TVA Closes Its Last Coal-Fired Plant FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Lauren Bellero for SNL:The Tennessee Valley Authority has taken its Colbert fossil plant off line, marking the end of a 61-year run. The utility removed unit one from service March 23 at the 1,209 MW coal-fired power plant in Colbert County, Ala.Colbert, the last of the utility’s operating coal-fired plants in Alabama, was scheduled to be retired by April 15, the utility said. The Widow’s Creek coal-fired power plant, located in Jackson County, Ala., was taken offline in September 2015, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said during the TVA’s Feb. 3 earnings call that the plant’s closure is part of the retirement of more than 7,000-MW of coal-fired generation. Nuclear power, gas-fired power, renewables and energy efficiency are being used to replace the capacity. The TVA plans to generate more than half of its energy from “non-emitting sources” by 2020.Full article ($): TVA retires last operating unit at Colbert coal plant
Australia Natural Gas Export Overbuild Is Collapsing FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Australia’s natural gas export boom, which is causing soaring gas prices and pushing up carbon emissions, appears to be rapidly shedding value.Santos wiped more than $1bn off the value of its liquefied natural gas plant in Queensland on Tuesday, just a week after Origin announced a similar devaluation.The devaluations were predicted by commentators, who pointed out previous devaluations of the projects relied on overly-optimistic forecasts.The Santos share price dipped a further 2.39% on Tuesday morning after a drop of more than 85% since its peak in 2008.“This industry has torn up its shareholders’ wealth and now it’s tearing up the nation’s wealth,” said Bruce Robertson from the pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.On Tuesday Santos announced it was expecting to wipe more than A$1bn off the value of its GLNG plant on Curtis Island in Queensland.Just last week Origin announced a post-tax $815m devaluation of its APLNG facility on Curtis Island – a figure that implies more than a billion-dollar devaluation before tax.Along with another facility on Curtis Island owned by Shell, the three plants are responsible for Australia’s LNG export boom, which has been vacuuming Australia’s gas and caused domestic prices to skyrocket.Each plant has been shedding value since construction began. Shell’s plant was US$7bn over budget, and then suffered a $5.4bn pre-tax devaluation in 2015. Between Santos and Origin, the two plants have now been devalued by about $6bn.More: Australia’s gas export industry sheds value while tightening local supply
Solar Energy Progress in Nevada May Be a Harbinger for Other States FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享High Country News: Near the end of 2005, Louise Helton had one of those life-changing moments that usually only happen in Hollywood movies. Friends had invited her to join Nevada movers and shakers in an ostentatiously decorated Las Vegas casino ballroom to hear former President Bill Clinton speak. He challenged the audience to diversify the state’s economy, and to do so in a very specific way. Adopting a Southern drawl, Helton recalls the words that inspired her: “And he said, ‘If I were y’all, y’all would be the Saudi Arabia of solar.’ ” Clinton’s pitch made sense to the 51-year-old Helton. With its abundant sunshine, Nevada was well positioned to become a clean energy leader. Besides, the state lacks its own coal or natural gas reserves, so it has to import those conventional fuels, thus benefiting other states’ economies instead of its own. “There is no better or cheaper resource than the sun that is shining down on the sunniest place in the West,” Helton says.Clinton’s words percolated away inside Helton for a few years. Then, in 2008, she took the leap. Using savings from the two decades she spent working with at-risk kids, she opened her own company, 1 Sun Solar Electric. She kept costs down by melding it with her life partner’s successful tile and stone company, and in 2009, they started attaching solar panels to roofs in Las Vegas. Her timing was unfortunate; the recession hit Las Vegas especially hard and the impacts lingered, but Helton was able to keep her small crew working and her business in the black. By the time Nevada’s economy bounced back in 2014, the cost of solar panels had plummeted. Helton’s company was ready to ride the wave. “We were making a very good living and supporting a crew of folks who were able to support their families,” she recalls.Her business relied on a state law that required the monopoly electricity provider, NV Energy, to pay customers for power generated by their solar panels. For each unit of energy provided to the grid, NV Energy would give them a free unit. This one-to-one swap, called net metering, kept solar customers’ bills low and reduced the time it took to recoup their upfront investments.Big companies that lease solar panels, such as SolarCity and Sunrun, swooped into Nevada, hiring hundreds of people. In 2015, a record 24,564 people applied to be solar customers with NV Energy, according to the company. But near the end of that year, the Public Utility Commission of Nevada, the state’s utility regulators, crushed the nascent solar boom by increasing fees for solar customers and slashing reimbursements for the power they feed into the grid. That fundamentally altered the economics of rooftop solar. “It was stunning,” Helton recalls. “That’s how we found ourselves upside-down and backwards and almost out of business.”The Nevada regulators’ order was the most extreme example of a nationwide effort by corporate utilities — panicked about losing market share and profits — to roll back net-metering policies. It’s backed by the deep pockets of fossil fuel industrialists like the Koch brothers, conservative lobbying groups like ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the electricity industry’s own trade group, the Edison Electric Institute. But the Nevada regulators unexpectedly sparked a fierce resistance movement, comprised not only of environmentalists and clean-energy advocates, but also libertarians, small-business owners like Helton, and ordinary citizens who have installed rooftop panels or thought about doing so. It’s not just a battle between dirty and clean energy; it involves corporate profits, individual freedom and the appropriate role of government in incentivizing market shifts. And if the ultimate outcome in Nevada is any indication, the utilities have a tough fight ahead of them.Full article: Big Utilities Meet Their Match in Solar Scuffle
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享E&E News:In the nation’s wind corridor, power purchase agreements are being signed for less than 2 cents a kilowatt-hour. Even adding transmission costs, wind energy is undercutting competition from existing coal and nuclear plants.Clean energy advocates and research analysts pointed out the trend in recent reports. A Moody’s Investors Service report this spring estimated that 56 gigawatts of coal capacity in the Great Plains is “at risk” from cheaper wind energy. Yesterday, the Union of Concerned Scientists identified 57 GW of coal generation that is uneconomical compared with gas-fired generation.Utilities are backing it up with their own numbers. Last month, Ameren Missouri, a coal-dependent utility with 1.2 million customers, filed a long-range plan with state regulators that showed the leveled cost of energy from new wind projects, including the federal production tax credit, was below the cost of energy from the company’s existing coal and nuclear plants.The data in the utility’s integrated resource plan support the decision to add 700 megawatts of wind energy by the end of the decade (Energywire, Sept. 26). Ameren does not, however, plan to accelerate retirement of any coal plants.The announcement is just one in a long list of new wind additions by utilities from West Texas to the Dakotas.In nearly every instance, utility decisions to invest in new wind farms are driven by low costs and the ability to add generation and hedge fuel costs without raising customer bills.Take Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. The company already operates 4 GW of wind energy and will increase that to more than 10 GW after announced projects are completed.“None of that is being driven based on [environmental] compliance,” said Jonathan Adelman, Xcel’s area vice president of strategic resource and business planning. “Economics are driving it.”More: Carbon rule or not, wind energy continues to squeeze coal In America’s Wind Corridor, a Boom Imperils Coal
India to benefit from China solar reforms FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:India may be the biggest beneficiary of solar industry reforms in China that are poised to reduce prices for photovoltaic panels.China announced last week it was halting approvals of some new solar projects this year and cutting subsidies to developers to ease its pace of expansion. That’s expected to slow demand in the world’s biggest market, weakening prices, and force the country’s manufacturers to ship more panels overseas.Tariffs in India’s next solar auction scheduled for mid-June may fall below the 2.44 rupees per kilowatt hour record set May 17 last year, said Sanjay Sharma, general manager at Solar Energy Corp. of India, the agency responsible for implementing India’s renewable targets.“India will be a big beneficiary of a fall in module prices,” said Vinay Rustagi, managing director at solar research firm Bridge to India. “If China’s demand weakens as expected, module prices should come down dramatically in the second half of the year and into the next.”India is seeking to boost its clean energy generation as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to double India’s renewable power capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022, a target second only to China, as part of his plan to spearhead global efforts to combat climate change.India’s maximum annual solar-cell manufacturing capacity is about 3 gigawatts while average yearly demand is 20 gigawatts, meaning the remainder needs to be procured on the international market, according to a December statement from India’s Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.More: India sees record low solar prices returning on China reforms
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:India’s government hit back at claims it is set to fall well short of its ambitious 2022 renewable energy targets, slamming them as “ill-founded” and issuing a lengthy rebuttal that ends with a pledge to not only meet, but beat the original goals.A clearly irritated Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) in a detailed statement says a note by ratings agency CRISIL predicting India will miss its 175GW headline renewable energy goal by up to 42% doesn’t reflect “the status on the ground and plans ahead”.The MNRE claims the report “lacks credibility in all respects as CRISIL did not even bother to consult this Ministry for its views”, over progress to the 2022 goals, which are a flagship policy for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently said the target should be raised in the longer term.India by September this year had built about 82.5GW wind and solar power plants, and has some 31GW “under various stages of installation”, with expectations 113GW will be installed by Q1 2021.MNRE said: “Besides this, around 39GW of renewable power capacity is at various stages of bidding which would be installed by September 2021, taking the percentage of installed capacity to over 87% of the targeted capacity. With only 23GW of renewable power capacity left to bid, India is confident that the target of installing 175GW of renewable power capacity will not only be met but exceeded.”The ministry offers a detailed list of measures it is taking to address the various issues raised as obstacles to the target, such as land allocation, tariff levels and payment to developers by distributors. MNRE said it also acted quickly to address the situation in Andhra Pradesh, where the state government caused uproar by retroactively changing power deals with projects.More: India slams renewable energy target miss claims as ‘ill founded’ Indian government renews commitment to 175GW renewable energy target by 2022
DNV GL charts three technology disruptions that will speed global decarbonization efforts FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Economic Times:DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company has predicted that technologies like new battery storage chemistries, high-temperature heat pumps and green hydrogen will significantly accelerate decarbonization of energy, transport and heating sectors in the next 10 years.In batteries, solid-state varieties are predicted to take the lead, driven by demand to decarbonize the transport sector. Next generation heat pumps are predicted to reach temperatures of 200°C degrees, which can support industrial heat demand. Green hydrogen can compete against blue hydrogen by 2030, creating new applications for decarbonizing the heat and transport sectors.“The driver for this phase of energy transition is the global need to limit carbon emissions, leading to more than doubling the share of electricity powered by wind and solar energy in the final energy demand mix, compared to today’s level,” DNV GL said in a recent statement.“In its first phase, the energy transition was focused on decarbonizing the power sector, which was effectively done by creating market incentives to promote uptake of solar and wind energy. Twenty years later, these forms of green power generation are not only safe and reliable but also have become cost-competitive,” said Lucy Craig, vice president of technology and Innovation at DNV GL-Energy.“The second phase of the energy transition is shifting towards CO2-intensive industries which are much harder to decarbonize, such as the transport and heating sectors. Therefore, we require equally decisive and binding policy actions to get emerging technologies, such as green hydrogen, high-temperature heat pumps and new types of battery storage chemistries, off the ground and build momentum for a similar success to that of core decarbonization technologies,” Craig said.DNV GL anticipates that green hydrogen can compete against blue hydrogen by 2030. With growing demand to scale up the production of green hydrogen, DNV GL expects that capital costs for electrolysers will reduce significantly and they will operate mainly when electricity prices are low. In this scenario, electrolysers operate intermittently, in step with fluctuating power prices, and hydrogen storage or complementary blue hydrogen production is available to ensure hydrogen supply. DNV GL predicts that electrolysis will become a common part of hydrogen supply somewhere between 2030 and 2035.[Debjoy Sengupta]More: Solid-state batteries, High-temperature heat pumps and green hydrogen to lead in the next 10 years: DNV GL
5. KEEN Owyhee This shoe-sandal hybrid can handle rugged river adventures as well as tough trails. The Owyhee was super-grippy on slick river rocks, but its traction was even more impressive on a riverside trail run. The webbing and laces were secure and snug, and the sandals shed water quickly. $90The WringerYou Stink, Your Shirt Doesn’tI’m a stinky dude, so there’s no better test for the anti-microbial properties of a garment than my body. I wore Icebreaker’s new GT Run shirt for a month of workouts. It was on my body for Monday afternoon yoga, Tuesday morning trail runs, and the Wednesday evening group bike ride. And I never washed the thing. And each day I asked my cohorts to smell me.Their verdict? While I personally still stink, the shirt doesn’t. One month, no washing, no stink.And how did the shirt perform otherwise? Beautifully, up to a point. The GT Run wicks sweat well, dries quickly after pulling it off, and has that patented soft feel of merino wool that makes you want to hug a sheep. The only drawback of the GT Run line is one of the characteristics that will attract runners to the shirt in the first place: it’s ultra thin. This is a bonus while running, but it also makes the shirt unusually delicate. I ripped it on two separate occasions while taking it off.There’s no telling how well the GT Run’s odor-fighting capabilities will hold up after a year of abuse. Both merino and polyester baselayers tend to acquire a signature odor over time, even with regular washing. A silver-based solution like Agion Active is worth considering to fight odor over the long haul. You add this treatment to your clothing during the wash and the natural silver ions continue to battle odor, regenerating with each wash. I tested a shirt that was pre-treated with Agion Active and found it to be refreshing, even after months of use and wash cycles. $60 4. The North Face Hydroshock This ultra-light shoe looks and feels more like a traditional river bootie, but the sticky rubber outsole and synthetic suede upper provide much more support in and out of the water. It’s a low profile shoe, perfect for the boat where space and a snug fit are priorities. $90 Sandals are out. Stylish kicks that shed water are in. Here’s a roundup of the new breed of water shoe. 1. TEVA Gnarkosi The day-glo Gnarkosi was built for wakeskating, a hybrid sport that combines wakeboarding and skateboarding. The shoe has holes placed throughout the body and sole to drain water and the materials shed water brilliantly so it doesn’t get heavy like a soaked tennis shoe. The flat outsole and proprietary rubber are designed to give wakeskaters more purchase on their boards in the water. What all this means for river junkies is you’ve got a legitimate shoe that offers solid purchase in wet conditions but doesn’t get waterlogged. And the Gnarkosi delivers something that sandals can’t: street cred. $100 2. Sperry SON-R Ping The most sandal-esque of the lot we tested, the SON-R Ping, is Sperry Top-Sider’s foray into an adventure shoe. The kicks have solid water-shedding capabilities and are much more comfortable than your typical sandal, but they also tap into the “barefoot shoe” movement. The Ping has an extra flexible outsole, similar to a minimalist running shoe, and a textured insole, a combo meant to mimic the sensation of walking in a river barefoot, only without the stubbed toe syndrome. $903. Columbia Drain Maker Much like the Gnarkosi, the Drain Maker is a fully “drainable” shoe with tiny holes scattered throughout the mid-sole, while the upper is built from an open cell mesh that dries surprisingly fast. The lugged outsole performs well on slick river beds, so you’ve got a solid-performing river shoe for a variety of activities. Even more impressive is the overall feel of the Drain Maker, which is by far the most comfortable water shoe we’ve tested in years. And the understated design means you can go straight from the river to the pub without changing your kicks. $80
The Blue Ridge Parkway has drawn visitors to the mountains since construction began under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now, after nearly 80 years, conflicting visions for the route’s future have sparked debate over how generations to come will enjoy the country’s most visited national park unit.Last fall, the National Park Service released a draft of the general management plan that will guide the parkway for the next 25 years. The draft outlined three different options for the parkway’s future – two that would change management practices and one that wouldn’t.The park service’s preferred option describes the parkway as a “traditional, self-contained scenic recreational driving experience.” It also seeks to enhance connections with surrounding communities and expand outdoor activities.“The preferred alternative focuses on managing the parkway as it has always been managed,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Community Planner Dawn Godwin. “It allows for some changes, but there won’t be any wholesale change in the parkway.”But some outdoor enthusiasts and residents who want the parkway to embrace more human-powered activities and connections with local communities say the park service’s preferred option is the wrong choice.Cycling was the most contentious issue, Godwin said.The Virginia Bicycling Federation argued that “motorized vehicles should not be the only way promoted to experience the Blue Ridge Parkway.” They urged citizens to ask the parkway to “promote bicycling, walking and other non-motorized forms of transportation as an integral part of the Parkway’s mission.”The park service has been responsive to community comments, Godwin said. “We decided…to make sure the plan is clear we won’t prohibit uses that currently exist.”The management plan also allows for developing new trails and connecting old ones to communities along the parkway, Godwin said.Some parkway enthusiasts worry that rising gas prices and waning youth interest could relegate the parkway to a relic enjoyed only by elderly vacationers.Visitors to the parkway have dropped by one-third in the past decade, down to 15.3 million last year. Only 12 percent of last year’s parkway visitors were children.“The sun may be setting on the driving experience as recreation,” said Anne Whisnant, author of Super Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Park History. Instead of driving, Whisnant said, the park should emphasize connections with towns and outdoor opportunity.But Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis said he thinks these challenges can be met.“If the economy does well and people are able to earn a respectable living, I don’t know how much of an effect gas prices will have on tourism,” Francis said.The parkway is a relatively cheap vacation. The park doesn’t charge a fee for use. According to Francis, the biggest challenge is continuing to care for resources along the parkway despite a declining staff and budget.“Partner groups and local communities are essential to the parkway’s future,” he said.
In honor of us anticipating stepping on a Freebord for the first time, here are some longboarding fails for your Trauma Tuesday.Is there anything more terrifying than going really, really fast on a longboard? If you have not had the pleasure, let me assure you it is. Just stepping onto a longboard on flat ground is enough to send shivers down the spine, for one reason: they are built for speed and there is no control. The longboard is the toboggan of concrete, the land rocket of asphalt, the derailed train headed right for the side of a mountain. One high speed wobble and you are picking your teeth out of gravel, getting a skin graft, or looking at your own bones poking through the skin. The results are stunningly blunt, and the consequence severe.As this video can attest, the worst part is you don’t even have to be going fast for things to go horribly wrong. My personal favorite is the robust gentleman at :53 who appears to be maching down a busy street with cars coming the other way as he gets a little cattywompass, narrowly misses an oncoming car, starts a long, hilarious groan as he anticipates his own demise, and then tries to run out the crash going 45 mph. At least he made it to the relative safety of the grass before going ass over teakettle.Wear a helmet.See more of Trauma Tuesday here!