On the blogs: Former skeptics are now backing renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享OilPrice.com:Who would have thought wind’s transformation from subsidy-supported to self-financing power source would happen so quickly—not this publication, that’s for sure.Apart from diehard environmentalists, most consumers have been opposed to renewables on the basis they cost significantly more, and turbines are an eyesore on the landscape. But in the span of less than 10 years, public opposition has declined. Opposition has not gone way entirely, but it has softened as we have become more familiar with the sight of slowly rotating turbine blades on the horizon and with the realization that its costs are falling dramatically.A recent article in The Telegraph reports on how the cost of power production from onshore wind farms has dropped so far it undercuts conventional coal, natural gas and nuclear options. Calling it the “subsidy-free revolution,” the Telegraph article reflects our own surprise at how quickly the change has taken place.To be fair, offshore power still requires some subsidy because of the greater cost of installation and maintenance. Even here, costs continue to fall, and subsidy is a route the authorities prefer to entertain because of public opposition to what was seen as the blight of onshore turbines dotting the landscape. In large part, this is because turbine sizes have increased and, as a result, efficiencies have increased.The latest figures are sounding the death knell for nuclear power in the U.K., but as usual the government hasn’t caught up with the numbers. Nuclear power is costing a massive £92.50 per megawatt hour and is partly justified on the basis that a base load of power is always required to fill in renewables variability. However, battery parks like Glassenbury in Kent are springing up that can meet gaps in demand, but nothing like a 2 GW nuclear power plant; still, a few MW here and there is slowly adding up.Still, a low-carbon future, at lower power costs and with the benefit of economic growth from investments–what’s not to like?More: Wind Energy Is Getting Cheaper And Cheaper
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Houston Chronicle:Sunnova Energy Corporation, a Houston-based solar energy company, said Thursday that it is bringing a solar-plus-storage system that will allow homeowners to store solar energy in batteries for later use to Texas.Solar energy production ebbs and flows with the sun, which is why many solar panels are connected to the grid — homeowners contribute power to the grid whenever the sun is shining in exchange for credit they can use for power later. What are known as solar-plus-storage systems allows homes with solar panels to store energy during the day and dispense it when needed, reducing dependence on the grid. Sunnova’s residential solar-plus-storage system, SunSafe, debuted in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria caused the longest blackout in U.S. history. The service provides a 25-year performance guarantee.“In Texas, we’ve seen firsthand the devastation caused by storms and hurricanes, and homeowners across the state want to ensure they’re protecting their families from extended power outages and electricity instability,” said Michael Grasso, chief marketing officer for Sunnova Energy Corporation. “By offering Sunnova SunSafe, homeowners are given that peace of mind knowing that they’ll have reliable energy, day and night.”The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has funded solar-plus-storage systems for utilities, but residential shoppers have been showing increasing interest in solar-plus-storage service as well. Nearly three quarters of customers shopping for solar products say they are interested in energy storage, according to the most recent report by EnergySage, a solar marketplace.More: Sunnova brings solar power storage system to Texas Sunnova to offer solar-plus-storage systems to Texas homeowners
Carbon capture costs loom large in climate talks FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:When countries gather on Sunday to hammer out how they will enact pledges to cut carbon emissions, a Norwegian-led oil consortium will offer a solution: pump some of your excess carbon dioxide to us and we could store it for you.Environmentalists worry the costly technology, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), will perpetuate the fossil fuel status quo when rapid and deep cuts energy use are needed to limit global warming. But proponents of CCS will be lobbying hard at the two-week climate conference in Katowice, Poland, for the extensive investment and regulatory change required to employ it at scale, citing U.N. assessments that it could play a role.“The expectation is that Katowice will be important,” said Stephen Bull, a senior vice president at Norwegian state-controlled oil company Equinor, which is involved in developing a CCS project called Northern Lights. “CCS is the only way to go,” he said, arguing that countries need the technology to help fulfil the pledges they made around the time of the breakthrough Paris climate change agreement in 2015.The relatively small scale of the project, along with the unsolved problem of who will pay for it, highlight the obstacles to getting CCS technology off the ground. Organizers of the estimated 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) Northern Lights project say it could store around 5 million tonnes per year of emissions from a Norwegian waste-to energy plant, a cement plant as well as emissions from other countries. This is a tiny fraction of the 6 billion tonnes per year that would need to be stored by 2050 according to the International Energy Agency, which coordinates industrialized nations’ energy policies.A European Union climate strategy published on Wednesday said rapid deployment of renewables meant the potential of CCS to be a major decarbonization option appeared lower than before. But it said CCS would be needed, especially if the bloc wanted to reach a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Earlier attempts to fund CCS in Europe have largely failed. An EU program in 2012 did not go on to fund a single CCS project and a British support scheme was canceled in 2015.Eighteen large-scale CCS plants are in operation around the world, according to the Global CCS Institute, which says 2,500 CCS facilities, each able to store 1.5 million tonnes a year, would be needed by 2040 to keep global warming within a 2C rise.Countries as far afield as Algeria and Japan are working with CCS but only two of the world’s CCS operations are on power plants. The CCS industry sees potential for many more. But the U.S. Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) think tank said this month that coal plants are having a difficult time competing with wind and solar resources which have come down rapidly in price even without CCS.“Economics is a serious issue. And to do CCS on a wide scale you need to build a whole new infrastructure: new pipelines, find repositories which would work, inspection equipment and then monitoring,” said IEEFA’S David Schlissel.More: Pressure mounts to bury carbon emissions, but who will pay?
Judge okays Westmoreland plan to come out of bankruptcy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Colorado Public Radio:One of the oldest coal companies in the U.S. said Monday it expects to emerge from bankruptcy in coming weeks after a judge approved a plan that will keep its mines running in Montana, New Mexico and several other states and Canadian provinces. Westmoreland Coal Co. will keep its name but get new leadership as creditors take control of a firm that fell more than $1.4 billion into debt amid declining coal markets.The company’s Kemmerer Mine in Wyoming is being sold off to Virginia businessman Tom Clarke.U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones approved the company’s reorganization plan Saturday. All jobs at the mines being sold to the creditors — more than 1,000 positions — will be preserved, Westmoreland spokeswoman Jaimee Pavia said.Based in Colorado, Westmoreland is the fourth major coal company to file for bankruptcy in recent years, joining Peabody Energy Corp., Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources. Its creditors included investment firms, banks and hedge funds.Westmoreland, incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1854, produced 25 million tons of coal in 2017, ranking ninth among U.S coal companies, according to the Energy Information Administration. Westmoreland also has mines in North Dakota, Texas, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and a coal-fired power plant in North Carolina.Clarke will spend $7.5 million in cash and $207.5 million in promissory notes to buy the Kemmerer mine, which has about 300 employees. The bankruptcy froze pensions for the mine’s retirees and will end their health benefits. The bankruptcy judge required Westmoreland to set aside $6 million for the mine’s retiree health care costs. But that’s not enough money to even last the year, union leaders told the Casper Star-Tribune.More: Colorado’s Westmoreland Coal to leave bankruptcy
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Portugal’s latest solar energy auction, which awarded 670 MW, achieved the world’s record low price of EUR 11.14 (USD 13.16) per MWh in one of [the] lots, the government announced today.The ceiling price in the tender was EUR 41.54 and EUR 41.73 per MWh depending on the lots. According to the government, South Korean firm Hanwha Q Cells managed to secure six of the 12 lots, or 315 MW in total.About 483 MW of the awarded capacity will come with an energy storage element built in. This year’s tender was the first to include a battery storage option.The remaining capacities, 177 MW and 10 MW, were awarded in the country’s system compensation and contract for differences modalities, respectively. In the contract for differences modality there was only one lot awarded and that is where the record-low bid was made. The particular tariff is about 25% lower than the lowest one in the auction held last year.The government noted that local consumers will benefit from gains of EUR 559 million over a 15-year period.[Lucas Morais]More: Portugal reaches record-low price in solar tender awarding 670 MW Record-low solar price of $13.16/MWh set in latest Portuguese capacity auction
America’s public land system is the crown jewell of the global conservation movement and the envy of the world. When Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law in the year 1906, he did so because he saw a looming threat to an American landscape that he loved and cherished on a fundamental level.He feared that, if left to their own devices, people who he referred to as “short-sighted men” would “rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things.” Not only would they be robbing those who are currently enjoying these lands, Roosevelt deduced, but they would be depriving future generations—”those within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction”— from experiencing, learning from, and growing alongside the beauty and wonder of the natural world.The same type of “short-sighted men” that Roosevelt held at bay back in the early 1900’s have found a voice and are mobilizing a movement in 2017. They seek to undo critical public land protections enabled by the Antiquities Act—Roosevelt’s long-heralded legislation. Without these protections, the public could lose access to places like Bear’s Ear National Monument (pictured above), the Grand Staircase-Escalante of Utah, the Ironwood Forest National Monument in Arizona, the Upper Missouri River Breaks of Montana, and the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, just to name a few.The only thing capable of slowing down the alarming trend of forfeiting federally protected land to ill-quipped state governments are the slow, but steady moving wheels of democracy. And democracy starts with you.As Roosevelt once said, “the movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.”Click here to let your voice be heard.
A man fell 80 feet to his death yesterday from the top of Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.The name of the the 37-year-old male hiker has not yet been release, but he was seen climbing across the top of the waterfall by other park goers shortly before he lost his footing somewhere near the brink of the 100-foot waterfall.Park rangers arrived on the scene shortly after the accident—which occurred on Sunday, May 28—and declared the man dead, but his body was not recovered until the next day.According to park officials, the man was hiking alone when the accident occurred.Here’s more from the National Park Service: Man Falls at Ramsey CascadesOn Sunday, May 28, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers received a report that a 37 year-old male fell from the top of the 100-foot tall Ramsey Cascades waterfall late that afternoon. The man, who was hiking alone, was observed climbing across the top of the waterfall before he fell. Park Rangers immediately responded to the scene and determined the individual, who had fallen approximately 80 feet, was deceased. Rangers recovered the body on Monday, May 29. The name of the individual is being withheld until family notifications have been made.The 4-mile hike to Ramsey Cascades begins from the Ramsey Cascades Trailhead located in the Greenbrier area of the park. For more information about the area, please visit the park website. nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/ramsey-cascades.htm.
When planning for a backpacking trip, for most people, a tent is at the top of the “what to pack” list. However, there is a fast-growing population of hammock campers. People are making the switch for their car camping trips, as well as their long-distance backpacking excursions. And now, with all the lightweight hammock accessories available, hammock camping has become even more of a no-brainer. Here’s what we suggest you add to your packing list to make sure you stay dry and warm on your next hammock camping trip. Hammock and Suspension StrapsFinding the right hammock for your needs is essential! Weighing in at only 9.8 ounces, the ENO SuperSub™ Hammock shaves weight without sacrificing comfort. The SuperSub™ has the same spacious dimensions as the top selling DoubleNest™ Hammock and an impressive 300lb weight rating. Designed with 30D ripstop nylon and aluminum toggles, this lightweight hammock combines with the Helios Suspension System to give you all the ENO creature comforts in a trail ready package.Rain ProtectionA hammock rainfly can provide just as much foul-weather protection as any tent fly can offer. The other notable thing about some hammock tarps is that they can be mulit-purpose. When not being used over a hammock they can be used to keep your kitchen area dry, or as a sunshade. The ENO ProFly Sil has six guy points and sealed seams, giving it a streamlined shape ideal for weathering sudden downpours, or building a water-front basecamp. It is perfect for campers looking for lightweight weather protection.Bug ProtectionNot only are insects annoying when settling in for the night of camping, but they can also be a health risk due to their ability to carry diseases. You can protect yourself without adding a lot of extra weight to your pack. The ENO Guardian SL is the perfect insect protection choice for the minimalist backpacker. The Guardian SL features a streamlined construction, sleeve-like access, no-see-um netting, and conforms to all ENO Hammocks for an insect-free haven.InsulationIf you have ever hammock camped, you know that it can get cold fast once the temperature drops. Cold Butt Syndrome(CBS) is real! While most campers think they can use their sleeping bag to fight the cold, it’s not very effective. When sleeping, your body weight will compress the loft in the fill, making it lose its insulating qualities. By hanging an underquilt around your hammock you will trap the warm air between yourself and the insulation, keeping you warm and cozy all night. An underquilt will add weight to your pack, but you will quickly forget about these extra ounces after a warm nights sleep. The ENO Blaze UnderQuilt is made with sustainably sourced Downtek® water repellent down, a ripstop nylon shell, and a moisture repelling DWR finish to guarantee that you’ll stay warm and dry.These are just a few of our tips to help you get started in hammock camping. Most importantly, have fun, stay safe, and relax! For more information, visit www.ENOnation.com
Today, for the first time ever, outdoor recreation’s contributions are being counted as a unique part of United States gross domestic product (GDP). The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released a preliminary look at United States GDP outputs from outdoor recreation. The analysis shows that growth in the outdoor industry continues to outpace growth of the economy as a whole and accounts for over 2 percent of the entire United States GDP.The BEA prototype estimate finds that outdoor recreation contributed over $673 billion toward total U.S. gross output, which is the total value of domestic goods and services produced by an industry. This supports the $887 billion that consumers spend annually on outdoor recreation and confirms the national importance of investments in recreation funding and infrastructure. Importantly, this prototype estimate paints a clear picture that recreation is an important sector of the U.S. economy and that Americans’ desire to recreate outside is growing.“While this is just the prototype estimate, and there will likely be changes here and there, we are extremely excited that outdoor recreation is now counted as an official U.S. industry and a major contributor to the U.S. economy — this further validates our broad and growing economic impact,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association. “We look forward to working with the Bureau of Economic Analysis over the next several months to include key criteria that will capture all the various ways outdoor recreation is an economic generator — whether one recreates close to home or travels across the country.”For more information, read this FAQ.
Bookstores make for a great stop on any trip – a way to stop and relax, maybe pick up a read for the rest of your journey. The problem is that the bookstores with great personality are usually only found in the city, and the well-stocked ones are usually box stores found in shopping malls. That’s why the Green Valley Book Fair is such a treasure. Not only is it family-owned, with tons of personality, and located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley – it’s also home to over half a million books, collectibles, toys, and gifts.The other great thing about the Green Valley Book Fair is its discounted prices. There are thousands of brand new books, kids’ toys and gifts heavily discounted up to 90% off of retail. What you would spend on one book at a chain store can easily get you 3 or 4 books at the Book Fair, which makes it an excellent way to grab that novel you’ve been wanting to pick up.And the selection of topics is as vast as the space itself, with all kinds of special interest titles, best sellers, fiction and non-fiction, and a lot for kids and young adults, too. The Book Fair keeps its selection fresh by frequently re-stocking. It’s open for several weeks at a time throughout the year and uses the downtime to bring new items to the floor.The Green Valley Book Fair (near Mount Crawford and just off of Interstate 81) has been a local tradition since 1971 and has been a destination for book lovers in the mid-Atlantic area ever since (check out this Washington Post article on the Book Fair here). As a family-owned business, they are very conscious of their role in the community and have many free programs for families: like free community events (such as Safety Day and Ag Day), regular Story Times, and contests for students and adults to design the Book Fair’s annual bookmark.The Book Fair is open six times a year, so check out GoBookFair.com to see if they’re open when you’re making plans (especially if you can make one of their special events). With all the hiking, attractions, and enjoyable small towns nearby, the Green Valley Book Fair is the perfect place to stop with your friends and family during your trip to the Shenandoah Valley!