Thursday, February 9, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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T3 Motion Launches International Consumer Electric Vehicle Line

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 06:23 AM PST

consumer electric vehicle from t3 motion

Yes, we’ve mentioned these interesting electric vehicles (EVs) before. They probably aren’t for everyone, but what is? T3 Motion has traditionally provided these EVs to security companies and police forces around the world (as well as the Pentagon, CIA, and FBI), but it has determined that it’s worth bringing them to the international consumer market now, as well.

T3 Motion is unveiling its international consumer product line this week at the Big Boys Toys show in Dubai.

“We have made great headway with law enforcement in the UAE and the Middle East, opening the door for a successful launch into the consumer market as a luxury brand,” stated Ki Nam, T3 Motion CEO.

And luxury is one of the key words there. Last time I posted on these, a commenter noted that they seemed to be selling for about $12,500 each in contracts with US police departments in 2009. I haven’t seen prices on the consumer model yet, but there’s this note from T3 Motion on a page for the product: “With an operating cost of less than a penny per mile, T3 products can achieve the equivalent of over 400 miles per gallon of gasoline, allowing users to have fun without high fuel costs and emissions.”

Here’s some more info on the vehicle from the company:

“The T3 Power Sport product is 100% electric, powered by lithium-polymer batteries that have the capability to drive up to 40 miles on a single charge. The vehicle touts a highly customizable look, incorporating customizable colors, graphics, and even offers optional camera/GPS and iPhone/iPad docking stations. Additionally, the T3 Power sport product has a top speed of 12 mph, an elevated 9-inch platform and high intensity LED lighting.”

Electric Vehicle: Zero gas emissions, Clean energy vehicle
Easy to Operate: Simple and intuitive to drive
Economical: Operates for less than one penny per mile
Unlimited Range: Field swap-able battery modules
Charge Time: 3 – 4 hours
Enhanced Visibility: 9-inch raised platform offers visibility above the crowd
Agility: 0-degree turning radius
Integrated LED Lighting: Headlights, Brakelights, Running lights, and Emergency lights
Speed Range: User Selectable — 5 mph, 8 mph, 10 mph, 12 mph
Load Capacity: 400 pounds (rider + equipment)
Street Legal: Classified as an electric bicycle–legal in most states
Driver’s License: Not required (check local listings)
Vehicle registration: Not required (check local listings)


Related posts:

  1. T3 Electric Vehicle Launched (for Consumers)
  2. Lowe's to Provide GE's Electric Vehicle Charger, the GE WattStation Wall Mount
  3. Combining Solar Power and Your Electric Vehicle — Too Practical to Pass Up (Reader Comment)

Wind Energy Investment, Financing Activity Surge Higher in 2011 Despite Economic Headwinds

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 06:14 AM PST


Capital intensive and with an installed capacity now totaling more than 238 gigawatts (GW), the wind energy market and industry is easily large enough to compete in a market where large, well-established businesses predominate. It remains competitive enough to be driven by innovation, however, and it’s built on a supply and value chain made up of a diversity of smaller product and service suppliers, which spells opportunity for promising new market entrants and business development investors.

Installed global wind energy capacity increased a robust 21% in 2011, as Josh reported yesterday, despite economic and political headwinds. More than 41,000 MW of new wind energy capacity were installed last year, bringing cumulative total installed capacity to more than 238,000 MW, based on latest figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Some 75 countries are now taking advantage of clean, renewable energy provided by wind power, and 22 of them having already passed the 1 GW mark.

"Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice. 2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound,” stated Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

2011 Wind Energy VC, Company and Project Funding

Mercom Capital reports that venture capital (VC) funding for wind energy continued to increase in 2011, growing to $369 million as compared to $277 million in 2010 and $198 million in 2009. Fourteen deals were completed last year, as compared to 11 in 2010 and 20 in 2009.

Most VC wind energy company and project funding took place in the US—$294 million in 9 deals and $2.9 billion in 19 deals, respectively. Germany came in a close second with $2.8 billion in large-scale project funding, followed by Canada, with $1.1 billion, according to Mercom’s “Wind Funding and M&A 2011 Fourth Quarter and Annual Report.” Wind energy start-up Renew Wind Power raised $202 million in VC funding, the largest of the year. Boulder Wind Power and Wind Energy Direct ranked second and third, respectively, having raised $35 million and $29 million, respectively.

Wind energy project funding also continued to rise, reaching nearly $11 billion in 2011, $1.6 billion more than 2010′s total. Offshore wind energy project funding increased and accounted for $3.4 billion spread across five deals, while $7.5 billion was raised to finance 46 onshore wind energy projects. Some $1.5 billion was raised to fund Germany’s 400-MW Global Tech I offshore wind project, the largest project finance transaction in the wind energy industry in 2011.

New Wind Energy Installations 2011

In terms of new wind energy installations across countries, reiterating some and expanding on what Josh reported yesterday, China continued to solidify its position as the world’s largest wind energy market, having installed some 18,000 MW of wind power capacity in 2011, 44% of total wind energy installations worldwide. The USA ranked second, with 6,810 MW of new wind energy installations, while India moved up the table to third, having installed 3,019 MW of new wind energy capacity last year.

Wind energy activity in emerging markets outside the OECD—in Latin America, Africa and Asia—drove growth in 2011. India was one particularly bright spot for wind energy in 2011, while activity in Latin America—led by Brazil—also ran strong.

"India reached another milestone with adding over 3000 MW of wind power installed in 2011. This is likely to go up to 5000 MW per year by 2015. Ongoing initiatives of the Indian government to create new policies will attract large quantities of private investments to the sector", commented D.V. Giri, chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association.

Brazilian wind energy installations rose 50% with the addition of 587 MW of new wind energy installations. Brazil’s installed wind energy capacity totaled just over 1,500 MW as of year-end 2011, and more than 7,000 MW of projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

For a complete rundown on wind energy industry and market statistics, check out GWEA’s “Global Wind Statistics, 2011″ report.

Wind Energy M&A 2011

Looking at wind energy mergers and acquisitions (M&A), Mercom found that 17 company transactions totaling $1.7 billion were completed in 2011, the largest being ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s $724 million acquisition of wind gear maker and Suzlon subsidiary Hansen Transmissions. CPFL Energia’s $596 million acquisition of Brazilian wind power operator Jantus ranked second. Wind component company M&A transactions accounted for $1 billion and downstream wind energy company M&A $700 million of the 2011 total.

Activity was also high in wind project M&A, where $4 billion of transactions spanning 61 deals were completed. The $1.1-billion, 50% acquisition of Dong Energy’s Anhold offshore wind farm was the largest transaction, while the $850 million acquisition of 11 wind farms by Bridgepoint from Auxiliar de Construccion y Servicios ranked second.


Related posts:

  1. Double-Digit Growth in 3Q Clean Tech Investment Despite Economic, Political Headwinds
  2. India Crushed World in 2011 Cleantech Investment Growth
  3. EU Offshore Wind Energy Pipeline Projects Will Boost Capacity 62%; 866 MW of New Capacity in 2011

Solar Power Capacity Increased 54% in 2011

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 06:06 AM PST

solar power increasing

Reaching about 28 gigawatts (GW), solar power capacity increased about 54% in 2011, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Germany and Italy led the way.

“Photovoltaic installations rose to between 26.5 and 29.4 gigawatts last year, compared with 18.2 gigawatts during 2010,” Marc Roca of Bloomberg wrote.

"The year was on the high side of even bullish estimates," Jenny Chase of London-based BNEF wrote. "We think 2012 will be about flat, as European markets have overshot targets and spending caps and plan to rein back severely."

Of course, a tremendous drop in solar panel prices combined with strong solar power policies in a handful of European countries led the surge.

“New spending on solar energy jumped 36 percent to $136.6 billion in 2011, outpacing the $74.9 billion put into wind power, and represented almost half of all renewable energy investment worldwide” in 2011.

No one expects 2012 to be such a good year, but who knows what’s actually in store? India is in the midst of a strong cleantech (especially solar) surge, as are several other Asian countries. And, despite policy uncertainty in the U.S., innovative companies are propelling the technology onto more roofs while utility-scale projects are also on the way.

Source: Bloomberg
Solar panels via shutterstock

Related posts:

  1. China to Double Solar Power Capacity by End of 2011 (+ Top Solar Power Stories)
  2. Installed Wind Power Capacity Up 21% Globally in 2011
  3. Wind Power Growth Rebounds 15% in H1 2011, Capacity Rises ~23%

Wind Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) at All-Time Low

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 05:40 AM PST

It’s been awhile since I read and wrote about so many huge clean energy stories in one day, or in one week. From clean, renewable energy providing Europe with 70% of its new power in 2011, to solar PV bringing down the cost of electricity in Germany, to the largest offshore wind farm in the world opening in the UK today, and even more big stories in between, this is a time to remember. Another big story, reported by Greentech Media and discovered by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), is that the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from wind power has reached an all-time low.

wind power costs at all-time low

Wind power levelized cost of electricity at all-time low.

Its LCOE is now between $33 and $65 per MWh and clearly beats that of fossil fuels. This is actually not brand new news, as it was previously reported at the end of December, but I’m sure not many eyes have run across this yet, and it’s worth broadcasting loud and clear.

In a detailed analysis of “four endogenous factors (labor costs, warranty provisions, profitability, turbine design/scaling) and three exogenous factors (raw materials prices, energy prices, foreign exchange rates),” LBNL researchers Mark Bollinger and Ryan Wiser found that the single largest contributor to the LCOE reductions was bigger wind turbines that have a higher capacity factor.

“The standard for turbines has moved up from 1.0 megawatts to between 1.6 and 3.5 megawatts, and taller towers and longer blades allow them to produce electricity from slower winds,” Herman Trabish writes.

“Due to the capacity factor/capital cost interdependency, and to falling turbine costs, falling operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, an increased turbine supply, and lower cost financing, Wiser said, ‘the delivered levelized cost of wind energy has declined substantially in recent years [... and] is now at an all-time low across all wind speeds.’”

"Assumed improvements in O&M costs, financing rates, and availability lead to substantial additional estimated LCOE reductions," Wiser found, “of 24 percent to 39 percent."

However, two challenges do remain that could actually increase wind’s LCOE again. Those would be increasing development of "lower wind speed sites as a result of severe transmission/siting limitations," Wiser notes, or the "loss of federal PTC/ITC/Treasury Grant" incentives (it’s a constant struggle to ensure stable incentives for wind energy like the fossil fuel industry has received for over a century—somebody doesn’t want the new kid on the block to have equal access to the competition).

Source: Greentech Media

Related posts:

  1. Wind Power is Making Electricity Cheaper (Exxon: Wind to be Cheapest Source of Electricity)
  2. Cost of Wind Power — Kicks Coal’s Butt, Better than Natural Gas (& Could Power Your EV for $0.70/gallon)
  3. Big Wind Farms Cost More Than Small Ones

Clean-Energy-Loving Germany Increasingly Exporting Electricity to Nuclear-Heavy France

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 05:13 AM PST

Remember last year when Germany decided to speed up its phasing out of nuclear power and switch to clean energy and everyone (not in the clean energy industry) got freaked out about how German electricity prices would rise and the country would just start importing electricity from France’s nuclear power plants?

Well, as I just wrote, it seems pretty clear that solar photovoltaics are bringing down the cost of electricity in Germany. Additionally, electricity imports to France have been increasing!

“Because France has so much nuclear power, the country has an inordinate number of electric heating systems. And because France has not added on enough additional capacity over the past decade, the country’s current nuclear plants are starting to have trouble meeting demand, especially when it gets very cold in the winter,” Craig Morris of Renewables International writes.

And, with relatively sunny skies above, guess who’s coming to the rescue—good old solar power from Germany.

“As a result, power exports from Germany to France reached 4 to 5 gigawatts – the equivalent of around four nuclear power plants – last Friday morning according to German journalist Bernward Janzing. It was not exactly a time of low consumption in Germany either at 70 gigawatts around noon on Friday, but Janzing nonetheless reports that the grid operators said everything was under control, and the country’s emergency reserves were not being tapped. On the contrary, he reports that a spokesperson for transit grid operator Amprion told him that ‘photovoltaics in southern Germany is currently helping us a lot.’”

solar power production germany winter

Solar power production peaking at about 10 GW, 40% of capacity, lately. (Source: EEX, via Renewables International)

Hmm, a bit of cognitive dissonance for solar power haters with breakfast this morning.

Power prices in Germany also seem fine, indicating no lack of power. However, due to its challenges, electricity prices in France have been up about 50% and the country has had to ask its citizens to reduce their electricity consumption.

Also, as you can see in the chart above, Germany’s electricity from solar has been peaking at about 10 gigawatts lately, or about 40% of its 25 gigawatts of capacity. I have a feeling citizens opposed to Germany’s nuclear shut down and clean energy revolution are keeping quiet at the moment.

Related posts:

  1. France Launches €1.35 Billion Clean Energy Program
  2. How Risky is it For Germany to Shutter its Nuclear?
  3. Germany: Nuclear Power 100% Shut Down by 2022

Solar PV Reducing Price of Electricity in Germany

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 04:49 AM PST

Oh, the solar power haters* are going to love this one—a recent study by Germany’s Institute for Future Energy Systems (IZES), conducted on behalf of of the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar), has found that, on average, solar power has reduced the price of electricity 10% in Germany (on the EPEX exchange). It reduces prices up to 40% in the early afternoon, when electricity demand is peaking and electricity typically costs the most. There’s a visual of that (in German) here:

solar power electricity costs germany

Price of electricity on the German power exchange much lower at peak consumption time in 2011 than in 2007, mostly because of solar PV production. (Source: IZES)

This cost-reduction phenomenon is known as the merit order effect, and it’s something we’ve written about in the past when writing about the cost of wind energy (wind does the same thing). But let’s look a little more closely at what this is, since it’s been awhile.

solar power peaks when demand peaks

Basically, this graph shows that solar power production peaks when electricity demand (grey line) peaks. (Source: IZES)

Merit Order Effect & Clean (Solar & Wind) Energy

“Increasing the amount of renewable energy on sale lowers the average price per unit of electricity because of the merit order effect,” Wikipedia writes. “This is because it counteracts the effects of peak demand.”

More specifically: “Wind energy has no marginal costs [wind energy producers don't need to buy combustion fuel] so their electricity is the cheapest and transmission companies buy from them first. Having a supply of very cheap wind electricity substantially reduces the amount of highly priced peak electricity that transmission companies need to buy and thus reduces the overall cost.”

The same goes for solar.

Basically, when a boost of electricity is needed, solar and wind can out-compete any electricity source that requires non-free fuel (e.g. coal, nuclear, or natural gas), since the added cost of sending more electricity to the grid from solar panels or wind turbines is essentially nil.

The advantage of solar is that it produces the most electricity when there’s the most demand for the electricity—it’s a nearly perfect match.

solar panels reduce cost of electricity germany

Germany Study

Coming back to the study in German, via Renewables International:

Uwe Leprich, research director at IZES, explains, “We compared the base prices with the prices on the power exchange between 8 AM and 8 PM over a long time frame.” The study found that the price of power was still rising considerably in 2007 between 10 AM and 1 PM as demand skyrocketed. But in the last two years, the sudden price increase no longer took place even though demand remained largely unchanged. “In addition, the differences between the base price and the peak price reduced considerably in 2010 and 2011,” he adds. “These are the two years in which the most photovoltaics was installed. At the same time, power demand did not change. We can therefore assume that photovoltaics is the reason why the base and the peak price have approached each other.”The base and peak prices used to be 20 to 25 percent apart, but that difference has shrunk to around 12 percent.

Yep, theory matches evidence.

Going on, it looks like householders aren’t the main beneficiaries of the cost reductions:

Overall, the price of electricity has been reduced on the power exchange by 520 to 840 million euros. Leprich argues that this merit-order effect has to be taken into account when discussing the cost of photovoltaics. “Of course, the effect is greater in the summer than in the winter, but it is there all year. After all, solar power is still generated in the winter – just not as much.” Nonetheless, the retail rate in Germany continues to increase because industry benefits from lower prices on the power exchange more than households. Leprich says that “energy-intensive industrial firms are the ones who buy power on the spot market, thereby directly benefiting from the price reductions brought about by photovoltaics. And power providers do not pass on the savings to consumers.”

Hmm, seems someone should try to address that and give the residents of Germany (and other countries where solar is expanding) their just desserts.

If the 99% spirit hasn’t been overcharged in you already, here’s more on the inequality or injustice of the matter:

At the same time, a large section of energy-intensive industry representing roughly 50 percent of total industrial power consumption is also largely exempt from the surcharge for renewable power. Leprich points out the irony: “I’m always surprised to hear industrial associations arguing that they are paying for the switch to renewables. The exact opposite holds true.” Not only are private households covering a disproportionate share of the burden, but the way the surcharge for feed-in tariffs is designed in Germany means that the surcharge increases as prices on the power exchange drop; feed-in tariffs are partly financed by revenue from the power exchange. If prices on the exchange drop, so does the revenue, so the amount reported as the surcharge increases. It is estimated that the retail rate would drop by around 0.15 cents per kilowatt-hour if these price reductions on the exchange were passed on.

What About the Future?

Now, as you have read, the costs come down due to solar’s relatively cheap peak costs. However, as it starts to cut into baseload power (rather than just peak power), those savings will go down. And, due to Germany’s rapid deployment of solar power, that is what the coming years are likely to bring. However, there are still two points to consider in this matter.

1. Solar, at any hour of the day, is quickly becoming cost-competitive in many regions (not even including massive externalities related to coal pollution, nuclear waste risk, and climate change). Costs continue to drop fast and, as I wrote on our solar power page (and I’ve even seen utility company CEOs note), if you take into account how long it takes to get a new baseload power plant up and projected costs then, solar is already cheaper.

2. A proper mix of renewable, free-fuel energy sources (i.e. wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal) gets rid of the need for baseload power. As some say, baseload power even “gets in the way” at that point. The wind blows the most at night. We all know when the sun shines. Geothermal and hydro are quite constant and can easily fill in the gaps. Flexibility is what is becoming key now, as it allows utilities to tap the cheapest sources of energy when they are the most obvious choice.

*Yes, I know, less than 10% of the public are solar power haters, but they sure are vocal, aren’t they?

Solar panels on roof in Germany via shutterstock

Related posts:

  1. Wholesale Price of Electricity Drops to $0.00 in Texas, Due to Wind Energy
  2. China Solar Price Projections vs Actual Price Drops
  3. Germany Creates Boom in Geothermal Electricity

10 Fastest-Growing Solar Cities in California

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 03:59 AM PST

cailfornia solar installations

While solar is blooming fast in many other states now, California’s still the U.S. leader and continues to install solar at a rapid clip. There is actually hardly a country on earth with as much solar as is installed in California.

PV Solar Report, “an authority on California solar market data,” and SunRun, “the nation's leading home solar company,” recently released a list* of the California cities growing the fastest in solar power installations. It’s a list, not much more than that, but who doesn’t love a list!

But here are some insights from SunRun and PV Solar Report on the rankings before revealing the list below:

“While steady solar growth continues in traditional solar hot beds like San Jose, new solar leaders like Hemet and Apple Valley indicate increasing solar adoption on a broader geographic scale. In addition, the majority of homeowners in these cities chose to go solar without buying the panels, known as solar power service.” (In other words, as reported many times here on CleanTechnica, solar leasing is popular… like it or not.)

“For example, top city San Jose had 648 homeowners choose solar service in 2011 versus 312 opting for panel purchase. In December 2011 solar power service was over 70% of the home solar market.”

SunRun is eager to note that it invented this solar option way back in 2007 and leads the market with about twice the market share of the next largest provider. But here are the really amazing statistics, in my opinion: “SunRun now installs over $1.5 million in solar every day, completing one rooftop installation every 11 minutes of the business day by letting American families switch to solar without spending $30,000 or more to buy panels.” Wow, $1.5 million/day, one rooftop every 11 minutes! Impressive.

Now, though, let’s get to the top 10 list!

  1. San Jose
  2. Bakersfield
  3. Simi Valley
  4. Lancaster
  5. Fresno
  6. Corona
  7. Murrieta
  8. Rocklin
  9. Hemet
  10. Apple Valley

*The list is “based on the California Solar Initiative’s (CSI) database of residential rebate reservations for calendar year 2011.”

Source: Business Wire
California solar roof installation via Lauren Wellicome

Related posts:

  1. Top 10 Cities in California for Residential Solar
  2. Lonestar State Growing As A Solar Player But Much Work To Do: Report
  3. California Now Has 1 Gigawatt of Solar Power Installed

World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opening Today

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 03:28 AM PST

largest offshore wind farm

The world’s largest offshore wind power farm, Walney Farm, is opening off the coast of Cumbria in the UK today.

The £1.2-billion ($1.9-billion), 367.2-MW offshore wind farm includes over 100 wind turbines and can produce power for up to 320,000 UK homes. (Note: it doesn’t compare to the 1,000-MW offshore wind farm I wrote about on Tuesday, the London Array, which just had its first two wind turbines installed… but give Walney Farm its 15 minutes of fame.)

The wind farm is composed of two projects, Walney 1 and Walney 2 (surprise, surprise), and to be more specific, is off Barrow-in-Furness.

Aside from being the largest in the world, this is also the fastest-built and cheapest offshore wind farm in place today, according to the British power company SSE and Denmark’s Dong Energy. And it is also the first wind project in the UK that was built with money from foreign, institutional investors.

“OPW – a consortium of the Dutch pension fund PGGM and the energy investment fund Ampere – took a 24.8% stake in the project in December 2010, joining majority owner Dong Energy (50.1%) and SSE (25.1%),” the UK’s Guardian reports.

UK’s New Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, Opening Wind Farm

The UK’s new energy secretary, Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey, is very happy to be opening the wind farm today and is more than happy with the UK’s strong offshore wind industry. Here are some of Davey’s comments:

“Britain has a lot to be proud of in our growing offshore wind sector. Our island’s tremendous natural resource, our research base and a proud history of engineering make this the No 1 destination for investment in offshore wind.

“And Walney is the newest, biggest and fastest-built jewel in that crown, providing clean power for hundreds of thousands of households.

“Opening Walney during my first week in office lets me underline my commitment to continuing the coalition’s work to make this sector a success story for the British economy, not least with the innovation it is driving and the employment it is creating.”

Not a bad event to walk into office on.

Wind Controversy in the UK

Like the US, the UK’s got a large fraction of conservative politicians who just can’t join the crowd and see the many benefits of clean energy. Over the past weekend, 100 Conservative MPs actually sent a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron urging that renewable energy subsidies be cut (no mention of fossil fuel subsidies). The focus was on onshore wind turbines that they think are unpleasant to look at. (Not sure how “unpleasant to look at” can compare with “kill people and destroys our climate,” which still-subsidized fossil fuels do, but I guess I’m not a conservative politician.

Source: Guardian
Walney Wind Farm image (from September 2011) via Moggy443

Related posts:

  1. World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm in UK Now
  2. World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Begun by China
  3. World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm Back on Track

Lease a Chevy Volt—GM Offering Attractive New Lease in California!

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 02:49 AM PST

After a completely blown-out-of-proportion battery fire issue that we’ve spent more than enough time covering (to show just how ridiculous it is that it got so much media coverage,.. ironically), GM is struggling to get its Chevy Volt into the garages of more Americans. Will a very attractive new lease for its California customers be the trigger that gets more people driving a Volt? Chris DeMorro has more:

Related posts:

  1. Chevy Volt Gets Highest Satisfaction Rating in Consumer Reports
  2. Chevy Volt 2010 Unveiled in Transformers 2 Spy Footage
  3. Chevy Volt: The Facts

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