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Solar plane takes off in 'moment of truth' for longest solo flight in history

Solar planeA solar plane took off for what could be the longest solo flight in history on Monday, with its Swiss pilot confronting the “moment of truth” of a journey around the Pacific Ocean and around the world.

The Solar Impulse 2 set off about 3am from Nagoya, Japan, en route to Hawaii, a trip expected to take five days and nights of continuous flight.

The Pacific crossing represents the most difficult leg of Andre Borschberg’s attempt to circumnavigate the world in a multi-stage flight.

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Obama Administration Approves Shell's Drilling Plan For The Arctic

Shell OilThe Obama administration on Monday granted conditional approval to Shell to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic, which the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said would be "subject to rigorous safety standards.”

The approval will allow Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. to begin drilling this summer in the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska. Shell's drilling plan proposes up to six wells in an area about 70 miles offshore.

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Oil Services Co.,Baker Huhes, lays off 10,500

Baker Hughes "Extreme market forces" are in play in the global energy sector, oil services company Baker Hughes said Tuesday in announcing widespread layoffs.

The company said it was cutting about 17 percent of its workforce, or around 10,500 jobs, as it works to streamline its finances amid the drop in exploration and production. During the first quarter, Baker Hughes reported revenue of $4.59 billion, a 20 percent decline year-on-year.

"Our first quarter results are a reflection of the extreme market forces faced by our industry since late December," Baker Hughes Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Martin Craighead said in a statement. "Consistent with past downturns, many of our customers have curtailed or canceled projects."

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Coal Is Dying and It's Never Coming Back

Coal is DyingCoal, the No. 1 cause of climate change, is dying. Last year saw a record number of coal plant retirements in the United States, and a study last week from Duke University found that since 2008, the coal industry shed nearly 50,000 jobs, while natural gas and renewable energy added four times that number.

Even China, which produces and consumes more coal than the rest of the world put together, is expected to hit peak coal use within a decade, in order to meet its promise to President Barack Obama to reduce its carbon emissions starting in 2030.

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To foil oil spills, new federal rule requires better blowout preventers

Blowout preventersThe Obama administration unveiled a new rule Monday that's designed to help prevent a repeat of the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and to bolster the president's claim that it's safe to start drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

The rule calls for tighter requirements on blowout preventers, a supposedly fail-safe device that failed miserably in the 2010 catastrophe. Eleven workers died, and millions of barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement came as President Barack Obama has proposed opening waters off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia to drilling.

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Germany Proves Life With Less Fossil Fuel Getting Easiersss

Life with less fossil fuelsSitting in a control center that helps ensure uninterrupted power for 82 million Germans, Gunter Scheibner is proving that renewable energy from the sun and wind can be just as reliable as fossil fuels.

Scheibner, in charge of keeping flows stable over 6,200 miles (9,976 kilometers) of transmission lines in eastern Germany, must keep power from solar and wind in harmony whether it’s sunny or overcast, windy or still. In doing so, he’s overcoming the great challenge for renewable energy: how to keep supplies steady when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

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Japan now has more car charging points than gas stations

Japanese charging pointsNissan Motor Co. has reported that Japan now has more places to charge electric vehicles than gas stations. The country has roughly 34,000 gas stations, compared to 40,000 charging points. The charging points range from stations to home setups.

"An important element of the continued market growth is the development of the charging infrastructure," Nissan Chief Financial Officer Joseph G. Peter told analysts on a conference call, according to Bloomberg Business.

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