A round-up of this month's engineering news from around the world with a regional focus on Germany.
A cross-party amendment to the UK government’s Energy Bill has been tabled that would require it to set a target for decarbonisation of the electricity sector by 2014. As it stands the government has said it will set a decarbonisation target for 2030 by 2016, but if passed the amendment would force it to set a target by 1 April next year.
Technology giants Apple, Microsoft and Adobe Systems have been ordered to appear before Australia’s parliament over pricing. Apple executives were formally summonsed to front a parliamentary committee in Canberra on 22 March to explain why local consumers pay so much for their products, despite the strong Australian dollar.
Mobile phone use has exploded in the Arab world according to a report by the mobile operators association GSMA. Based on research from Deloitte, the GSMA Arab States Mobile Observatory reported a 32 per cent average annual growth in mobile connections over the past 10 years, soaring from 19 million connections in 2002 to 391 million in 2012.
A secretive Chinese military unit has been accused of being behind a series of hacking attacks. US cyber security company Mandiant identified the Shanghai-based Unit 61398 as the most likely driving force behind the hacking, prompting a strong denial by China and accusations that it was in fact the victim of US hacking.
India will launch its first mission to Mars this year in a bid to play catch-up in the international space race, according to President Pranab Mukherjeesaid. The country will send a satellite in October to orbit the Red Planet using an unmanned spacecraft, blasting off from the south-eastern coast in a mission expected to cost about $83m. http://bit.ly/XPSQwQ
Estonia has become the first country in the world to install a nationwide system of fast chargers for electrical vehicles as part of European efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The 165 chargers were produced and installed by engineering group ABB, and construction was financed from the government’s sale of 10 million surplus CO2 emission permits to Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation.
The long-awaited trial over legal culpability for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 has begun in New Orleans. The disaster, which killed 11 rig workers and spilled four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, was the biggest ever US offshore oil spill. Well owner BP, rig owner Transocean Ltd and cement services provider Halliburton Co are co-defendants.
Royal Dutch Shell announced it may be forced to shut down its 150,000 barrel per day Nembe Creek oil pipeline in Nigeria due to persistent thefts. The trunkline is one of the most important production routes for Africa’s top crude oil exporter, feeding the benchmark Bonny Light export terminal. Criminal gangs have been tapping into exposed pipelines in the winding creeks and waterways in the Niger Delta.
Areva planned its first nuclear fuel shipment to Japan since the Fukushima disaster. The shipment of mixed oxide fuel (MOX) by the French energy company hinted at possible restarts of idled Japanese reactors, which is likely to attract public opposition after the disaster. Areva said it believed there could be half a dozen reactors in Japan which would restart at the end of the year.
The Venezuelan oil industry called for calm after the death of President Hugo Chavez. PDVSA, the state oil company, said all its installations – including the Paraguana Refining Center, the second-largest in the world – were operating normally and domestic fuel supplies were guaranteed. Key projects are expected to stay on track if Chavez’s preferred successor wins elections due to be called in the next 30 days.