U.S. Energy Secretary Calls for Subsidies to Keep Coal, Nuclear Afloat FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has asked federal regulators to provide price incentives to help keep coal and nuclear power plants open, as a way to address “risks” to the resilience of the electrical grid, the Department of Energy said on Friday.The move drew praise from the coal and nuclear power industries, but raised alarm bells among renewable energy groups and environmentalists concerned that such incentives were unfair and could lead to an increase in pollution.Perry asked FERC to issue a rule within 60 days to allow baseload plants that provide nonstop power and maintain at least 90 days of fuel supply on site to fully recover their costs through regulated pricing.A FERC official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Perry commissioned a study in April to evaluate whether “regulatory burdens” imposed by past administrations, including that of former President Barack Obama, had hurt the grid by forcing shutdowns of baseload plants.That report, released last month, urged that incentives be used to boost coal-fired and nuclear plants, and blamed recent closures on competition with cheaper natural gas and growth of solar and wind power.The American Wind Energy Association blasted the effort, saying it would “upend competitive markets.”“The best way to guarantee a resilient and reliable electric grid is through market-based compensation for performance, not guaranteed payments for some, based on a government-prescribed definition,” AWEA spokeswoman Amy Farrell said.More: U.S. energy chief urges incentives to help coal, nuke power plants
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享International Energy Agency:Global coal demand dropped for a second year in a row in 2016, approaching the previous record for two-year declines set in the early 1990s. Global demand for coal fell by 1.9% in 2016 to 5 357 Mtce, as lower gas prices, a surge in renewables and energy efficiency improvements put a major dent on coal consumption. Demand for coal has now dropped by 4.2% since 2014, almost matching the fall of 1990-1992 which was the largest two-year decline recorded since the IEA started compiling statistics more than 40 years ago.In 2016, rising coal use in India and other Asian countries was unable to offset large declines in the United States, China (where demand dropped for the third consecutive year) and in the United Kingdom (where demand dropped by more than 50%). In the United States, coal’s dominance in the power sector has been eroded by low gas prices; in China, coal demand has fallen due to lower use in the industrial and residential sectors linked to efforts to improve air quality; while in the United Kingdom a recently introduced carbon price floor has rung the death knell for coal use in power generation.Coal’s share in the global energy mix is forecast to decline from 27% in 2016 to 26% in 2022 on sluggish demand growth relative to other fuels. Growth through 2022 is concentrated in India, Southeast Asia and a few other countries in Asia. Coal demand declines in Europe, Canada, the United States and China, the largest coal consumer by far, and where we forecast a structural but slow decline with some fluctuations linked to short-term market requirements.As a result of these contrasting trends, global coal demand reaches 5 530 Mtce in 2022, which is only marginally higher than current levels, meaning that coal use all but stagnates for around a decade. Although coal-fired power generation increases by 1.2% per year in the period 2016-22, its share of the power mix falls to just below 36% by 2022, the lowest level since IEA statistics began.Prospects for coal are bleak throughout most of Europe. The future of coal in Europe is increasingly tied to Poland and Germany, which account for more than half of the coal consumed in the European Union. In Poland, demand is forecast to be stable through 2022. In Germany, coal demand declines even as nuclear power is progressively phased out, with coal use remaining highly sensitive to the relative prices of coal, natural gas and carbon dioxide (CO2). The decrease in coal demand forecast in Germany could be accelerated by policy changes.For most countries in Europe, coal is increasingly becoming a negligible part of the energy mix as a growing number of countries have closed or are closing their coal-fired power plants. Hard coal production in Europe outside Poland drops to marginal levels by 2022; lignite production remains meaningful in a few countries, but with a declining profile that follows power generation trendsPakistan emerges in the coal landscape and others might follow. Endowed with vast reserves in the Thar lignite field and facing a severe energy shortage, Pakistan is betting on domestic and imported coal for electricity supply in the coming years. We forecast coal demand to more than quadruple between 2016 and 2022, with Pakistan emerging as a significant international player, with imports accounting for half of its consumption.Bangladesh is also planning an expanded role for coal although developments through 2022 will be limited. Egypt has postponed its coal power plans, while in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is set to open the first large coal power plant in the Middle East. However, these increases will be modest compared to today’s large consumers: Pakistan and Bangladesh combined will represent around 5% of India’s coal consumption by 2022.Tight markets in China and some supply events pushed coal prices up in 2017. Thermal coal prices dropped to USD 70/t (European prices) during the first quarter of 2017 from highs at the end of 2016. Since then, higher demand in China to meet a surge in power demand and supply issues in some major exporters pushed prices up to USD 95/t in September 2017.Volatility in spot coking coal prices has been much sharper, with prices almost doubling in three weeks to USD 290/t (FOB Australia) in April 2017 in the aftermath of cyclone Debbie hitting Queensland. After falling down below USD 140/t in June, coking coal prices went up over USD 200/t in September, largely on strong demand in China.Price volatility is here to stay. Changes in China, whether in policy or economic circumstances, feed volatility in global coal markets given its sheer size and dominance in global trade. When combined with supply disruptions, this volatility is amplified. Prices will continue to depend largely on China; as a consequence, the structural reform of the Chinese coal industry is key to the evolution in coal prices.Among exporting countries, Indonesia deserves special attention: expanding domestic demand combined with constraints on ramping up production might increase market tightness and push prices up. On the demand side, import levels of China, India, Korea and Japan are key uncertainties.Imports to Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei are under pressure. Whereas the delicate balance between imports and domestic production in China, and to a lesser extent India, made import volumes volatile in the past few years, stability in Northeast Asia (Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei) provided a level of comfort for coal exporters. This is no longer the case. In Japan, sluggish power demand, rapid renewables deployment and the potential nuclear ramp-up provide a downside risk for coal. But this contrasts with the upside coming from substantial coal-power capacity currently in the pipeline. In Korea, the government is currently trying to reduce coal’s share in the power mix while over 5 GW of new coal capacity have just been commissioned and another 4 GW are under construction. In Chinese Taipei, where new coal capacity is coming on line, coal is facing growing social opposition.Investment in coal mining has dried up despite higher prices. Production cost reductions in coal mining reached their limits in 2015, and since prices have moved higher, the urgency to cut costs has decreased. While recent price spikes have been welcome by producers, they have not led to behavioral changes. The wounds of the low-price period of 2013-15 are still fresh and supply discipline remains the motto for fear of oversupplying the market.Despite growth expected in 2017, our forecast shows a contraction of seaborne coal trade through 2022, although India and Korea hold significant upside potential. The perception that current high prices are due to China’s policies and do not signal scarcity in the traditional way is not helping investor confidence. Given uncertainties and expected price volatility, there is limited appetite for big capital expenditures in coal production except in China and India, where investment is linked to meeting large domestic needs.More: Coal’s decade of stagnation IEA: ‘Coal’s Decade of Stagnation’
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:U.S. coal use plunged more than 13% in 2019, the most in 65 years, as power plants shut down across the country. That’s poised to happen again this year.Total consumption slumped to 596 million tons in 2019 from 688 million tons in the prior year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This year, the figure is expected to slip again, to 517 million tons.The decline reflects the rapidly changing U.S. energy mix, as coal is increasingly struggling to compete on price with natural gas, wind and solar. The dirtiest fossil fuel is also facing growing pressure for its role in climate change, prompting states from California to New York to mandate a transition to clean energy. President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive the industry have done little to stem the inexorable shift away from coal.U.S. consumption plunged 14% during a brief recession back in 1954, but promptly rebounded almost 15% the following year, according to EIA data.Utilities have already announced plans this year to shut at least seven plants. Last year, the second biggest on record for retirements, about 18 gigawatts of coal capacity went dark or were given a timeline for closing, according to the Sierra Club.[Will Wade]More: U.S. coal use is plunging at fastest rate since Eisenhower era EIA: U.S. coal use dropped 13% in 2019
Siemens Gamesa unveils 14MW offshore wind turbine, world’s largest FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA, the Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, is to build what will be the world’s biggest windmill, by the thinnest of margins.The 14-megawatt machine with a rotor diameter of 222 meters (728 feet) will be just two meters bigger than General Electric Co’s own massive turbine. It’s another sign that size matters when it comes to the rapidly growing market for green power from offshore wind farms.Since GE debuted its own 12-megawatt Haliade-X turbine in March 2018, the machine has racked up numerous orders, including for the world’s biggest offshore wind farm that will be built off the coast of England, and cut into the business that’s been dominated by Siemens Gamesa and to a lesser extent by MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S.The Siemens Gamesa turbine, which the company’s calling SG 14-222 DD, will be ready for a prototype in 2021 and commercially available in 2024. With the new machine cutting off GE’s claim on the world’s biggest windmill, Siemens Gamesa will be well positioned to solidify its position as the market leader.“My ambition and the ambition of Siemens Gamesa is to stay above 50% of world market share,” Andreas Nauen, chief executive officer of Siemens Gamesa’s offshore business, said by phone. “That requires winning at least half of all projects in the world, winning more than everyone else together.”The company is already in advanced talks with a number of potential customers for the first orders of the new machine, with announcements expected later this year, Nauen said.[Will Mathis]More: Battle over world’s biggest wind turbine is heating up
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Santiago-based power company AES Gener SA submitted in Chile the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the 863-MW Parque Terra Energia Renovable wind-and-solar hybrid project.According to documents sent to the Chilean environmental evaluation service (SEA), the South American firm plans to invest USD 750 million (EUR 634.6m) in the project through its unit Energia Eolica Paposo SpA.Located in the commune of Taltal in Antofagasta, Parque Terra will consist of a 350-MW wind farm, with 50 turbines of 7 MW each, and a 513-MW solar park comprised of 1,102,080 bifacial panels mounted on trackers. It will also have battery storage capacity.The project is expected to break ground in the second quarter of 2022 with commissioning scheduled to take place during the first half of 2024.[Lucas Morais]More: AES Gener files EIS for 863-MW renewables project in Chile AES Gener plans 863MW wind-solar-storage project in Chile
Corporate demand in Australia for green energy expected to hit record level in 2020 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:2020 is expected to be a record year for corporate renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in Australia with governments and businesses investing $AU2.4 billion and buying over 1GW through the year.The Business Renewable Centre Australia (BRC-A) latest annual State of the Market report says the recent growth of renewable PPAs in Australia is “one of the major changes to the market for large-scale renewable energy” in the country.According to the BRC-A, since 2017 there have been 79 corporate PPAs negotiated in Australia, contracting 3GW of renewable energy generation, with over half being negotiated with new solar and wind farms. It’s played a key role in packing up the slack created by the federal governments decision to not extend the renewable energy target. The report identified over 1GW of renewable PPAs signed in 2020 as of the middle of November, led by state and local governments, and companies.NSW still trails Victoria for corporate PPAs overall, but that may not last long considering how little Victoria signed during 2019-20 and how much New South Wales signed, and its plans to sign under its renewable transition roadmap (12GW by 2030). Queensland signed the second most amount of corporate PPAs in the 2019-20 financial year.Through PPAs, governments and businesses contract to buy electricity and/or green certificates from renewable energy projects at an agreed price. Other than securing renewable electricity supply, PPAs also serve as a way to hedge against electricity costs while also providing renewable energy projects with revenue certainty, which helps land cheaper finance.[Joshua S Hill]More: Corporate demand for wind and solar hits record level of $2.4bn in 2020
8. MSR MicroRocketWith the MicroRocket, MSR goes even smaller than the barely noticeable, standard-setting PocketRocket. The MicroRocket is a little lighter and even more compact, fitting inside a coffee mug, but it still puts out an impressive flame that gets a liter of water boiling in a little over three minutes.$40; cascadedesigns.com 1. Columbia ReactorLast year, Columbia released winter jackets with Omni-Heat reflective liners, tiny silver dots that radiate your body heat back at you. This year, Columbia is releasing the Reactor, a 30-degree sleeping bag with the same liner that, we’re happy to report, works just as well. The bag warms up quickly, turning your body heat into a comfy oven on a cold night. The only downside our tester found with the bag, is the plastic feeling of the liner thanks to those same tiny silver dots that keep you extra toasty. Keep the base layers on as you sleep, and you won’t notice.$299; columbia.com 2. Sierra Designs Pyro Maniac 15/30One sleeping bag with two different temperature ratings? The Pyro Maniac uses an additional set of insulated baffles placed over the torso of the 600-fill bag. Camping on a warmer night? Lose the extra baffles and go with a trim 30-degree bag. Expecting chillier temperatures? Stuff the baffles into the bag and you’re set for 15 degrees. The mummy bag has a few other great touches, like a draft collar to keep your neck and head warm and a pillow pocket. According to our tester, the temperature ratings of the bag are legit, giving the Pyro Maniac more versatility than much of its competition. It’s like adding an extra blanket when the temperature drops.$319; sierradesigns.com3. ENO Reactor HammockOn your next overnight, save some pack weight by ditching the tent and spending the night in a Reactor. Eagles Nest Outfitter’s hammock has a sleeve that holds a sleeping pad in place for extra warmth and comfort when spending the night swinging between two trees.$80; eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com4. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XThermThis four-season pad also uses a reflective heat barrier, similar to what you find in emergency blankets. Our tester was surprised at how quickly the NeoAir XTherm warms up. Place your hand on top of the sleeping pad and it immediately gets hot, adding a noticeable level of heat to your portable bed. The only bummer? The metallic treatment is a bit loud, so if you’re a restless sleeper, your neighbors may get annoyed. Still, the pad excels beyond the heat-reflective technology. It’s only 15 ounces and compacts to smaller than a Nalgene bottle, while still offering plenty of cushion. It’s a suite of winning characteristics that convinced our tester to make the XTherm his sleeping pad of choice.$219.95; cascadedesigns.com5. MRS Carbon Reflex 3 TentThis three-season shelter proved a comfy, roomy haven for a family of three during a cold, wet weekend. Yet it weighs a scant 4lbs. 7 oz. One reason is the ultralight poles, which retain their durability thanks to plastic bushings at connection points and horizontally wrapped carbon fibers. The poles’ geometry also trims ounces: they’re positioned in parallel arches with a support pole in between, creating more headroom and a peak height of 46 inches. But the space-to-weight ratio doesn’t come cheap.$600; cascadedesigns.com6. Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2To get your tent weight down to the Supermega’s 2lbs, 2oz, you typically have to go with a shelter that sacrifices poles, and therefore needs some combination of stakes and trekking poles. But this two-person tent is completely freestanding, with a fully waterproof double-wall construction and an ample 27-square-foot floor. Thank the DAC Featherlight poles and predominantly mesh canopy for the weight savings. This is the lightest tent Mountain Hardwear makes, and was still plenty big for two normal sized campers. The mesh storage pockets were unexpected, but welcome. A bigger vestibule would be nice, but then you’d add weight, so…$430; mountainhardwear.com7. Easton Mountain Products KiloHow does a two-person tent weigh less than a kilogram? Easton uses carbon fiber poles that are more than 50 percent lighter than standardly used aluminum. There’s also savings in the minimal tether of the AirLock connection system, as opposed to heavier shick cord. The advanced technology will cost you a pretty penny, but you’ll feel the difference in your pack. One-person and three-person Kilo models will be released next summer.$400; eastonmountainproducts.com
Best of the Blue RidgeOur readers have spoken. After 85,000 votes over the course of six weeks, the final results are in. Here are readers’ favorite places, people, events, businesses, and organizations.Our readers have spoken. After 85,000 votes over the course of six weeks, the final results are in. Here are readers’ favorite places, people, events, businesses, and organizations.New Year, New YouNeed a little oomph to kick off your outdoor resolutions? Reach the summits you seek with help from these adventure experts.Blue Ridge BriefsWardian breaks more records • The price of chasing Bigfoot • Father-son thru-hike • Elk returning to coal countryFlashpointWildfires have left 14 dead and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. Who started the fires— and why?The DirtHygge is a Danish lifestyle hack that loosely translates to being warm and cozy with friends while outside it is dark and cold. Here are four Hygge-inspired adventures in the southeast to experience this winter.The GoodsA.T. thru-hiker Jack Schroeder picks his favorite winter backpacking gear.Trail Mix 5 Regional Acts to Catch in the New Year.
QUICK HITSCoal museum uses solar energy • Pisgah’s new addition • Snowshoe gets a new owner • Pipeline will require 38 mountaintop removal sitesFLASHPOINTCan we coexist with coyotes?THE DIRTAre trail runners using PEDs? • The places we love too much • Heartbreak at BarkleyTHE GOODSCreek boater Brad McMillan shares his go-to gear for gonzo adventure.TRAIL MIXSounds of Summer: Hottest Tickets in the SouthPRESIDENTIAL PLAYGROUNDSFor centuries, American presidents have sought refuge in Appalachia—and helped protect its most iconic landscapes.A BOAT ON YOUR BACKPortable, one-person rafts have opened new possibilities for multisport river adventures.GAS AND POOPFracking and hog waste have landed two waterways from the Southeast on America’s Most Endangered Rivers List.A FATHER’S CHOICECanoeist Bill Havens faced a tough decision: compete in the Olympics or witness the birth of his son.WATER WARSThe Chattahoochee River is the economic and ecological lifeblood of three states, but not all of the water finds its way downstream.THE FIRE NEXT TIMEDrought and arson were responsible for last year’s record-setting wildfires. What should we expect in 2017 and beyond?RIVER MAGICTwo suburban adventurers ditch their day jobs and paddle the length of the French Broad River.OIL DRILLING IN THE ATLANTIC?Conservation groups sue to stop seismic testing.COLLEGE CONTEST CHAMPSOver 150,000 votes poured in for our Top Adventure College Tournament. Who took home the hardware?EVERY TRAIL IN THE SMOKIESHiker Benny Braden sets a speed record for his 900-mile circuit.
For a small donation, hikers that stay at the Kincora Hikers’ Hostel have access to a kitchen, laundry area, showers and bunkhouse. Peoples says he is considering having ice cream for anyone who is at his hostel the evening that his 25,000 hiker walks through the door. Bob Peoples, owner of Kincora Hikers’ Hostel in Hampton, Tennessee, says that his hostel will soon reach a huge milestone. In April, Peoples anticipates hosting his 25,000 hiker along the Appalachian Trail. The AT legend opened his hostel in 1997 and has been providing shelter and hospitality to hikers along the trail ever since.