Tag Archive | "renewable energy"

Our Future – Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The development and operating of more renewable energy electricity is the most focused part of the decarbonizing our electricity grids.

Mr. Porter, who writes the Economic Scene column for The New York Times, characterizes renewable energy commitments in several countries as ambitious infatuations that have led to a glut requiring adjustments to grid operations. He thinks grid operators mindlessly attach more renewable energy generation to the grid as in some kind of blindfolded pin-the-tail game.

To be sure, electric grids in which a significant fraction of energy comes from renewable sources will require operational management changes. For the vast majority of electricity systems in the world, the current level of renewable energy market penetration is so low that leading countries and states will surely have addressed integration issues before they ever become a real problem.

Mr. Porter’s real agenda is revealed when he observes that nuclear and coal power are having a hard time competing on economic terms in today’s competitive energy markets. Renewable energy generation is contributing to revealing the uneconomic nature of plants that devour huge amounts of coal, and for coal and nuclear plants that devour huge amounts of capital investment.

The major threat to nuclear and coal profitability is economic forces primarily related to competition from natural gas and nuclear power’s inability to compete in energy markets without huge subsidies from taxpayers and captive electric monopoly customers.

Mr. Porter further argues that grid operations and generation choices should be built around the rigid operational requirements of nuclear and coal plants. Unable to respond effectively to dynamic market and demand conditions, these plants lumber around the energy marketplace like the poorly-adaptive dinosaurs that they are. Mr. Porter would hobble the new nimble, lean mammals on the energy scene to preserve central station power plant hegemony.

Mr. Porter completely ignores the vast range of distributed energy resources available to shape load, reduce peak demand, and substitute for central station power plants. Resources like distributed generation from solar, wind, biomass, and high efficiency combined heat and power offer energy services with superior total economics to many central station options.

Energy management, efficiency, and demand response—tailoring demand to minimize costs against the time-value of energy—all offer energy services at far less cost than keeping uneconomic plants running.

Animating markets for clean distributed energy resources, including a lot of renewable energy generation, is the real objective of the New York Reforming the Energy Vision process, and the imperative for grid managers and policy makers everywhere.

New nuclear generation is even less economic than old; only socialist economies are building nuclear plants today. It may be that temporary support mechanisms to keep zero-emissions nuclear power plants running are a good idea while the utility industry is transformed away from the old dumb, one-way electron factories that Mr. Porter wants to preserve.

Backsliding on carbon emissions reductions cannot be allowed. Nothing should be taken from the resources needed to develop a truly clean energy future just to keep decrepit nuclear plants running. Striking the right balance on these critical goals is a challenge of energy policy today; still all roads must point to a renewable energy future.

Markets have served notice that things have to change and that nuclear power fails to compete; the planet is telling us to decarbonize. Renewable energy supported by efficient use of energy is the only future we can truly afford.


An electrical grid is an interconnected network for delivering electricity from suppliers to consumers. It consists of generating stations that produce electrical power, high-voltage transmission lines that carry power from distant sources to demand centers, and distribution lines that connect individual customers.

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

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South West of England leads the way of Green Energy

Producers of renewable energy in south west of England are now generating enough “green” electricity to power more than 25% of all the homes in the region.
This is revealed in a major report, published this week by independent renewable energy experts Regen SW, which says that capacity has grown by 37% in the past 12 months to nearly 1.2GW – and the region now generates 8.3% of its electricity from renewable sources.
The “South West Renewable Energy Progress Report”, produced annually since 2004, shows the south west leads the way in small and community-scale renewables.
The south west has 21% of the projects supported by the Government’s Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme, more than any other UK region, and 14% of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) projects, second only to Scotland.
“The key areas of growth were 270MW of solar PV, 68MW of biomass and 23MW from onshore wind.
However, the report warns that in spite of this strong growth, the south west is not on track to meet the Government’s target of driving 15% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
“This year’s progress report is encouraging,” said Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW. “However, it should be just the start.
“With 70% of all investment in energy globally predicted to be in renewables, our success in this market is critical. By meeting our renewables targets we could create 34,000 high-value jobs, become less reliant on uncertain oversees supplied fossil fuels, and use our local renewable energy resources to generate income and fuel security for local communities.”
The report concludes that while the foundation stone for renewables is a clear and consistent government policy framework, there is also much more can be done locally to: tackle barriers such as the capacity of the electricity grid and ensuring clear planning rules; enable commercial deployment of new technologies like offshore wind, wave and tidal energy.
“We also need a mix of all renewables’ technologies,” added Mr Merlin. “While solar PV, onshore wind and biomass are currently our best performers, the deployment of offshore wind off the Dorset coast has the potential to make the largest contribution to the amount of renewable energy we generate, while wave and tidal energy have an exciting future.”

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Renewables to receive Lion’s share of $7.7 trillion in global power Funding

Renewable energy may reap as much as two-thirds of the $7.7 trillion in investment forecast for building new power plants by 2030 as declining costs make it more competitive with fossil fuels.

About half of the investment will be in Asia, the region where power capacity will grow the most, according to the forecasts in a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance today. That will help global carbon dioxide emissions peak by the end of the next decade the London-based researcher said.

A glut of solar and wind manufacturing capacity has brought down prices of cells and turbines. That’s making clean energy plants in more locations profitable even though governments from Germany to the U.S. are scaling back incentives. Annual investment in technologies such as solar, wind and hydropower surpassed fossil fuels for the first time in 2011.

“What we are seeing is global CO2 emissions on track to stop growing by the end of next decade, with the peak only pushed back because of fast-growing developing countries, which continue adding fossil fuel capacity as well as renewables,” Michael Liebreich, chairman of BNEF’s advisory board said.

Fossil fuel’s share of power generation will shrink to 46 percent from 64 percent now, New Energy Finance said. It estimates 5,000 gigawatts of power generation capacity will be added globally. Coal, gas and oil-fired plants will only account for about 1,073 gigawatts, with much of that put in developing countries where power demand is growing most.

Solar Growth

Solar power will top clean energy installations in every region over the next decade and a half, the report said. Capacity will expand the most in Asia, where new solar sites will exceed gas and coal combined.

“The period to 2030 is going to see spectacular growth in solar in this region, with nearly 800 gigawatts of rooftop and utility-scale PV added,” Milo Sjardin, BNEF’s head of Asia Pacific, said in the report. “This will be driven by economics, not subsidies, as our analysis suggests that solar will be fully competitive with other power sources by 2020.”

Overall, solar and wind power will increase their combined share of global generation to 16 percent in 2030 compared with 3 percent last year. Large-scale hydropower has the biggest share of power generation among non-polluting sources.

Gas-fired generation will survive the renewables boom, with installations growing because the fuel produces less pollution than coal and because supplies are abundant given shale gas discoveries in the past few years.

Coal plants will fare much worse, with capacity shrinking in Europe and the Americas as tighter emissions rules start to bite. Coal capacity will only grow in Asia to support the region’s quicker economic growth, the researcher said.

In all, about $5.1 trillion of the total investment will be spent on renewables including hydro power. Asia will account for $2.5 trillion of that, the Americas $816 billion and Europe $967 billion, New Energy Finance said, The Middle East and Africa will invest another $818 billion.

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Los Angeles ready to add 300 MW of new solar energy capacity

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is moving forward with multiple agreements for a large 250-MW solar array in Kern County while also spurring development of another 50 MW of solar power within the city of Los Angeles.

“This is a great milestone in the City of L.A.’s efforts to expand renewable energy and a win-win for the businesses and people of Los Angeles who will benefit from solar power development right in the city,” said Board President Mel Levine in a June 5 statement. “These solar projects will help spark economic development and jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants, and meet L.A.’s renewable energy mandates.”

“These agreements put us within reach of our targets of 25% renewable energy by 2016 and 33 percent by 2020,” said Marcie Edwards, LADWP General Manager.

The agreements, which require approval by the City Council, pave the way for the 250-MW Beacon Solar Project, which will be built 14 miles north of Mojave, Calif., along Highway 14, while rounding out the full 150 MW Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Program. Last year, LADWP launched the FiT Set-Pricing Program for 100 MW, becoming the largest city in the nation to offer a FiT program.

The Beacon land, acquired by LADWP in 2012 and previously permitted for a solar development, has been divided into five sites. Four sites will be developed through four separate power purchase agreements for a total of 200 MW. Each of these contracts is tied to developing a group of small-scale FiT solar projects within LADWP’s service area in Los Angeles. Altogether, these “bundled” agreements will mean construction of 50 MW of local solar.

Through a competitive bid for the Beacon 200-MW Bundled Solar Program, the LADWP Board awarded two of the sites (88 MW) to SunEdison, and two sites (112 MW) to Hecate Energy. In conjunction with the large solar projects, SunEdison is obligated to develop 22 MW of local solar and Hecate will build 28 MW of solar within Los Angeles.

The fifth solar project that will be installed on the Beacon property is a 50-MW project that is not “bundled” with a FiT component. This contract was awarded to Hecate Energy.

Randy Howard, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager-Power System, said: “These new solar projects will add to the existing Pine Tree wind and solar projects, and form a cluster of renewables in this area to help LADWP meet its renewable energy objectives near the Los Angeles Basin.”

To support the increase in renewable energy in Kern County, LADWP has begun construction of the Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project (BRRTP), which will expand the capacity of its existing transmission to bring these new renewables home to LADWP’s customers. Under the agreements, LADWP will provide all transmission and distribution infrastructure to support the Beacon Solar Project. The work involves expanding the Barren Ridge Switching Station and building a switchyard for the Beacon project as well as expanding the transmission line itself.

As part of the transmission project, LADWP has begun construction of a new switching station in Haskell Canyon near Santa Clarita, which will improve overall reliability by adding a second connection to the Castaic Power Plant. The Castaic Power Plant serves as “pumped storage” for solar and wind energy and is considered vital to integrating the renewables into the electric grid.

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New financing vehicle for Mekong Solar and Wind Energy

Armstrong Asset Management has forged a new partnership agreement with The Blue Circle for wind and solar project financing in the Mekong Region of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. With Armstrong agreeing to commit up to US $40 million in equity to fund the construction of wind and solar projects, it will also take a minority equity stake in The Blue Circle – a vertically integrated renewable energy developer operating in the region.

Currently the developer has a pipeline of over 600 MW of renewable energy projects under evaluation or negotiation in the Mekong Region.

“Having an institutional investor like Armstrong as a shareholder and project equity partner, with their extensive operational experience in Southeast Asia and specialization in renewable energy, will certainly accelerate the growth of The Blue Circle portfolio and strengthen our financing ability” said Olivier Duguet, CEO.

The agreement between the two Singapore based companies means that The Blue Circle will also benefit from Seed Capital Assistance Facility (SCAF) funding , an initiative by UNEP, ADB and GEF designed to help project developers overcome some of the challenges of greenfield project development.

Armstrong closed its Clean Energy Fund when it reached $164 million last November. Prior to the latest deal, it had made two investments from the fund: a capital commitment of up to US $30 million to Annex Power for solar PV and biogas projects in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, and an equity stake in Symbior Elements to develop a portfolio of solar generation in Central and Northeast Thailand.

The development follows a recent co-investment deal between Armstrong and Mandiri Investment Management to work together to invest in renewable energy projects in Indonesia, starting with small and micro hydropower developments.

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22-MW Jamie Creek hydropower plant begins commercial operation

Renewable energy developer Boralex has commissioned its 22-MW Jamie Creek hydroelectric plant.

Located near Gold Bridge, British Columbia, the run-of-river plant is the company’s first high-head project. The facility features two water intakes, consisting of a bypass line longer than 1.1 km and a penstock pipe of more than 2.6 km that supply two Pelton turbines.

“After a year of construction, we’re proud of the newest addition to our asset portfolio,” Boralex president and CEO Patrick Lemaire said. “Boralex has over 20 years’ experience building and operating hydroelectric assets, which it leveraged to complete this project and will continue leveraging over the assets lifetime.”

Power generated at Jamie Creek will be sold under a 40-yeaer contract to BC Hydro. The utility also has rights to a 20-year renewal period.

HydroWorld.com reported this past August that Boralex had acquired the project from Sequoia Energy Inc. Boralex said in November 2012 that hydropower remains an important asset for the company.

“The commissioning of Jamie Creek is a perfect fit with our growth strategy aimed primarily at hydroelectric and wind power assets covered by long-term contracts,” Lemaire said. “It also expands our footprint in British Columbia, where Boralex now has 36.5 MW of hydroelectric power and is actively pursuing development efforts.”

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GE chief says high-efficiency 9HA gas turbine technology fit for Europe

John Lammas, GE Vice President Thermal Engineering says that high-efficiency 9HA gas turbine technology should prove to be an appropriate solution for Europe, once market design takes into account the need for more secure, flexible gas-fired power to combat the volatility of renewables.

GE together with Toshiba announced a fresh order for the latest in its H-Class high efficiency combined cycle gas turbine technology this week requested by Hokkaido Electric Power. Although an Asian introduction Lammas sees there being a future point when the technology is increasingly relevant to Europe.Much of the content of Tuesday’s key note speeches at the POWER-GEN Europe event in Cologne, Germany centred on the need for a new market design aimed at assisting gas-fired power’s role in energy security for the bloc. Features inherent to the high-efficiency 9HA Gas Turbine destined for the Ishikariwan Shinko Power Plant Unit 1, HEPCO’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled thermal power plant in Japan, look an ideal fit for Europe’s needs should a new design come into being.

“I see a situation in Europe where there is this great penetration of renewables and you need something that can respond when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing an I think that gas turbines are part of that solution,” Lammas told Power Engineering Internationalat the POWER-GEN Europe event. “It probably won’t be totally base load but you need flexibility which is another element that we are building into these machines; it’s that ability to get to full gas turbine output in approximately ten minutes and full plant in less than 30 minutes, which allows it to work in harmony with the renewables so we think long term there is definitely a future for these sorts of machines in Europe.”

The combined-cycle thermal power generation system combines GE’s latest high-efficiency 9HA Gas Turbine with Toshiba’s most-advanced steam turbine. Toshiba will be the prime contractor for the Hokkaido project. The gas turbine combined-cycle system ordered by HEPCO is expected to achieve a thermal efficiency of 62 per cent, the world’s highest1, at the lower heating value. The plant will have an output capacity of 569.4 MW and construction is expected to start in October 2015.

Lammas anticipates a worldwide demand for the newest in H-class. “Certainly there is a trend in the industry towards the larger machines to get the CAPEX advantage at the plant level and then high efficiency particularly where gas prices are high; around the world this is a trend we are seeing. The machine we are building is greater than 61 per cent. Obviously as we test the machine we will be able to potentially improve that efficiency rating but it brings value from both the CAPEX element and the operational cost as well.

Brian Gutknecht, Vice President Thermal Engineering at GE told the POWER-GEN Europe show newspaper that there was another key advantage to their latest offering. “Through this plant we offer the lowest life cycle cost of electricity. Compared to prior F-Class technology it’s about a 5 per cent reduction in cost of electricity that would translate to $21m per year of net savings at the life cycle value; that would be for a 9HA02 plant running at about 6000 hours a year. So balancing the higher performace with low maintenance costs as well.”

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Sunlabob and Relitec partnership aimed at Myanmar’s growing solar market.

Rural off-grid renewables specialist Sunlabob Renewable Energy and sustainable energy firm Relitec have announced a partnership agreement aimed at Myanmar’s growing on-site solar market.

Laos-based Sunlabob and Yangon, Myanmar-based Relitec said they plan to collaborate on addressing Myanmar’s growing demand for renewable energy.

According to estimates, less than 30% of the nation’s 60 million people have access to grid-connected electricity, and only 4% of the rural population has electricity.

Sunlabob offers on- and off-grid products and services ranging from hybrid mini-grids and solar home systems to energy efficiency consulting. Relitec specialises in the engineering, installation, and operation and maintenance of solar projects, and has implemented a number of solar projects in Myanmar.

Andy Schroeter, Sunlabob’s CEO, said, ‘Sunlabob’s experience implementing rural, off-grid renewable energy throughout the developing world will complement Relitec’s on-the-ground knowledge of the local Myanmar market.’

‘Myanmar is just seeing the tip of the iceberg for solar energy’s potential,’ said Than Aye, Relitec’s managing director. ‘We are excited to be well-positioned to meet the upsurge of solar activity.’

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LEGO’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint

For the LEGO Group, growth has been as consistent and precise as the red plastic blocks that snap together to construct cars, castles, and kingdoms.

The Billund, Denmark-based iconic toy company, which has a movie, theme park, and several successful superhero product lines, increased its revenue by 13 percent this past year, and then decided to drastically decrease its carbon footprint for its supply chain, manufacturing, and distribution.

“We have a duty to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow and therefore addressing the real issues around man made climate change is a key part of that,” said Morten Vestberg, communication manager for the LEGO Group. “By doing so, we move towards our goal of positive impact, reduce our energy use, cut operating costs, and ensure we are a business fit for the future.”

As part of the LEGO Group’s ambition to deliver a positive impact on the planet, the toy manufacturer signed a partnership with World Wildlife Fund to be a member of the Climate Savers Programpledging to intensify their work to improve performance on a range of environmental priorities – including greater focus on collaboration with suppliers to reduce total carbon emissions. The LEGO Group plans to: • Initiate test projects together with suppliers to co-create best solutions to address the supply chain carbon emission impact. • Work with an environmental strategy for materials, which could include producing products using fewer materials, keeping the recyclability high and using renewable or recycled materials. • Look into how it can best innovate its products to be more sustainable. • Reduce the energy used to manufacture one ton of LEGO elements by 10 percent by the end of 2016. • Produce more renewable energy than the company uses in its facilities; be 100 percent renewable by 2016.

“We have experienced strong growth for eight consecutive years and, as we grow, we are becoming increasingly aware of the impact we leave on the planet,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, LEGO Group’s CEO. “Partnering with WWF is an important step in our efforts to get the best out of our sustainability initiatives.”

Innovative suppliers

In 2013, the LEGO Group had a total of 110 suppliers. If the company reduced carbon emissions directly related to production at LEGO factories by a minimum of 10 percent, which is the target, this would remove approximately 10,000 tons of carbon emissions.

But, only 10 percent of the total carbon emission from the entire value chain related to LEGO products originates from the processes taking place at factories during moulding, decoration, and packaging of LEGO bricks.

The remaining 90 percent of the carbon emissions stem from supply chain activities such as raw material extraction and refinement, indirect procurement, distribution from LEGO factories to toy stores around the world and end of life impact when the products are eventually scrapped.

If the toy company is able to enable its supply chain to also achieve a reduction in production at a similar level, the total emissions would be reduced by 100,000 tons, which is equivalent to taking approximately 28,000 cars off the streets.

“We are undertaking a number of pilot projects with key suppliers in our materials supply, machinery providers, and transport partners,” Vestberg said. “We are currently developing an approach through co-creation with these important stakeholders rather than implementing a predetermined standard as we feel this is how we will achieve effective and long lasting impact reduction.”

Since 1997, the LEGO Group has required suppliers and business partners to sign their Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure responsible sourcing. To promote sustainable supply chains the toy manufacturer has ongoing dialogues with suppliers on how to best take a proactive stance together to handle the environmental issues impacting the globe.

Responsible manufacturing

While the LEGO Group is now increasing focus on suppliers – it still remains ambitious and dedicated on reducing its own environmental impact. For a number of years the LEGO Group and the WWF have had a dialogue on a range of sustainability topics such as sourcing sustainable packaging materials through FSC and partnering on the launch of the WindMade initiative. Now the formal partnership puts focus on going beyond zero carbon emissions. The LEGO Group is already right on track to meet this ambition with concrete action by investing $532 million in a new offshore wind farm in northern Germany where the production of energy from the LEGO Group’s part of the wind farm equals the energy consumption of approximately 100,000 residential homes. The offshore wind farm, Borkum Riffgrund 1, will support the LEGO Group’s goal to generate enough renewable energy capacity to meet the company’s energy needs by 2020. The wind park is being built and operated by DONG Energy.

“As the LEGO Group works to achieve the ambitious aim to produce more renewable energy than it uses, the company follows a strict energy hierarchy of 1.) Reduce demand, 2.) Energy efficiency, and 3.) Renewable energy,” Vestberg said.

First, the company cuts energy use, or avoids processes that require excess energy. Secondly, they improve the efficiency of the equipment and buildings through controls optimization, insulation or reuse of heat and cooling. In this stage, the company would consider the use of combined cooling, heating and power systems, and will install such a system in its new Hungary factory.

“Then we evaluate the potential of renewable energy, initially onsite if feasible and if not, offsite,” Vestberg said.

Sustainable raw materials

In 2013, LEGO increased its efforts to find and implement more sustainable alternatives to the raw materials used for the toy bricks, as these contribute 30 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030, LEGO’s vision is to find and implement sustainable alternatives to its current raw materials.

The raw material for LEGO bricks starts out as a fragment currently distilled from crude oil. Through a number of processes, the large molecules from crude oil are processed via small molecules into long chains of molecules to make the raw material for the brick. As the company continued to grow its production throughout 2013,it used 68,000 tons of raw materials.

Even though it is a challenge to find materials that do not compromise the current high quality and safety standards of LEGO products, the company has set goals to find more environmentally friendly materials. The LEGO Group has:

• Established a separate department, anchored in top management, with the sole focus of moving into sustainable raw materials by 2030.

• Launched a number of initiatives in cooperation with both suppliers and selected cooperation partners to start the journey towards a sustainable material vision. The toy company will increase cooperation with cutting-edge material suppliers to develop more sustainable materials suitable for LEGO products and production.

• And start measuring the environmental sustainability of new materials to ensure that LEGO reduces its total impact and does not trade off between different environmental impacts.

“We are committed to improving our environmental performance year after year as we strive for positive impact on our sustainability agenda,” Vestberg said. “We seek to embed environmental sustainability into everything we do.”

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Restrictions in finance and delays to both planning and grid connections are preventing Scotland’s rural communities from achieving the full benefits of renewable energy, claims rural energy specialist Nick Green.
Speaking at the All-Energy Conference in Aberdeen this week, Mr Green, who is head of energy for Savills in Scotland, said that while the recently-released Agri-renewables Strategy for Scotland provided a positive roadmap for the industry, there were still key barriers to entry in the form of finance, planning and grid capacity.
“Land has been used to power industry for thousands of years and renewable energy has the potential to fundamentally transform the profitability of business in the rural sector,” he said.
“Until recently, however, it has been seen by some as difficult, risky and expensive to get community, farm-scale and rural renewable projects off the ground.
“Farm and community-scale renewable energy generation offers significant opportunities for Scotland’s landowners and managers to diversify their risk, deliver additional revenue streams and hedge against future energy price rises.
“Indeed, land is the key asset in order to produce energy. But the conditions for investment need to be spot-on.”
Mr Green added: “Scotland can and must continue to be a pioneer of renewable energy technologies, but this needs to happen in a context of global energy demand and technology development. As an industry, we need to stand above the rhetoric and focus on the future of rural and community energy generation.”

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