China’s Huawei announces new cellphones

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 29 (UPI) — The Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei unveiled a series of smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in Spain it said would be priced competitively.

The company said it has set a target of selling 60 million smartphones in 2012, an increase of 40 million units from 2011, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.

“We want the best performance in the industry, because our brand is not that famous,” Huawei Chairman Richard Yu said in Barcelona.

Based on a projected increase in sales this year, the company said, it expects to garner between 30 percent and 40 percent of the domestic Chinese market.

In addition to the announced Ascent D line of smartphones, Huawei said, it was preparing to launch a tablet with a high-definition screen and a processor that could match those of rivals by industry giant Apple.

Huawei, with more than 110,000 employees, has its headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Excavation of possible emperor’s tomb off

XI’AN, China, Feb. 29 (UPI) — A possible tomb of the last emperor of China’s Qin Dynasty won’t be excavated until studies are conducted for subsequent protection plans, authorities said.

The cultural heritage bureau of Shaanxi province had proposed to excavate the suspected resting place of Ziying, the grandson of Emperor Qinshihuang (259 BC-210 BC), the first person to unify China, but the proposal was rejected by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The tomb, discovered in 2003, lies about 500 yards northwest of the Qinshihuang Mausoleum near the provincial capital of Xi’an — site of the famous Terra Cotta Army — and authorities said they were concerned about new excavation causing damage to the mausoleum.

In an official statement, the state administration said thorough research and evaluations should be conducted in order to develop a proper protection plan.

Historical records show the young emperor Ziying held the title for just 46 days before the empire was overthrown by rebels and he was killed.

His burial site has remained a mystery ever since.

Microsoft unveils Windows 8 in Spain

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 for public testing Wednesday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, saying it would offer “fast and fluid” computing.

Aimed at winning back some ground lost to Apple and Google in the operating systems arena, Windows 8 is designed to work on tablets as well as PCs and laptops to give users a more consistent experience when switching between devices, CNN reported.

“It’s beautiful, modern, fast and fluid — it’s a generational change in the Windows operating system,” Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky said in launching the consumer preview edition.

Windows 8 seamlessly scales across devices and screen sizes, Sinofsky said.

“There’s too many hard stops between phones and tablets and desktops. We want to make things more harmonious,” he said.

To that end the new operating system uses the “Metro” style of software currently featured on Windows phones, using a tiled startup screen.

Some tech-industry analysts said Windows 8 was unlikely to do that much for Microsoft’s market profile, but moving into the tablet arena was crucial for sustained relevance.

“Microsoft needs to be in the tablet game,” London-based analyst James Governor said. “It couldn’t sit out two or three rounds of tablets without trying to have a more effective play and clearly Windows 8 is a big part of that.”

However, he said, the popularity of Windows 7 suggests there won’t be a huge surge of people wanting the update for desktop and laptop computing.

“I don’t think it’s an explosive ‘Christ, we’ve got to have this new release,'” he said. “There isn’t necessarily a pent-up demand for what Windows 8 represents.”

Fossils of giant 1-inch fleas unearthed

PARIS, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Fossils discovered in China suggest prehistoric fleas up to an inch long may have fed on feathered dinosaurs, an international team of researchers says.

Fossils of several of the blood-sucking insects were unearthed at two sites in China, with females almost an inch long and males about half that size, Britain’s The Independent reported Wednesday.

Although much larger than modern fleas, they lacked the characteristic jumping hind legs, researchers said.

The blood-sucking “siphonate” mouth parts were unusually long and sturdy and would have been used to pierce the hides of their hosts, scientists wrote in the journal Nature.

Modern fleas feed exclusively on animals with fur and feathers, suggesting the prehistoric fleas may have been feeding on feathered dinosaurs rather than mammals, they said.

“The early mammals were small animals, making the large size of these Mesozoic [flea] species and the robustness of their mouth parts seem mismatched,” Andre Nel of the Museum of Natural History in Paris wrote.

“It is … possible that the hosts of these early fleas were among the feathered dinosaurs of the period that became well known from the same [fossil] deposits.”

Greek helmet discovered in Israeli harbor

HAIFA, Israel, Feb. 29 (UPI) — A Greek bronze helmet covered with gold leaf and decorations discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay in Israel has been dated to 2,600 years ago, researchers say.

Archaeologists said the helmet may have belonged to a wealthy Greek mercenary fighting in a series of wars mentioned in the Bible that plagued the region at that time.

The Greek mercenary likely fought for an Egyptian pharaoh named Necho II, they said.

The helmet, discovered accidentally in 2007 during commercial dredging operations in the harbor, has been cleaned and analyzed by researchers with the Israel Antiquities Authority, reported Wednesday.

The helmet is very similar to one found near the Italian island of Giglio, about 1,500 miles away, in the 1950s and dated to 2,600 years ago, which helped the researchers arrive at a date for the Haifa Bay helmet.

The owner of the Haifa helmet would have been a very wealthy individual as few soldiers could afford such an ornate helmet, the researchers said.

“The gilding and figural ornaments make this one of the most ornate pieces of early Greek armor discovered,” Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit with the Israel Antiquities Authority, wrote in a research summary.

Wolf tracked through Calif. wilderness

SACRAMENTO, Feb. 29 (UPI) — A wolf being tracked in California has traveled more than 1,000 miles in the state’s wilderness areas in search of a mate and a new home, officials say.

The wolf dubbed Journey, tracked by a radio collar since he wandered south from his original home in northeastern Oregon, is demonstrating the importance of wilderness areas that serve as safe corridors for migrating wildlife, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Scientists have long considered wilderness as worth preserving to create parks and so-called “green corridors” for wildlife, and Journey is proving the corridors actually work, conservation experts said.

“If you look at the map of where Journey has gone, he’s really hit some of the best wild places,” Laurel Williams of the California Wilderness Coalition said.

“And many of them are not yet protected, formally, as wilderness. It just really speaks to how important these places are for such an amazing creature and that we should be working to protect them.

“We haven’t had wolves in California for such a long time. This is a unique opportunity to see on the ground what’s important. We don’t have active legislation for these places right now.

“We’re just hoping someone will step up and bring these places into protection.”

Private rocket assembled for space launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb. 29 (UPI) — A private spaceship is close to heading to the International Space Station as SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket have been joined, the company says.

The cargo capsule and the launch vehicle have been assembled at Cape Canaveral in Florida, SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk reported in a tweet.

The launch, probably in late April, will be an unmanned mission to test the Dragon capsule’s ability to rendezvous and dock with the space station, reported Tuesday.

The space drone is expected to carry some nonessential “demonstration cargo” that will be transferred to the space station and will be loaded with station cargo for return to Earth.

Following last year’s retirement of NASA’s space shuttles, the main means of ferrying supplies to the orbital outpost has been Russian Progress cargo ships.

If the upcoming SpaceX launch is successful, Dragon would be the first commercial craft to attempt to visit the International Space Station.

Desert greenhouse will mimic nature

DOHA, Qatar, Feb. 29 (UPI) — A $5.3 million desert greenhouse in Qatar will imitate nature to extract salt from seawater and create conditions ripe for plant growth, project planners say.

The Sahara Forest Project, to be built just outside Doha, will work by exploiting the difference in temperature between surface seawater and water taken from hundreds of yards below the sea’s surface.

Both will be pumped to the site using solar power through separate pipes.

The hot desert air will evaporate the surface sea water and the moist air will pass over the plants, creating a comfortable temperature around them. The moisture will condense as it passes pipes through which the cold deep seawater is pumped, creating fresh water, reported Wednesday.

The design is inspired by the way a camel’s nostrils evaporate and condense moisture to keep it cool, and by the way fog-basking beetles can capture water from warm night air in the desert, Sahara Forest Project’s Michael Pawlyn, a biomimicry architect, said.

The saltwater will also be used to grow algae, which will be used in biomass production at the facility set to be built by the end of this year.

Did Neanderthals take to the seas first?

PATRAS, Greece, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Neanderthals may have taken to the seas to become ancient mariners centuries before modern humans managed the same trick, researchers in Greece say.

Archaeological evidence suggests our extinct cousins may have made voyages in the Mediterranean in boats at least 100,000 years ago.

Neanderthals lived around the Mediterranean beginning 300,000 years ago, and now their distinctive “Mousterian” stone tools have been found on both the Greek mainland and, intriguingly, on the Greek islands of Lefkada, Kefalonia and Zakynthos, reported Wednesday.

That could be explained if the islands weren’t islands at the time, but researcher George Ferentinos of the University of Patras in Greece says the islands have been cut off from the mainland for as long as the tools have been on them.

Ferentinos said he believes Neanderthals had a seafaring culture for tens of thousands of years, while modern humans are thought to have taken to the seas just 50,000 years ago.

Even if he is right, other researchers said, Neanderthals were probably not the first hominin seafarers.

One million-year-old stone tools have been found on the Indonesian island of Flores, suggesting something, perhaps primitive Homo erectus, crossed the sea to Flores before Neanderthals even evolved.

TV airwaves may go to wireless carriers

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (UPI) — A new U.S. law could result in fewer TV stations on the air in exchange for faster wireless data services for smartphones and tablet computers, officials say.

The law, attached to a payroll tax package signed by President Barack Obama last week, gives the Federal Communications Commission authority to explore such an exchange, CBS News reported Wednesday.

Under rules the FCC will formulate in coming months, broadcast television, which has few viewers, would be squeezed into a smaller slice of the airwaves and the bandwidth freed up would be available for bidding by companies.

Television broadcasters would be given an opportunity to decide whether they want to give up their frequencies, and those that do so could continue to operate as cable-only channels.

Bidding for the freed airwaves would likely not begin until late 2013 or early 2014, officials said, partly to give bidders time to raise funds to pay for any spectrum they might win in the expected bandwidth auction.

Search for E.T. to go live on the Web

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 29 (UPI) — The search for extraterrestrial life is about to go worldwide with a Web site intended to get the public involved in the hunt, officials said.

Announced at a technology conference in Los Angeles, the site will stream radio frequencies that are transmitted from the Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Allen Telescope Array in Northern California.

Participants in the project, being run by Jillian Tarter of the Seti Institute’s Center for Seti Research, will be asked to search for signs of unusual activity in the hope the human brain can find things automated systems might miss.

“There are frequencies that our automated signal detection systems now ignore, because there are too many signals there,” Tartar told BBC News.

“Most are created by Earth’s communication and entertainment technologies, but buried within this noise there may be a signal from a distant technology.”

“I’m hoping that an army of volunteers can help us deal with these crowded frequency bands that confuse our machines,” she said. “By doing this in real time, we will have an opportunity to follow up immediately on what our volunteers discover.”

Zooniverse, home to many successful Internet citizen science projects, is taking part in the project.

“Over the last few years, we have learned about the incredible desire of hundreds of thousands of people to take part in scientific research as they’ve used Zooniverse to classify galaxies, explore the Moon and even to discover planets,” said Chris Lintott, Zooniverse’s principal investigator.

“With, we’re very excited to be inviting them on this grandest of adventures.”

Young stars show ‘growing pains’

GREENBELT, Md., Feb. 29 (UPI) — Astronomers using a European space telescope say they’ve seen changes in young stars in the Orion nebula suggesting a turbulent journey to stellar adulthood.

Data from the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, combined with observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, indicate stars strung across the telescope images are rapidly heating up and cooling down, a NASA release said Wednesday.

In an image of a portion of the Orion nebula, the telescopes’ infrared vision reveals a number of embryonic stars, hidden in gas and dust clouds, at the very earliest stages of their evolution.

As clumps of this gas and dust come together, they form a warm glob of material that in several hundred thousand years will gather enough material to trigger nuclear fusion at their cores and blaze into stardom, astronomers said.

Astronomers noticed several of the young stars varied in their brightness by more than 20 percent over just a few weeks.

This puzzled the astronomers, who said cool material emitting the infrared light must be far from the hot center of the young star, likely in the outer disk or surrounding gas envelope, and should take years or centuries to spiral closer in to the growing starlet, rather than mere weeks.

“Herschel’s exquisite sensitivity opens up new possibilities for astronomers to study star formation, and we are very excited to have witnessed short-term variability in Orion protostars,” said Nicolas Billot, an astronomer at the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique in Grenada, Spain.

“Follow-up observations with Herschel will help us identify the physical processes responsible for the variability.”

Biofuel goals could change U.S. farming

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Feb. 29 (UPI) — Meeting U.S. federal biofuel production targets could dramatically change a majority of the country’s agricultural landscape, researchers say.

A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found almost 80 percent of current farmland in the United States would have to be devoted to raising corn for ethanol production in order to meet current biofuel production targets with existing technology.

The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act set a goal of increasing U.S. biofuel production from 40 billion to 136 billion gallons of ethanol per year by 2022.

However, researchers at Colorado State University said the law makes assumptions about technological developments and the availability and productivity of farmland.

Lead researcher W. Kolby Smith and colleagues used satellite data about climate, plant cover and usable land to determine how much biofuel the United States could produce.

To meet the biofuel goals with current technology, farmers would either need to plant biofuel crops on 80 percent of their farmed land or plant biofuel crops on 60 percent of the land currently used to raise livestock, the study found.

Both options would significantly reduce the amount of food U.S. farmers produce, it found.

Sumatran tigers need low-level vegetation

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 29 (UPI) — Sumatran tigers are threatened by human disturbances of natural habitats that turn forests into agricultural plantations, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Virginia Tech and the World Wildlife Fund say their study is the first to systematically investigate the use of different land cover types — not just natural forests but also plantation areas — for tiger habitat.

Three of the world’s subspecies of tigers are now extinct, the researchers said, and the Sumatran tiger is now seriously threatened in Indonesia.

Sumatran tigers strongly prefer forests over plantations of acacia and oil palm trees and tend to avoid plantation areas unless they contain thick ground-level vegetation and have extremely low levels of human activities, they said.

Tigers also strongly prefer sites closer to forest centers and farther from human activity centers such as bodies of water and forest edges, they found.

Most importantly, the study found, tigers have a strong predilection for sites with large amounts of vegetation cover at the ground level, known as understory over.

“As ambush hunters, tigers would find it hard to capture their prey without adequate understory cover,” Sunarto, who earned a wildlife sciences doctorate at Virginia Tech in 2011, said.

“The lack of cover also leaves tigers vulnerable to persecution by humans, who generally perceive them as dangerous,” Sunarto, now a tiger expert for WWF-Indonesia, said.

“As long as forest conversion continues, tigers will require active protection or they will quickly disappear from our planet.”

Extinct camel fossils unearthed in Panama

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Feb. 29 (UPI) — Paleontologists have named two extinct camel species from a fossil dig in Panama they say shed new light on the history of the tropics.

Researchers from the University of Florida said the two species of ancient camels, dubbed Aguascalietia panamaensis and Aguascalientia minuta, are the oldest mammals found in Panama.

Their discovery extends the distribution of mammals to their southernmost point in the ancient tropics of Central America, a university release reported Wednesday.

“We’re discovering this fabulous new diversity of animals that lived in Central America that we didn’t even know about before,” study co-author Bruce MacFadden, vertebrate paleontology curator at the Florida Museum on the UF campus, said.

“The family originated about 30 million years ago and they’re found widespread throughout North America, but prior to this discovery, they were unknown south of Mexico.”

Despite Central America’s close proximity to South America, there was no connection between continents until the Isthmus of Panama formed, researchers said.

“People think of camels as being in the Old World, but their distribution in the past is different than what we know today,” MacFadden said. “The ancestors of llamas originated in North America and then when the land bridge formed about 4 to 5 million years ago, they dispersed into South America and evolved into the llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuna.”

Paleontologists and geologists are working with the Panama Canal Authority and scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to conduct excavations during a five-year window of opportunity created by the Panama Canal expansions that began in 2009.

T. rex said to have strongest bite ever

LIVERPOOL, England, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Tyrannosaurus rex had the most powerful bite of any creature that ever walked the Earth, say British scientists who studied the dinosaur’s skull structure.

While some scientists had believed the bite of the prehistoric predator was much more modest, close to modern predators such as alligators, the new research revealed its biting pressure was around three tons.

“That’s equivalent to a medium-sized elephant sitting on you,” researcher Karl Bates from the University of Liverpool told the BBC.

The researchers made a digital scan of a life-sized copy of a T. rex skeleton exhibited at Manchester Museum to create a 3D computer model of the skull.

“Then we could map the muscles onto that skull,” Bates said.

The researchers reproduced the full force of a bite by activating the muscles to contract fully and snap the digital jaws shut.

The biting power of an adult T. rex suggests it could have punctured the tough hide of another dinosaur, they said.

The findings have been published in the journal Biology Letters.

Radon in U.S. classrooms a concern

NEW YORK, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Radioactive radon gas, a known carcinogenic, is in thousands of U.S. classrooms but many districts are doing nothing about it, NBC’s “Today” show reported.

Radon, released in the breakdown of soil and rock, can seep into buildings and the air we breathe and with chronic exposure can be deadly, experts said.

At one school in Pennsylvania, tests showed nearly double the EPA’s accepted limit for radon gas, “Today” reported Wednesday.

Radon exposure has been linked to more than 20,000 deaths every year, the second leading cause of cancer after smoking, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

“Of all the environmental exposures you get, this is the one that causes the most deaths,” said R. William Field of the University of Iowa, a leading expert on radon.

“If a student’s exposed, even at the EPA’s action level, 4 picocuries per liter, that’s equivalent to smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day,” he said.

Most U.S. schools don’t test because districts can’t afford it, experts say, even though the EPA estimates that more than 70,000 classrooms nationwide are at risk.

Only five states require radon testing and there’s no federal law mandating it, “Today” reported.

East Africa hits it big in oil, gas boom

MAPUTO, Mozambique, Feb. 29 (UPI) — East Africa is emerging as the new hot zone for oil and natural gas exploration, with major discoveries by Anadarko of the United States and Italy’s Eni in the Indian Ocean off Mozambique and by Norway’s Statoil off neighboring Tanzania.

Even war-wracked Somalia, further north in the Horn of Africa, is part of the drive for energy resources in the region, with a Canadian company, Africa Oil, expecting to start producing within the next couple of months in the northern autonomous enclave of Puntland.

But the big prize there is the offshore oil and gas fields that Somali officials say contain more than 100 billion barrels of oil, more than Kuwait. If that’s the case, Somalia, torn by war since 1991, would become the seventh largest oil nation.

Deposits of similar magnitude are believed to lie under the Indian Ocean along the coast of East Africa, enough to transform the ramshackle economies of countries like Mozambique, an impoverished former Portuguese colony.

In Uganda, the big Lake Albert oil field, discovered in 2006 by London’s Tullow Oil, is expected to start production soon, eventually reaching 150,000-350,000 barrels per day.

Lake Albert, which lies in the center of Africa between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is estimated to contain up to 6 billion barrels of oil.

Most of the gas discoveries are off Mozambique and Tanzania but exploration is also under way in Kenya and Ethiopia. The Indian Ocean island of Madagascar is believed to hold “enormous reserves” of gas, industry sources say.

These resources are a natural magnet for Asian giants like China and India, which are gobbling up Africa’s natural resources as fast as they can to fuel their ever-growing economies.

East African oil and gas could be shipped directly across the Indian Ocean to Asia, bypassing the volatile Middle East that currently supplies the burgeoning Asian energy market.

That would avoid such chokepoints as the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway to the Persian Gulf and a major oil artery to the Far East, which Iran is threatening to close in its simmering confrontation with the West.

But oil and gas exports could be imperiled by the increasingly bold pirate Somali gangs preying on shipping plying the Indian Ocean.

Still, major oil companies are falling over themselves to grab a stake in East Africa, largely by buying out smaller wildcat outfits which made major strikes.

One of these is Cove Energy, a London-listed company. It put itself up for sale in January after reporting one of the world’s largest natural gas strikes in a decade, a field off Mozambique containing an estimated 15 trillion-30 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than Norway’s entire reserves.

On Feb. 22, Royal Dutch Shell offered $1.6 billion for Cove’s 8.5 percent stake in the highly promising Block 4. Four days later Thailand’s state-owned energy company PTT Exploration and Production stepped in with a $1.7 billion bid. On Sunday, India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. offered $2 billion.

Cove’s discovery in Mozambique’s Rovuma Offshore Area 1 abuts the major find made in January by Anadarko in partnership with Eni, a field off Cabo Delgado province containing up to 30 tcf.

However, the true extent of the Rovuma Basin isn’t likely to be known for two years when various studies are completed.

Industry experts say Tanzania has reserves of at least 60 tcf.

British Petroleum says that excluding Nigeria’s gas reserves of 187 tcf, proven reserves in sub-Saharan Africa totaled 41 tcf at the end of 2010.

Mozambique, the fastest growing energy player in East Africa, estimated this month that international energy companies are expected to invest $50 billion over the next 5 years to develop a liquefied natural gas industry in the region.

Texas company Anadarko, which heads a consortium of Japanese, Indian and British investors, said it plans to set up a natural gas liquefaction plant and an LNG export terminal, together worth $1.8 billion, in Mozambique by 2018.

Eni announced in November it had found a “gigantic field” with estimated reserves of 22 tcf.

On Friday, Statoil and its partner, Exxon Mobil of the United States, disclosed the biggest discovery yet in Tanzanian waters, a field holding an estimated 5 tcf in the Mafia Deep Basin 50 miles offshore.

Lugar: Keystone a national security issue

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Backing the entire Keystone XL pipeline from Canada would shield U.S. energy markets from a potential Iranian oil crisis, a U.S. lawmaker said.

Oil prices are near 9-month highs in part because of concerns over Iran. Tehran cut oil deliveries to British and French markets and has threatened to choke off key oil shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Keystone XL was a matter of national security.

“Given the intensity of multiple crises in the Middle East and the certainty that threats to oil supplies are not limited to the current crisis with Iran, it is incomprehensible that the president has rejected approval of the Keystone XL pipeline,” Lugar said in a statement.

“Few national security decisions of the past several decades are more clearly at odds with core U.S. interests than the president’s pipeline delay.”

U.S. President Barack Obama rejected a permit from pipeline company TransCanada to build the entire pipeline from tar sands deposits Canada to refineries along the southern U.S. coast. The White House this week said it welcomed a decision by TransCanada, however, to build a portion of the pipeline in the United States.

Critics of the project say oil from tar sands is more toxic to the environment than conventional crude oil. Nebraskans persuades TransCanada to consider an alternative route out of concern for a regional aquifer.

The company said it would reapply for a permit once it settles on an alternative route.

TAP unfazed by South Stream

BRUSSELS, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Russian plans to build its South Stream natural gas pipeline by December are “irrelevant” when considering rival projects, a TAP official said.

Russia said it wants to start building its South Stream natural gas pipeline by December. Russia sends about 80 percent of its natural gas for European consumers through Ukraine’s gas transit system and bilateral disputes have exposed vulnerabilities in the regional energy sector.

Russia has pressed for South Stream and its Nord Stream counterpart while European leaders lobby for a series of pipelines outlined in the so-called Southern Corridor.

Last week the consortium controlling Shah Deniz II natural gas field off the coast of Azerbaijan chose the Trans-Adriatic natural gas pipeline as a possible route to European natural gas consumers.

TAP Managing Director Kjetil Tungland told EurActiv that South Stream, which would run through southern Europe, isn’t a concern.

“As long as Shah Deniz is ready and willing to guarantee supplies of gas to Italy via the TAP pipeline, the South Stream project is irrelevant as far as TAP and Shah Deniz are concerned,” hold told European news agency EurActiv.

TAP would transport natural gas to European markets through Greece and Albania and then through the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

EIA expects long-term growth in renewables

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (UPI) — Use of renewable energy in the United States depends on local efforts though the U.S. government said it expected growth as the technology becomes competitive.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said, not counting hydropower, as much as 9 percent of the electricity generated in the country would come from renewable sources by 2035, a 5 percentage point increase from 2010 levels.

Electricity generated from wind is expected to double by 2035, though the EIA said growth would start to slow once some tax credits expire by the end of the year.

Biomass is expected to increase by a factor of four because of federal requirements and co-firing of biomass with coal.

In terms of geothermal energy, the EIA said it expected “robust” growth but added that would only make up a “small portion” of electricity generation.

Solar power was expected to increase nearly seven-fold by 2035, though some tax credits expire by then.

“Near-term growth in many renewable technology types is largely used to satisfy state-level renewable portfolio standards requirements,” the EIA said. “However, over the long term, renewable technologies may continue to be built as they become increasingly competitive with other electricity generation options.”