The promotion of renewable energy production is of great importance, as this technology is among the key solutions for the mitigation of climate change and the promotion of sustainable development. The number of renewable energy installation projects (such as wind farms, biomass production, hydropower and photovoltaic power plants) in all the regions of the World Heritage Convention is currently rising. It however, results in considerable challenges for the conservation and management of World Heritage properties. Impacts can even be expected when such projects are planned in the wider setting of World Heritage properties and their buffer zones. The major issue is the presumed negative impact of the renewable energy infrastructure on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the properties.
The transition to the utilization of renewable energy is an important mean to combat climate change. UNESCO World Heritage Centre wishes to take a proactive role in supporting States Parties and all stakeholders in this important step by conveying a message of solidarity and cooperation, but also by ensuring the protection and preservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties. In line with the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals 7, 13 and 11.4, the World Heritage Centre believes that protection of the world cultural and natural heritage and renewable energy projects could go hand in hand if these projects are planned, evaluated and implemented in ways that assure the safeguarding of the OUV of World Heritage properties.
In this context, the World Heritage Centre launched an initiative to develop, in collaboration with States Parties in the Europe and North America region of the World Heritage Convention, an effective Guidance Tool, providing methods to avoid and mitigate the possible negative impacts of renewable energy projects on the OUV of the World Heritage properties.
The Guidance Tool (that will be available in English and French) aims to assist States Parties to the World heritage Convention, increase public awareness and effectively contribute to knowledge dissemination. The proposed resource targets an expanding audience, comprising the relevant stakeholders of the States Parties: national, regional and local authorities and World Heritage site managers. Additionally, it aims to assist project initiators (firms and companies in the energy industry) in understanding the interest of World Heritage protection.
take electricity for granted these days, to
run our homes, factories and computers. But, without the pioneers of the
modern age, we might still be reliant on gas and oil lamps, or candles.
industry is relatively young, only beginning at the turn of the century in
1882. We've had roughly 120 years of steady improvements, such that power is
available in most developing countries, or soon will be.
many of these pioneering installations survive. One of the earliest
surviving buildings is a compact installation at Herstmonceux in
England, packed with advanced features.
The Victorian period was when the world witnessed enormous advancement when it came to energy. The first
hydro-electric plant started operating in Cragside in the UK in 1878.
An industrial plant at Mechanicville,
New York, built in 1897, is still in operation today.
At Chaudière Falls on the Ottawa
River, Thomas Ahearn and Warren Y. Soper built Canada’s first water-powered electricity generating station in 1881. A year later, the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa were lit with electricity, a full year before the U.S. Capitol Buildings in Washington, D.C.
In 1885, Ottawa became the first city in the world to light all of its streets with electricity.
In 1888, Cleveland Ohio
was home to the first windmill that generated electricity. The world’s first coal-fired power station, the
Edison Electric Light
Station, was built in London in 1882, with the promise of supplying light and warmth to London homes.
& BULBS - Where would we be without electric lighting. A battle
royal ensued in the law courts and Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan slogged it
out in the London High Court, ending with the combatants working together as
the Edison & Swan United Electric
BAKERY - The earliest surviving generating station, dating from C. 1900,
with battery based load levelling as the core technology, coupled to a 48 volt DC generator, is in the little village of Herstmonceux,
LIST OF ELECTRIC POWER PLANTS 1879 - 1915
1879: Dolgeville Dynamo This power station built at the Dolgeville Mill in Dolgeville, NY supplied power for industrial purposes.
1881: Niagara Falls, New York
- A small dynamo supplied a few stores in in Niagara Falls with power for lighting. AC power came to this area 14 years later.
Viaduct, London - World's first coal powered generating station.
1882: Appleton Wisconsin, US DC power, 12.5 kW. This was the first
Edison hydroelectric station. It powered Van Depoele's early electric trolleys later in 1886.
1882: Miesbach to Munich, Germany- longest DC transmission to this date: 1400 volts 57 km distance built by Marcel Deprez. HVDC
Transmission length: 57 km (37 miles)
1882: New York City- Edison Illuminating Company builds New York's first power plant at the
Station. The DC station lit up to 400 lights and served 85 customers at first. The plant grew consistently over the next few years.
Transmission length: several blocks downtown.
1884: England - Gaulard and Gibbs build an AC power plant using a rudimentary transformer which allows for voltage to stay constant despite additional lights(load) being added.
Transmission length: unknown
1884: Lanzo Torinese to Turino, Italy- 2000 volt experimental transmission line built for the International Electricity Exhibition. This transmission line uses a Gaulard and Gibbs transformer.
Transmission length: 40 km (25 miles)
1886: Great Barrington, Massachusetts The first full feature AC power distribution system using transformers is built in the small city of Great Barrington. It used a Siemens generator and Edison's incandescent lights. 500 volts.
Transmission length: 4000 ft (1.2 km)
1886: Pittsburgh, PA Oliver Shallenberger, the main engineer of AC power technology at Westinghouse constructs an AC system for Union Switch and Signal Company Works. George Westinghouse was pleased and began to sell this system. It operated at 1000 volts.
Transmission length 3 miles
1887: Buffalo, NY Oliver Shallenberger and William Stanley build the first commercial AC power plant for Westinghouse for Buffalo Electric Company. Single phase. Voltage
unknown. Transmission length unknown.
1887: Greater London Sebastian de Ferranti builds the largest AC power station to date (10,000 Volts). After business and other problems the Deptford Power Station is forced to delay opening until 1891. The station eventually supplies central London.
Transmission length unknown.
1889: Oregon City Falls, Oregon, USA Longest DC transmission of power in North America is established south of Portland at Station A.
Transmission length 14 miles (DC Power)
1891: Telluride Colorado- Ames Hydroelectric Plant: 3000V, 133 Hz, single phase. It sent power to mining operations in the mountains near Telluride. It was a Westinghouse experimental project.
Transmission length: 2.5 miles
1891: Lauffen-Frankfurt Germany - A MAJOR STEP FORWARD: The first long-distance and 3-phase alternating current demonstration. This proved that three phase power worked the best for a power grid. This project was developed by Oskar von Miller and engineered by the founder of 3 phase AC power Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky.
Transmission length 175 km (109 miles).
1893: Redlands Mill Creek 1 powerhouse Redlands, CA 1893.
The first 3-phase AC commercial power plant in the world. This used C.P. Steinmetz's improved 3-phase system.
Transmission line length: 7 miles.
1893: Hellsjon - Grangesberg, Sweden: developed by Ernst Danielson, he also was involved in the Mill Creek Plant at Redlands, California in the same year. General Electric Company.
Transmission line length: 10 km.
1895: Pelzer Hydroelectric Plant, South Carolina This plant provided AC 3-phase power to the Pelzer Manufacturing Plant. 3300 V (no transformers were used on transmission)
Transmission line length: 2.75 miles.
1895: Folsom Powerhouse, Folsom California Built near a reservoir that catches water from the Sierra Nevada outside of Sacramento.
Transmission line length: 22 miles *The Folsom Prison opened a small AC powerhouse in 1893 as part of the same hydro system.
1895: Oregon City Falls, Oregon, USA. Powerhouse B is built on the Willamette River and supplies commercial AC power to Portland 14 miles away.
Transmission line length: 14 miles.
1895: Niagara Falls AC Power Plants Westinghouse won the contract to build this power plant. GE won the contract for power transmission to Buffalo. The opening of the power plants was trumpeted in the international press more than any other hydro plant before, or possibly since. For this reason it is mistakenly believed to be the first. Nonetheless it was the largest hydro power plant till that date.
Transmission line length: 25 miles (1896).
1897: Mechanicville Power Station, Mechanicville, New York.
This power station was built as an experiment of C.P. Steinmetz and commercial operation. Transmission line length: 17 miles
- Also the site of Albert W. Hull's HVDC experiments in 1932.
Generating Works. A coal powered DC system, featuring the world's first
battery load-levelling system. Building and emplacements are extant.
Trasnmission length: 1/2 mile.
1908: Schaghticoke Power Station Schaghticoke, NY. Site of an experimental monocyclic power transmission 1908. This was a project by AC Pioneer Charles. P. Steinmetz. Various power stations like this became testing grounds for new transmission technologies.
Bulgaria, Siemens, Voith. The hydroelectric power plant of Tsarska Bistritsa Palace, Bulgaria was built by Österreichische Siemens-Schuckert-Werke Wien in 1912. It starts to produce electricity in 1914 for the residence of Bulgarian Royal Family and the surrounding buildings. Till now it works more than a century long with its original parts. The hydroelectric station itself is organized as a tourist attraction.
The plant is powered by a small river flowing through the mansion. As can be seen from the video, the turbine, generators and exciters are located on a common shaft.
The turbine is Pelton type with a nominal power of 140 kW. Even today, a century after their official launch, the name of the manufacturer - the company Voith - can still be seen on the turbine and the turbine regulator. The regulator is centrally mounted in front of the turbine. There are two generators, type WI 120/750. They are mounted on both sides of the turbine. The power of each of the generators is 120 kW. Their technical specification also includes a speed of 750 min-1, a rated current of 462A and a rated voltage of 150V. The generator was manufactured by the then Oesterreich division of Siemens.
The control panel of the plant is also of interest. The control is manual, the protections are relay. Tsarska Bistrica HPP also has two step-up transformers with voltages of 300/380 V and 0.4 / 20 kV.
1915: Cohoes Power Plant Cohoes, NY. This plant was a part of the wide scale electric power development going on across the US and Europe at the time. The power grid begins to form as clusters of powerplants begin to interconnect.
- DC THE TECHNOLOGICAL BATTLE
DC power systems dominated in the 1870's and 1880s. "Small" systems were sold to factories around the world, both in urban areas, and remote undeveloped areas for industrial/mining use. Thomas Edison, Charles Brush, and Werner von Siemens lead the industry in DC systems. DC systems powered factories and small downtown areas but did not reach 95% of residents. Electric lighting was a luxury found only in hotels and other businesses as well as in the mansions of people like George Westinghouse and J.P. Morgan.
The first methods used to power both DC and AC generation plants were coal-fired steam engines and hydroelectric power. Since most industrial cities were already located at waterfall/rapids, utilizing traditional mill power it was natural to convert to hydroelectric power. Learn more about methods of power generation on our page here.
Since coal was costly, early business people envisioned sending great power over distance from dams to cities not already blessed with reliable hydro power. To send DC power over distance one needed to use high voltage:
HVDC Power - This was the first method of transmitting electric power over distance. HVDC is the oldest and "newest" method of distance transmission, today it has reemerged in an advanced form to possibly replace major AC high-voltage routes.
AC Power provided the solution to distance transmission. AC also provided a solution to interconnect generation sites. The development of the 3-phase AC power system in the late 1880s proved the effectiveness of the system and electrification of entire cities and regions began in the 1890s.
After 1900 the number of power stations exploded. All across the world from Argentina to Singapore AC 3 phase power became established as the best way to supply populations with electric power.
Many accounts begin power’s story at the demonstration of electric conduction by Englishman Stephen Gray, which led to the 1740 invention of glass friction generators in Leyden, Germany. That development is said to have inspired Benjamin Franklin’s famous experiments, as well as the invention of the battery by Italy’s Alessandro Volta in 1800, Humphry Davy’s first effective “arc lamp” in 1808, and in 1820, Hans Christian Oersted’s demonstration of the relationship between electricity and magnetism. In 1820, in arguably the most pivotal contribution to modern power systems, Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry invented a primitive electric motor, and in 1831, documented that an electric current can be produced in a wire moving near a
magnet - demonstrating the principle of the generator.
Invention of the first rudimentary dynamo is credited to Frenchman Hippolyte Pixii in 1832. Antonio Pacinotti improved it to provide continuous direct current power by 1860. In 1867, Werner von Siemens, Charles Wheatstone, and S.A. Varley nearly simultaneously devised the “self-exciting dynamo-electric generator.” Perhaps the most important improvement then arrived in 1870, when a Belgian inventor, Zenobe Gramme, devised a dynamo that produced a steady direct current well-suited to powering
motors - a discovery that generated a burst of enthusiasm about electricity’s potential to light and power the world.
By 1877 - as the streets of many cities across the world were being lit up by arc lighting (but not ordinary rooms because arc lights were still blindingly
bright) - Ohio-based Charles F. Brush had developed and begun selling the most reliable dynamo design to that point, and a host of forward thinkers were actively exploring the promise of large-scale electricity distribution. Eventually, Thomas Edison invented a less powerful incandescent lamp in 1879, and in September 1882 he established a central generating station at Pearl Street in lower Manhattan.
Advances in alternating current (AC) technology opened up new realms for power generation. Hydropower, for example, marked several milestones between 1890 and 1900 in Oregon, Colorado, Croatia (where the first complete multiphase AC system was demonstrated in 1895), at Niagara Falls, and in Japan.
By then, however, coal power generation’s place in power’s history had already been firmly established. The first coal-fired steam generators provided low-pressure saturated or slightly superheated steam for steam engines driving direct current (DC) dynamos. Sir Charles Parsons, who built the first steam turbine generator (with a thermal efficiency of just 1.6%) in 1884, improved its efficiency two years later by introducing the first condensing turbine, which drove an AC generator. By the early 1900s, coal-fired power units featured outputs in the 1 MW to 10 MW range, outfitted with a steam generator, an economizer, evaporator, and a superheater section. By the 1910s, the coal-fired power plant cycle was improved even more by the introduction of turbines with steam extractions for feedwater heating and steam generators equipped with air preheaters—all which boosted net efficiency to about 15%.
The demonstration of pulverized coal steam generators at the Oneida Street Station in Wisconsin in 1919 vastly improved coal combustion, allowing for bigger boilers. In the 1920s, another technological boost came with the advent of once-through boiler applications and reheat steam power plants, along with the Benson steam generator, which was built in 1927. Reheat steam turbines became the norm in the 1930s, when unit ratings soared to a 300-MW output level. Main steam temperatures consistently increased through the 1940s, and the decade also ushered in the first attempts to clean flue gas with dust removal. The 1950s and 1960s were characterized by more technical achievements to improve efficiency—including construction of the first once-through steam generator with a supercritical main steam pressure.
The 40-MW Lakeside Power Plant in St. Francis, Wisconsin, began operations in 1921. This image shows the steam turbines and generators at Lakeside, which was the world’s first plant to burn pulverized coal exclusively. Courtesy: WEC Energy Group
Unit ratings of 1,300 MW were reached by the 1970s. In 1972, the world’s first integrated coal gasification combined cycle power plant—a 183-MW power plant for the German generator STEAG—began operations. Mounting environmental concerns and the subsequent passage of the Clean Air Act by the Nixon administration in the 1970s, however, also spurred technical solutions such as scrubbers to mitigate sulfur dioxide emissions. The decade ended with completion of a pioneering commercial fluidized bed combustion plant built on the Georgetown University campus in Washington, D.C., in 1979.
The early 1980s, meanwhile, were marked by the further development of emissions control technologies, including the introduction of selective catalytic reduction systems as a secondary measure to mitigate nitrogen oxide emissions. Component performance also saw vast improvements during that period to the 21st century. Among the most recent major milestones in coal power’s history is completion of the first large-scale coal-fired power unit outfitted with carbon capture and storage technology in 2014 at Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan.
Coal power technology’s evolution was swift, owing to soaring power demand and a burgeoning mining sector. The natural gas power sector, which today takes the lion’s share of both U.S. installed capacity and generation, was slower to take off. In 1896, about a decade after Charles Parsons developed his steam turbine generator, American inventor Charles Curtis offered an invention of a different turbine to the General Electric Co. (GE). By 1901, GE had successfully developed a 500-kW Curtis turbine generator, which employed high-pressure steam to drive rapid rotation of a shaft-mounted disk, and by 1903, it delivered the world’s first 5-MW steam turbine to the Commonwealth Edison Co. of Chicago. Subsequent models, which received improvement boosts suggested by GE’s Dr. Sanford Moss, were used mostly as mechanical drives or as peaking units.
Innovations in aircraft technology, and engineering and manufacturing advancements during both World Wars propelled gas power technology to new heights. At GE, for example, engineers who participated in development of jet engines put their know-how into designing a gas turbine for industrial and utility service. Following development of a gas turbine-electric locomotive in 1948, GE installed its first commercial gas turbine for power generation—a 3.5-MW heavy-duty unit—at the Belle Isle Station owned by Oklahoma Gas & Electric in July 1949 (Figure 3). Some experts point out that because that unit used exhaust heat for feedwater heating of a steam turbine unit, it was essentially also the world’s first combined cycle power plant. That same year, Westinghouse put online a 1.3-MW unit at the River Fuel Corp. in Mississippi.
In 1949, General Electric installed the first gas turbine built in the U.S. for the purpose of generating power at the Belle Isle Station, a 3.5-MW unit, owned by Oklahoma Gas & Electric.
Large heavy duty gas turbine technology rapidly improved thereafter. In the early 1950s, firing temperatures were 1,300F (705C); by the late 1950s, they had soared to 1,500F, and eventually reached 2,000F in 1975. By 1957, a general surge in gas turbine unit sizes led to the installment of the first heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) for a gas turbine. By 1965, the first fully fired boiler combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant came online, and by 1968, the first CCGT was outfitted with a HRSG. The late 1960s, meanwhile, were characterized by gas turbine suppliers starting to develop pre-designed or standard CCGT plants. GE developed the STAG (steam and gas) system, for example, Westinghouse, the PACE (Power at combined efficiency) system, and Siemens, the GUD (gas and steam) system.
More recent gas turbine milestones came in 1990, with the introduction of the first advanced gas turbines, and installment of the first CCGT paired with a fuel cell in 2000.
ATOMIC POWER - ONE OF OUR BIGGEST MISTAKES
Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealand-born British physicist, who many people consider the father of nuclear science, postulated the structure of the atom, proposed the laws of radioactive decay, and conducted groundbreaking research into the transmutation of elements.
Many other scientists were helping advance the world’s understanding of atomic principles. Albert Einstein developed his theory of special relativity, E = mc2, where E is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light, in 1905. Niels Bohr published his model of the atom in 1913, which was later perfected by James Chadwick when he discovered the neutron.
Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist, in 1934 showed that neutrons could split atoms. Two German scientists—Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman—expanded on that knowledge in 1938 when they discovered fission, and using Einstein’s theory, the team showed that the lost mass turned to energy.
Scientists then turned their attention to developing a self-sustaining chain reaction. To do so, a “critical mass” of uranium needed to be placed under the right conditions. Fermi, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1938 to escape fascist Italy’s racial laws, led a group of scientists at the University of Chicago in constructing the world’s first nuclear reactor.
The team’s design consisted of uranium placed in a stack of graphite to make a cube-like frame of fissionable material. The pile, known as Chicago Pile-1, was erected on the floor of a squash court beneath the University of Chicago’s athletic stadium. On December 2, 1942, the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction was demonstrated in Chicago Pile-1.
Chicago Pile-1 was an exponential pile. At least 29 exponential piles were constructed in 1942 under the West Stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field.
The first reactor to produce electricity from nuclear energy was Experimental Breeder Reactor I, on December 20, 1951, in Idaho. The Soviet Union had a burgeoning nuclear power program at the time too. Its scientists modified an existing graphite-moderated channel-type plutonium production reactor for heat and electricity generation. In June 1954, that unit, located in Obninsk, began generating electricity. A few years later, on December 18, 1957, the first commercial U.S. nuclear power plant—Shippingport Atomic Power Station, a light-water reactor with a 60-MW capacity—was synchronized to the power grid in Pennsylvania.
The U.S. and Soviet Union weren’t the only countries building nuclear plants, however. The UK, Germany, Japan, France, and several others were jumping on the bandwagon too. The industry grew rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. Nuclear construction projects were on drawing boards across the U.S., with 41 new units ordered in 1973 alone. But slower electricity demand growth, construction delays, cost overruns, and complicated regulatory requirements, put an end to the heyday in the mid-1970s. Nearly half of all planned U.S. projects ended up being canceled. Nonetheless, by 1991 the U.S. had twice as many operating commercial
reactors - 112 units - as any other country in the world.
Nuclear power’s history is tainted by three major accidents. The first was the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island Unit 2 on March 28, 1979. A combination of equipment malfunctions, design-related problems, and worker errors led to the meltdown. The second major accident occurred on April 26, 1986. That event was triggered by a sudden surge of power during a reactor systems test on Unit 4 at the Chernobyl
nuclear power station in Ukraine, in the former Soviet Union. The accident and a subsequent fire released massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment. The most-recent major accident occurred following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. The quake caused the Fukushima Daiichi station to lose all off-site power. Backup systems worked, but 40 minutes after the quake, a 14-meter-high tsunami struck the area, knocking some of them out. Three reactors eventually
overheated - melting their cores to some degree - then hydrogen explosions spread radioactive contamination throughout the area.
The consequences of accidents have played a role in decisions to phase out or cut back reliance on nuclear power in some countries. Nonetheless, China, Russia, India, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., and others continue to build new units.
Birth of the wind turbine. In 1888, Charles Brush, an inventor in Ohio, constructed a 60-foot wind turbine capable of generating electricity in his backyard. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Wind-powered turbines slowly and with little fanfare spread throughout the world. The American Midwest, where the turbines were used to power irrigation pumps, saw numerous installations. In 1941, the world saw the first 1.25-MW turbine connected to the grid on a hill in Castleton, Vermont, called Grandpa’s Knob.
Interest in wind power was renewed by the oil crisis of the 1970s, which spurred research and development. Wind power in the U.S. got a policy boost when President Jimmy Carter signed the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, which required companies to buy a certain amount of electricity from renewable energy sources, including wind.
By the 1980s, the first utility-scale wind farms began popping up in California. Europe has been the leader in offshore wind, with the first offshore wind farm installed in 1991 in Denmark. According to Wind Europe, Europe currently has 12.6 GW of capacity from 3,589 grid-connected wind turbines in 10 countries. In late 2016, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. began operation in the waters off Block Island, Rhode Island.
Let the Sunshine In. Compared to other commercially available renewable energy sources, solar power is in its infancy, though the path that led to its commercial use began almost 200 years ago.
In 1839, French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic (PV) effect by experimenting with an electrolytic cell made of two metal electrodes in a conducting solution. Becquerel found that electricity generation increased when it was exposed to light. More than three decades later, an English electrical engineer named Willoughby Smith discovered the photoconductivity of selenium. By 1882 the first solar cell was created by New York inventor Charles Fritts, who coated selenium with a layer of gold to develop a cell with an energy conversion rate of just 1–2%.
It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that silicon solar cells were produced commercially. Physicists at Bell Laboratories determined silicon to be more efficient than selenium. The cell created by Bell Labs was “the first solar cell capable of converting enough of the sun’s energy into power to run everyday electrical equipment,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
By the 1970s, the efficiency of solar cells had increased, and they began to be used to power navigation warning lights and horns on many offshore gas and oil rigs, lighthouses, and railroad crossing signals. Domestic solar applications began to be viewed as sensible alternatives in remote locations where grid-connected options were not affordable.
The 1980s saw significant progress in the development of more-efficient, more-powerful solar projects. In 1982, the first PV megawatt-scale power station, developed by ARCO Solar, came online in Hesperia, California. Also in 1982, the DOE began operating Solar One, a 10-MW central-receiver demonstration project, the first project to prove the feasibility of power tower technology. Then, in 1992, researchers at the University of South Florida developed a 15.9%-efficient thin-film PV cell, the first to break the 15% efficiency barrier. By the mid-2000s, residential solar power systems were available for sale in home improvement stores.
In 2016, solar power accounted for just 0.9% of U.S. electricity generation at utility-scale facilities. However, it is gaining steam. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “[t]he U.S. solar market had its biggest year ever in 2016, nearly doubling its previous record and adding more electric generating capacity than any other source of energy for the first time ever.”
Abby Harvey, Aaron Larson and Sonal Patel POWER Magazine 2017
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