USA raises tariffs on inexpensive Chinese solar panels

This Wednesday, the United States Department of Commerce issued a ruling to set tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels ranging from 18% to 250% for different solar panels manufacturers. China protested against the new tariffs on Thursday claiming that they make export of solar panels to the USA unprofitable.

Solar Panel

A US-German company SolarWorld and a group of other companies complained and initiated the tariffs change. Some manufacturers claimed China’s subsidies are an unfair advantage for the Chinese solar panel manufacturers, and challenged whether China’s economy is a free market.

Wang Shuai, a spokesman for the Yingli solar energy company, commented that 30% tariffs are unprofitable. He claimed that in the solar industry, gross profit margins are about 10 percent. “A tax rate of 30 percent is the same as 200 percent. Both of them mean the door is closed for exporting to the United States. No one does business to lose money.”

The tariffs would not go into effect until the International Trade Commission confirms the Chinese pricing hurts the U.S. solar industry.

The tariffs occur as the Chinese solar panel manufacturers have reported losses this year of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to AP.

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Electric vehicles can be less green than classic fuel cars, Norwegian study finds

A Norwegian University of Science and Technology study released Thursday found electric vehicles have a potential for higher eco-toxicity and greenhouse impact than conventional cars. The study includes an examination of the electric car’s life cycle as a whole rather than a study of the electric car’s environmental impact during the use phase.

A Nissan Leaf electric car recharging at an on-street public charging station in Amsterdam

The researchers conducted a comparison of the environmental impact of electric cars in view of different ratios of green-to-fuel electricity energy sources. In the case of mostly coal- or oil-based electricity supply, electric cars are disadvantageous compared to classic diesel cars with the greenhouse effect impact being up to two times larger.

The researchers found that in Europe, electric cars pose a “10% to 24% decrease in global warming potential (GWP) relative to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles”.

The researchers suggest to improve eco-friendliness of electric vehicles by “reducing vehicle production supply chain impacts and promoting clean electricity sources in decision making regarding electricity infrastructure” and using the electric cars for a longer time, so that the use phase plays a more important role in the electric vehicle life cycle.

 

Apple executive Steve Jobs resigns

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, has chosen to step down from his post as CEO of the company. The former Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook will be succeeding Jobs as CEO. Jobs resigned in a letter to Apple’s board of directors stating, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.” In that same letter, Jobs stated that his desire was to remain as chairman of the board.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has been fighting pancreatic cancer since 2004 and has been on medical leave since January of this year. This was Jobs’ third period of medical leave. He briefly made an appearance in March and June to unveil the iPad 2 and the iCloud, an online cloud computing service. In part of his resignation, Jobs left this farewell, “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

Tim Cook was personally recommended by Jobs to take over as CEO and has been serving as interim CEO since the beginning of Jobs’ medical leave. Before his post at Apple, Cook held positions at IBM and Compaq. He is known for staying out of the spotlight. Due to an operational overhaul by Cook, he is credited with the success of the iPad and MacBook Air. He also stood in Steve Jobs’ place while the CEO underwent liver transplant surgery. He received $59 million for his performance in the position.

Analyst Charles Golvin predicts that the resignation will not begin to affect Apple performance for 1.5 to 2 years. Many of the new products are already under development and Jobs will continue to steer the company from his position as chairman of the board. Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech and a member of the board, adds, “Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration”. A contrary view is offered by Charles O’Reilly, a management expert at Stanford University, who stated, “Great companies rarely go from strength to strength”. Richard Doherty attributes Steve Jobs’ success as the ability to hold off on a product until it is perfect. He states “A lot of products could have gotten to market earlier, but he wanted it better.”

In light of the revelation, Apple shares (AAPL) slid $19.37 in after hours trading—a drop of over 5%. Since market open, Apple shares rose to $373.72, a drop of only $2.46 since Wednesday’s close.

ISRO Builds India’s Fastest Supercomputer

Indian Space Research Organisation has built a supercomputer, which is to be India’s fastest supercomputer in terms of theoretical peak performance of 220 TeraFLOPS (220 Trillion Floating Point Operations per second). The supercomputing facility named as Satish Dhawan Supercomputing Facility is located at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram. The new Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) based supercomputer named “SAGA-220” (Supercomputer for Aerospace with GPU Architecture-220 TeraFLOPS) is being used by space scientists for solving complex aerospace problems. The supercomputer SAGA-220 was inaugurated by Dr K Radhakrishnan, Chairman, ISRO today at VSSC.

India's fastest Supercomputer - SAGA-220.

 “SAGA-220” Supercomputer is fully designed and built by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre using commercially available hardware, open source software components and in house developments. The system uses 400 NVIDIA Tesla 2070 GPUs and 400 Intel Quad Core Xeon CPUs supplied by WIPRO with a high speed interconnect. With each GPU and CPU providing a performance of 500 GigaFLOPS and 50 GigaFLOPS respectively, the theoretical peak performance of the system amounts to 220 TeraFLOPS. The present GPU system offers significant advantage over the conventional CPU based system in terms of cost, power and space requirements. The total cost of this Supercomputer is about Rs. 14 crores. The system is environmentally green and consumes a power of only 150 kW. This system can also be easily scaled to many PetaFLOPS (1000 TeraFLOPS).

Apple Inc. unveils iPad 2 tablet

In a media event on March 2, Apple Inc. unveiled its iPad 2 tablet computer, the successor to the company’s iPad. The announcement was made at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. CEO Steve Jobs appeared at the event and introduced the new product, with FaceTime video messaging (with front and rear cameras) as well as a new dual-core Apple A5 processor.

Apple ipad 2.

The iPad 2 is an all new design and has several improvements over the original iPad. The device runs on an dual-core Apple A5 CPU. According to Jobs, the CPU’s new dual-core capability enhances multitasking and doubles the processing speed. Apple additionally introduced a magnetic ‘Smart Cover’ accessory that snaps to the front screen of the device along with several new apps ported from the Mac OS X operating system and the iPhone. These include iMovie, GarageBand, and Photo Booth. The new iPad introduces front and rear cameras which enable FaceTime. The new tablet is 15% lighter and 33% thinner than the previous version – thinner than an iPhone 4 – and has beveled edges. It will be available in black and white. The device continues to be capable of ten hours of battery life on a single charge.

The announcement comes after months of rumors about a successor to the original iPad. Competitors have designed tablets to compete with the iPad such as Motorola’s Xoom powered by the Android operating system. One research analyst predicted that iPads would still make up at least 20 million of the more than 24 million tablet computers sold in the United States in 2011. Another analyst credited the Apple’s App store for iPad’s continued success. The device will become available in the United States on March 11, 2011, available in 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes. iPad 2’s 3G models can connect to the wireless networks of AT&T or Verizon Wireless and Wi-Fi. The iPad 2 will start at US$499. In tandem with the announcement, Apple reduced the price of its original iPad to US$399. Shares of Apple inc. rose $2.81, closing at US$352.12 the day of the announcement.

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