A Coal-Existential Threat From Renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Camila Domonoske for NPR:In the long-term, as NPR’s Jeff Brady reported in February, there’s another challenge facing the coal industry:“The renewable energy building boom also is stressing the industry. Once solar and wind projects are built, the power is cheap to produce.” ‘Gas puts the immediate threat to coal, but the combination of gas and renewables places a longer-term threat to coal,’ says Andy Roberts, analyst in international thermal coal markets for the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.“He says last year was tough for coal companies, and the future likely will be even more painful.” ‘Probably, over the long, long time, only the strongest of them are going to survive,’ Roberts says.”One way companies can strengthen their position in the struggling industry? Declaring bankruptcy, Jeff wrote.U.S. Coal Giant Peabody Energy Files For Bankruptcy
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Pilita Clark for the Financial Times:When General Motors buys electricity for the Texas plant that makes hundreds of its Chevrolet and Cadillac trucks each day, it normally does a deal with a local power utility lasting at most a couple of years.But five months ago the US carmaker did something very different, signing a 14-year agreement with a wind farm company, EDP Renewables North America, for enough electricity to make more than half the trucks it produces each year.The deal makes GM one of a fast-growing number of big US companies buying green power to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide, and potentially make savings on their energy bills. In doing so, these groups are reshaping the way renewable energy is purchased, and helping green power generators build more projects than they otherwise might have done.Some businesses still find it difficult to do deals to invest in renewable energy, and an initiative backed by 60 companies including Facebook and Microsoft was launched on Thursday to make it easier.Silicon Valley technology companies led by Google were the first in the US to plough into green energy in a significant way, but now the trend has spread to some of the country’s biggest manufacturers and retailers, including GM, Lockheed Martin, Amazon and Walmart.In total, 24 large US companies bought 3.6 gigawatts of power in 2015 and the first quarter of this year — more than three times the amount purchased by seven groups in 2014, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a US non-profit organisation trying to accelerate these renewable energy agreements.“The growth was spectacular and took everybody by surprise, nobody expected that,” says Hervé Touati, a Rocky Mountain Institute managing director.The long-term power-purchasing agreements that big companies are signing with wind and solar farms are important for renewable-energy generators trying to build new projects.By guaranteeing future revenues, the purchasing deals help bolster the generators’ efforts to persuade lenders or investors to finance projects that might otherwise fail to get off the drawing board.Until now, wind and solar farm developers have typically sold most of their electricity to big state or privately owned utilities that in turn sell it on to their customers.But this is now changing. Along with universities and cities, big companies are making so many long-term power-purchasing deals with renewable-energy generators that in 2015 they for the first time outstripped utilities doing such agreements in the US.According to the American Wind Energy Association, the new class of buyers accounted for 52 per cent of wind generating capacity sold via power-purchasing agreements last year, up from 23 per cent in 2014 and 5 per cent in 2013.Full article ($): Big US companies spearhead renewable energy drive FT: Big U.S. Companies Are Driving ‘Spectacular Growth’ in Renewables
Xcel’s Fowke leads utility’s transition away from coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNN Business:Xcel Energy burned coal to generate nearly half its power just a few years ago. Now it’s helping to lead America’s clean energy revolution.The $30 billion Minneapolis-based utility has already shut down a quarter of its coal power plants. And it will soon pull the plug on another quarter.Xcel Energy recently announced an ambitious plan to deliver zero-carbon electricity by 2050, making it the first large American power company to set that challenging goal. “We are leading the industry,” Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke told CNN Business. “It’s a product of what our customers and regulators want.”The transformation of Xcel Energy underscores the rise of renewable energy, driven by a sharp decline in the cost of solar and wind and a desire among Americans for cleaner power.“Technology has come so far. Wind is already beating fossil fuel alternatives — even with low natural gas prices,” Fowke said during an interview from the sidelines of the BloombergNEF Summit in New York. Fowke estimated that Xcel’s wind costs have plummeted by more than two-thirds over the past decade, while solar is down by about 80%.Xcel is rapidly moving away from coal, which supplied 46% of its power of 2013. The utility has been approved by local authorities to retire 23 coal units between 2005 and 2027 — or about half its capacity.More: Xcel Energy was a coal-first power company. Now it’s going carbon-free
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):New York state has adopted final regulations to phase out its coal-fired generation by the end of 2020 through tighter carbon dioxide emissions rate limits.Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 9 announced that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted final regulations to require all power plants within New York to meet new stringent emissions limits for carbon dioxide as a means of shutting down or converting coal-fired power plants. Beginning in 2021, the rule would limit CO2 emissions from any nonmodified existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating source to a maximum of 1,800 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour gross electrical output or 180 pounds of CO2 per million British thermal units of input.In a press release, the Cuomo administration heralded the regulations as “a first-in-the-nation approach to regulating carbon emissions” that will achieve New York’s coal phase-out as well as help meet the state’s goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030, from below 1990 levels. According to the Cuomo administration, the new tougher CO2 emissions rates will ensure the state’s remaining coal-fired power plants transition to cleaner alternative sources of energy or shut down.In his 2016 State of the State address, Cuomo pledged to shut down coal-fired generation in New York by 2020, and he followed that up by directing the Department of Environmental Conservation in his 2018 State of the State address to develop the rules to fulfill that promise. According to grid operator New York ISO, coal plants generated 1,493 GWh, or about 1% of New York’s energy load, in 2016. In 2017, that amount was only 567 GWh.As part of Cuomo’s coal phase-out, the state also is preparing to help workers and affected local communities transition to a “clean energy future” through the governor’s Clean Climate Careers initiative and other programs. In addition, New York in late February released proposed regulations to restrict nitrogen oxide, or NOx, emissions from peaking power plants.More ($): New York adopts tighter CO2 limits to phase out coal power by 2021 New emissions rules to force New York’s remaining coal plants to close
Iceland developer looking to build 1,000MW of geothermal generation in Ethiopia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Reykjavik Geothermal, a power developer backed by hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II, is about to kick off a $4.4 billion project to bring volcanic energy to Ethiopia.Tapping long-built Icelandic expertise in channeling volcanic power, the developer is preparing to start exploration drilling in September for two 500-megawatt plants in Corbetti and Tulu Moye, south of the capital Addis Ababa. At full-scale, each project would become the largest independent power producer in Africa, according to RG.The Reykjavik-based company’s exploration teams have picked spots to drill where they can see steam rising from the ground. “All the results from the surface exploration work indicate that we are developing projects in a huge caldera, huge active volcanoes which can sustain at least 1,000 megawatts or more,” Gunnar Orn Gunnarsson, RG’s chief operating officer, said in an interview in Reykjavik.The projects would become a vital cog in Ethiopia’s drive to become a middle-income country by 2025. Currently, its installed electricity capacity of 4,200 megawatts only provides power for 40% of its 105 million people. Neighboring Kenya already has 685 megawatts of installed geothermal capacity, providing almost a third of its energy.The projects will cost money and need more investors to reach full potential. The first phase will develop 50 to 60 megawatts, requiring an equity investment of $175 million for each. They have been fully funded and RG holding a significant minority share in each project. Bringing the full projects on-line would cost about $2.2 billion apiece, with 75% anticipated to be financed via debt. Other owners in the projects include Africa Renewable Energy Fund, Iceland Drilling Co. and Meridiam SAS.More: The $4.4 billion energy plan for Ethiopia
Ohio: ‘Worst energy bill of the 21st century’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Vox:The bill, just signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, is called HB 6. Though the story behind it is complex and sordid, the bill itself is pretty simple. It would do four things:Bail out two nuclear plants: From 2021 until 2027, Ohio ratepayers will pay a new monthly surcharge on their electricity bills, from 85 cents for residential customers up to $2,400 for big industrial customers. The surcharge will produce about $170 million a year; $150 million of that will be used by the utility FirstEnergy Solutions to subsidize its two big nuclear power plants — Davis-Besse, outside of Toledo, and Perry, northeast of Cleveland — which it claims are losing money and will be closed in the next couple of years without bailouts. The remaining $20 million will be divided among six existing solar projects in rural areas of the state. (Note: As we’ll discuss below, nuclear power plants generate low-carbon energy and are worth saving. But not like this.)Bail out two coal plants: FirstEnergy customers across Ohio will pay an additional monthly surcharge ($1.50 for residential customers; up to $1,500 for big industrials) to help bail out two old, hyper-polluting coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (a collective owned by several large utilities), one in Ohio, one in Indiana.Gut renewable energy standards: Ohio has one of the oldest renewable portfolio standards in the country, requiring its utilities to get 12.5 percent of their power from renewables by 2027. The bill reduces the target to 8.5 percent by 2026, exempts large industrial customers, and kills the standard after 2026, effectively nullifying any incentive for new renewable energy development in the state.Gut energy efficiency standards: Ohio utilities are required to reduce customers’ energy use 22 percent from 2008 levels by 2027 through energy efficiency programs (which were set to save Ohio ratepayers $4 billion over the next 10 years). HB 6 allows utilities to abandon those programs entirely once they hit 17.5 percent, a level most have almost reached already.More: Ohio just passed the worst energy bill of the 21st century
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Banks have been lining up in recent months to finance a trio of solar plants that Scatec Solar ASA is developing in Tunisia. The offers are unlike anything that Raymond Carlsen, Scatec Solar’s CEO, says he has ever seen. “I have to say that I’m positively surprised how eager the banks have been to support us,” Carlsen told analysts July 17.As companies and governments try to steady themselves from the coronavirus crisis, investors and executives in the renewable energy sector say business is chugging along, attracting new money and players as it goes. The momentum is being fueled by a potent mix of falling technology costs and popular support for green government and corporate policies and sustainable investing.“I don’t think this trend is going to reverse,” Dennis Arriola, CEO of Avangrid Inc., which is sitting on a massive pipeline of renewable energy projects in the U.S., said July 22 on a call with analysts. “When you look at what’s going on with [environmental, social and governance] investing and, specifically, the growth and continued trends in clean energy, I think we’re really well-positioned.”So far this year as of July 23, the Invesco Solar ETF, which invests in stocks tied to the global solar market, is up 48.5% compared to a 1.4% increase in the value of the S&P 500 and a 44% decline in the S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Select Industry Index.Outside of equity markets, funding for renewable energy projects rose 5% during the first half of 2020 despite economic and financial disruptions from the pandemic as an investment spike in the offshore wind market offset sharp declines in other sectors, according to analysts at BloombergNEF.Top investors see little chance the industry will be knocked off course. “The time for renewables is now,” James Robo, chairman, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Inc., said July 24 on a call with analysts. “Frankly, the economics and the need to … decarbonize not only the electric sector but the rest of the sectors of the economy … transcend what happens in elections.”Benoit Allehaut, managing director of clean energy infrastructure at Capital Dynamics AG, agreed. “We think solar is happening everywhere,” Allehaut, whose firm has $6.4 billion of renewable energy assets under management, said in a recent interview. “So, it is about simply having feet on the ground and making sure that when people are asking for the product, you have it available.”[Michael Copley]More ($): Clean-energy optimism soars as world struggles with the pandemic’s fallout Analysts, industry officials see bright outlook for renewable energy
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Argentina’s northernmost province of Jujuy announced Friday the start of power supply at the 300-MW Cauchari solar photovoltaic complex.The Argentine Wholesale Electricity Market Clearing Company (CAMMESA) issued the commercial authorisations to the Cauchari I, II and III PV parks, each with 100 MW of individual capacity. These plants started the sale of renewable power on Saturday.The solar complex’s output will be delivered to the Argentine Interconnection System (SADI) under a 20-year power supply contract, the Jujuy government said in its press release. Together, the three solar parks are expected to generate enough power to meet the demand of 166,000 local homes.Cauchari represented an overall investment of about USD 390 million (EUR 335.3m), with 85% of the financing coming from state-owned bank Export-Import Bank of China and the remainder from the local government of Jujuy via a green bond placement.Shanghai Electric Power Construction (SEPC), a subsidiary of construction group Powerchina, was in charge of the construction.[Lucas Morais]More: Solar complex of 300 MW in Argentina goes live Argentina’s 300MW Cauchari solar farm begins commercial operation
Your outdoor news bulletin for May 20th, the day Charles Lindbergh departed New York for Paris in the first solo trans-Atlantic plane crossing in history:Weekend Incidents UpdateTwo incidents cast a shadow on what were supposed to be fun, inspiring events this past weekend, and Blue Ridge Outdoors was at both of them.First, was the car that plowed through the Hikers Parade at Trail Days in Damascus, Va. on Saturday, sending dozens to the hospital but luckily not killing anyone. The cause of the accident seems to pegged on an elderly man with a medical condition who was driving his car in the parade. The man, whose name has not been released, has been described as being in his 80s and is a former thru-hiker. There is no indication that this was an intentional act, but that the man suffered an unspecified medical problem at which point his vehicle accelerated to around 25 mph into the crowd walking in the parade.Another incident with many less casualties, but of a more criminal nature occurred at Dominion RiverRock in Richmond on Saturday night. Reggae legend and leader of Toots and the Maytals Frederick “Toots” Hibbert was struck in the head by an empty glass vodka bottle while performing on stage. According to police, the suspect in the bottle tossing is William C. Lewis, 19, of Henrico County who is being charged with aggravated assault, a felony and misdemeanor public intoxication. Police say he stole the bottle from one of the RiverRock vendors before chucking it a stranger performing art for the community and ruining everyone’s good time.New Campground at the New River GorgeTwo years in the making, a new climbers campground is finally becoming a reality in the New River Gorge. This past weekend, the American Alpine Club hosted the grand opening of the campground off of Ames Heights Rod/Co Route 5. The Fayetteville campground sits on 40 acres procured through a partnership between the AAC, the Access Fund, and local climbers and is within walking distance to popular New River Gorge climbing spots. The project is moving is phases and the plan calls for bathhouses, electricity, and other infrastructure eventually. Camping is free for a limited time, and this week, the AAC will be there handing out swag and info.More on the new campground and future plans can be found here.Fittest Cities AnnouncedThe Healthy Living section of MSN.com announced the 10 Fittest and 10 Fattest Cities in America list and our offices are located in two of the top 10. Coincidence? I think not. The headquarters of our sister publication Elevation Outdoor is located in Boulder, Colorado, which came in at #1 in the rankings and our main BRO office is in the #2 fittest city, Charlottesville, Va. The rankings appear to be based solely on obesity rates from a 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which states the national obesity average is 26.2 percent.
Our favorite videos from around the web for the week that was:1. How to Be a Mountain BikerI like this video for several reasons. One is because it is so true. The other because I used to drive that exact red Honda Civic hatchback, and yes, my bike was more expensive. And the other, other is because 29 steps is the perfect amount of steps.2. Mending the LineWe first brought you this video project on 90-year-old WWII vet, fly fishing guide, romantic and all around badass legend Frank Moore when it was just a Kickstarter campaign back in April. Now it has an official trailer. Get the tissues, buy the movie.“Mending the Line” (Trailer) – Official Selection, IF4 2014 from IF4 on Vimeo.3. Return to Powder SkiingSeveral regional resorts have seen snow in the past couple of days so we’ll sprinkle in some sweet skiing action from Salomon FreeSki TV for your viewing pleasure. Anyone want to go to Canada?4. Best POV Ever?Remember all those massive backflips at the 2013 Red Bull Rampage? Yeah, here’s the first person view. Kinda wish this was like one of those Days of Thunder/Body Wars rides at the amusement park.5. Over ExposedWe’ll wrap by covering all our bases with a little climbing action. This one features cool shots of rock climbing and bouldering, plus lots of grunting.