Energy majors to cooperate on offshore wind development in Japan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:French energy group Engie SA and Electric Power Development Co, also known as J-Power of Japan, will collaborate on power projects, especially large-scale offshore wind, under a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding (MoU) announced by the Japanese company on Thursday.The companies see offshore wind as a promising energy source to expand Japan’s renewables and will work together to improve the competitiveness of the technology, including floating offshore wind, according to the announcement. Engie, which has 2.5 GW of offshore wind under development and an interest in floating technologies, wants to use its experience in Europe to expand globally, including in Japan.J-Power, on its part, is involved in an offshore wind project of up to 220 MW in Kitakyushu City, Hibikinada District and said “its ambition is the further development of the offshore wind capacity in Japan and in Europe.” Recently, the company took a 25% stake in German developer Innogy SE’s 860-MW Triton Knoll offshore wind project in the UK, alongside Kansai Electric Power Inc, which acquired 16%. J-Power, which operates 18 GW of power stations, in April 2018 announced a target to develop 1,000 MW of renewable energy by 2025.More: Engie, J-Power to collaborate on offshore wind
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A total of 16,900 MW of U.S. power generation capacity retired in 2018, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, far more than the 11,569 MW retired in 2017.Coal-fired capacity made up nearly 70% of the capacity retired in 2018, totaling about 11,800 MW, despite efforts by the Trump administration to ease regulations on emissions from coal-fired plants. Gas-fired resources made up another 22.4% of retirements, at 3,789 MW.The amount of coal-fired capacity retired in 2018 more than doubled the amount from the year before, when about 5,000 MW were shut down.By power market region, the largest amount of capacity retired in 2018 was in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., where Vistra Energy Corp. shut down more than 4,000 MW of coal-fired capacity at the beginning of the year. In the PJM Interconnection region, a slightly smaller amount overall was retired, but there about two-thirds of the capacity retired was coal-fired. The largest plant retired in PJM was the 1,731-MW J.M. Stuart plant in Adams County, Ohio, co-owned by Vistra, AES Corp. and American Electric Power Co. Inc.Other notable plant retirements in 2018 included the 1,276-MW St Johns River Power plant in northern Florida, majority-owned by the city of Jacksonville, Fla., utility JEA, and shut at the beginning of the year, and WEC Energy Group Inc.’s 1,188-MW Pleasant Prairie plant in Wisconsin.More ($): Coal plant retirements in 2018 more than double 2017’s total S&P: Coal plant retirements totaled 11.8GW in 2018
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:The outlook for European wind power is clouded by uncertainty that threatens jobs and the EU’s ambitions for a ‘Green Deal’ to turbocharge climate action on the continent, WindEurope warned.The most likely central scenario of the industry body’s latest mid-term outlook expects Europe to add 90GW of new wind capacity between 2019 and 2023 – 72GW of it onshore – to reach a total of 277GW by then.But WindEurope said the wide variance between the central forecast, and the high and low scenarios on either side shows the huge impact, for better or worse, that key policy decisions will have on the sector’s mid-term fortunes – especially the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) that EU member states have to wrap up by the end of the year, but which have been slammed as lacking ambition in their draft forms.If EU member states turbocharge their NECPs then Europe could see 112GW added. If the NECPs remain unambitious and the type of permitting issues that have choked the market in Germany continue to dog the market, installations could be as low as 67GW.WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said the policy unknowns are putting the dampers on what should be a buoyant wind power market, given the imperatives of climate change and wind’s highly competitive cost of energy. But the policy headwinds are already taking their toll on national wind auctions, with tenders in Germany, Greece and France all heavily undersubscribed over the last year or so.Governments also need to come up with clear policies to support repowering of the huge amount of European wind nearing the end of its life, Dickson said.More: Europe set to add 90GW of new wind by 2023: WindEurope Industry group says 90GW of new wind capacity could be installed in Europe by 2023
Water woes to prompt early closing of 1,067MW Tolk coal plant in Texas FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:Xcel Energy intends to shutter the 1,067 MW Tolk coal-fired generating station, which provides power to Texas and New Mexico, by Dec. 31, 2032, according to a stipulation endorsed by subsidiary Southwestern Public Service (SPS), environmental advocates and the utility division staff of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC).Per the stipulation, SPS will recruit an independent evaluator to assess possible ways to replace the coal facility, and submit a report to the NMPRC by June 2021. The utility has also agreed to study earlier retirement scenarios for the plant, given its dependence on a rapidly-depleting source of groundwater.Both units of the Tolk coal-powered plant began commercial operation in the 1980s. But the facility requires water to cool its boilers and relies on only one source — the Ogallala aquifer, in the Texas Panhandle, which is drying out due to excess agricultural, industrial and urban usage. The utility reduced operations at the plant to minimum load during off-peak months in 2019, and intends to keep the plant idle during off-peak months starting in 2021, if regulators in Texas and New Mexico allow it.Even with new well infrastructure, the aquifer will not be able to support the Tolk facility until 2042, when the first of its units is currently scheduled to retire, according to SPS. The utility requested commission permission to abandon Tolk’s Units 1 and 2 in 2032 as part of its July 2019 general rate case application, which also sought a $50.8 million — or 18.7% — increase to its case rate revenue.“Under the company’s projections, if it continues to operate the plant normally, they’ll run out of their groundwater rights about the mid-2020s. If they switch to seasonal operations — which is basically June through September — they can extend that, they think, until 2032,” Joshua Smith, senior staff attorney at the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, told Utility Dive.“All of the parties that were involved in the New Mexico case have now agreed that the plant will be retired and abandoned by 2032,” Smith said. While he acknowledged concerns over replacing the plant’s capacity and possible increases in customer rates, “in our view, there’s still a sufficient amount of lead time to mitigate those rate impacts, whatever they might be, and more than sufficient time — 12 years at this point — for the company to procure replacement capacity,” he said.[Kavya Balaraman]More: Water scarcity accelerates plans to close Xcel’s Tolk coal plant by a decade
A new National Park Service (NPS) report says that 12,877,369 visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2013 spent $782,926,000 in communities near the park. The report says spending supported 11,283 jobs in adjacent communities.The 2013 economic benefit figures are slightly lower than the 2012 results, which reported visitors spent $902 million in local communities.Tourism officials across the Parkway region in North Carolina and Virginia say the rise in popularity of outdoor recreation helps. “Watauga County in western North Carolina’s High Country saw a rise in occupancy tax revenue over last year,” said Wright Tilley, Executive Director of Boone & Watauga County Tourism Development Authorities. “We know our visitors are looking for hiking experiences and the Parkway is the most popular starting point.”The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.According to the 2013 economic analysis, lodging (30.3 percent), followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent), and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent) made up the spending. The largest jobs categories were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service.Learn more about the Parkway at www.nps.gov/blri.
I’ve never gone mountain biking.Well, sorta.Prior to my time with the magazine (1.5 years ago), I had certainly been on a mountain bike. I used to ride one to and from class every day, take it for a cruise down the Virginia Creeper rail-trail nearby, drive around with it on the back of my beater Honda. But, as far as riding legitimate singletrack goes, it wasn’t until last year that I finally popped the cherry.The two times since those college days that I have truly gone for a ride were both merely a means to an end, once in DuPont State Forest and once in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Both times I was out photographing mountain bikers and needed to cover more ground more efficiently. What better way to accomplish that than by hopping in the saddle and joining the gang?The only problem? I suck at mountain biking. I can crank out uphills all day, and I’m damn good at bike hiking, but downhill is downright terrifying. If it’s not some rogue root or rock that sends me OTB, it’s my sporadic front-brake-freak-outs that launch my body spread eagle down the trail. Couple those poor bike maneuvering skills with a backpack full of expensive, company-owned camera equipment and you’ve got yourself one stressed out J. Daddio.Still, I loved it.Trail running, hiking, that’s all fine and dandy, but you can knock out some big miles on a bike and, when the downhill is straight and smooth like butta, I do like going really fast. And jumping over stuff. And that’s really fun. Until I wrap my ribs around a tree, which I really try to avoid at all costs. Still though, crashing and burning, just as in any sport, is part of the game. Even the best of riders get off line, hit the brakes, or worse, hit the tree and go sailing.More often than not, I’ve recently found that when I want to go outside and play most, I’m usually alone. For paddling and climbing, flying solo doesn’t always bode well (especially if Mom finds out). I’ve been eyeballing mountain bikes for the past few months, figuring mountain biking to be a reasonable solution to my partnerless woes. After weeks of sleepless nights fantasizing about disc brakes and fat tires, I finally decided last week to swallow my fear of breaking my body and take the plunge.The moment I saw Violet, I was in love. A Specialized hardtail 29er, she’s silvery purple, the color of twilight and concord grapes and all-things royal. I sensed in her a restlessness, a burning need to fly free through the woods and tear up the trails. She seemed innocent enough on the outside, you might even call her pretty, but inside I could tell she was a fiery pistol, cocked and loaded and ready to roll. I felt very much like this bike may be my kindred spirit, and so, the day I rolled her out the back door of Adventure Damascus (thanks to my friends and fellow employers at the shop!), I took her out on our first date…I mean ride.If I can sum up that first ride in one phrase, I’d say it was nothing short of expected. I face planted a rhododendron bush, toppled into a creek, and took a chunk out of my right knee cap and elbow. Fortunately no one was around to watch the hilarity that ensued as I tried to detangle myself from gear and chain and branch, but I honestly don’t think it would have mattered either way.You see, being in the woods has this incomparable healing effect on me. Whether I’m scouting a rapid, studying the route up a rock face, or picking a line down the trail, there’s something about riding that fine balance between man and nature that, when panned out to perfection, gets me stoked (though, per this video, maybe getting stoked isn’t always the best thing). Those moments of perfect flow aren’t always easy to come by, but all it takes is a single second of unity with the river, the rock, the trail, to keep me coming back for more.So as I laid there in the rhododendron bush beneath the weight of Violet, trying to gauge which hurt more – my oozing knee or my wounded pride – I decided that it was neither. Nothing hurt. I was actually kinda giddy. I picked myself up, snapped a too-dark selfie of my wreck, and proceeded to pick my way through the remaining two miles of technical downhill that I realistically had no business being on. Still, I was all smiles. I’d found yet another avenue for getting outside and letting the natural world be my sensei.Since then, Violet and I have gone riding at Bent Creek and DuPont State Forest (photos from Big Rock Trail in DuPont) in North Cackalacky. Looking forward to some central Virginia riding this week and next – stay tuned!###Check out this month’s issue of the magazine to hear 10 regional riders answer the big question – Why I Ride.I’d love to hear from you on why you love to ride, where you love to ride, or tips and tricks on riding better. I can use all the help and suggestions I can get. Keep charging!
Photo Courtesty of Don McCullough via FlickrThis week in THE DIRT: a new documentary film profile’s Emma “Grandma” Gatewood’s 1955 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, much needed repairs come to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a dairy farmer in North Carolina is sentenced for dumping cow excrement into the French Broad river, and a National Park visitor is tazed in Hawaii while flying a drone.Emma Gatewood was the first woman to ever complete a solo thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, and she did it in 1955 at the age of 67. Now a new documentary is portraying her astonishing feat.“It’s been a long road to bring this project to fruition, but we’re almost there,” Filmmaker Bette Lou Higgins told the Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County Ohio.Higgins and others began making the film—a documentary they’re calling ‘Trail Magic’— back in 2009. It will be officially debuted during a two-day event, May 28 and 29, at the TrueNorth Cultural Arts Center in Sheffield, Ohio.The Blue Ridge Parkway will be seeing some much-needed repairs thanks to a joint funding efforts from Congress and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Both the foundation and Congress are providing $357,370 in matching funds for a total of $710,035 in improvements. Slated projects include rehabilitation of the Mount Pisgah amphitheater, repair and restoration of historic structures at Johnson Farm near milepost 86, and the repair and restoration of the historic Polly Woods Ordinary near Peaks of Otter, Virginia.A dairy farmer in North Carolina has been sentenced to four years of probation and six months of home detention after discharging cow feces into the French Broad River. William “Billy” Franklin Johnston is the owner of one of North Carolina’s largest dairy farms—Tap Root Dairy, LLC. Johnston, a Mills River town council member and acting board member on the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, was personally fined $15,000, while his company is being ordered to pony up $80,000 and placed on a strict environmental compliance plan.Beyond the Blue Ridge: A ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park used a stun gun to subdue a park visitor after the visitor refused to bring down a drone he was flying over a large pool of lava. The altercation represents an ongoing debate about drone use in National Parks. The National Park Service says that drone’s have been used to disturb scenery and harass wildlife and prohibited their use back in June of 2014.
According the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the water in Crooked Run, a tributary of the Coal River in Boone County, West Virginia is now safe to drink after coal slurry leaked into the water supply on March 23.Coal slurry is the after product of washing coal with water and different chemicals before shipment of the coal. West Virginia DEP Division of Mining and Reclamation says the leak came from a burst pipe that spilled coal slurry for three hours; however, it is unknown how much slurry was released into the river.Residents reported the water of the Coal River appearing oily black and jelly-like. The closest water processing plant is in Lincoln County 17 miles downstream followed by the St. Albans treatment plant 35 miles down stream. Both of these facilities were immediately shut down while the spill was being investigated. The coal plant was also closed. Lincoln County’ water facility reopened their facility the following Friday after finding the waters chemical levels were at the standard level.
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The bones arrived on a Friday afternoon.As a wildlife biologist, it’s not uncommon for people to bring me oddities they find here in the Virginia woods. I’ll get a turtle shell from time to time, maybe a deer skull or a fossil imprint frozen in a lump of coal. But something was different about the handful of bone fragments a local student brought us after hiking an old railbed above the Powell River. It only took a few minutes for us to figure out why they seemed so strange: they were from a human leg.Certain things happen when you discover human remains. The police are called. Evidence is collected. Questions are asked. Was this a murder victim? How long had the bones been there? No one seemed to know, so we waited while investigators pieced together their history.Artifacts are a core part of our identity in Appalachia. I teach at a small college in the southwest Virginia coalfields, and I’m often asked why those of us in coal country focus so much on the past. It’s a common refrain. J.D. Vance’s bestselling Hillbilly Elegy recently touched off a national discussion about our region being stuck in a regressive cycle of poverty and dependency. Even the 2016 presidential election seemed to be a referendum on whether Appalachia should look forward or inward to its roots. Media profiles have been dissecting us ever since.When I get those kinds of questions, I often point back to that handful of bones. We can’t avoid the past here because it’s everywhere, hiding unnoticed above a riverbank or in plain sight in the ragged scar of a surface mine. The scattered remains of those mines, in fact, are about all my county is known for outside of the mountains. Read a piece on coal country in the New York Times or Washington Post, and chances are it will be accompanied by a panoramic image of the guts of a surface mine from here in Wise County. When photographers turn their lens on our people, they’ll find the most poverty-stricken neighborhood or visit the free health clinic we host each summer, where folks file into stalls at the county fairground to get teeth pulled and their vision checked.But rarely mentioned in those articles is what lies beyond the poverty and outside of a mine. Hidden behind the camera in those jarring images of mountaintop removal often isn’t more coal extraction but tens of thousands of acres of national forest. Long-forgotten trails trace faintly into shadowed coves that hold secrets, some of them cloaked in virgin timber. And those same people so often caricatured in photo essays and stump speeches are working to enhance our outdoor assets into a sustainable alternative for an industry in its death throes.When you’re born and raised in coal country, though, one-sided perceptions take a toll. My students often complain about having nothing to do in this part of the mountains. For many, their degree is a path out of an area that seems too far gone for any real hope. With so much emphasis on our region’s problems, it can be difficult to see past them.So, we take a hike. I’ll walk them up those overgrown trails to see hemlocks some three centuries old. We’ll sample wild brook trout from a mountain stream or climb to a lookout tower to not only look at distant surface mines but also peer into the high country of North Carolina and Tennessee. We don’t get into the woods to forget or minimize our region’s issues; we go there to explore the treasures we still have and what’s at stake if they’re lost. “I’ve driven by this trailhead a thousand times and never thought about stopping,” one of those students told me after a local field trip this spring. “I’ll be coming here a lot more now.”Few of us are naive enough to think that simply getting onto the trail could save the coalfields. But our hope is that in helping people realize what we still have here, we can each find something out in those woods, whether that means developing a new regional identity or just discovering a missing part of ourselves.Or, perhaps, stumbling across an odd group of bones.It took several months for the investigation into the remains we received to reach a conclusion. The bone fragments were old—ancient, in fact—dating back at least five hundred years to when a Native American man came to rest on a lonely sandstone ledge above the Powell River. A rail line was built just a few yards away after coal was discovered several centuries later. That rail line eventually closed as the industry boomed and faded away, leaving the remains of two eras lying side-by-side in a forgotten part of the mountains that most of our youth have never known.This spring, work began to convert that abandoned railbed into a trail that will be used to attract hikers, mountain bikers, and perhaps one more round of rebirth to these hills. Will it work? It might take a generation to find out, but in the meantime we’ll do what we know best: we’ll look to where we’ve been to see if we can figure out where we’re going. In a place that’s been built on uncertainty, transitions are more familiar than they seem.