Posts Tagged ‘California’


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Google Invests in World’s Largest Solar Power Tower Plant

Google has just sealed a deal to invest $168 million in a Mojave Desert solar energy plant.
The investment is going to BrightSource Energy, a company that developes and operates large-scale solar power plants, specifically to fund its Ivanpah project.
Ivanpah is a solar electric generating system that uses solar thermal technology and “an environmentally responsible design,” according to the project’s website, to deliver reliable, clean and low-cost power to Californians.
The plant will generate energy with a technology called power towers. Mirrors, called heliostats, are arranged in an array and aim the sun’s rays at a receiver atop a tower. The receiver generates steam; the steam causes a turbine to rotate; the rotation causes a generator to generate electricity. Because such large quantities of solar energy are being directed to such a small area, the power towers are very efficient.
The power tower at Ivanpah will be around 450 feet tall. The plant will use 173,000 heliostats, and each heliostat will have two mirrors, making Ivanpah the largest project of its kind.
Construction at Ivanpah should be completed in 2013. Here’s a video from the plant’s groundbreaking ceremony:
Google’s been on something of a clean energy investment kick over the past year or so. The company was granted the ability to buy and sell energy as a public utility last February, ostensibly to find better ways to power its own massive data centers.
A short time later, Google began making significant investments in green energy technologies. The company sealed a $38 million wind farm investment in May, bought 20 years’ worth of wind farm energy in July, and provided a substantial investment for a huge offshore wind farm in October.
Rick Needham is Google’s Director of Green Business Operations. On the company blog, writes, “We hope that investing in Ivanpah spurs continued development and deployment of this promising technology while encouraging other companies to make similar investments in renewable energy.”

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Still a player: guitar legend Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck

Guitar legend: Jeff Beck

By Stephen Wilmot

Published: September 30 2010 18:01 | Last updated: September 30 2010 18:01

Most musicians are known for a particular sound, style or song. But not rock guitar legend Jeff Beck, who says the secret of his staying power has been the ability to “move on to something else”. It’s a journey that has taken him – via rock, heavy metal, jazz and soul – to his current world tour, backed by a full string orchestra.
“I’m at home with anything that’s got a groove to it,” says the ex-Yardbirds guitarist, pointing to a DVD he is making in tribute to legendary guitarist Les Paul and 1950s jazz. “I get just as much of a kick from that as I do coming up with something from tomorrow-land.”
But Beck’s taste for experimentation does not stretch to his finances – something in which he claims to have no interest but just a little “intuition”. He was almost persuaded to buy a portfolio of shares just before the financial crisis; luckily, he decided at the last minute not to sign. “It was a near-miss for me. But I said no, because I wasn’t satisfied with – or didn’t understand – what was being proposed. When people talk bank-talk, I glaze over after five minutes,” he admits.
Beck now uses the London-based private bank Duncan Lawrie, mainly because it offers a reassuringly old-fashioned experience. Lamenting the passing of the days when “you could almost have a pint with your local bank manager”, he remembers how he and his former concert manager grew frustrated with the impersonal service and “incompetence” of their high street bank. After doing research, manager settled on Duncan Lawrie and suggested Beck switch too.
“I felt nervous at first, because I didn’t really know whether I was making the right decision. But I’ve no complaints. It’s so important to have a one-to-one talk with someone at your bank. They’re handling your money, after all. You go around the world and make your money, and you want to be sure it’s being looked after.”
Beck is currently on the second leg of his world tour. He is still basking in the success of his latest album, Emotion & Commotion, which was released in April and is now up for eight Grammys. He says it is the best response that he has received since 1975, when he teamed up with Beatles producer George Martin to make the album Blow by Blow.
Fans have been particularly struck by Beck’s lush use of strings as backing for his electric guitar. “There’s no substitute for a full string orchestra,” he explains. “I was fulfilling a dream – I wanted to do it back in 1966, but couldn’t afford it. I was always impressed by people like Tina Turner and the way that kind of record was produced. It’s a beautiful sound that can only be achieved with acoustic instruments.”
Beck is also pleased with the popularity of Emotion & Commotion because singers, not instrumentalists, tend to dominate the charts. The guitarist has been wary of working too closely with singers ever since he parted ways with Rod Stewart – then the unknown lead singer of his up-and-coming band the Jeff Beck Group – back in 1969.
“Rod was a bit of a problem because his name wasn’t on the ticket, and the whole ego thing kicked off. I said if you put your name on the ticket you won’t sell any seats, but he wasn’t happy being treated as a sideman,” Beck laughs.
Stewart left to join the group the Faces, which seemed a career upset for Beck, but turned out to be liberating. “The singer problem was gone when Rod left. Rather than see that as negative, I thought: the doors are open.” He says it was working with the New York jazz-rock group Mahavishnu Orchestra in the mid-1970s that made him realise there was “life after singers”.
Beck considers the US his second home. He cites American rock and roll, blues and jazz as his original creative sources, and the US still gives him the warmest reception. It was there he spent a year in tax exile in 1977, which ironically was to pay for his English home – an Elizabethan manor house in the Sussex Weald that he fell in love with on first viewing.
“It was complete lunacy, as I didn’t know if I had the money. But when the estate agents opened the door I just wanted them gone,” he reminisces, grateful that his home turned out to be a good investment too.
Beck struggles to single out one highlight of his career, which has spanned four and a half decades and at least 10 different groups. “The big highlight is that I’m still in the business,” he says with another raucous laugh.

FT.com / Special Reports – Still a player: guitar legend Jeff Beck

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1933 Delage Wins Best of Show at Pebble Beach

A 1933 Delage D8S De Villars Roadster from the Patterson Collection in Louisville, Ky, was named Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.Kimball Studios/Courtesy of Pebble Beach Concours d’EleganceA 1933 Delage D8S De Villars Roadster from the Patterson Collection in Louisville, Ky, was named Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance. More Photos | Readers’ Photos.
MONTEREY, Calif. — A week of intense automobile worship on the Monterey Peninsula concluded with more than $100 million worth of classic cars changing hands at auctions, several new models being introduced by manufacturers and a 1933 Delage winning the coveted title as Best of Show.
The Delage’s distinction came at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance on Sunday, against a field of more than 200 exquisitely presented classic autos — and it was something of an upset because this vehicle was painted white.
“A white car has never won at Pebble Beach,” said the vehicle’s owner, Jim Patterson, of a streak extending back some six decades at this, the world’s premier automotive beauty contest.
Mr. Patterson, of Louisville, Ky., had acquired the Delage, a D8S Roadster with coachwork by the custom builder De Villars, at a Pebble Beach auction in 2007 for $3.74 million. He had it meticulously restored to its original condition, which was as a Delage debutante at the 1934 Paris motor show.
The auctions at Pebble Beach are, along with the swank concours, among the signature events in a week that includes more than 50. Several auction companies, including Gooding & Company, RM Auctions, Russo & Steele andBonhams & Butterfields, held high-dollar events.
The Gooding auction alone sold more than $64 million worth of classics in two star-studded nights of bidding. (Celebrity sightings included Jay Leno, Bill Murray and Patrick Dempsey.)
The biggest sale of the weekend was $7.26 million paid for a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT long-wheelbase California Spider Competizione at the Gooding auction. However, a bid of $10.7 million for a 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, at the RM auction, was spurned by its seller. Each of the Ferraris had earned acclaim in their past lives as winning racecars.
Fittingly, the weekend also included a slate of racing events, in actual classics, at the Monterey Historics event at nearby Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The earnestness with which these classics are put through their paces was illustrated by a fearsome crash on Saturday involving a veteran driver, John Morton. Mr. Morton was uninjured, but his one-of-a-kind 1958 Scarab was destroyed in the rollover accident.
Manufacturers also use the concours weekend to unveil special limited-edition models. Jaguar, Aston Martin and Bentley were among those seizing on the opportunity to do so this year. An example was the Jaguar XK175, which is limited to 175 copies. It is also so designated because of its reported top speed of 174 miles per hour. Yes, that’s not the same as 175, but Richard Beattie, executive vice president of Jaguar North America, said the company’s legal department had insisted on the discrepancy for undisclosed reasons.
Finally, the weekend was also a chance for the automobile world’s counterculture to be heard. And at the second annual Concours d’Lemons, haters of some of the worst autos ever produced assembled at a park well outside the city limits to crown a shortened 1958 Volkswagen Microbus, owned by Donna and Frank Atkinson of Atascadero, Calif., as Worst of Show.
Donna and Frank Atkinson, of Atascadero, Calif., were the more-or-less proud owners of a 1958 Volkswagen bus that won Worst of Show honors at the second annual Concours d’Lemons at a park outside the Monterey city limits.Jerry Garrett for The New York TimesDonna and Frank Atkinson, of Atascadero, Calif., were the more-or-less proud owners of a 1958 Volkswagen bus that won “Worst of Show” honors at the second annual Concours d’Lemons at a park outside the Monterey city limits.

1933 Delage Wins Best of Show at Pebble Beach – NYTimes.com

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