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News round-up, March 24, 2023 by GERMÁN & CO

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CEO, Germán & Co

Germán José Manuel Toro Ghio, son of Germán Alfonso and Jenny Isabel Cristina, became a citizen of planet Earth in the cold dawn of Sunday, May 11, 1958, in Santiago, capital of southern Chile....

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  • Mar 24, 2023

Reflections by the editor…

Calligrammes; “poèmes de la paix et da la guerre”, 1913-1916, by Guillaume Apollinaire; 1918; Paris.


while we may call snow a flute — which among all the flutes
of language is the finest stem — the deepest well to hide
sounds, the fanfares of interwar silence, so beloved of the lieu-
tenant: who tells his soldiers to study the military trade

snow in the business of war is no fault of flutes or fanfares
a plane flies like an angel through the heavens, scattering the feathers
of the hawk’s victim wrapped in white, like a cut-out sheet of darkness
nervously sealing the holes in the flute’s ragged corpse

perhaps in that music between silver and bronze — all snow and water —
it rises like a sail, like a ship’s pitch-covered bottom —
the lieutenant forgets orders and hallucinates: the almonds will flower
and the soldiers melt like snow through the village, seeking port wine

lucid in his dreams, he bleeds from his head — Apollinaire
has forgotten something — in the end he’ll ask for pickled cabbage juice,
but there are no villagers here, the angel of death arrives, opens the door
shuts his eyes, wraps him in music, and then cuts loose

his boat on the river, the soldiers bring wine, sit downcast on the hilltop,
make a tent from their rifles and pull dried bread from their pockets
washing it down with their wine, sadness and surrealism —
death is here — all around them lurk ravens and foxes

Most read…

Humanity Is Facing a Great Injustice. The World Bank Must Respond…

The World Bank and the donor countries that control it can do more to step up and tackle this generational challenge.


No Trump bump in New Hampshire as possible criminal charges loom

The vice chair of the Republican Party in Belknap, the most red county in the state, Lambert said, "With my primary vote I want to make sure that I put somebody up that I can agree with, that supports my principles, but is also electable." Lambert supported for Trump in both 2016 and 2020.The vice chair of the Republican Party in Belknap, the most red county in the state, Lambert said, "With my primary vote I want to make sure that I put somebody up that I can agree with, that supports my principles, but is also electable." Lambert supported for Trump in both 2016 and 2020.


Geothermal Power, Cheap and Clean, Could Help Run Japan. So Why Doesn’t It?

For decades, new plants have been blocked by powerful local interests, the owners of hot spring resorts, that say the sites threaten a centuries-old tradition.


Tabuchi and Lee traveled across Japan to understand the resistance to a valuable energy source in the climate fight.

Scotland's offshore wind winners set to cut North Sea carbon emissions

Initial investments from BP's Alternative Energy Investments and TotalEnergies total 1,670,917 pounds each


“We’re living in a volatile world…

it’s easy to get distracted by things like changeable commodity prices or a shortage of solar panels. But this wouldn’t be true to our purpose – we can’t allow ourselves to lose sight of our end goal; said Andres Gluski, CEO of energy and utility AES Corp

Humanity Is Facing a Great Injustice. The World Bank Must Respond…

The World Bank and the donor countries that control it can do more to step up and tackle this generational challenge.



It’s one of the great injustices of this era that countries contributing negligible amounts to global carbon emissions are now feeling the most harrowing impacts of climate change. Pakistan, which makes up less than 1 percent of the world’s carbon footprint, had a third of its territory under water in last year’s floods. Parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are experiencing the worst drought in 70 years of record-keeping, threatening millions with famine, even though the entire continent of Africa contributes less than 4 percent of global carbon emissions. Small island developing countries such as Papua New Guinea account for less than 1 percent of global carbon emissions, yet they stand to lose the most when sea levels rise.

The World Bank and the donor countries that control it can do more to step up and tackle this generational challenge. To make the World Bank and other multilateral lending institutions fit for purpose in the 21st century, leaders need to figure out how to raise and leverage the massive amounts of capital that are going to be necessary in the coming years to help countries adapt to and mitigate a changing climate.

For years, climate financing took a back seat to the bank’s twin goals of reducing extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. Today, it is integral to achieving those goals. Helping the poorest of the poor will increasingly mean ensuring access to drought-resistant seeds and access to water as lakes dry up. In middle-income countries, promoting shared prosperity will increasingly mean expanding access to reliable, affordable clean energy. The World Bank has played an active role in making progress in those areas. It has begun to help countries incorporate climate change into their overall economic development plans and should continue this necessary work.

Climate-related funding has already grown in importance at the bank; in fact, some of the poorest countries are already worried that it will cut into funding for basics like education and health care. That’s why additional funding is needed to assure them that taking global action on climate won’t come at the expense of their development. About 36 percent of the money the World Bank lent last year was classified as climate related, although questions have been raised about how classifications are made. That comes to nearly $32 billion — a big jump from previous years, but still far short of what is needed.

In 2009, donor countries promised to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help lower income countries with mitigation and adaptation. They only mustered $83 billion, $36.9 billion of which came from multilateral development banks and climate funds, in 2020. Those unfulfilled promises haven’t gone unnoticed. According to Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, chair of the African Group of Negotiators on climate change, many developing countries, including those in Africa, have put forth ambitious plans to curb emissions in the future, but have been “hampered by the pledged financial support, which are falling short of expectations.”

A changing climate, a changing world

Climate change around the world: In “Postcards From a World on Fire,” 193 stories from individual countries show how climate change is reshaping reality everywhere, from dying coral reefs in Fiji to disappearing oases in Morocco and far, far beyond.

The role of our leaders: Writing at the end of 2020, Al Gore, the 45th vice president of the United States, found reasons for optimism in the Biden presidency, a feeling perhaps borne out by the passing of major climate legislation. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been criticisms. For example, Charles Harvey and Kurt House argue that subsidies for climate capture technology will ultimately be a waste.

The worst climate risks, mapped: In this feature, select a country, and we'll break down the climate hazards it faces. In the case of America, our maps, developed with experts, show where extreme heat is causing the most deaths.

What people can do: Justin Gillis and Hal Harvey describe the types of local activism that might be needed, while Saul Griffith points to how Australia shows the way on rooftop solar. Meanwhile, small changes at the office might be one good way to cut significant emissions, writes Carlos Gamarra.

Although Covid, inflation and the energy crisis related to the war in Ukraine have strained government budgets everywhere, it would be shortsighted to ignore the significance and potential of investing in climate financing. According to Devesh Kapur, a professor at Johns Hopkins and co-author of a history of the World Bank, raising an additional $100 billion in lending capacity for the World Bank could require donors to put up about $20 billion in cash. The cost to the United States, which holds 16 percent of shares, would be $3.2 billion, an amount that could be paid out over five years.

Getting new money in the door is important, but it’s not enough. The bank also should adopt new strategies and new rules that will allow it to funnel money more quickly to where it is needed the most and will be used most effectively. For instance, some small island states have per capita incomes that are too high for concessional loans according to World Bank rules, despite their acute vulnerability to climate change. Those rules should be revisited, in some cases, to make sure that climate financing is prioritizing the areas that will make the biggest difference.

The bank should also provide more grants and below-market financing related to climate, as Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts has called for. The World Bank and multilateral development banks provided only 15 percent of their adaptation finance and less than 5 percent of mitigation finance through grants — a fraction he called “shockingly low.” By comparison, Green Climate Fund, a multilateral climate fund, issued grants 41 percent of the time for adaptation and mitigation projects.

The transformation that is required at the World Bank will not be easy. But the departure of its former president, David Malpass, who says he will resign in June, might help build confidence in the bank’s climate work. Mr. Malpass, who was nominated by the Trump administration in 2019, has been the subject of controversy since his bewildering public refusal last year to acknowledge the role of human activity in extreme weather resulting from climate change.

Ajay Banga, the former chief executive of Mastercard, is President Biden’s nominee to lead the bank, and is likely to be confirmed next month. The leadership change presents an opportunity to clarify the bank’s role and lay out an ambitious vision for its future. Mr. Banga, who has recently visited several African countries, has said that he sees the bank’s goals of addressing poverty, shared growth and climate as “intertwined.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has been at the forefront of calls to overhaul the bank and to elevate the issue of climate, also noted the need for more concessional financing in a recent speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The bank was designed to lend to individual countries to spur economic growth within their own borders, but that model doesn’t work to address global problems like climate change, she said, because the benefits “stretch far beyond the borders of the country where a given project takes place.”

If the benefits of investing in climate change adaptation and mitigation are shared, so should the costs.

    Image: Germán & Co

No Trump bump in New Hampshire as possible criminal charges loom

The vice chair of the Republican Party in Belknap, the most red county in the state, Lambert said, "With my primary vote I want to make sure that I put somebody up that I can agree with, that supports my principles, but is also electable." Lambert supported for Trump in both 2016 and 2020.The vice chair of the Republican Party in Belknap, the most red county in the state, Lambert said, "With my primary vote I want to make sure that I put somebody up that I can agree with, that supports my principles, but is also electable." Lambert supported for Trump in both 2016 and 2020.



LACONIA, New Hampshire, March 24 (Reuters) - Longtime Donald Trump supporter Doug Lambert agrees with the former president that the potential criminal charges he faces in New York are being cooked up by his enemies on the left. But, Lambert worries about the "messiness" of a Trump presidential candidacy and is leaning towards voting for someone else.

Like other Republicans in New Hampshire, which traditionally holds the second nominating contest in presidential election years, Lambert, 58, the owner of a manufacturing company, will be among the earliest to weigh in on Trump's viability for the Republican nomination in 2024.

"With my primary vote I want to make sure that I put somebody up that I can agree with, that supports my values, but is also electable," said Lambert, who voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020 and is vice chair of the Republican Party in Belknap, the state's reddest county.

"If I was voting today I would vote for Ron DeSantis," he said, referring to the Florida governor who has not yet officially announced a White House run but is seen as a leading contender for the nomination and is Trump's biggest challenger.

Trump has sought to solidify support for his candidacy by presenting himself as a victim of a politically motivated investigation by New York prosecutors that could lead to his indictment for alleged hush money payments he made to porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 election campaign. Trump has denied making the payments.

But interviews with a dozen Republican voters in Belknap this week found that while Trump supporters still held affection for the former president and were considering his candidacy, many were also looking at who else is in the field.

A majority of those interviewed said they agreed with Trump's allegations - for which he has offered no evidence - that Democrats were using the legal system to hurt his candidacy, but none saw the indictment as a persuasive argument to firmly back him.

Nearly all said they were also interested in DeSantis, who is visiting New Hampshire next month, as well as their own state's governor, Chris Sununu, who is flirting with a run.

"I think our governor here in New Hampshire would be a very good choice. He's a real level-headed guy," said Raymond Peavey, 56, a former Marine who voted for Trump twice but wants to assess the other candidates before committing to him again.


Benefiting from a large field of candidates and tapping into the angst of working-class voters, Trump handily won the New Hampshire primary in 2016 in a prelude to victories across the Northeast and ultimately the Republican nomination.

With at least 10 months to go before the primary, surveys have provided a mixed picture of Trump's chances in 2024.

In a University of New Hampshire poll in January, likely Republican voters preferred DeSantis over Trump by a 12-point margin, 42% to 30%, with Sununu at 4%. That contrasts with an Emerson College poll released this month before Trump announced he would be arrested that showed the former president with 58% support in the state, trouncing DeSantis at 17%.

Dante Scala, a politics professor at the University of New Hampshire, said he believed most Republican voters would shrug off any charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who Trump has accused of reviving a case already reviewed by federal prosecutors for political ends.

"But when you get to the case in Georgia or indictments concerning January 6th, they might be more serious problems," he said, referring to a Fulton County, Georgia investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there and a separate federal probe into his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol.

"The more indictments, the more points of leverage a DeSantis or whoever can use to make the case against Trump."

Even with its relatively small population of 1.4 million, New Hampshire has for decades held the second nominating contest in presidential election cycles, giving its voters outsized influence in the pivotal early days of White House campaigns.

While Trump is seen as having a lock on 25-30% of Republican voters, there are signs across the country that many Republicans are looking for an alternative candidate who can achieve conservative policy wins but without the drama the real estate magnate brought to the White House.

Political strategists and analysts say if Trump is charged he may succeed in rallying diehard supporters to his side but that independents and Republican moderates will almost certainly distance themselves.

Prudy Veysey, a Republican from Belknap, is hoping her state will send an early message on Trump's viability.

"We’ve seen the chaos and the havoc," said the 63-year-old retired office manager who has never voted for the former president. "It's just time to move on from Trump."

    Image: Chang W. Lee is a staff photographer. He was a member of the staff that won two 2002 Pulitzer Prizes: one for Breaking News Photography and the other for Feature Photography. Follow him on Instagram @nytchangster. 

Geothermal Power, Cheap and Clean, Could Help Run Japan. So Why Doesn’t It?

For decades, new plants have been blocked by powerful local interests, the owners of hot spring resorts, that say the sites threaten a centuries-old tradition.



Tabuchi and Lee traveled across Japan to understand the resistance to a valuable energy source in the climate fight.

A treasured getaway for travelers in Japan is a retreat to one of thousands of hot spring resorts nestled in the mountains or perched on scenic coasts, some of which have been frequented for centuries.

All are powered by Japan’s abundant geothermal energy. In fact, Japan sits on so much geothermal energy potential, if harnessed to generate electricity, it could play a major role in replacing the nation’s coal, gas or nuclear plants.

For decades, however, Japan’s geothermal energy ambitions have been blocked by its surprisingly powerful hot spring owners.

“Rampant geothermal development is a threat to our culture,” said Yoshiyasu Sato, proprietor of Daimaru Asunaroso, a secluded inn set next to a hot spring in the mountains of Fukushima Prefecture that is said to date back some 1,300 years. “If something were to happen to our onsens,” he said, using the Japanese word for hot springs, “who will pay?”

Japan, an archipelago thought to sit atop the third-largest geothermal resources of any country on earth, harnesses puzzlingly little of its geothermal wealth. It generates about 0.3 percent of its electricity from geothermal energy, a squandered opportunity, analysts say, for a resource-poor country that is in desperate need of new and cleaner ways of generating power.

    A solitary hot spring at Yoshiyasu Sato’s property in the mountains of Fukushima Prefecture.

Mr. Sato, who leads the Society to Protect Japan’s Secluded Hot Springs, and the monitoring gear he installed.

    A small geothermal site near a hot spring resort in Oguni, Japan.

One answer to that puzzle lies in Japan’s venerable hot springs like the one at the inn run by Mr. Sato. For decades, inns like his have resisted geothermal projects out of fears that they will damage their mineral-rich hot springs.

In a pre-emptive move, Mr. Sato has fit Asunaroso with monitoring equipment that tracks water flows and temperatures in real time, and is pushing for onsens across the country to do the same. He has led the opposition to geothermal development as the chairman of an organization that translates loosely as the Society to Protect Japan’s Secluded Hot Springs.

Understand the Latest News on Climate Change

Running out of time. A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, said that Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade, and nations will need to make an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels to prevent the planet from overheating dangerously beyond that level.

A species in danger. Federal officials said that sunflower sea stars, huge starfish that until recently thrived in waters along the west coast of North America and that play a key role in keeping marine ecosystems balanced, are threatened with extinction and should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

PFAS chemicals. The E.P.A. announced that the U.S. government intends to require utilities to remove from drinking water perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, part of a class of chemicals known as PFAS. Exposure to the chemicals, which are found in countless household items, has been linked to cancer, liver damage and other health effects.

Measuring droughts and deluges. Scientists have long cautioned that warming temperatures would lead to wetter and drier global extremes such as severe rainfall and intense droughts. A new study that used satellites that can detect changes in gravity to measure fluctuations in water shows where that may already be happening.

Bureaucrats in Tokyo, Japan’s giant electrical utilities and even the nation’s manufacturing giants have been no match. “We can’t forcibly push a project forward without the proper understanding,” said Shuji Ajima of the Tokyo-based Electric Power Development Company, also called J-Power, which operates just one geothermal plant in Japan, accounting for 0.1 percent of its power generation. The utility has been forced to give up on a number of geothermal projects in past decades.

“Geothermal plants are never going to be game-changers, but I believe they can still play a role in carbon-free energy,” he said.

‘It’s All the Things Japan Needs’

Hot springs are a small miracle of nature, fed by rainwater that seeps into the rock that is heated by the earth’s interior before bubbling up to the surface, a process that takes years, even decades.

More than 13,000 onsen inns and baths dot the country. There are strict rules, displayed in numerous languages on posters plastered on onsen walls. No bathing suits. No soapy bodies allowed. And an additional Covid-era requirement, “mokuyoku,” or silent bathing — no chatter in the baths.

Geothermal power plants, on the other hand, draw on wells drilled deeper in the earth’s crust, pumping up steam and hot water to power giant turbines that generate electricity. Developers say that because plants draw from sources deep beneath onsen springs, there is little possibility one will affect the other.

Still, the interconnection between hot springs and deeper geothermal heat remains something of a mystery. When hot spring flows change, it’s often difficult to pin down a cause.

“We don’t yet fully understand the full consequences of geothermal development, said Yuki Yusa, a professor emeritus and expert in geothermal sciences at Kyoto University.

Japan, the world’s fifth-largest emitter of planet-warming gases, needs more clean energy to meet its climate goals and to rein in its dependence on fossil fuel imports. Much of its nuclear power program remains shuttered after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Geothermal power’s green credentials, combined with its relatively low cost and its ability to produce electricity consistently round the clock, have made it a promising source of renewable energy.

The Japanese government, which seeks to triple the country’s geothermal capacity by 2030, has tried to smooth the way for more projects by opening up geothermal development in national parks and speeding up environmental assessments.

If Japan were to develop all of its conventional geothermal resources for electricity production, it could provide about 10 percent of Japan’s electricity, according to the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Tokyo. That would be more electricity than Japan generated from hydropower, solar, wind or nuclear in 2019.

“It’s domestic, it’s renewable,” said Jacques Hymans, an energy expert at the University of Southern California. “It’s all the things Japan needs.”

But across Japan, local governments have recently introduced a fresh round of restrictions. Kusatsu, an onsen resort town north of Tokyo, passed an ordinance last year that would place the onus on developers seeking the town’s approval to prove that a geothermal project wouldn’t affect local hot springs, a difficult hurdle. Oita, a prefecture that has more onsen springs than any other in Japan, recently expanded a no-drill zone in the city of Beppu, considered Japan’s onsen capital.

“We understand the nation’s energy needs,” said Yutaka Seki, an executive director at the National Hot Spring Association, which represents inns nationwide. “We aren’t opposed to geothermal energy for the sake of opposing it,” he said. “But we strongly caution against unchecked large-scale development.”

A Town Defined by Steam

In Beppu, steam is everywhere. It courses through its streets and envelopes its townhouses.

For decades, large hotels, inns, and even private residences drew from the region’s onsens, severely depleting the thermal spring resources. Most of its onsens now use pumps to force hot water from the ground.

    Steam rises from the streets of Beppu, a resort town on the southern island of Kyushu.

    There’s so much steam in Beppu that some restaurants use it to cook.

    “Blood Pond Hell,” a thermal pool in Beppu that is naturally red from minerals and geothermal heat.

Large-scale geothermal development is out of the question. “We’re talking about what we must do to sustain Beppu’s culture, its established way of life,” said Hidehiko Hida, head of the city office responsible for onsens.

Some 40 miles away stands a rarity: A big geothermal plant. It’s the nation’s largest. But it’s also four decades old, and Kyushu Electric, the regional utility, hasn’t been able to build plants of a similar scale since.

“It’s difficult to find a place that’s willing to say yes,” said Takanori Senju, who heads the utility’s geothermal survey team.

A generous government policy that pays above-market prices for geothermal power has more recently spurred a flurry of smaller geothermal projects. But most plants built since the policy was adopted are tiny, powering perhaps just a few hundred homes. That way they can avoid environmental assessments and restrictions.

But they’re too little to have a significant effect on Japan’s overall energy market, experts say.‌

Signs of Change

Yuzawa, in the snowy northern province of Akita, is a rare example of a hot spring town that has embraced geothermal energy.

An early developer, Dowa Mining, involved local community leaders in its planning, hiring the city’s best graduates, sending officials to local festivals and even offering to drill springs for local onsens. The local government, for its part, was eager to foster a new industry in a remote region of Japan. A local milk farmer now uses the hot spring water to pasteurize his milk and yogurt.

Japan had hoped for more Yuzawas. The nation opened its first commercial, large-scale geothermal power plants in 1966, and in the following decades operators added about a dozen more, including one in Yuzawa. But with rising local opposition from hot spring inns, Japan has added almost no geothermal capacity since the 1990s. 

That’s even as Japanese manufacturing giants, like Toshiba, have come to dominate the global market for geothermal turbines. Very little of their business is on their home turf.

    A shop in Yuzawa uses geothermal power to pasteurize milk and yogurt.

    “I can’t say I’m not concerned,” said Masami Shibata, owner of the Abe Ryokan resort.

    A bather at Abe Ryokan.

So in 2019, when Japan’s first large geothermal plant in 23 years opened in Yuzawa, with the ability to power almost 100,000 homes, it was a breakthrough.

The toughest challenge facing any geothermal project in Japan isn’t related the geology or technology, said Shun Iwata, a retired Dowa Mining executive who embedded in Yuzawa for nearly two decades to bring locals round on the idea. He is now an adviser to the city. “What’s more important is working on the community and building relationships,” he said.

Even in Yuzawa, though, there has been controversy. Since late 2020, a local inn has had to periodically close after its spring dwindled.

Yuzawa city maintains the city’s geothermal development wasn’t the cause.

“I can’t say I’m not concerned,” said Masami Shibata of Abe Ryokan, one of Yuzawa’s hot spring inns. Still, geothermal energy has become a part of Yuzawa city’s fabric, she said. “I think it’s possible for both hot springs and geothermal to coexist.”



Seaboard: pioneers in power generation in the country

…Armando Rodríguez, vice-president and executive director of the company, talks to us about their projects in the DR, where they have been operating for 32 years.

More than 32 years ago, back in January 1990, Seaboard began operations as the first independent power producer (IPP) in the Dominican Republic. They became pioneers in the electricity market by way of the commercial operations of Estrella del Norte, a 40MW floating power generation plant and the first of three built for Seaboard by Wärtsilä.

    General view of the Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by Orsted off the coast of Blackpool, Britain September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble//File Photo

Scotland's offshore wind winners set to cut North Sea carbon emissions

Initial investments from BP's Alternative Energy Investments and TotalEnergies total 1,670,917 pounds each.


LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - BP (BP.L), TotalEnergies and UK renewable companies were among 13 awarded leases to develop offshore wind to supply power mainly to North Sea oil and gas platforms to lower the sector's emissions, Crown Estate Scotland said on Friday.

The 13 were chosen from 19 bidders for agreements to start offshore wind development work for total initial investment of around 260 million pounds ($317.28 million).

Those set to be the biggest investors are Flotation Energy and Cerulean Winds, who are spending respectively almost 96 million pounds Sterling and 138 million pounds.

BP's Alternative Energy Investments is set to initially invest 1,670,917 pounds and TotalEnergies 200,000 pounds.

The Crown Estate is an independent commercial business that oversees the seabed around Britain.

Through a leasing process called INTOG (Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas), it aims to attract investment in innovative offshore wind projects in Scottish waters to help decarbonise North Sea operations.

The maximum capacity of all the projects that are awarded contracts to supply power to oil and gas installations is 5 gigawatts (GW), and 500 megawatt (MW) for smaller innovative projects, Crown Estate Scotland said.

Crown Estate Scotland will offer a seabed lease of 25 to 50 years for these projects, it said.

Britain is a world leader in wind power, which generated a record amount of energy in the country in 2022, supplying more than 25% of its electricity, National Grid says.

As the largest renewable source in Britain, offshore wind can power about 40% of UK homes, the Crown Estate said

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