Clean Energy Wire – Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Fri, 15 Jan 2021 06:21:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 “Never before in the History of Civilization have we had such Warming:” 2020 saw $210 billion in Natural Disasters Sun, 10 Jan 2021 05:03:10 +0000 By Charlotte Nijhuis | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – Latest data released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service show that globally 2020 was on par with the warmest year ever recorded (2016), marking the end of the warmest decade on record. Meanwhile, Europe saw its warmest year on record, 0.4°C [0.72° F.] warmer than 2019 which was previously the warmest year.

Johan Rockström, director of The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said that while it is not about record heat in any given year, “we are looking back on an alarmingly warm decade with an alarming amount of extreme weather events […] – never before in the history of human civilisation have we had such warming.” He said the trend could only be stopped by quickly reducing CO2 emissions. “We can make the reduction, but we really need to start now.”

At the same time, German reinsurance company Munich RE said global losses from natural disasters were significantly higher in 2020 than the year before. The total losses came to 210 billion U.S. dollars, of which around 82 billion was insured. The uninsured portion of natural disaster losses added up to around 60 percent, the report found.

Record numbers of hurricanes, floods and wildfires are a cause for concern, noted Munich RE board member Torsten Jeworrek. “Climate change will play an increasing role in all of these hazards,” he said. In growing economies in Asia, only a small amount of losses were insured. According to the report, the costliest natural disaster of 2020 was the severe flooding in China during the summer monsoon rains.

The U.S. suffered rather high losses, totalling 95 billion dollars overall, 67 billion of which was insured. In Europe losses were relatively low, adding up to a total of 12 billion dollars, of which 3.6 billion was insured.

2020 had a global mean temperature 1.25 degrees higher than pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service. Ernst Rauch, climate and geo-scientist at Munich Re, said: “Even if the weather disasters for one year cannot be directly linked to climate change, and a longer period needs to be studied to assess their significance, these extreme values fit with the expected consequences of a decades-long warming trend for the atmosphere and oceans that is influencing risks.”

Via Clean Energy Wire


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Reuters: “2020 and 2016 are world’s hottest years on record”

German Researchers develop battery pack for electric cars that is 40% Lighter Sat, 02 Jan 2021 05:01:28 +0000 By Julian Wettengel | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability (LBF) have developed a lightweight battery pack to reduce the overall weight of e-car batteries. The new pack holding the battery cells is made of fibre-plastic composites, reducing the weight by 40 percent compared to a casing made of aluminium.

“This design not only reduces the moving mass of the electric vehicle, but also increases its range and dynamics thanks to additional integrated functions,” wrote the LBF in a press release. The new pack can be manufactured within two minutes and at low cost, said the institute.

Battery packs for electric vehicles are currently very heavy due to the large number of battery cells required for the desired high ranges, and the whole system can weigh several hundred kilogrammes, making up more than 30 percent of a car’s total mass, said the institute. The heavier a car, the more energy is needed to operate it.

In September 2020, Germany registered more than 20,000 pure electric cars in a month for first time, continuing the upward trend for e-car registrations. Germany has been struggling to lower emissions in the transport sector, which have remained broadly stable for decades as gains from more efficient engines have been eaten up by heavier cars.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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Deficit Hawks: Reducing environmental damage of greenhouse gases, pollutants saves billions Sat, 26 Dec 2020 05:02:36 +0000 By Charlotte Nijhuis | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – Reducing the environmental damages caused by greenhouse gases, nitrogen emissions, other pollutants and human activities can save Germany billions of euros, the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) writes. The agency has updated the cost rates of environmental impact to include those for nitrogen and phosphorus emissions, greenhouse gases in the agricultural supply chain, and building materials.

Prof. Dirk Messner, head of the UBA, said: “Consistent environmental and climate protection saves us and future generations many billions of euros through reduced environmental and health damage. The issue should play a much greater role in the current discussions on the EU climate target or EU agricultural policy and its national implementation – but also in trade policy, for example.”

In the UBA’s calculations, damage costs include the restoration costs of damaged buildings and other infrastructure; the market value of crop and production losses; as well as the sums of money people would be willing to pay to avoid damage to their health. For example, the production of a single cubic metre of tropical hardwood generates 1,440 euros worth of environmental damage, while the production of one tonne of medium-strength concrete generates environmental damage worth around 26 euros, according to the UBA.

Thus, the production of ready-mix concrete alone has caused environmental damage costs of approximately 3.2 billion euros in 2019, according to the agency’s calculations.

Recycling building materials can considerably reduce environmental damage costs. The use of recycled steel, for example, cuts environmental damage costs per tonne by at least 350 euros, and by as much as 970 euros for recycled aluminum, the UBA writes.

“These examples show the significant dimension of the damage caused by environmental pollution in Germany every year. It is important to make these often overlooked costs visible because the damage caused to health and the environment is real for our society today, for our children and grandchildren, but also for people in other parts of the world,” Messner said.

Charlotte Nijhuis is Junior Correspondent at Clean Energy Wire, where she reports on the energy transition in Germany and beyond. Before she moved to Berlin she worked as a freelance journalist for various Dutch media. She has an MA in Journalism from the University of Amsterdam and a BA in Political Science from Amsterdam University College.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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Germany backs major international green hydrogen project in Saudi Arabia Sat, 19 Dec 2020 05:02:57 +0000 By Benjamin Wehrmann | –

German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp will supply an electrolyser for a massive international green hydrogen project in Saudi Arabia with the capacity to produce up to 650 tonnes of the climate-neutral gas per day with wind and solar power installations.

The German economy ministry (BMWi) announced that it will support the “Element One” power-to-X project in the context of its national hydrogen strategy in a bid to prepare a “global market scale-up” by backing Thyssenkrupp’s contribution of an electrolysis module with a capacity of 20 megawatts.

The entire electrolysis project will eventually be powered by up to four gigawatts of renewable energy installations. It will be built by 2025 in Saudi Arabia’s NEOM innovation centre in the country’s North-West.

Besides green hydrogen, the plant is also planned to produce up to 3,000 tonnes of ammoniac per day, which would be shipped to other locations and later converted into hydrogen for use in transport and other sectors, the ministry said.

The project in Saudi Arabia is the second hydrogen production installation abroad to be supported by Germany’s hydrogen strategy. The government has set aside nine billion euros for implementing its strategy, two billion euros of which are earmarked for selected projects in partner countries.


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Germany dedicates $11 bn. to joint Green Hydrogen Plants abroad for Imports to Power its Fuel Cells Sun, 29 Nov 2020 05:01:22 +0000 By Benjamin Wehrmann | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – A new project launched by Germany’s development cooperation organisation GIZ is supposed to prepare the ground for large-scale imports to sustain the country’s budding hydrogen industry as early as 2021, Klaus Stratmann writes in Handelsblatt.

The project, dubbed H2 Global and launched by the GIZ and the German hydrogen and fuel cell association DWV, is providing the blueprint for the economy ministry in its bid to establish an international market for green hydrogen trading, which will be crucial for Germany to procure the volumes of synthetic gas made with renewable energy sources to decarbonise industrial processes, aviation and other sectors of the economy.

H2 Global is supposed to be endowed with 1.5 billion euros through a foundation, and industrial companies like Bayer, BASF, Lufthansa, Siemens and Thyssen-Krupp are among those interested in backing it, Stratmann writes.

Germany has earmarked a total of nine billion euros in the context of its National Hydrogen Strategy, which foresees international partnerships with countries where green hydrogen can be produced “efficiently” thanks to their large solar, wind or hydropower potential. According to the GIZ and the DWV, this group of countries could include Chile, Brazil, South Africa or Ukraine, the article says. Estimates about Germany’s potential for self-supply of hydrogen say domestic renewable power production could merely cover about 30 percent of the quantities needed to achieve the strategy’s goals, Stratmann adds.

Environment minister Svenja Schulze announced at last year’s UN climate conference in Madrid that Germany will establish a central hub to coordinate its international ambitions to push the production and trade of synthetic fuels made with renewable power run by GIZ.

In the context of its hydrogen strategy, the government has eyed several hydrogen projects abroad with countries like Australia or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but researchers have suggested that the focus on imports could overlook vast potentials for domestic production.

Benjamin Wehrmann is staff Correspondent for Clean Energy Wire. Before joining CLEW’s editorial staff, he worked for the AFP news agency in Berlin, Paris and Frankfurt, reporting mainly on domestic politics and economics. He also used to work for the German n-tv news channel as well as for dpa news agency in France. Benjamin holds a joint degree in political science from University of Bath, Sciences Po Paris and FU Berlin and a degree in economics and social sciences from FU Bolzano.

Via Clean Energy Wire

Germany Green Hydrogen

Europeans express relief, hope for climate cooperation after Biden win Sat, 14 Nov 2020 05:01:18 +0000 By Kerstine Appunn, Charlotte Nijhuis, Benjamin Wehrmann and Julian Wettengel | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – European leaders, researchers and media commentators breathed a collective sigh of relief following Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential elections and expressed hope for a new partnership on combating climate change. The news fuelled expectations that the new president will re-join the Paris Agreement and might even follow the EU and China in setting a goal for reaching climate or CO2 neutrality by the middle of the century. Key stumbling blocks between Germany and the United States, such as trade, energy supply, and foreign affairs, will remain, but hopes are growing that Biden will be keen to forge common solutions.

Europe and US stand side by side in fight against climate change – Chancellor Merkel

German chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their victory, saying she was looking forward to working with them. The European Union, Germany and the US would have to stand together to overcome the most important global challenges. “We stand side by side in the fight against global warming and its worldwide effects,” she said in a press statement on Monday morning.

Biden win could open possibility of transatlantic emissions trading system – finance minister Scholz

The United States is and remains Europe’s closest ally in the world, and combating climate change will be on top of the agenda to further deepen this relationship under next president Joe Biden, writes finance minister Olaf Scholz in an op-ed for Spiegel Online. “Not to cover up the obvious with diplomatic rhetoric: Like many of my counterparts across Europe, I am relieved.”

Not everything will be different under Biden, writes Scholz. “But we can hope that Joe Biden will mark the end of the current president’s course against international cooperation, multilateralism and the functioning of international organisations.” With his pledge to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement, Biden essentially opens up “the opportunity to start negotiations on the establishment of a transatlantic emissions trading scheme which, in the long term, must cover all the major economies of the world.” Scholz writes that companies on both sides of the Atlantic would benefit a lot from the “expected US climate policy turnaround.”

“Not to cover up the obvious with diplomatic rhetoric: Like many of my counterparts across Europe, I am relieved.”

Olaf Scholz, German finance minister

“Confident that the US administration will become a strong ally in the fight against climate change” – environment minister Schulze

Svenja Schulze, Germany’s environment minister said in a tweet: “With a President Joe Biden and a Vice-President Kamala Harris, international cooperation and committed climate policy will return to the White House. I look forward to the revived cooperation with Washington and I am confident that the US administration will become a strong ally in the fight against climate change and the greening of the global economy.”

Now we have real prospect of tackling climate change together – economy minister Altmaier

Biden’s announcement to re-enter the Paris Agreement is among the most important prospects of his term in office, economy minister Peter Altmaier told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. “This means that we now have a new chance and a real prospect that we can move forward together on climate action,” said the minister. If the US were to sign on to the pledge to become climate-neutral by 2050, this would be good not only for the economy, but for the planet, he added.

Altmaier cautioned that Biden would not forget issues, such as Germany’s foreign trade surplus. “I believe that some of the problems will continue to concern us, but with the chance to find common solutions.” The minister called for a “broad-based industrial tariff agreement between the US and the European Union.” He added that German carmakers’ factories in the US were a sign that his country was ready to invest there and create jobs.

Renewed EU-US partnership needed to tackle future challenges like climate change – European Commission president von der Leyen

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Biden and said the “renewed” EU-US partnership would be important to tackle challenges in a changing world. “The European Commission stands ready to intensify cooperation with the new Administration and the new Congress to address pressing challenges we face and notably: fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and social consequences, tackling climate change together, promoting a digital transformation that benefits people, strengthening our common security, as well as reforming the rules-based multilateral system.”

Other European Union officials also pointed to the change they are expecting. “We very much look forward to this new transatlantic partnership,” said trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis in a message on Twitter. Today (9 November), showing clearly the state of current transatlantic relations, Dombrovskis announced the EU would impose tariffs on imports of 4 billion US dollars in US goods, as part of a long-running US-EU battle over civil aviation subsidies.

Biden election a source of hope – French minister

The French minister for the ecologic transition, Barbara Pompili, congratulated Biden and Harris on Twitter. “Only weeks before the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, this election is a source of hope that we tackle the ecologic challenges of the century together!”

Spanish environment minister Teresa Ribera likewise congratulated the president-elect and offered a whole list of expectations in environmental policy cooperation for the incoming Democratic administration. Among these, Ribera said, would be “science based decisions” that are particularly important with respect to health and climate policy. She voiced hopes that the new US government will help accelerate the spread of renewable energy sources, boost green finance principles and help achieve technological breakthroughs.

New US climate contribution will “not be too ambitious but anything would be improvement from now” – economist Claudia Kemfert

Claudia Kemfert, professor for energy economics and energy policy at the German Institute for Economic Research, has warned on Twitter that not everything will change under Biden. “Biden also considers Nord Stream 2 (rightly) a mistake. It is unlikely that the sanctions will be lifted, but presumably they will not become ever more stringent.” She also said that in order to re-join the Paris Agreement, the US would have to present a new, ambitious climate contribution (NDC) for the year 2030. “It will not be too ambitious but anything would be an improvement from now,” she said. Kemfert recommended that the European Union and the US initiate a joint “Green New Deal” that would support a 100 percent renewable goal, and put an end to subsidies for conventional energy sources.

Biden’s win truly marks “a new beginning” – economist Ottmar Edenhofer

Joe Biden’s election victory truly marks “a new beginning,” Ottmar Edenhofer, director and chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said in an interview with Der Spiegel. Although Biden’s political scope is limited if the Republicans keep the majority in the Senate, he can reform the rules for the electricity and energy sector, according to Edenhofer. When it comes to international climate action by the EU, China and the US, “Europe in particular has an important task,” Edenhofer said, for example by setting a proposal for a CO2 pricing system that includes other world regions.

Victory for international climate action – NGOs

“The election of Joe Biden is a victory for democracy and the climate movement,” Greenpeace Germany’s executive director Martin Kaiser said, mentioning Bidens plans to rejoin the Paris Agreement and accelerate the switch to renewables and phase-out of the internal combustion engine. “Chancellor Merkel and the European Union should take Joe Biden at his word and, together with the USA and China, consistently tackle the climate crisis after four lost years,” Kaiser said.

Christoph Bals, policy director at Germanwatch, said in a press release: “The change at the top of the US massively increases the chances for effective international climate policy.” The EU should immediately explore what agreements are possible between a new US administration and other partners in climate protection and supporting poorer countries through climate financing, Bals said. “The German government, which holds the presidency of the EU Council until the end of the year, can start laying the foundations for this.”

Biden faces hurdles on the way to climate protection – Spiegel Online

“Biden promised the most ambitious climate programme ever presented by a presidential candidate during his election campaign,” Kurt Stukenberg writes in an opinion piece in Der Spiegel. However, Biden faces hurdles on the way to climate protection, according to Stukenberg. The president-elect has yet to present reduction targets for the next years, and to push through his climate plans he needs the support of the US Congress – which will be difficult in case of a Republican majority there. But even with only the means available to him, Biden could achieve a lot of progress, Stukenberg says:. “He could instruct the US Environmental Protection Agency to set stricter emission limits for power plants in order to come closer to his goal of a regenerative power supply by 2035, withdraw the facilitations for oil and gas production on public land introduced under Trump and reintroduce stricter regulations for methane emissions from gas production.”

New US administration will find itself in a “climate policy debris field” – taz

Despite Joe Biden’s expectations and ambitions, making the US climate-neutral by 2050 will not be easy, as the new US administration will find itself in a “climate policy debris field,” writes Bernhard Pötter in the taz. “According to a Washington Post analysis, Trump and his followers have watered down or abolished a total of 125 environmental standards and laws; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State Department, both central to energy and climate policy, have been destroyed from within by Trump’s troops, and many experts have turned their backs on the authorities.”

“As big as the shock was four years ago when Trump won the election in the middle of the climate conference in Marrakech,” Susanne Dröge, climate expert at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) told taz, “so big are the expectations now that much will change under Biden.”

Car companies can expect new e-car incentives – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Companies can expect more planning security from Joe Biden, but also more regulations, Astrid Dörner, Moritz Koch and Katharina Hort write in Handelsblatt. Amongst other things, Biden plans more tax incentives for car buyers. For German manufacturers like VW, BMW and Mercedes, who have local factories in the USA, this creates an incentive to speed up their own e-car production. Biden is also likely to tighten the regulations for emissions. In California, BMW and VW, together with Honda and Ford, have voluntarily committed to reducing their emissions.

Via Clean Energy Wire

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” .


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]]> Greek Island going completely Green with Electric Vehicles, with Help of Volkswagen Sat, 07 Nov 2020 05:01:55 +0000 By Charlotte Nijhuis | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – Volkswagen (VW) and the Greek government are planning a pilot project to introduce fully electric mobility on an island in the southeastern Aegean Sea, business daily Handelsblatt reports. In the next two years, all cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses on the island of Astypalea are to be replaced by electric vehicles running on solar and wind energy and will be provided by the Wolfsburg-based company.

VW CEO Herbert Diess and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis signed a declaration of intent for the project, with Diess calling the project a “future-facing blueprint for clean mobility and a clean environment.” The project was launched at the initiative of Greece, Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogiannis said and enlisted VW as a partner in Setpember.

“Astypalea offers ideal conditions for this project,” said Fragogiannis. “Here we can plan an electromobility system from scratch. Astypalea is just the right size to test these new transport systems, and the residents were immediately convinced by the idea.”

The island is home to some 1,300 inhabitants, most of whom use their own means of transportation, a the public transport network consists of a single, ten-kilometer bus line, served by two vehicles. These will be replaced by electric shuttle buses.

In addition, three car-sharing stations with 50 vehicles and four sharing stations with 67 electric bicycles and 100 electric motorcycles are planned. The switch to e-vehicles will be voluntary in principle. However, the state is providing massive subsidies and tax benefits to support it and VW has pledged to provide “extensive support” to the island’s inhabitants and businesses.

Clean Energy Wire.


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A Solar Germany? Renewables are Covering Half of Germany’s Electricity Demand Sat, 31 Oct 2020 04:02:14 +0000 By Edgar Meza | –

(Clean Energy Wire ) – Germany has already surpassed last year’s record amount of solar power by late October, according to an analysis by the energy provider E.ON. “In total, more than 43 billion kWh of solar power have already been fed into the grid since the beginning of January – that is already about 1 billion kWh more than in the whole of 2019,” said Victoria Ossadnik, who heads the company’s energy operations in the country.

The new record follows a trend evident in the previous months, which saw more solar electricity fed into the grid in January, March, April, May, June, August and September than in the same periods last year.

Just over 195 billion kWh of green energy have already been fed into Germany’s grid this year – enough to meet the demands of all private households in the country almost twice over, the report stated. The solar power yield was particularly high in April, May and July, each with more than 6 billion kWh, while above average wind in February and August also contributed to the overall boost in renewable energy generation.

The country’s Solar Association (BSW) said solar power this year would for the first time account for 10 percent of Germany’s total electricity generation. The BSW forecasts that around 20 percent more solar power output will be connected to the grid this year than in 2019.

The increased installation of PV systems on the roofs of private homes could contribute to further increases in solar power generation in Germany, Ossadnik said. “More than 80,000 single-family homes are completed in Germany every year – if each of them were equipped with an average PV system, we could generate an additional 600 million kWh of solar power throughout Germany — year after year. However, PV systems should not only be considered for new buildings, but also for renovations,” she added.

In the first nine months of the year, renewables covered . . . half of Germany’s electricity demand.

The journalism of Edgar Meza has appeared in SDP Noticias, RenewEconomy, Clean Energy Wire, pv magazine USA, and FR24 News.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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Germany aims at becoming “pioneer” in CO2-neutral aviation Sat, 17 Oct 2020 04:04:47 +0000 By Sören Amelang | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – Germany wants to extend its landmark energy transition (Energiewende) to the skies to become a trailblazer in climate-friendly flying. At a roundtable with industry, unions, researchers and the federal states, government representatives discussed the future of the aviation industry, and emission-free flying was a central topic of the talks, in addition to the numerous support measures for the industry, the economy ministry (BMWi) said in a press release. It said the government already supported the transition with a significant top-up of existing research programmes, for example the implementation of the national hydrogen strategy, which “also benefits” the aviation industry, to “make Germany a technological pioneer in CO2-neutral aviation.”

Climate-neutral flying by 2050 is technically feasible, but will still require enormous research efforts and close cooperation between policy makers, industry and scientists, according to the German aeronautics industry and the country’s Aerospace Centre (DLR). “An energy transition in aviation with the goal of zero emissions is possible by the middle of the century and requires a comprehensive innovation push,” said the DLR in a press release accompanying a white paper drafted jointly by DLR researchers and the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI). The shift “will require a diverse mix of technologies with extensive developments in the areas of sustainable fuels, new configurations, battery and fuel cell technology as well as various hybrid propulsion solutions and new gas turbine concepts,” the DLR said.

DLR executive board member Rolf Henke said “it is now time to open a new chapter” in the industry. “Our ‘white paper’ shows the way to emission-free flying for the ‘Green Deal’ of aviation.” The transition will create high-tech jobs, promote social prosperity in Germany and Europe, and result in “fascinating products,” but still requires major research efforts, he added. “In particular, trial aircrafts will be an essential element in the areas of electric flying, hydrogen, new fuels and new aircraft configurations,” Henke said. BDLI vice president Reiner Winkler said his industry faced two unprecedented challenges simultaneously: the economic crisis triggered by the corona pandemic and the pending shift to climate-neutral flying.

The report says battery electric concepts are a promising option for urban air mobility and for regional aircraft for very short trips. “Aircraft with hybrid drive concepts based on fuel cells will replace today’s aircraft on short and medium distances,” the DLR forecast. For medium and long distances, sustainable fuels in combination with new gas turbine concepts offer the best potential, the centre said, adding that the direct use of green hydrogen is becoming a long-term focus. “In the long term, the use of turbo-hybrid electric drive concepts and even fuel cells is also conceivable on long-haul routes,” the DLR said.

Sören Amelang is a staff Correspondent for Clean Energy Wire. During his 15 years at the news agency Reuters, he wrote about international business, economics and politics. He was lead writer for Reuters’ German coverage of the financial crisis and the ensuing debt crisis in Europe. He holds a BA in Development Studies from Liverpool University and an MA in International Relations from the University of Sussex.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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