Photo of the week: Solar power in Spain

The Andasol-1 solar thermal collector is visible from space

In March 2009, the Andasol-1 solar thermal collector opened in Spain, the first of its kind in Europe. Later that year Andasol-2 was opened and in 2011 another Andasol collector became reality. In contrast to the common photovoltaic systems we see on rooftops, the thermal collectors store the sun’s heat in a big heat reservoir of molten salt, by reflecting the sunlight with parabolic mirrors pointed at the reservoir. Via thermal turbines this heat is be transformed into electricity, enough for up to 200 000 people.



Photo of the week: extreme drought in California

California’s lake Oroville reaches historic lows (photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

For a third year in row, California is suffering severe droughts. As a consequence,  the water level of Lake Oroville has decreased towards historic lows. This also leads to a significant decrease of available hydropower and California is forced to rely more on natural gas plants, resulting in more CO2 emissions.


Source: SFGate


Photo of the week: US air pollution


Decrease of NO2 between 2005 and 2011 in the Northeast of the United States (photos: NASA’s Aura Satellite)

This set of pictures shows the fallback in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) between 2005 and 2011. NO2 is a yellow-brown gas that is often used as an indicator for air pollution in general. It is produced during the combustion of fossil fuels in vehicle engines and coal power plants. Thanks to new regulation, air pollution in the US has decreased significantly.  These images represent the improvement seen in the northeast corridor of the U.S., from Boston to Richmond, where some of the largest absolute changes in NO2 have occurred.