Got a spare $111 million lying around? Buy a nuclear power plant!

A business tycoon from the US has recently made history, he became the first ever individual to purchase a nuclear power station. Franklin J. Haney, whom has made his fortune through being an innovative property developer, acquired the Alabama based nuclear power station at an auction on November 14th.

Mr.Haney, has built himself quite the reputation on the journey to attaining his fortune, he’s established a status for ‘innovative financing’ and ‘imaginative acquisitions’, of which the ‘imaginative’ and ‘innovative’ are certainly justified in his latest purchase. However, his initial investment of $111 million is just the start of his spending intentions for this project.

After attaining a number of interested parties from the beginning, the day of the auction only actually saw 2 interested parties battling it out. Jackson Holdings of Alabama LLC, were the competition faced and made a serious challenge of it, bidding up to but no higher than $110 million.

The 75-year-old has vowed to rejuvenate numerous communities in Tennessee and Alabama, pledging that the completion of the plant will create in excess of 4’000 jobs, whilst operating the plant will create 2’000 permanent and highly-paid jobs.

Along with the incomplete 2.6GW power station, which has for years been ransacked for spare parts, Haney will get 1,400 acres of property on the Guntersville Reservoir. To hold him to his promises regarding the site, the seller, state utility Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), stipulated that Haney must invest at least $25m on the property within five years of closing the deal, and he has two years to close the deal. It contains two partially built Babcock & Wilcox pressurised water reactors. When TVA halted construction in 1988, reactor 1 was approximately 90% compete, and reactor 2 was approximately 58% complete. But after years of removing assets from the units, and following subsequent inspections, the reactors were deemed 55% and 35% complete, respectively, in 2009.

As well as the power station and the land, Haney gets switchyards, office buildings, warehouses, cooling towers, water pumping stations and railroad spurs. “The Bellefonte Nuclear Station will help transform communities across the region – many of which have been hit hard by the forced closure of coal power plants over the last decade. This project will bring new life to the region by creating thousands of jobs while providing assured access to reliable, affordable, zero-emission energy.”

 

HS2 railway gets the green light!

Despite considerable opposition to the idea, the British government has announced they will be going ahead with plans to build the highly anticipated High-speed 2 (HS2) railway in full. The line is estimated to cost the country somewhere in the region of £56 billion and will considerably reduce travel time between some of the country’s most economically integral cities including London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield.
The country’s transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said “HS2 will be world’s high-techest, smartest, fastest railway. It will be a state-of-the art railway. This is faster than the Japanese bullet trains, and more state-of-the-art. This will be the fastest, most modern railway in the world.” Once the entire system is fully operational, the new trains will carry 300’000 people a day, tripling the number of available seats out of London Euston station.
Much of the rail-line is going to be situated in the north of the country, which could be an immediate response to the message delivered by the Brexit vote. A large proportion of the country whom voted to leave the European Union were based in the north of England, a part of the country which for many years felt they were being neglected by the government when it came to large-scale investments. Much of the motive behinds the vote was people felt the country was chucking needles amounts of money into the European Union, whereas it could have been better used in domestic developments.
Grayling has stated that HS2 is not just about making journey’s quicker but also to address the capacity issues being felt by train operators, where many of the countries commuters are forced to stand on their journey’s due to a lack of seats. “We all know our railway system is full. Too many people have to stand, and there are too many people sitting in traffic jams on roads behind endless rows of Lorries. “You can’t solve that problem unless you build something new, and by building something new, why would we build something old-fashioned?

The government has also vowed to allow as much of the project as economically possible to be contracted to British manufacturers, which Grayling describes as “overwhelmingly good news for British business and for British skills and for British manufacturing”.

 

Africa is becoming a renewable energies headquarters!

The West-African country of Senegal has recently begun the construction of a major solar farm in the sub-Saharan desert, it is a 20MW project located in Bokhol and is called ‘Senergy2’. The project is estimated to cost $28 million and is going to be developed by French renewable energy platform – Greenwish Partners, which dedicates much of its work to sub-Saharan projects. Senergy2 was also financially backed by the Senegalese state; with financial support from the UK and Norway through their joint investment vehicle Green Africa Power, according to local news
When completed and operating at full capacity, it’s predicted that 160’000 people will have access to clean power, a move that will drastically increase the countries chances of 20% renewables by 2017. “With no energy, there can be neither growth nor development. With the Bokhol facility, we are now able to take a new step and Senegal comes unreservedly into a new, clean energy period,” said President Macky Sall.

Senegal is eager to attain a position as one of the continent’s leading countries in renewable energy production, as well as positioning itself as the leader in West Africa; currently, South Africa and Morocco are the flagbearers for the continent.

 

How drones are revolutionizing the construction industry

Drones have been one of the fastest growing phenomenon’s in the last few years, both in terms of private and commercial use. To be the expansion into context, back in 2012 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated that by 2012, 30’000 drones will be operating in US airspace; at this current time (2016) around 2.5 million drones are operational in the United States, of which 500’000 are being used commercially. Unsurprisingly, the FAA has since revised their forecast and now predicts the country will have 7 million drones in the air by 2020.
Many believe drones are the next step in the process of the ‘industrial revolution’. Before the availability of the modern cranes and industrial equipment, we rely so heavily upon today, laborers would be forced to complete every single job on the construction site by hand. Jobs that today take months to complete would have in years gone by taken years, and in maybe 20 years time, the jobs we see today taking months could take weeks, thanks to the use of drones.
Assessing the earth for the foundations of construction is also something that a drone can be considerably more efficient for. Traditional land survey equipment gets the job done and provides accurate results, however, when the apt software is installed into a drone, it will also attain accurate result but it will complete the job in a time 85-percent quicker at a cost of 10 times cheaper than traditional methods.
Furthermore, the job a project manager is also made fundamentally easier through the assistance of drones. In years gone by builders manually assessed project dimensions, which would predominantly be unreliable, timely and costly.  By using drone data tools, the drone can automatically measure essential projects components, such as stockpile volumetric, whilst also sending instant feedback to the project manager who can begin analysis.
Drones are becoming increasingly common in day-to-day life but this is just for leisure, more importantly, drones are becoming more and more prevalent in a variety of industries but none more crucially than construction. Construction is an industry very much built on efficiency, in the sense of cost and time; hence the reason drones potentially have such a pivotal role to play, when the above reasons are taken into consideration.

You would be a brave person to bet against drones being a key player in the next industrial revolution.

Hotel developments to lead the way for growth in African tourism

A number of the world’s largest hotel chains are betting on Africa being their next big investment opportunity. Africa’s tourism sector is already on a momentous upwards slope and this is the obvious trend that has caught the attention of some of the world’s most renowned hotel names, such as, The Hilton, Fairmont and the Jumeirah group. Starwood, Marriot and the Four Seasons have also publically stated they intend on investing heavily across North, South and Central Africa in the five-years between now and 2021 that experts predict will be one of the largest periods of hotel growth in the continent’s history.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa is currently rising at an astronomical rate; last year, the global growth rate of FDI was 1%, whereas in Africa they experienced a 7% growth. Paul Frimpong, Investor Analyst at international business facilitation experts Naseba, said: “The enormous potential of the African continent cannot be emphasized enough. Africa is the fastest growing region for FDIs in the world. Aggregate household consumption will reach $1.4 trillion with collective GDP hitting $2.6 trillion in 2020 alone. These facts show that with the understanding of the growth momentum, combined with the right strategies, presents handsome rewards for current and prospective investors in the region.”

Not only does the hotel boom in Africa provide more opportunity for the tourism industry but it also presents an abundance of opportunity for the continents architects, interior designers, real estate developers, buyers and engineers working on not only hospitality, but retail, commercial and residential developments.

 

The China – EU steel conflict goes on…

After it was announced on Friday that the EU had set higher import duties on two popular steel products from China, the country has hit back labelling the investigation methods as ‘unfair’. China’s commerce ministry have led the protests against the decision, labelling it “unfair and unreasonable” and “seriously damages the interests of Chinese enterprises”, due to it being a method commonly used against non-market economies.
The duties have been imposed after recent outcries of concern over the declining state of European steel industry; Britain alone has seen 5’000 jobs axed this year, primarily down to the collapse of Tata Steel UK. The EU has largely blamed China for the declining European Steel market, accusing them of dumping ludicrously cheap steel on the market, which doesn’t give competitors the opportunity to compete.
However, China who is the suppliers of 50% of the world’s steel and the largest consumer of steel, have claimed that the accusations are unjust, considering Chinese steel products represent just 5% of the European Market and have said weak economic growth is the reason behind said problems. “China hopes the EU will strictly respect relevant World Trade Organization rules and fully guarantee Chinese companies’ right to protest,” the ministry said.
The EU’s duties are set at between 13.2 and 22.6 percent for hot-rolled flat iron and steel products and at between 65.1 and 73.7 percent for heavy plate steel.
The war of trade between the EU and China doesn’t look like ending any time soon, considering the EU are still debating whether to grant china ‘market economy’ status, something China firmly argues is a given right considering in December they will have been a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for 15 years. The commission has said that China is not a market economy and that it would not recognize it as such, but would adopt a new method to set duties that would abide by WTO rules.

Shanghai remains the number 1 container port

The port of Shanghai has further increased its lead over second placed Singapore, to remain the world’s busiest container port, according to statistics compiled by the Journal of Commerce. Singapore, which for a long time was the worlds busiest has fallen further behind by a staggering 5.6 million TEUs (20-foot container equivalent). The port of Shanghai handled 36.5 million TEU’s… there is a reason that China is called the factory of the world.

It should be noted though, that the increased margins between Shanghai and Singapore was not necessarily down to improvements from Shanghai but more a slowdown from the port of Singapore, with container volumes falling for a fourth consecutive year.

In a report earlier in the year, Fitch-owned BMI Research concluded Singapore was unlikely to regain its position as Asia’s biggest transshipment hub, as it has largely reached its capacity. “For the port of Singapore to retain its position as the premier Asian transshipment hub and battle the port of Shanghai for first position, Singapore must continue to expand and keep up with shipping trends,” BMI wrote.
In a rather impressive statistic, seven of the world’s 10 largest container ports can be found in China (including Hong Kong), only the port of Jebel Ali, Dubai, can be found outside of East and South-East Asia.

Is there such a thing as too much profit? One company thinks so.

Fanuc is a group of companies located across the globe, headquartered in Japan; Fanuc is one of the world’s leading producers of autonomous products and services such as robotics and computer numerical control systems. The primary consumers of Fanuc products are those of US and Japanese automobile and electronics manufacturers. Due to the robotics provided by Fanuc, Panasonics factories in Amagasaki can produce 2 million televisions a month… with just 25 employees. Fanuc is the global leader of factory automation systems.
However, recently instated president Kenji Yamaguchi has said that a company can indeed make too much profit; this was said referring to the fact the company made 43% profit in 2011. Fanuc are without doubt the one of the biggest suppliers of factory equipment and therefore, it must be of concern that China, the biggest manufacturer in the world is showing it’s worth growth rates for two decades.

When reaching profit levels of 43% in 2011, Fanuc was every investors dream; however Yamaguchi has warned investors to not be expecting those rates anytime soon. Yamaguchi even controversially admitted that there is perhaps such thing as too much profit, he stated that if you are making that much money, you are probably not investing enough into the company’s future. To confirm that Yamaguchi was not bluffing, Fanuc have now ventured into a series of investments that might not necessarily reach profits for 5 or 10 years, and last month Fanuc announced it had purchased land for a new industrial robot factory and Yamaguchi said it plans to spend several hundred million dollars to as much as double its production capacity for them.

In May, the company completed two new research centers at its headquarters. To staff them, Yamaguchi said Fanuc more than tripled its hiring of engineers over the last few years to about 100 annually. Overall, headcount has grown by more than 1,000 since 2013, a 20 percent increase.
Well, Fanuc are not holding back and as the world becomes more involved in autonomous motors with the latest announcements, you can only think that Fanuc are going to have a big role to play in the advancements of the autonomous industry.

Panama – The unsung hero of International Trade

The Expanded Panama Canal is a Success

The expanded Panama Canal has proved to date, to be nothing but a success. August 15th,1914 saw the ‘SS Ancon’ pass through Panama Canal, a ship that would be the first of thousands in what is it to be a prosperous 102-year history.

 

Panama Canal is a 48-mile waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean; it’s often referred to as one of the greatest feats of engineering ever seen. ThePanama Canal is absolutely indispensable to the efficiency of global trade. To put the canals importance into perspective, pre-Panama Canal saw ships from New York to San Francisco having to travel down to the tip of South America and back up again, even though they sit on the same latitudinal lines. The Panama Canal saves a route from New York to San Francisco a staggering 7’782 miles.

 

However, up until June 26th, 2016, the canal had seen little expansion, meaning as international trade continued to grow throughout history, the capacity of the canal stood still. The newly built lane has doubled the capacity of the Panama Canal by adding a new lane of traffic allowing for a larger number of ships, and increasing the width and depth of the lanes and locks allowing larger ships to pass. Ships over 1 and a half times the size are now passing through, which can carry twice as much cargo.

 

The Expansion project has seen:

• Built two new sets of locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, and excavated new channels to the new locks.

• Widened and deepened existing channels.

• Raised the maximum operating water level of Gatun Lake.

 

It is estimated that the extension will have cost Panama In the region of $5.25 billion, a significant sum of money. However, it is also predicted that the canal will be financially profitable with the ACP anticipating a 12% internal rate of return. In addition to financial gain, it’s predicted that the canal will be beneficial to employment rates, with the 9 years of construction seeing between 35’000-40’000 people employed, and political bodies also believe the economic rewards of the extension will see more jobs created in a more prosperous economy.

CHINA OFFICIALLY BANS “WEIRD” ARCHITECTURE

The Chinese government wants to officially put an end to the recent trend of bizarre architecture that’s swept the country. Years of strong economic growth had fueled a construction boom and the rise of strange and eye-catching architecture – from a teapot-shaped building to the Rem Koolhaas-designed CCTV skyscraper that looks like a pair of trousers. The ban came as part of a new State Council guideline released by the central government on Sunday.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping first called for an end to “weird architecture” back in 2014, when he harangued many of the country’s unusually shaped buildings, including copycat architecture of famous Western landmarks, from a replica of the U.S. Capitol to an entire clone of the UNESCO-protected Austrian Hallstatt village. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the directive states that urban architecture should henceforth be “suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye,” and not “oversized, xenocentric, [and] weird.”

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More than just an eyesore, many of these odd urban monuments are also considered a misappropriation of taxpayer money. Liu Shilin, head of the Institute of Urban Science at Shanghai Jiaotong University, told SCMP that quite a few of these “weird” publicly funded buildings didn’t serve any civic purpose, were costly to maintain and were actually torn down soon after competition. The State Council directive has yet to release a set of criteria that defines “weird” architecture.

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Source: http://inhabitat.com/ (Lucy Wang)