed by more than 80,000 citizens calling for nuclear power to be phased out in the prefecture. Critics say it is regrettable that the motion failed to generate extensive discussions among legislators about energy issues. The dominant view expressed by them was that the prefectural government should follow the state in energy issues.

Chubu Electric to invite bids to build new fossil power capacity

Chubu Electric Co. will invite bids by March 2015 to build new fossil fuel-powered generation capacity totaling 1 million kilowatts over 15 years from around 2022, President Akihisa Mizuno said Tuesday. The capacity close to that of a nuclear reactor is expected to use inexpensive coal as fuel to save costs. Chubu Electric itself could become a bidder. While the restart of its nuclear power plant remains uncertain, Chubu Electric now depends heavily on fossil fuel-powered plants, most of which are outdated.

Japanese rally against nuclear power

Thousands of campaigners rallied against nuclear power in Tokyo Saturday, as the government and utilities move toward resumption of reactors in southern Japan. More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Hibiya Park in downtown Tokyo to urge the government not to restart nuclear plants, as regulators review whether to let Kyushu Electric Power to restart two reactors at its Sendai power plant.

EU ready to plug in to 'universal' mobile phone charger

The European Union took another step on Thursday towards the mandatory introduction of a common mobile phone charger, which could power-up all makes of handsets. The European Parliament in Strasbourg voted in favour of draft legislation which lists among the "essential requirements" of electrical goods approved by the EU a compatibility with "universal" chargers.
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