Categories
Climate Energy

With a renewable energy adaptable DC infrastructure, China is powering the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022 is being billed as the first “green” Olympic games, with the first games running entirely on renewable energy. We show in a recent study for Carbon Brief that China’s leadership’s goal to highlight clean energy growth and make it part of the country’s international image, while essential in and of itself, is backed up by real-world achievements.

Zhangjiakou, a mountain city in China’s Hebei province which is hosting the games’ skiing activities, has a renewable energy capacity that exceeds that of most countries – and a groundbreaking “Zhangjiakou Green Electric Grid” that delivers power from the city to Beijing.

Furthermore, the pilot renewable power system is a scale model of a far larger plan which the Chinese government is implementing across the country, with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2060.

 

‘Green’ power supply for the Olympics

 

According to the organizers, the venues will demand roughly ss400-gigawatt-hours (GWh) of power from the beginning of the preparations in mid-2019 until the end of the games. This is the equivalent of around 180,000 Chinese homes’ annual electricity consumption.

Wind and solar power installed capacity in China exceeded 600 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2021, with both technologies surpassing 300GW last year. In 2021, China generated 2,480 terawatt-hours (TWh) of renewable electricity, including hydropower. As a result, China’s abundant renewable energy capacity can easily fulfill the Olympics’ electricity needs.

The government, however, has utilized the games to develop a dedicated renewable power system, rather than simply buying renewable power on paper via the trading mechanism.

The government is employing the cross-regional “green power trading” mechanism, that allows large customers to purchase renewable electricity produced anywhere in the country, to meet the declared 100% renewable electricity objective. The games have been prioritized in the trading platform, having venues able to purchase renewable energy at a reduced cost.

 

The renewable energy flexible direct current grid is being introduced.

 

The renewable electricity trade for the games is managed by State Grid Beijing Company. The majority of the electricity originates from 11 solar and wind power producing firms in Zhangjiakou. By the end of 2021, the organizers claim to have purchased 171GWh of “green” electricity – wind and solar – and 237GWh by the close of 2021. According to these figures, the total amount of electricity used at the Olympic venues will be roughly 160GWh.

The building of the Zhangbei renewable energy flexible direct current (DC) grid has been hastened as a result of the winter Olympic games. The Beijing 2022 Olympic Games will rely on this freshly constructed infrastructure in Zhangjiakou City, which is a $2 billion project that began in June 2020 to transmit wind and solar power and use pumped hydro storage to control output changes.

Categories
Climate Energy

mPower Technology, a solar panel startup, has raised financing to begin mass production

mPower Technology, a startup, announced on February 1 that it has collected $10 million to ramp up the manufacturing of silicon-based solar panels which were certified for a flight last summer.

Cottonwood Technology Fund did lead the Series B financing round, which was also joined by Hemisphere Ventures as well as other space investors.

According to mPower Technology Chief Executive Officer Kevin Hell, this startup has helped raise $16.5 million from the time it was just a spun off from the Sandia National Laboratories in the year 2015.

According to Hell, Sandia, a government lab managed by Honeywell International company, had also committed around $20 million in research and development before handing it off.

He claims the spin-off provided mPower exclusive rights to a solar technology called DragonSCALES, which consists of interconnected photovoltaic cells which are more adjustable, flexible, and cheaper to create with automated procedures than standard cells on the market.

SpaceX launched a tiny satellite for Lynk Global, a firm creating a connectivity constellation for direct-to-cellphone, in June 2021, which gave the technology its first flight.

DragonSCALES is also working on other missions, which will launch “in several cases” during the first half of the year 2022, as per Hell.

The business intends to use the capital it just raised to build manufacturing facilities in New Mexico, with the goal of generating 1.5 megawatts of power each year by the 3rd quarter of 2022.

“That’s about the total output of the existing conventional III-V [space solar cell] business to date, at least historically,” Hell added, referring to technology which has used a Gallium arsenide semiconductor element for the last “30 years or so.”

DragonSCALES employs off-the-shelf silicon-based processes and tools, allowing mPower to scale up for a market which, as per Hell, will require over 50 megawatts each year within a duration of five years.

Industry demand is being driven primarily by an increase in the low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations, according to Hell, who also included electric orbit elevating systems, lunar missions, as well as other developing applications as factors driving the market.

According to him, a typical LEO satellite requires approximately 1.5 kilowatts of power to operate, though this can vary substantially depending on mission requirements.

Because mPower gets its silicon from terrestrial solar photovoltaic sector, which is “orders of magnitude larger in terms of volume” than the space market, Hell believes the semiconductor supply chain limitations will have only a “minimal impact” on its expansion plans.

“And because we’re buying the high end of it, we’ll be the last to be impacted,” he said. “The margin linked with silicon that we buy will be a lot better than current the regular rooftop market [where] you purchase solar panels for your home.”

He sees DragonSCALES’ ability to produce power in orbit and beam it back to Earth as “another tremendous use” for the company in the future.

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Military Space

The United Kingdom has announced a $2 billion increase in financing for military space operations

The United Kingdom revealed plans to invest $1.9 billion on the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites as well as other technology over the coming decade in a novel military space strategy unveiled on February 1.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated, “This considerable investment will help to guarantee that the United Kingdom remains at the frontline of space innovation as well as one step clear of our competitors.” The new space strategy emphasizes the importance of the commercial space sector in expanding military capabilities and aiding economic growth in the UK, as well as the danger of anti-satellite missiles.

The majority of the extra funds will go toward a global band of low-Earth-orbit satellites which will provide surveillance and intelligence for military activities, according to Jeremy Quin, who works as the Minister in charge of the Defense Procurement. Istari is a program that will fund the development of novel laser communications technology for the high-speed data transfer between space and Earth.

The U.K. Space Command is going to demonstrate a network of satellites dubbed Minerva which can independently gather, process, as well as disseminate information from U.K. and partner satellites to assist military operations, according to Quin.

Quin predicted that “Istari and Minerva would be the building blocks” of prospective military space architecture. We’ll start with the modest quantity of satellites, and we’ll learn how to manage an establishment of satellites by getting together packs of satellites which can function together,” he said. Small satellite experiments will be launched by UK military labs to test novel designs and concepts like software-defined spacecraft.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the Chief of the Air Staff, said the plan reflects the reality that “nefarious, dangerous actions” are being carried out in space, and that the United Kingdom wants to be at the frontline of ensuring space is accessible for everyone’s use. He explained, “This isn’t about weaponizing space; it’s about preserving our interests.”

The strategy’s unveiling, according to Air Vice-Marshal Harv Smyth, who works as the director in charge of the space at the Defense Ministry, ” enables us to communicate with our partners and expresses our objectives.” According to Smyth, the Ministry of Defense spent months evaluating the “threat picture.” “We’re preparing for the worst while praying for the very best.”  “We must improve our abilities to conduct space domain analysis, and comprehend what’s there, what’s it doing, and, more importantly, what’s the intent?” says one of the study’s findings.

The new plan, according to Natalie Moore, the MoD’s head of space policy, “sends a strong message to the world” about the UK’s role and dedication to security. The approach “exploits synergies between military space and civic,” she said. The U.K. Space Command will conduct an industry day on March 30 to discuss prospects for collaboration with the commercial sector, according to Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, the command’s commander.

Responsive launch, a notion that the US Space Force is testing, is one of the areas of interest to space authorities. “We were in the US last week discussing about responsive deployment,” Godfrey said. Virgin Orbit, which plans to deploy space missions from the UK, has pitched the US Space Force and the UK Ministry of Defense on responsive launch services.

Categories
Space Technology

The launch attempt by Astra is aborted

On February 7, seconds before liftoff, Astra Space canceled the launch of its Rocket 3.3, a small launch vehicle. At 1:50 p.m., the launch of LV0008 was planned. However, just as the engines started to fire, the mission was canceled. Astra company counted down to the deployment of the Rocket 3.3 vehicle after a 50-minute interruption to assess upper-level winds. The company spent around 90 minutes investigating the problem before declaring that the deployment would be postponed for the day.

The deployment was pushed back owing to a “minor telemetry issue,” though the company did not elaborate. “We’re giving the personnel time to do a thorough examination and will provide insight on the next deployment opportunity,” the business added. The weather forecast for the launch on February 8 is not promising, with only a 20% probability of favorable weather in a 3-hour window.

As per Chris Kemp, the company’s CEO, Astra’s first launch attempt was aborted on February 5 owing to “a range equipment breakdown causing a crucial range detection resource to be inaccessible to permit our launch.” Despite the fact that the vehicle has an autonomous flight safety mechanism, Kemp tweeted that it employs NASA-developed software which isn’t yet authorized, necessitating the usage of 2 radar systems on the range.

Space Launch Delta 45, the operator of the Eastern Range, later reported that it had “discovered” the problem with the radar and was working to resolve it. The introduction of Astra on February 6th has been postponed.

Astra’s 5th orbital launch attempt would be the first featuring a satellite payload. The first three launches from Kodiak Island’s Pacific Spaceport Complex facility in Alaska failed to reach orbit between September 2020 to August 2021. The fourth, launched on November 20 from Alaska, made it into the orbit but did not carry any satellites. The US Space Force used sensors on that flight to gather information on the launch environment.

Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 41 is a NASA-sponsored mission carrying four cubesats. The government granted Astra a $3.9 million contract to launch in December 2020 under its VCLS (Venture Class Launch Services) Demo 2 competition.

Three of the cubesats on ELaNa 41 are from educational institutions. The drag sail will be put to the test on BAMA-1, a satellite created by the University of Alabama, in order to deorbit the satellite swiftly. The INCA at New Mexico State University will collect data to improve space weather models. QubeSat, a project of the University of California, Berkeley, will study how quantum gyroscopes function in space. RS-51, NASA’s fourth satellite, will exhibit a variety of in-space monitoring capabilities as well as a speedy and cost-effective method to cubesat production.

Astra received authorization to launch on February 4th from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). The fresh Part 450 streamlined regulations were the agency’s first license. These regulations, which took effect in March, attempt to make obtaining licenses easier and more flexible for enterprises.

Categories
Satellites Space

The development of a laser terminal which connects military airplanes with satellites is being funded by AFWERX

A contract has been awarded to Space Micro, which is a defense as well as NASA contractor recently purchased by Voyager Space, to construct a laser communications terminal which is going to link military aircraft with the geostationary satellites in space.

Space Micro has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer Phase 1 deal by AFWERX, a US Air Force organization which works with commercial tech businesses, to create an air-to-space laser communications pod which could be launched on military aircraft or unpiloted drones to offer in-flight connectivity. According to Space Micro CEO David Strobel, the company will investigate ways to “create an optical communication chain between the geostationary communications satellites and airborne assets.”

This is a difficult technical task, according to Strobel. “Some of the most difficult pointing and navigating which you could possibly do,” says one engineer, “particularly if we’re informed that they need to retain this uplink while they’re moving.”

This project’s laser terminal would transport data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second. The terminal will be centered on an established Space Micro design, although with the adaptive optics technology created by Johns Hopkins University for NASA, according to Strobel. Rhea Space Activity, which is a startup creating deep-space autonomous navigation as well as an attitude-control system for the military spacecraft, teamed up with Space Micro.

The team wants to create a pod which may sit beneath a fighter jet’s wing such as the F-35 and interact with spacecraft overhead, according to Beau Rideout, who is an aerospace engineer with Rhea Space Activity. The concept is to employ satellite-based communications to offer high-speed bandwidth for aircraft to receive and deliver data to other military users all over the world.

The main challenge, he added, is controlling atmospheric turbulence which interferes with lasers and “having a strong enough laser to get out of the stratosphere.” “To offer our stealth aircraft the capacity to safely communicate during critical operations without the need to give away their whereabouts,” Strobel said of the laser pod.

Space Micro is an engineering-propelled small firm focused on high-reliability satellite subsystem technology innovation. Their creative, high-performance communications, digital, and electro-optic systems, affordable, as well as their ability to harness commercial technology to fulfill military and space requirements, have won us a solid reputation.

Following the sale of their first firm, Space Electronics, Inc., to Maxwell Technologies, David Strobel and David Czajkowski founded Space Micro in 2002 as their second entrepreneurial venture. Space Micro’s engineering of the game-changing technologies, like the µLCT™100 Laser Communication Terminal with a fantastic SatCom data rate of 100 Gbps, has been powered by their fearless determination and passion.

Their nearly 2 million hours of flawless space flight history, along with the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), enables them to service aerospace primes, government and public agencies, commercial entities, and New Space projects all over the world.

Categories
Climate Energy

Endesa collaborates on a blade recycling program in Spain

The very first wind blade recycling facility in Spain will be built by PreZero Espana, Endesa, and Reciclalia Composite, with the help of GE Renewable Energy as well as its affiliate LM Wind Power. The project, which will be built at Cubillos del Sil, is a portion of Endesa’s Compostilla industrial complex’s Futur-e Plan.

The €8.5 million facility will begin construction next year and is going to create 30 jobs directly when it opens in early 2024. Using circular economy standards, the facility intends to give blade materials a second life.

Furthermore, the initiative envisions the re-use and integration of recycled fiberglass, carbon fiber, and other process by-products back into the sector, both for wind energy and other industries that may need these compounds. Under the terms of the deal, GE Renewable Energy will make the new plant available to its Spanish customers who want to recycle their old blades.

LM Wind Power is going to supply around half of the extra fiberglass created during blade manufacturing at its Ponferrada and Castellón factories. This fiberglass is going to be recycled and used in a variety of applications. Endesa also intends to recycle blades which are no longer in use in its renewable energy facilities.

“This agreement not only underlines our dedication to the environmental sustainability of the wind industry, but it also takes another stride towards the circularity of the sector,” said Rafael Gonzalez, Endesa’s general director of generation. “This plant will permit the renewal of wind parks to be pushed, thereby generating, in a more sustainable fashion, a bigger volume of green energy,” said Gonzalo Canete, PreZero’s chief executive in Portugal and Spain.

“We’re also pushing towards circularity of the blades, which will make recycling easier and prevent them from ending up in landfills.  We are thrilled to be working with Endesa in the deployment of this potential recycling solution, which reaffirms our commitment to the sector’s sustainable development in Spain,” said Blanca Monteagudo, GE Renewable Energy’s commercial and sales director of the onshore wind power for Southern Europe.

“Reciclalia and its staff are glad to contribute their knowledge and experience in the composite materials industry to the initiative in this first recycling plant,” stated Reciclalia Composite CEO Alfonso Bernabe.

Endesa became part of the Enel Group in the third quarter of 2009, which is Italy’s largest electric power company and Europe’s second-largest utility by installed capacity, selling gas and electricity to nearly 61 million customers, and relying on 96 GW of net installed capacity. It has over 71.000 staff in a broad variety of energy generation companies: wind power, hydroelectric, thermoelectric, nuclear, geothermal, and solar power.

Categories
Space Technology

Regulators are unsure about the timing of the initial launch in the United Kingdom

Despite uncertainty over when regulators would give licenses for those launches, preparations to host the first orbital deployments from the United Kingdom (UK) this year are moving forward. This year, Virgin Orbit plans to launch two LauncherOne air-launch systems from Cornwall Airport Newquay, commonly referred to as Spaceport Cornwall facility in southwestern England, in flights this summer.

“The Cornwall missions are planned around the mid of the year, summertime,” Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit’s CEO, said in a conference call with reporters on January 11, two days before the company’s “Above the Clouds” launch from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port. During the discussion, Virgin Orbit’s chief operational officer, Tony Gingiss, stated that the very first Cornwall launch will be 2 flights after Above the Clouds.

One aspect influencing that timeline, according to Hart, is licensing. “It’s contingent on us getting via the licensing process and some of the difficulties,” he said, “but that’s what we’re aiming towards.” “That will be the very first launch from British soil.”

Both Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit will need permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the United Kingdom. As a U.S. corporation, Virgin Orbit will also require a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Melissa Thorpe, the head of Spaceport Cornwall, stated the spaceport was already engaging with British authorities on its spaceport license during a presentation to the Global Spaceport Alliance on January 10. “In less than 6 months, we’ll be ready to go,” she stated. “Both our and Virgin Orbit’s applications for deployment as a spaceport have been submitted to the CAA.”

“We’re just going through the input on that,” she said of the spaceport’s application, which was submitted in October. She didn’t say when the license will be issued, but said it would be “hopefully the first spaceport authorization to come out of the United Kingdom.” CAA officials testifying before the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on January 12 offered significantly less assurance about authorization for Spaceport Cornwall or any other UK launch site.

Tim Johnson, the CAA’s director in charge of strategy and policy, consistently declined to say whether the first launch in the United Kingdom will happen in 2022. Four applications have been formally submitted, with 14 more undergoing a “pre-application” evaluation, according to him.

“You’ve been set up.” These are the applications you’ve received. Greg Clark, the committee’s chair, questioned, “Do you envisage a launch in 2022?” “We’re ready to do business.” We’re currently reviewing applications. The quality of the applications and the evidence offered will be the most important factors in determining the timeline,” Johnson said. In a back-and-forth with Clark, Johnson repeatedly refused to declare if the first launch in the United Kingdom would happen in 2022, much to the chagrin of committee members. “I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to obtain a definitive answer from you on Greg’s question about whether you expect a launch before the end of the year,” said Dehenna Davison, another committee member. “Are you able to say yes or no?”

Categories
Electric vehicles Energy

New York kicks up a rebate program for electric vehicles

According to Governor Kathy Hochul, a rebate program to assist drive the purchase of zero-emission electric cars has received a $12 million boost. Consumers can get up to $2,000 in rebates if they buy an electric vehicle. Hochul stated in launching the refueled Drive Clean Rebate program, “Zero-emission vehicles are among the most effective ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase the electrification of our transport industry.”

The refund, which is handled by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and is available in all 62 counties of the state, is offered by auto dealers. On more than 60 vehicle models, rebates varying from $500 to about $2,000 are available.

For the purchase or lease of longer-range, all-electric automobiles with a base Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of just under $42,000, consumers will receive larger incentives. For vehicles that cost more, smaller incentives are available.

Since March 2017, a rebate has been offered. Over 54,000 reimbursements have been provided under the scheme thus far. They’re compatible with more than 60 different electric vehicle models, varying from high-end BMWs and Teslas to Toyotas and Chevrolets.

Over 110,000 electric automobiles were purchased in New York from 2010 to December 2021. As required by the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, electrifying the state’s fleet of automobiles and trucks is a crucial component of plans to reduce carbon emissions in the future years. Hochul had previously signed a bill that effectively prohibits the sale of new internal combustion-powered vehicles and light trucks beginning in 2035.

 

EVs currently make up a small percentage of all vehicles on the road, but their popularity is growing. EVs accounted for 4% of new passenger vehicles delivered in 2021, up from 2% in 2020, as per the Argonne National Laboratory. In New York, there are an anticipated 91,000 electric vehicles out of a total of 4.2 million automobiles. Incentives for acquiring electric vehicles or zero-emission vehicles are available in 45 states as well as the District of Columbia.

There’s still a long way to go in getting New Yorkers to switch from gasoline and diesel to electric vehicles fueled by greener energy sources. The placement of publicly accessible charging stations, like incentives, can enhance sales. New York has grown from less than a dozen public facilities to more than 1,200 in only seven years. New York may help to smooth the transition away from harmful fuels by agreeing to boost that figure, as California, as well as its utilities, have just done.

Categories
Space Technology

In a testing mishap, an ABL Space Systems rocket phase was damaged

The second stage of ABL Space Systems‘ small launch vehicle was damaged in an accident that occurred during testing on January 19, according to the company. Around 4:30 p.m. Eastern, observers at the Mojave Air and Space Port facility situated in California heard a boom followed by a column of black smoke. Within 20 minutes, the plume diffused, visible throughout the area, even by cameras which are components of a wildfire tracking network. No one was hurt, according to the accounts.

Several firms conduct engine firings and other tests at the airport, that also possess a spaceport permit from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). According to industry sources, the event occurred at a location utilized by ABL Space Systems, which is a small launch vehicle manufacturer.

ABL Space Systems president Dan Piemont stated that the event occurred during a corporate test. “We lost Stage 2 of the RS1 in a test incident this afternoon,” he told SpaceNews. “Everyone is safe, and the team performed an outstanding job of handling the anomaly and securing the test stand.”

The business is working on a small launch vehicle called the RS1. The E2 engines, which utilize liquid oxygen as well as RP-1 propellants, were created by the firm and power the two-stage vehicle. The second stage is powered by a single E2 engine that generates 13,000 pounds of thrust, whereas the first stage is powered by nine E2 engines. The spacecraft is expected to cost $12 million and be capable of launching up to 1,350 pounds into low Earth orbit.

ABL is yet to launch RS1 for the first time. Piemont stated in an October interview that the company hoped to deploy from Kodiak Island, Alaska, before the close of 2021, but the firm has not updated its launch plans since then.

Even though the RS1 has yet to be released, the company has been successful in generating funds and recruiting customers. In October, ABL raised $200 million, extending a Series B round worth $170 million it had raised seven months prior. The latest investment, according to the business, will go toward ramping up the manufacturing of the RS1. Lockheed Martin entered into a contract in April 2021 for up to 58 RS1 launches over the following decade, and ABL was chosen independently to undertake the British government’s “UK Pathfinder” launch from a spaceport situated in the Shetland Islands. In November, Amazon and ABL agreed to launch two prototype satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband megaconstellation.

Categories
Electric vehicles Energy

In Europe, sales of electric vehicles overtake those of diesel vehicles for the first time

In December, Europeans purchased more electric vehicles than diesel automobiles, demonstrating the increasing prominence of battery power as well as the demise of diesel, which was formerly Europe’s most popular engine option. According to figures provided by Matthias Schmidt, who is an analyst situated in Berlin who monitors electric vehicle sales, more than 20% of new automobiles sold in Europe and the United Kingdom in December were powered purely by electricity. Diesel vehicle sales, which provided more than 50% of all new vehicles in the European Union in 2015, have dropped below 19 percent.

Electric vehicles are rapidly becoming mainstream, as evidenced by the December data. Last year, sales of battery-powered vehicles skyrocketed in the United States, Europe, and China, while conventional vehicle sales remained flat. Electric vehicles have gotten more inexpensive as a result of government subsidies, the variety of electric cars available has increased, and purchasers have become more aware of the environmental impact of vehicles fueled by ICE (internal combustion engines).

Given the general state of the automobile industry, the growth of electric automobiles was all the more surprising. As per the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, sales of all new vehicles in the European Union fell by more than 20% in November due to a shortage of semiconductors.

In an email, Mr. Schmidt stated, “This is the real deal.” The Financial Times has previously reported his figures, which were based on information from European government agencies. Norway, which is not a part of the EU (European Union) but has the highest proportion of electric vehicles on the continent, is included in the data.

According to Mr. Schmidt, Tesla emerged as the best-selling electric car brand in 2021, trailed by Volkswagen. When Tesla installs manufacturing close to Berlin this year to handle the European market, it will be in a fantastic position to broaden its leadership. Tesla has been bringing automobiles from China into the United States.

Because of tax regulations that rendered diesel fuel less costly than gasoline, diesel has long been popular in Europe. Diesel automobiles are more fuel-efficient than gasoline vehicles, but they emit more damaging emissions. The collapse of diesel began in 2015 when Volkswagen acknowledged selling millions of diesel automobiles with software that generated artificially low emissions throughout official tests. The unauthorized software gave the impression that the automobiles were considerably cleaner than they actually were.

The controversy brought attention to diesel car pollution, which has been linked to thousands of premature deaths. Cities such as Hamburg and Berlin have banned diesel automobiles from certain areas, while the EU has strengthened its vehicle emission standards. If carmakers do not cut greenhouse gas emissions to the required levels, they will face steep penalties.

To comply with the requirements, carmakers were pushed to build electric vehicles that emit no tailpipe emissions. Gasoline automobiles are still more widespread, accounting for 40% of new car sales, although they are also on the slide in the long run.