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Solar farm plans go on show

Plans have gone on show for a solar energy farm on the former RAF base at Coltishall in Norfolk which closed in 2006.

The site of the proposed solar farm at Scottow Credit: Mike Page

The solar panels would be built on 250 acres of land between the former runways and provide renewable energy for up to 15,000 homes. After 25 years the solar farm would be removed. The plans are being submitted to the local council for approval.

Tomorrow's technology powering the cars of today

A Renault Twizy is put through its paces at Millbrook, Bedfordshire. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Motor industry experts from all over the world have been converging on Bedfordshire for the annual Low Carbon Vehicle event.

The event, which showcases the latest in green vehicle technology and energy efficiency, is where those in the business gather to talk tech and take a ride.

The hybrid BMW i8 sports car is made in the UK and with a price tag just under £100,000 Credit: ITV News Anglia

LCV is now in its seventh year and it's being hosted by Millbrook in Bedfordshire, a 700 acre site used by all the major car companies and the MoD to test and develop cars.

By 2040 experts say pretty much all of us will be driving around in electric, bio-fuel or hydrogen powered cars. And in the not too distant future with autonomous vehicles already being developed, they too could be driving us.

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More of us are clicking onto superfast broadband

The Government has announced its rollout of superfast broadband has reached a million homes and business in the UK - which includes 30,000 in Cambridgeshire alone.

It's making a big difference in rural areas like the village of Spaldwick near Huntingdon - boosting businesses and allowing more people to work from home.

More homes getting faster internet service

More homes getting superfast broadband Credit: ITV News Anglia

Superfast broadband has now reached more than 160,000 homes and businesses in the East of England.

The Government says it's on track to roll out the new technology to 95% of the UK by 2017.

The £1.7 billion project is said to create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024.

“More than a million homes and businesses have now benefitted as a result of Government’s investment in superfast broadband. It is totally transforming the way we live and work. You can download feature length films faster, chatting online with family and friends around the world using VOIP is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously without the connection slowing down or dropping out. For Businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and accessing markets abroad for the first time.”

– Culture Secretary Sajid Javid

H2-NO: Water blow in the hunt for Earth-like planets

No place like home: Blow in hunt for Earth-like planets Credit: PA

The hunt for planets similar to the Earth could be hampered by low water levels, Cambridge scientists have said.

Three planets which orbit stars similar to the sun had been seen as ideal candidates for detecting water vapour - a key characteristic of Earth-like climates.

But a team of astronomers using Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope studying HD 189733b, HD 209458b, and WASP-12b - which are between 60 and 900 light-years away, with temperatures ranging from 900 to 2200C - have found the planets are virtually dry.

Scientists from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge said it highlighted the challenges in searching for planets capable of sustaining life.

They found water levels which are only one-tenth to one-thousandth of the amount predicted.

Dr Nikku Madhusudhan of the University of Cambridge said

"These very hot planets with large atmospheres orbit some of our nearest stars, making them the best possible candidates for measuring water levels, and yet the levels we found were much lower than expected. "These results show just how challenging it could be to detect water on Earth-like exo-planets in our search for potential life elsewhere. "We expected these planets to have lots of water in their atmospheres. We have to revisit planet formation and migration models of giant planets, especially hot Jupiters, to investigate how they're formed. There are so many things we still don't understand about exo-planets - this opens up a new chapter in understanding how planets and solar systems form."

– Dr Nikku Madhusudhan

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easyJet to be the first to use new ash cloud detection system

An ash cloud rising from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which forced airlines to ground their planes in May 2010. Credit: Press Association Images.

A Luton-based airline is set to become the first to use new technology designed to help aircraft detect volcanic ash.

The AVOID system is a radar for ash and aims to prevent a repeat of the Icelandic volcanic ash-cloud crisis of spring 2010.

The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull led to days of no flights into and out of the UK in April and May 2010, with the whole of Europe affected.

The new system has been created by Norway's Nicarnica Aviation with the support of Luton-based easyJet.

It uses infra-red technology fitted to aircraft to supply images to pilots and an airline's operations control centre.

It will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 60 miles ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft.

The technology was tested by European planemaker Airbus last November. It will now go into commercial production.

Today, easyJet's engineering director Ian Davies said that move was "a tangible and significant step forward in bringing this technology from conception into reality".

He added: "easyJet has supported the development of this innovative technology since the 2010 volcanic eruption which brought aviation to a halt in Europe. We look forward to being the first airline to fit this technology on our aircraft."

Scientists develop barley plant that has four times the drought tolerance

Scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich are developing a barley plant that has four times the drought tolerance of their parent stock.

The effects of drought on a crop can be devastating – yield is generally reduced and the grain which is collected is often of poor quality compared to that grown under optimal conditions.

Barley is the world's fourth most commonly grown crop and has diverse uses such as cattle feed and in the production of beer and whiskey.

Click below to watch Kate Prout's report:

Research breakthrough into antibiotic resistance

Professor Changjiang Dong, University of East Anglia Credit: ITV News Anglia

Scientists at the University of East Anglia in Norwich have released research which could lead to finding a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

The research they've carried out could help in the development of a new type of drug to kill superbugs.

It comes as the World Health Organisation warns that antibiotics are becoming less effective in treating some common conditions.

Professor Changjiang Dong from the UEA said. "We have identified the path and gate used by the bacteria to transport barrier building blocks to the outer surface. Importantly, we have demonstrated that the bacteria would die if the gate is locked.

The number of superbugs are increasing at an unexpected rate, this research provides the platform for urgently needed new generation drugs."

Researchers says this discovery may pave the way to a new generation of antibiotic drugs.

Cambridge computer predicting the Earth's future

Computer scientists in Cambridge have created a computer program which could help to predict how the Earth will look hundreds of years in the future.

They've called this prototype the 'Madingley model' - named after the Cambridgeshire village and it can be used to show how humans damaging the Earth's ecosystems would impact on animal life around the world.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes

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