More U.S. Coal Plants Fail Economic Stress Test FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享SNL:A recent energy analysis determined that more than 20% of the nation’s coal-generating capacity in 2016 is uneconomic and could face retirement or conversion to other energy sources.The Union of Concerned Scientists, a member-funded nonprofit advocacy group that promotes clean energy, said in its report that much of the remaining coal fleet “faces significant economic uncertainty” due to competition from cheap natural gas and renewable energy.Comparing the cost of electricity generated by coal units and an existing natural gas combined-cycle unit, the report found that 57 GW, or nearly 21% of the country’s roughly 285-GW coal-generating capacity in 2016, are “uncompetitive,” on top of the 18% already scheduled for retirement or conversion.Using S&P Global Market Intelligence data, the report’s authors identified dozens of plants that failed their “economic stress test,” primarily in the southeastern U.S. Florida had the highest number at 16 followed by Georgia with 15 and Virginia with 13.A recent S&P report shows that about 49.5 GW of coal capacity is or was scheduled for retirement between 2013 and 2021, an increase from the 44.1 GW scheduled as of March 27 for that period. 45 coal units are slated to retire from 2017 to 2021, while 395 units have been retired since 2012.More: ($) Report: 21% of US coal fleet ‘uneconomic,’ could face retirements, conversions
Oil and gas industry: Coal plants no more secure than pipelines FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Houston Chronicle:More than 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission lines crisscross the United States, fueling electricity and industrial plants and heating homes, while also providing an alluring target for hackers looking to disrupt the American economy. Now those pipelines are at the center of a debate in Washington about the future of the power grid, as Energy Secretary Rick Perry argues that an increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threat makes relying on natural gas to the exclusion of coal and nuclear plants a disaster waiting to happen.“You have a greater reliance on natural gas than you’ve ever had before,” Bruce Walker, assistant secretary of electricity and energy reliability, said in an interview. “Because of the interdependence on the gas infrastructure, if you take out a pipeline you can also take out 10 to 15 [power] generators.”The administration’s concern about cybersecurity comes as the White House considers next steps in its bid to halt the closure of coal and nuclear power plants, which have come under increasing economic pressure from the huge glut of cheap gas coming out of shale fields in Texas and other states, as well as increasingly efficient renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.That has set the administration and Perry in direct conflict with natural gas producers, many of whom believe the administration is raising the issue of cyber security of gas pipelines to justify bailing out a coal sector that President Donald Trump has promised to revive.Lobbyists for oil and gas companies are fighting to head off such action, arguing in meetings on Capitol Hill that pipelines are as well protected from cyber threats as any U.S. industry and the administration’s talking points amount to another attempt to bail out the coal sector.“To single out gas infrastructure, it misses the point. All the energy sector is being targeted by bad actors,” said Todd Snitchler, director of market development at the American Petroleum Institute. “The oil and gas industry takes our cybersecurity very seriously. It’s being managed all the way up to the board level.”More: Is focus on pipeline cyber security ruse to prop up coal?
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:India has resumed its contest with China to host the world’s biggest solar park and the projected Ladakh solar project could bring the crown back to south Asia.According to U.S.-based insurance provider SolarInsure, as of June 2017, China’s Datong Solar Power Project – with a projected capacity of 3 GW – has the potential to become the world’s biggest single-location solar PV project, once completed.The Ladakh project is expected to be complete by 2023, with abundant sunlight and clear air making Ladakh unusually suitable for solar technologies. The power generated from the 5 GW PV plant in Leh district will be transmitted, along a 900 km stretch of the Leh-Manali road, for consumption by Kaithal district in the state of Haryana. It will be supplemented by another 2.5 GW solar project in the Kargil district, to provide electricity to light up the plains and reduce dependence on diesel generators for a population that remains cut off for around half the year.Besides enabling developers to set up the power transmission and evacuation infrastructure, the 7.5 GW Jammu & Kashmir tender encourages them to add storage. Developers are encouraged to explore different forms of storage technology, including battery, molten salts, pumped storage or a combination thereof, for innovative and efficient utilization of the transmission evacuation infrastructure.A report in the Times of India quoted SK Mishra, director of power systems for the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), as saying: “We have addressed issues faced in previous tenders and taken into account the challenging geography. Another positive is the Leh and Kargil administrations have designated 25,000 and 12,500 acres of non-grazing land, respectively, at prices remunerative for the hill councils, which will also earn rental of around Rs1,200 per hectare, per annum, with 3% annual escalation,” he added.More: Planned 5 GW Indian solar plant will be ‘the world’s largest’ India moves ahead with world’s largest solar PV project
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享WRAL:North Carolina would cap carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and accelerate the closure of coal-fired power plants under a draft plan released Friday by Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration.Writ large, the plan calls for a series of initiatives to whack away at the emissions contributing to climate change. It’s goal: “By 2030, reduce electric power sector greenhouse gas emissions between 60% and 70% below 2005 levels and work towards zero emissions by 2050.”To get there, the proposal relies on policy shifts that require General Assembly approval, as well as reforms that could overhaul the way North Carolina regulates and delivers electricity to homes and businesses across the state.Among other things, the draft plan suggests that the legislature: enact a new law either capping carbon dioxide emissions in the electric power sector or requiring a percentage reduction; require a new analysis when companies want to build new fossil fuel plants that considers carbon impacts, both to the environment and to public health, changing the math regulators use to determine whether new plants should be approved; and set a date by which “uneconomical” coal power plants must close.Just which coal plants count as uneconomical would be studied, but the plan references previous research that said most existing coal plants in the country are more expensive to operate than building wind and solar facilities.Duke Energy has seven coal plants in the state now, all planned for retirement by 2038, a company spokeswoman said. Duke, by far the state’s largest electric utility, has largely relied on natural gas to phase out coal.More: Cooper energy plan contemplates carbon cap Governor pushes plan to cap carbon emissions, close coal plants in North Carolina
My legs are itching so much…must scratch but don’t want to slow down any slower than I already am. What is it? Oh yeah, it’s the stinging nettles; I’m running through a glade that’s particularly lush with it. I have to laugh; it’s yet another form of discomfort for the day, amidst quite a few others. I pause momentarily in the muddy single track to frantically scratch my grimy legs before loping off once again.It’s mile 23 of the Iron Mountain 50-mile Trail Race, an ultra running event based out of Appalachian Trail Town Damascus, Virginia. It starts in the village park, and follows a few miles of the famous Virginia Creeper rail trail before veering off and climbing into the Mt. Rogers high country on the Iron Mountain Trail. The race course winds up – topping out at well over 4,000 feet – down and around rugged, varied and beautiful mountain country to finally lead the light-headed and heavy-footed finishers back to town.I find the Hurricane Gap aid station a most welcome oasis of support. Not one to tarry at such, in spite of the temptation to just sit down, eat and drink then take a nap, I have my 20-ounce hand-held bottles filled with water and I grab a handful of orange sections and chocolate wafer cookies and take off. It is with heartfelt thanks that I bid the smiling volunteers adieu with an over-the-shoulder glance and wave. I’ll be returning to this aid station when I close the outbound loop in about 12 miles.Aid stations are spaced at every six or seven miles over the course and offer liquid replenishment – water and some kind of sports drink – and various food choices such as oranges, bananas, watermelon hunks, pieces of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, beef jerky, chips, and maybe some candy like M&M’s. The smiles and encouragement from the aid station staffers are as nourishing as the food and liquids, I’m sure.It’s mile 33 and I’m repeating one of my mantras: “Light, easy, glide.” The trail is gentle on me in this section – a smooth and level bit of double track – and I find myself grateful to be out here, happy to be able to at least attempt such an arduous task. No really bad aches at the moment and life is good.But there are aches and there is discomfort.In the months leading up to this extravaganza I trained hard. The abundance of trails, including the AT, around my hometown of Roanoke makes it easy to find excellent training circuits of all kinds and I’ve been running them for many years. To expect to run 50 miles, of course, requires commitment of a higher order. The idea was to make the training sufficiently difficult as to make the actual race, well, do-able, and so far that strategy is paying off. Ultra training is not only about building muscle and lung capacity and otherwise physical fitness, but about getting accustomed to discomfort, sometimes debilitating sometimes mild, but always discomfort. My training buddy Joe Dudak and I have had some excellent training adventures. Lots of 25-mile runs over rough terrain, a 30-miler on the hottest day of the summer, and an all-night 50k in rain and fog and mud. We figured the more we suffered the better.Where is everybody? Eighty runners started out at 7:00 this morning but after a few hours of this we’re well spread out. I’ve been alone for quite a while, lost in my thoughts, such as they are. I ran with my buddy James for 16 miles, then we faded apart, our paces just a bit different. Like they say, you gotta run your own race.I’m six hours into it now and no longer feeling at all fresh. The Iron Mountain 50-Miler includes plenty of climbing, 8,000 feet of it. It seems like I’m always ascending, but this gives me the excuse to stop running and power hike instead. Yeah, right, as if I could run these steep ascents in my current state.What’s this? I’m just beyond the furthest outbound aid station, ascending the drainage of Rowland Creek, and the trail is turning into a shoe-sucking mud bog. Thick stands of Rhododendron overhang the mucky path making it impossible to avoid sinking to my calves. Finally the way becomes more rocky and less muddy as I climb towards the high point of the course.Finishing an ultra is about more than physical and mental fitness; it’s about trying as best as one can to control and manage mind and body during the event itself. To successfully manage the latter, one needs to balance fuel – food – requirements and hydration needs and muscle lactic acid clearance and heat dumping. Not to mention dealing with cuts and scrapes and chaffing of various body parts. (For example, I have Gorilla Tape on my nipples and some ziplock bag material wedged in my shorts during this 50-miler). Managing the head, however, is another game entirely. If my mind gets convinced that I can’t make it it’ll shut me down; I’ve got to keep internally projecting well-being and control of pain or I’ll never make it.I’m at Rowland Creek aid station fueling up. Besides water bottle refill, I feel like eating beef jerky and fig newtons. I have no appetite now for the PB and J sandwiches that I had wolfed down earlier. Learning how and when and what to eat during a long distance run is an art which I am unlikely to ever master, but I’m doing the best I can.Thirty-eight miles into the race a slow-moving storm has arrived. It’s raining hard and foggy and dark on the ridge line of Iron Mountain. There are times when I can’t see too well and I stumble along through the surprisingly deep puddles. “Ok I’m ready for this to be over now” is my chief sentiment as I arrive at Skull’s Gap aid station, the last one, other than an emergency water stash, of the race. It’s still raining, but looking on the bright side that’s cooled things off. The volunteers huddle under the awning but jump into gear when I arrive. Helping me with the bottles they’re all smiles and it makes me do the same. A cup full of Mountain Dew catches my eye, and I grab and down it in a flash. Yum. I take another salt tablet – my fourth of the day – and clutch some more beef jerky as I return to my work. Let’s finish this thing.At mile 47 I look at my watch for the first time during the race. Some runners are more analytical, carefully monitoring pace and distance, others take a more intuitive path. I am more in the latter camp, but now I find myself thinking a lot about how fast I can finish. If I’m speedy enough I can do the race in under nine hours. That would be cool, but I’ll need to speed up, and the final couple of miles dropping off of the mountain and back into Damascus follows a rocky creek bed. It’s said to be the most technical part of the entire course. I fly down the mountain – ok not really, gotta stay on my feet – and before I know it I’m deposited back on the streets of town, winding to the finish in the park. As I approach the finish line I notice that the rain has passed, the sun is peeking out, and hey, I’m going to complete this! I come across the line at nine hours and one minute – sigh. I’m muddy, beat-up, sore and tired. And boy am I happy.I don’t think I’ll be running again for at least a few days, though.
Our favorite outdoor web videos from the week that was:Fall Surfing in OBXSurfer Brett Barley getting after it in the Outer Banks, North Carolina with footage shot entirely with Soloshot. This guy makes surfing OBX look amazing, especially with all those styly airs. Who knew you could get barreled so hard in N.C.?Finally Fall – Brett Barley from SURFING Magazine on Vimeo.Good Thing He Had the Full Face HelmetTen seconds of glorious ass over teakettle action. Short, sweet, and to the point…of a rock.Casting 4 a Cure on the South ForkThis one is out of region, but Casting 4 a Cure does great work. This is one of my all time favorite places to fish, and you can see why.Casting 4 A Cure from Trout TV on Vimeo.Burton, BackcountryHere is Part 1 of 4 of Burton’s snowboarding project thingamajiggy. This is a tad long, but features two of my all-time favorite riders: Nico Muller and Terje Haakonsen.
Your daily outdoor news bulletin for October 14th, the day West Virginian and American hero Chuck Yeager became the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound:Festy Experiences the Blue Ridge BurnDespite the utterly dismal weather over the weekend, the Festy Experience music festival went off with a bang this weekend at Devils Backbone Brewery in Roseland, Virginia. The crowds could not have their spirits dampened by a little rain and the bands rocked out like we knew they would. We would like to extend a big shout out to the Festy and the Infamous Stringdusters for continuing to build on year’s past and putting on another great festival. The Festy gets bigger every year, drawing some of the biggest names in bluegrass and Americana as well as festival goers from around the region and country. We would also like to thank all the runners that braved the rain and showed for the 18th annual running of the Blue Ridge Burn 5k/10k trail race. This year’s race was probably our best yet, with the Travis Book hewn course winding its way through the festival grounds. We had a great time, and we hope you did too. We also raised a lot of money (final tally still being calculated) for the Southern Environmental Law Center, so we got that going for us…which is nice.Click here to see the full 2013 Blue Ridge Burn results of both the 5K and 10K races.See you again next year!Blue Ridge Parkway Attractions Re-OpenA few amenities along the Blue Ridge Parkway have re-opened against the backdrop of the government shutdown that is now two weeks old. Originally, the Blue Ridge Parkway was scheduled to close when the government did, but an eleventh hour decision left the road open, but closed the amenities and National Park Service owned infrastructure along the byway. Now, a few of those amenities have been allowed to re-open this past weekend. The Peaks of Otter Lodge at Milepost 86 in Bedford County had been closed since October 1, but opened its doors to visitors on Saturday. The same goes for the Mabry Mill living history exhibit and restaurant at Milepost 176 in Floyd County. Both are operated by a private concessions company that received permission to re-open. They join the Pisgah Inn outside Asheville, which also opened to visitors this weekend. The Pisgah Inn had originally defied the government shutdown and remained open during the initial phase of the shutdown, but was closed on October 4th.Why It’s So Hard to Get Bike LanesThis post is specific to Richmond, Va. and the Virginia Department of Transportation, but it highlights the bureaucratic and political challenges inherent in changing city infrastructure in regards to non-motorized traffic. There is some great technical detail in the post, but the gist of it is that municipalities don’t want to change their road or transportation infrastructure because they would receive less money from VDOT for maintenance and upkeep. For example, if a city changes a travel lane into a bike path or other type of pathway, that would count against their total miles of road, and thus would be subtracted from their next compensation. This could apply to any municipality in the state, and probably nationwide. It is just another example of a senseless hurdle in the way of progressing bike, pedestrian, and mass transit infrastructure in America.Read the full post here.
Husband and wife David and Enion Pelta-Tiller, the driving force behind Taarka.Before I knew about Taarka, I had no idea what taarka was. As it turns out, taarka is a mixture of roasting spices integral to Indian cooking. It also proves to be a completely apropos name for the band being showcased in this week’s blog.Though Taarka boasts a traditional instrumentation – mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, and guitar – their sound is anything but. Like the spicy blendings from which the band takes its name, Taarka is the sonic equivalent to an Indian hot pot. Musical flavors subtly combine, and anything from bluegrass to klezmer to Eastern European folk music is fair game in a Taarka performance.At the heart of the group are the husband/wife duo of David and Enion Pelta-Tiller. David is a native Virginian and steeped in bluegrass, Celtic, and gypsy jazz, while Enion is a classically trained violinist. The two have been touring and blending genres together since 2001 to create the unique sound that is Taarka.Taarka’s next record, Making Tracks Home, releases next month, and we are happy to be featuring “Heart & Song” on this month’s Trail Mix. I recently caught up with Enion to chat about Lyons, Colo., the band’s stomping grounds and a locale most definitely familiar to our friends at Elevation Outdoors.BRO – Your favorite local band that we might not know about?EMPT – The Railsplitters are dear friends of ours who are just starting to get out there. I used to play fiddle with them. Our favorite local band you have heard of is Elephant Revival.BRO – Best place to catch some live music?EMPT – Oskar Blues. They have terrific local and national acts three nights a week and a world famous – really!!! – bluegrass jam on Tuesday nights.BRO – Must see spot that an out-of-towner must visit?EMPT – Planet Bluegrass. It’s the most amazing festival grounds, beautifully restored after the floods of 2013, that hosts Rockygrass and Rocky Mountain Folk Festival.BRO – Favorite local outdoor adventure?EMPT – We have great trails all around. You can hike or bike Hall Ranch, Heil Ranch, or Burton Rock trails that run through the open space all around Lyons. The terrain around here is rugged and beautiful. Hall Ranch is a definite favorite.BRO – Favorite organic restaurant?EMPT – Local is a wonderful restaurant run by chef Katie Baum. We’re so excited to have such a quality gastronomical experience here in our little town. They have great drinks featuring local producers like Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha and Spirit Hound Distillers.Our friends out west can catch Taarka in Colorado Springs on February 27th, and in New Mexico in early March. For more information on tour dates, the band in general, and where you can grab the new record, surf on over to the band’s website.
In the popular Pixar movie, Up, there is a memorable quote: “adventure is out there.” This spirit is shared by the community here at UT Chattanooga. When asked what word comes to mind when she thinks of UTC, one student said, “Family.” One aspect that makes us a family is our craving for experiencing new adventures that the world has to offer us. Here, at UT Chattanooga, we create an environment where students can become part of a family, and with the UTC Outdoors Program, this family can go on as many adventures as they want. Whether it’s falling from the atmosphere on our skydiving trip, or crawling through the labyrinth of cave systems that weave through the region, students at UTC can explore nature from the highest to the lowest possible places.However, nature is not the only thing they explore. I asked Joe Lindsay, a student and long-time participant of UTC Outdoors’ programs, what experiences he took away from our program. “Self-discovery,” he answered. Pushing yourself to do things you never thought you would be doing forces us as people to unearth who we really are and what we are capable of doing. I asked Joe why he kept coming back to the outdoor trips.He responded:I kept coming back to go on the trips because, not only did I get to venture into the great outdoors, but I also got to meet some great people along the way. We all shared stories and exchanged numbers for future trips.As a trip leader, I am able to experience watching students bond with each other while kayaking down a river and camping that night under the stars. The students involved with these trips are always ready and enthusiastic, no matter what the circumstances are. On one of our ski trips, a trip that requires students to be ready to leave by 5am, I could feel the surmounting excitement in the room despite the groggy eyes and mumbled speech. Even though we were half asleep, we were not going to turn down an adventure.Daniel Latto, a coworker and trip leader at UTC Outdoors, has voiced his passion for what he does and the experiences that come with it. As an experienced rock climber, Daniel gets to meet a plethora of students while they visit our popular rock wall. His first time as a leader was on one of the ski trips to Beech Mountain, N.C. Since then he has taken the challenge of creating his own trips to take students on. When asked what he thinks makes UTC’s outdoor program superior to others, Daniel said:I feel as though the UTC Outdoors program is superior to other programs due to the fact that we start out by hiring individuals who are enthusiastic and passionate about many outdoor activities, the program offers a wide variety of trips for the students, and we have all sorts of equipment for the students to rent to use in their own exploration.UTC Outdoors offers a multitude of equipment for our students to pick from. With a $50 deposit check, any student or ARC member can come in and choose whatever equipment they please. Our equipment includes tents, sleeping bags/pads, mountain bikes, whitewater kayaks (plus necessary gear), flatwater kayaks, SUP boards, and much more. As long as the student or member brings back all of the equipment the way it was rented out to them, they get their check back.This system makes our equipment rentals practically free, as we only keep the check should they damage or lose the equipment while it’s in their care. The amount of rentals each semester is certainly incredible, as is the number of trips and quality customer service has to offer.However, none of this would be possible without Anna Muller, Coordinator of Outdoor Programming. Anna has been COP since August of 2009 and has been a huge benefit to the program. I inquired about Anna’s time with UTC Outdoors.RR: Why do you like working for the outdoor program?AM: I love teaching others how to be successful when participating to outdoor adventures and chose to take this position so I could lead others to be successful in their outdoor pursuits and share those experiences.RR: What has been your experience as director?AM: UTC has provided me with so many adventures. Working with UTC Outdoors, I have had opportunities to share my love of nature and outdoor sports with thousands of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We have travelled all over the Southeast and across the country. Some of my favorite moments have been the ones in which I was able to share the outdoors with someone for their first time.Anna and her legendary staff have become the figureheads of the family that is UTC Outdoors. This family welcomes all and shuns none. We offer 20+ trips a semester and weekly clinics and events for the UTC community. Our program has certainly come a long way since its origin in the 1970s. We plan to continue growing and reach out to more who have a desire to explore the world around them as well as themselves. My closing question for Anna was what one word she would choose to describe the future of UTC Outdoors. She exuberantly responded with, “Adventure!” Our program motto for the last 6 years has been, ‘It’s all part of the adventure.’ And as we know, adventure is out there!– Randall Ramaswamy
The fog lay heavy like a wool blanket on the valley as we drove to the forest, away from my half-written book strewn all over my house – across countertops, floors, and tables. The lone car in the parking lot that morning, we rode up to Cedar Mountain in Dupont State Forest hoping to make it in time for the sunrise.The climb, short, but full of spunk, left me panting in the way that reminded me how I take my usual ease of breathing for granted. At the top of the dome, we stopped in the middle of the granite field to admire the view. I greedily inhaled and took a long pull of water as the sunshine streamed down on the rock, on the scrubby pines, and on us.The rock glowed and I wandered around the sun-dappled granite admiring the intricate textures, the way quartz seem woven in layers, the way it seemed to shine, almost as if the light came from somewhere deep within the rock.I stretched my arms, welcoming the expansive sensation of taking up space after a week of hunching over my computer, typing words into paragraphs, paragraphs that were adding up to the chapters of my book. I’d been letting myself think about one chapter at a time, because every time thought about writing an entire book, it seemed too daunting of a task, too big for me to accomplish.That morning, standing on the top of Cedar Rock, I touched the edge of something within and my perspective changed. I looked out at those mountains and the seemingly impossible tasks of learning to mountain bike with some moderate level of grace and writing my second book became within grasp.My friend called out to me. “Worth getting up early for, every time.”“Yeah, so pretty,” I said, trying to find the words to explain the magic of the morning, but all I could manage was the obvious.“Ready to go?”he asked.“Sure,” I said, following him on the trail of bare rock between moss and lichen on the other side of the mountain where the sun hadn’t yet reached.The rock sloped down and became studded with potholes, and we rode in the early morning shadows of the pines. I’d read about the descent – rocky and technical with drops most walked – and as I thought about what was coming up, my monkey-mind churned the downside of momentum.What if I start going too fast? What if I get out of control? What if I get hurt?I got so gripped in my mind that I pulled hard on the brakes, stopping in a pothole and catapulting my body in slow motion right onto the rock.There was no way to pretend to be somewhere else than right there, sprawled out on the cold rock. Before getting up, I lay there for a minute until I realized that nothing hurt other than my ego.The rest of the descent I hesitated, waiting to feel more confident, waiting to feel up to the challenge, waiting for the trail to become easier. I found that the longer I waited, the harder it was to start and to build momentum.I was putting the brakes on life. I’m not saying I should have just gone full throttle and flown down that rock, but I do want to stop holding back when I should keep moving and embrace momentum.We got back to the car, a few others were in the parking lot by then, and drove home to where my writing waited for me. I swelled with renewed resolve to sit down and do the work, building the momentum that will one day lead to a book.