Senj Wind Farm exemplifies BRI cooperation between Croatia, China: company manager

The Senj Wind Farm, a project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is an example of the mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation between Croatia and China, said Luci Veljacic, manager of the Grupa Company in southern Croatia, in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"For me and my company it was a great honor to be part of the Senj Wind Farm project," Veljacic said, adding that in July 2019, the Grupa Company was offered a contract for supervision and implementation of safety and health protection, fire protection and environmental protection during construction of the Senj Wind Farm project.

Despite numerous unfavourable conditions, including the extremely complex mountainous terrains, the COVID-19 pandemic, snow, strong winds and thunderstorms during the construction process, the Senj Wind Farm, undertaken by China's Norinco International Cooperation Ltd. (Norinco International), was completed on schedule and "without any worker injuries, deaths or incidents," Veljacic noted.

"During the construction, all legal regulations of Croatia and the European Union (EU) and all safety measures were observed to the maximum," Veljacic said.

The Grupa Company is one of the more than 70 contractors from across Croatia participating in the construction, and among the daily turnover of about 300 workers during the construction, more than half of them were from Croatia, Veljacic said, adding that most Croatian workers were from the local Lika-Senj County.

Moreover, participation in the project has made many Croatian companies gain extensive professional experience, which will certainly make them more competitive in the EU market, not just in Croatia, Veljacic said.

Veljacic hailed the "exceptional" cooperation with the Chinese side during the construction process.

"We had an exceptional cooperation, both professional and friendly, with all Chinese companies and workers at the Senj Wind Farm project," Veljacic said, noting that in spite of the language barrier, "we successfully communicated, negotiated, solved daily problems and performed work safely."

In addition, "We also found time to socialize during the project, getting to know the cultures of the two countries ... we talked about history, music, education, customs and the like," Veljacic added.

Veljacic was deeply impressed by the hard work and expertise of the Chinese workers during the construction process.

"During this project, Chinese workers performed the most demanding work and showed exceptional expertise, professionalism, endurance and technological progress," she said, adding that she and her company colleagues also received a lot of help from Chinese engineers who "were always ready to help with their professional knowledge and experience."

The Senj Wind Farm, located on the Adriatic coast of western Croatia and inaugurated in December 2021, produces about 530 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green electricity each year and reduces Croatia's carbon dioxide emissions by about 460,000 tonnes per year.

In the eyes of Veljacic, the Senj Wind Farm is a project valuable and important not only for the Lika-Senj County but also for the whole Croatia, as it can significantly contribute to the total annual production of electricity from clean and renewable sources, reduce electricity imports and further promote low-carbon development.

"With this project, Norinco International has become one of the largest investors in green energy and the green economy in Croatia ... The example of the Senj Wind Farm project, the joint successful cooperation of Chinese and Croatian workers and companies will certainly be further developed," Veljacic said.

These cyborg beetles walk the walk

Resistance may soon be futile. With machine implants worthy of a Star Trek villain, a new breed of beetle takes walking instructions from its human overlords.

Hirotaka Sato and his colleagues at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore inserted electrodes into flower beetles (Mecynorrhina torquata) to stimulate specific leg muscle groups. By altering the order of electrical zap sequences, the team was able to control a beetle’s gait. Changing the duration of the electrical signals also altered the insects’ speed and step length, Sato and colleagues report March 30 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Scientists have already made cyborg insects that can fly, scuttle, and crawl, but controlling things like speed could allow biobots to do more complex tasks. Cyborg beetles and other insects provide a more energy efficient and easier-to-assemble alternative to plain old robots and double as a means to study insect locomotion, the researchers argue.

Wildfire shifts could dump more ice-melting soot in Arctic

Raging wildfires could burn away efforts to reduce Arctic-damaging soot emissions. Soot produced by burning fossil fuels and plants, also called black carbon, can cause respiratory diseases and greenhouse warming, and can accelerate the melting of ice.

Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns will shift where and how fiercely wildfires burn and spew soot, new simulations show. Outside of the tropics, fire seasons will last on average one to three months longer during the 2090s than they do currently, researchers report online April 8 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. Soot emissions from wildfires will as much as double in regions that border the Arctic and counteract projected reductions in soot from human activities, the researchers predict.
“Humankind would do well to proactively develop adequate land and fire management strategies to have at least some control on future wildfire emissions,” says study coauthor Andreas Veira, an earth system scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg.

Predicting the future of fires is difficult because many factors — from weather to vegetation — influence wildfires. Veira and colleagues strung together three different computer simulations that projected the impact of climate change on wildfires (SN Online: 7/15/15). The first predicted future changes in global vegetation, which fed into the second, a wildfire simulation called SPITFIRE. Finally, the researchers plugged their predicted fires into a climate simulation.

If carbon emissions aren’t cut, overall soot emissions from wildfires will stay fairly steady but shift in location. Outside of the tropics, wildfire soot emissions will increase 49 percent by the end of the century as fire seasons get longer, the researchers predict. In the tropics, changing land usage and fewer human-caused ignitions due to urbanization will help decrease emissions there by 37 percent.

A northward shift in wildfires will push more soot emissions toward the Arctic, the researchers warn. Fallen soot darkens ice and snow, accelerating melting (SN: 10/5/13, p. 26). A 2009 study estimated that soot was responsible for more than a third of Arctic warming between 1976 and 2007. The new simulations show that about 53 percent more soot will fall on the Arctic at the end of the century, even if humans cut their own soot emissions in half.

Many factors that could influence future wildfires remain uncertain, says atmospheric scientist Shane Murphy of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. “We shouldn’t take the absolute numbers to mean too much, just to inform us that there’s the potential for severe consequences.”