Low Carbon Engineering – A Look Into The Future

As a teacher or trainer, one hopes to inspire students but it is often the case when working in adult education, that the teacher is inspired as much (if not more) by the students as they are by you.

Such was the case when I delivered Carbon Literacy training to a group of post-graduate researchers in Cardiff University’s School of Engineering.

The students were either holders of a doctorate or on their way to receiving one and several of them were lecturers. So, I was a little daunted by the challenge of designing a training programme for them that would respect their level of knowledge and intellectual ability. The more a group of adults know however, the less the teacher or trainer needs to do in terms of knowledge transfer. The students bring the knowledge, and the trainer has to facilitate the sharing of that knowledge.

So I set the group a task of developing a mini lecture on the question, “Can we engineer our way out of the climate crisis?” Colleagues within the group had a wide degree of specialist knowledge covering topics such as; electricity grids, low carbon gas, low emission vehicles, psychology, waste management, and carbon reduction management. They worked in four teams to design an answer to the question and present their response.

Two of the teams addressed the issue at a high level, identifying the need for social, economic and cultural changes while the other two looked at specific engineering solutions. Here is a summary of what I learned from them.

Firstly, let us start with specific engineering solutions.

There are a range of geo-engineering options available – (See image above courtesy of Lahiru Jayasuriya and Riccardo Maddalena). These include ocean fertilisation to boost plankton growth, ground level reflectors to replace albedo lost when ice melts, cloud seeding and at the extreme end – orbiting reflectors to send solar thermal radiation back into space before it reaches Earth. These are known as “direct interventions.”

“Indirect interventions” include carbon capture-storage, smart grids and renewable energy sources coupled with hydrogen as an energy vector and storage medium.

An innovation that may prove to be very important is to create ammonia (NH3) by electrolysing water using power generated by renewable sources such as wind and solar. Ammonia is a colourless gas which can be chilled and compressed into a liquid. It is used as a fertiliser but is also a waste product in many industrial processes. Ammonia can act as a carrier of hydrogen or be used directly as a fuel but in the latter case, it produces high levels of nitrous oxides which are greenhouse gasses. Engineers are researching ways to decouple ammonia use from such emissions. Existing gas turbines would also need to be converted in order to use ammonia as a fuel.

Another exciting area of research is “smart local energy systems”. In these, energy is produced and supplied from a variety of disaggregated point sources rather than from a few large generators such as nuclear, coal or gas power stations. The gas and electricity supply grids work together, mediated by SMART technology. In this scenario, small local producers of energy can trade with peers, waste heat is no longer wasted, and things that use energy can moderate their demand in line with price and supply fluctuations. Consumers of energy are no longer passive recipients but become an important element by, for example, choosing when and how they require and use energy. A smart grid would be a major cultural shift but it is already being widely discussed and elements of it piloted.

Carbon capture and storage could reduce current emissions by 12% by stripping the carbon dioxide from industrial exhausts and storing it under ground. Coal, a high carbon substance, adsorbs carbon dioxide molecules onto its surface. The coal still sitting in the seams of the south Wales coalfield is particularly reactive in this respect – CO2 sticks readily to Welsh coal! This means that south Wales could be an important area for carbon storage. The alternative approach is to pump the gas into the voids left by oil and natural gas extraction but storage in coal seams is more stable.

These are just some examples of engineering solutions to the climate crisis but are they enough on their own?

The answer is a clear no.

To begin with, there are and will be a variety of interests that resist changes no matter how effective the engineering solutions can be. Engineers today must engage not only with clients but with politicians and the general public. They have to be able to advocate their science and particular technical solutions in a political and cultural context in order to build alliances that will overcome vested interests and irrational resistance but at the same time, the engineering solution itself will have to respect cultural and social concerns and be flexible enough to deal with these. Engineers, like other scientists, have to embrace interdisciplinary working practices. The education of engineers has to anticipate this by encouraging independent thinking and integrated design. The problem is that much of engineering research is funded by industry to achieve a very specific outcome strongly tied to economic efficiency and functionality.

The group agreed that the days when engineering could simply bolt something on are over. End of pipe solutions are no longer sufficient for the degree of challenge we face. We need to change the amount and the way we consume resources and engineers, like designers, have to be part of the process right from the beginning. I have become aware myself of the shift in thinking that has occurred in civil engineering over the last thirty years, proving that change can happen.

If the young men and women I met through this Carbon Literacy course are typical of their profession then I am heartened that we can change our world for the better. They can clearly explain their research interests with passion but also articulate the relevance of their research in a social, cultural and economic context. Much of their research takes place within the FLEXIS programme – a £24 million research initiative that is directed to developing energy systems, building on the research success of Welsh universities, to provide solutions of global relevance.

If you would like to know more about specific technologies mentioned above or engage with the FLEXIS programme then please contact Karolina Rucinska FLEXIS Project Development officer or visit the FLEXIS website. 

If you would like to read what FLEXIS thought about the Carbon Literacy training you can do so here.

Further information on specific technologies can be requested via Karolina as follows;

Ammonia as a fuel – Syed Mashruk, Gas Turbine Research Centre

Smart grids – Dr. Muditha Abeysekera, Lecturer in multi-vector energy systems

Carbon Capture and storage in South Wales Coalfield – Dr Renato Zagorscak, Geoenvironmental Research Centre

This workshop was sponsored by the Early Career Researchers Fund from the School of Engineering, Cardiff University. Find more information about research at Cardiff School of Engineering.

Sustainable Academy Awards 2019 shortlist announced


We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2019 Sustainable Academy Awards – celebrating sustainability excellence, innovation and leadership from across Wales. 24 finalists across eight categories have been chosen by our expert judging panel to go through to the public vote.

The Awards recognise the amazing people, projects and initiatives that are contributing towards the seven National Well-being Goals and the five Ways of Working described in the Well-being Future Generations Act.

Our judging panel included Rhodri Thomas, Cynnal Cymru; Rhys Jones, Renewable UK; Angharad Davies on behalf of EDF Energy; Nia Lloyd, Keep Wales Tidy; Ruth Marks, WCVA; David Brown ARUP and Petranka Maleva, Future Generations Commissioners Office.

The judges were particularly looking for projects and initiatives that clearly delivered on the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations Act as well as looking for examples that captured the imagination by going above and beyond.

Public Vote is now open!

Now it is over to you the public to help decide who will be this years winners. The public vote will count towards 60% of the overall score and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday 28 November.

We hope you will be inspired by by our 24 finalists and please take the time to vote for your favourites in each category.

You can vote for your favourites until Wednesday 06 November.


Outstanding Renewable Energy – Sponsored by Welsh Government

  • BCB International Ltd – FIREDRAGON as a sustainable Ethanol based solid fuel
  • Innogy – Mynydd y Gwair Wind Farm
  • Egni Coop – Community owned solar

Outstanding Social Enterprise

  • Credu Charity Ltd – SeaQuest Coastal Science and Education Programme
  • Greenstream Flooring
  • RCMA Social Enterprise – Real Food! Real Life!

Sustainable Business

  • The Digital Pattern Library – accessible, sustainable fashion for all
  • Dyfi Distillery – Bringing gin production close to home
  • Oseng-Rees reflection – artisan interiors and architectural installations

Sustainable Community – Sponsored EDF

  • Sustainable Community at Cardiff Met University
  • Under the Bridge – Milford Youth Matters
  • Recycle4charity – Pembrokeshire Care, Share and Give

Sustainable Education or Training

  • Black Mountains Land Use Partnership – Mountain and Moorland Ambassadors
  • Severn Wye Energy Agency – Our Future’s People
  • Size of Wales & WCIA – MockCOP

Sustainable Procurement or Supply Chain – Sponsored ARUP

  • ARIA Bridal – Designing in sustainability from the start
  • Aberystwyth University – BEACON More taste, less salt, healthier lives
  • WRAP Cymru – Public Sector Sustainable Procurement Project

Sustainable Venue or Space – Sponsored by CECA Wales

  • Newydd Housing Association / Eggseeds -The Solar Powered Bench
  • LINC Cymru – Growing Green Spaces
  • SPECIFIC, Swansea University / BIPVco – Active Buildings

Sustainability Champion

  • Rachel Roberts
  • Meleri Davies
  • Paul Allen


Roll out the green carpet: Wales’ Sustainable Academy Awards are back!


A newly established awards ceremony celebrating Wales’ burgeoning sustainability and green energy sectors is back for its second year, Cynnal Cymru and RenewableUK Cymru have announced.

After the success of the inaugural event last year, the two organisations confirmed that the event will be now be an annual celebration of the excellent work being done by people and organisations across Wales. It will be held again at Principality Stadium, the low carbon home of Welsh Rugby,  on Thursday November 28th, 2019.

The Sustainable Academy is an exciting new initiative, founded by Cynnal Cymru and RenewableUK Cymru to bring together expertise from across the sustainability and green energy sectors in Wales. The awards, which span community, public and private sectors, celebrate sustainability and low carbon energy excellence, innovation and leadership across Wales; all the more relevant within the backdrop of a climate emergency.

Wales & West Utilities has confirmed it will resume its headline sponsorship of the event with Welsh Government and EDF renewable also returning as category sponsors.

Mari Arthur, Director of Cynnal Cymru, said:

“The Awards are my favourite event each year as we celebrate the voluntary commitments of community groups, individuals that champion initiatives through their own passion, and organisations that have made corporate decisions to do things better! Each and every finalist is delivering the Well-being of Future Generations and Environment Acts, from the ground up”.


Rhys Jones, Head of RenewableUK Cymru, said:

“How we deal with averting climate change comes down to taking affirmative action right here in Wales. The quality and level of interest we’ve seen in this event from the get-go shows that individuals, communities and businesses across Wales are mainstreaming sustainability as never before, and in ways which deliver significant direct and indirect benefits. As for the venue, it’s used to hosting world-leading acts so no doubt our award winners should feel right at home!” 


The nine categories are:

Sustainability Champion
Outstanding Renewable Energy Project
Sustainable Space
Sustainable Business
Sustainable Innovation in the Public Sector
Sustainable Community
Innovation in Sustainable Procurement or Supply Chain
Outstanding Social Enterprise
Sustainable Education or Training

Further information about entry criteria is on the Sustainable Academy Awards website:, together with details of how to enter.  Entries should be submitted by midnight on Sunday 15 September. Three entries per category will be shortlisted to be put to the public vote. These votes will be added to the results from a panel of independent judges to decide the winners. The judges’ decision is final. Shortlisted entries will be informed shortly after the closing date and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 29 November 2018 in the Principality Stadium.

There are still opportunities to sponsor categories and various aspects of the event. To find out more details about what is available, please contact Lynsey Jackson on 029 2043 1746 or email



About Renewable UK Cymru

Renewable UK Cymru is a membership organisation promoting clean energy and sustainable infrastructure.  We make our members more successful, reduce barriers for community energy projects and engage with the public, Welsh Government and stakeholders.


About Cynnal Cymru

Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales is the leading organisation for Sustainable Development in Wales. Our mission is to make Wales a low carbon, resource efficient, healthy, just and prosperous society, thriving in balance with the natural ecosystems that support it. We facilitate the talent, skills and innovation of our people through our consultancy services, our events and training. We enable individuals, organisations and businesses in Wales to deliver measurable change and become leaders and pioneers for a better world.[:]

12 June | Smarter Wales Consumer of the Future


Smart Energy GB invites you to the Senedd on Wednesday 12 of June at 12pm for a lunchtime reception sponsored by Llyr Gruffydd AM.

Join us, Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairsand leading organisations within the sector to discuss the current market innovations and opportunities for the smart energy consumer of the future.

A buffet lunch will be served alongside an opportunity to view information stands showcasing leading technology within the energy sector.

This event is free but tickets are limited, please reserve your ticket now

Date And Time: Wed, 12 June 2019 12:00 – 13:30 BST

Location: Senedd, Yr Oriel, Cardiff Bay, CF99 1NA


Hoffai Ynni Clyfar GB eich gwahodd i’r Senedd ddydd Mercher 12fed o Fehefin am 12yp ar gyfer derbyniad amser cinio a noddir gan Llyr Gruffydd AC.

Ymunwch â ni, Lesley Griffiths, Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig a sefydliadau blaenllaw yn y sector i drafod y dechnoleg arloesol bresennol yn y farchnad a’r datblygiadau ar gyfer defnyddwyr ynni y dyfodol.

Darperir cinio bwffe ynghyd â chyfle i weld stondinau gwybodaeth fydd yn arddangos technoleg flaenllaw yn y sector ynni.

Mae’r digwyddiad hwn am ddim ond mae tocynnau’n gyfyngedig – archebwch eich tocyn nawr.

Dyddiad ac Amser: Dydd Mercher 12eg o Orfennaf, 12:00-13:30

Lleoliad: Senedd, Yr Oriel, Bae Caerdydd, CF99 1NA


Job opportunity with Warm Wales

[:en]Exciting job opportunity with Cynnal Cymru Member Warm Wales:

Established in 2004, Warm Wales works to provide homes with affordable warmth and to alleviate fuel poverty. We work closely with the public and private sectors to maximise funding opportunities which enable individual and area wide energy efficiency schemes.

We need highly skilled and energetic individuals to be responsible for delivering Warm Wales’ community focused ‘Warm and Safe Homes’ project across South Wales. The focus of the job will be to work in selected communities to identify and help vulnerable fuel poor households particularly those in poor housing stock with insufficient heating and experiencing fuel poverty.

The role will be undertaken through a community based regeneration approach. The post will be full time and the main responsibilities and details for how to apply can be found on the indeed website.[:]

Lightology: 2 Years of Carbon Reduction

[:en]Members and sponsors of our September Green Drinks Event: Lightology were formed towards the end of 2016 by Energy Industry Professional, Jon Davies. After years of corporate life, he wanted to pursue his passion for sustainability – primarily carbon and waste reduction.

For years, Ofgem have driven energy companies to encourage energy efficiency in domestic situations – remember those horrible energy efficient light bulbs they gave away to be compliant? At the other end of the scale, ESOS was introduced to force larger companies of 250+ employees to think carefully about their impact on the environment.

But what about the SME element? 50% of the UK’s economy comes directly from the SME community. Jon thought there had to be a way to encourage this boiler-room of job and wealth creation to operate in a more sustainable manner. The key? Make it financially viable!

A model was built around the maturing technology of LED lighting. Working with full commerciality in mind, the goal was to create a lighting scheme that had a full Return On Investment of 4 years or under. This would be reduced further through tax offsets (Corporation Tax and ECA to name two) but even with that not factored, the business would have 10-16 years of enhanced efficiency, reduced bills, reduced maintenance costs and a more profitable bottom line.

The concept was further advanced by offering a finance package for those businesses without Capital Expenditure wants. A simple formula: –
(Savings from installation benefits) > (monthly payments for installation)
i.e. an immediate profitability increase with an accelerated benefit after the 4 year finance is settled.

But what about the Carbon?
For every kWh energy reduction, current estimates are that 0.35kg less Carbon Dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. Thus far, Lightology’s installations have reduced annual energy consumption by 380,000 kWh which equates to a 133,000 kg Carbon reduction!
Plus, due to the fact that the installed fixtures will have a lifespan of up to 20 times that of the traditional fitting, that is thousands of kilos less waste to be disposed of. Waste that often contains toxic mercury.

And they are just getting started…

photo of lighting case study

Visit to find out more.[:]

Top Tips for creating an Award-winning entry for the new Sustainable Academy Awards


With only a few weeks left to apply for the Sustainable Academy Awards, we’ve put together a few words of encouragement and advice from one of our judges, to help you create that Award-winning entry.

As always we are looking for outstanding individuals, projects or initiatives that are helping to deliver at least one of the seven national goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, contributing to the environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability of life in Wales.

Our 2017 winners had some truly inspirational stories to tell with applications coming in lots of different shapes and sizes. From Down To Earth’s focus on integrating eco-building and natural materials to boost mental wellbeing to the resource efficient Our Space project where social enterprise Green Stream Flooring and large private company Orangebox collaborated with Public Health Wales to furnish a new large office space using upcycled and recycled materials and to the Griffiths’ Sustainability Challenge where one of our leading, home-grown private sector companies massively reduce carbon emissions, improved staff well-being and involved the community in their efforts to leave a lasting positive legacy each time they complete a project.

This year, the awards have expanded: in partnership with Renewable UK Cymru we now present the Sustainable Academy Awards. The new partnership will ensure that award winners not only receive due recognition for their efforts but that they join a growing community of organisations and people who are building a more resilient, wiser, kinder, prosperous and healthier Wales.

Top tips on Writing a Winning Application

Cynnal Cymru Sustainability Consultant and judge, Rhodri Thomas, shares some of his top tops when writing your application:

Tell us what you have you changed as a result of your actions. What has made a real difference to your organisation, environment or your community.

Provide facts and figures to back up your application. This can include financial savings or carbon cutting. If it’s a visual change, consider including before and after photos that help demonstrate how something has improved. Graphs are welcome.

Remember to include the big and the little things. As well as the high impact achievements make sure you capture the smaller things that have had a positive effect. Also try to include the surprising or unintended results that have made a difference.

Keep your answers concise and to the point – The judges have hundreds of entries to read so keep it simple and focus on the highlighting the key achievements of the project to really grab the judges’ attention. Try to use plain English, avoiding specialist jargon or over technical descriptions.

Sustainability is all about long-term thinking, so your submission can be part of a much bigger project. The key criteria is that your project has reached a significant milestone in the last year which has already created change.

Always keep in mind the Five Ways of Working outlined in the Application Guidance pack.


Sustainable Academy Awards

All the information on the Awards and how to apply can be found on our new website.

Applications need to be submitted by the deadline of Friday 08 September 2017.

You can also find the Awards on twitter @wales_academy and at @academi_cymru[:]

Welsh Government Consultation on petroleum extraction policy in Wales

[:en]A Welsh Government consultation on Petroleum Extraction Policy in Wales has been launched. The consultation runs until the 25th of September and Welsh Government wants to know your views on the proposal.

“Following the Wales Act 2017 Welsh Ministers will take over responsibility for licensing onshore petroleum extraction from the UK Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) on the 1st October 2018. The new petroleum licensing powers have provided an opportunity to consider what should be our approach to petroleum extraction in Wales, for now and future generations.   As a new area of responsibility for the Welsh Government, we commissioned a review of the evidence in 2017 to inform our future policy towards petroleum extraction.”

This  consultation seeks your views on that evidence and Welsh Government’s proposed future policy on petroleum extraction, including fracking.

More information can be found on the Welsh Government website: Petroleum extraction policy in Wales[:]

New awards put Welsh sustainability on a world-class stage – Sustainable Academy Awards launched


A new awards ceremony aimed at the sustainability and green energy sectors has been announced today.  The Sustainable Academy Awards will take place on 29 November in the iconic and low-carbon Principality Stadium in Cardiff and are a collaboration between Cynnal Cymru and RenewableUK Cymru.

The event builds on the success of the Wales Green Energy Awards and the Sustain Wales Awards and will celebrate sustainability excellence, innovation and leadership across Wales.  The Awards recognise work being done by individuals, community groups and the public sector, as well as small and large businesses.

Wales & West Utilities has already been confirmed as the headline sponsor of the event with Welsh Government sponsoring the Outstanding Renewable Energy Project, and Natural Resources Wales sponsoring the Sustainability Champion.

Mari Arthur, Director of Cynnal Cymru, said:

“The Sustainable Academy is an exciting new initiative, founded by Cynnal Cymru and RenewableUK Cymru to bring together expertise from across the sustainability and green energy sectors in Wales.  The Awards are my favourite event each year as we recognise the contribution being made by different sectors to make Wales a sustainable nation, working as one to deliver on the Wellbeing of the Future Generations and Environment Acts.”


David Clubb, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, said:

“It’s no coincidence that the stadium, host for world-leading acts, superb entertainment and moments of high drama over the years, has been selected as the venue for these new awards. We anticipate a huge level of interest, and a fabulous event on the day.”


Steven Edwards, Director of Regulation and Commercial at Wales & West Utilities, said:

“We’re working hard to deliver a future energy system that is affordable, reliable and sustainable for the communities we serve.  So we’re delighted to be the headline sponsor of the Sustainable Academy awards – a wonderful opportunity to recognise and celebrate the hard work being done by so many individuals and organisations, and it is an honour to be part of that.”


The nine categories are:

●     Sustainability Champion sponsored by Natural Resources Wales

●     Outstanding Renewable Energy Project sponsored by Welsh Government

●     Sustainable Space

●     Sustainable Business

●     Sustainable Innovation in the Public Sector

●     Sustainable Community

●     Innovation in Sustainable Procurement or Supply Chain

●     Outstanding Social Enterprise

●     Sustainable Education or Training


Sustainable Academy Wales – Applications

Further information about entry criteria is on the Sustainable Academy Awards web site – – together with details of how to enter.

Entries should be submitted by midnight on Monday 10 September.  Three entries per category will be shortlisted to be put to the public vote.

These votes will be added to the results from a panel of independent judges to decide the winners.  The judges’ decision is final.  Shortlisted entries will be informed shortly after the closing date and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 29 November 2018 in the Principality Stadium.

There are still opportunities to sponsor categories and various aspects of the event.  To find out more details about what is available, please get in contact with[:]

Have your say on Cardiff’s Transport and Clean Air Green Paper

[:en]Cynnal Cymru has recently been involved in a very interesting project; helping Cardiff Council develop a clean air and transport green paper. In the research phase we talked to a number of experts, attended and staged several relevant events and did a lot of reading. It is clear to us that we are at the dawn of a new technological age. What isn’t so clear is how market forces, legislation and people’s behaviour will interact in response to the technology on offer.

The current Cardiff Council cabinet has laudable ambitions to decarbonise transport in the city. Admittedly this is in part driven by legal pressures to achieve higher levels of air quality but the ambition is also driven by a genuine commitment to improve the health and well-being of residents and visitors.

There is a growing body of practice across the globe which shows how municipal governments can transform the urban environment, creating city centres in which active travel dominates. This necessitates a considerable degree of behavioural and cultural change. It is not surprising that some people are unsettled. Some of the big ideas proposed by Cardiff Council, most notably the suggestion – and at the green paper stage it is only a suggestion – of a charging clean air zone, will no doubt surprise and alarm some people. Residents and visitors have to bear in mind however that if the city is fined for not improving its air quality, that economic penalty will have wide repercussions. Some kind of change is unavoidable. The weight of evidence from around Europe and the wider world compels the city to act or get left behind. Bristol, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Birmingham, Liverpool and many other cities are implementing plans to increase active travel, reduce car travel and improve air quality.

It has been a fascinating journey for us; horizon-scanning, working our way through the knowledge base, collaborating with senior officers and elected members. There are many exciting initiatives happening across the UK; from journey planning apps, integrated ticketing systems, electric and hydrogen busses, electric and fuel cell cars, local smart grids, electro-push freight bikes, pedestrianisation of city centres, last mile delivery hubs, through to the headline-grabbing world of “driverless cars” and “connected autonomous vehicles”.

How much of this will be seen on the streets of Cardiff any time soon is largely dependent on the response of the public and businesses to the green paper as much as it is on the successful roll-out of the south Wales metro concept. We suggest that the current Green Paper consultation is a rare chance for you, our members, to endorse some pretty radical ideas for our capital city. Here’s how you can have your say….

Changing how we move around a growing city

“We all know Cardiff’s transport network needs to change. Too many of us have been stuck in traffic trying to drop off our children, or late for work because the bus didn’t turn up, and whilst a growing number want to walk or cycle, the facilities to do so are often inadequate.

There is also now a more alarming and pressing matter. Pollution levels in Cardiff are now damaging our health. Improving the air we breathe has become a matter of life or death. The latest figures from Public Health Wales suggest that the number of death per year that can be attributed to poor air quality has increased to over 225 across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. With Cardiff growing faster than any other UK city outside of London and projected to grow by more than every other local authority in Wales combined it is essential that action be taken before it is too late.

This Green Paper sets out our big ideas of changes we could make that we believe would improve transport and air quality in our city. They are all possible but we want to have a conversation with the people of Cardiff about the issues, and how changes could impact their lives because, ultimately, we will all need to shape our future together.”

Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Transport and Strategic Planning

The consultation on this Green Paper closes on the 1st July 2018.[:]

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