FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sydney Morning Herald:The global shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy will continue regardless of political action such as President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement or outbursts from ex-Australian prime ministers, a senior ratings analyst says.“The tide has turned,” said Michael Wilkins, the head of climate and environmental risks at Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, adding the transition meant the economic viability of assets such as coal mines and coal-fired power stations would be “vastly impaired”.Mr Wilkins’ comments come as new S&P research points to deep falls in the costs of renewable energy as other groups report important shifts by corporations at home and abroad on climate risks.Mr Wilkins said investors, including in Australia, were increasingly demanding to know how companies were monitoring financial exposure to climate change – and what they were doing about the threats.The risks include challenges their businesses will face in a carbon-constrained world but also the physical damage posed by more extreme weather events as the planet heats up.Pressure for disclosure is only likely to increase as groups, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, win the backing of the central banks of G20 nations. Mr Wilkins said it was understandable if commodity-based economies such as Australia moved slower than other nations but even here investors were starting to act. “Despite various U-turns in Australia politics on climate change topics, there is still a very progressive trend in Australia for sustainable finance and renewable energy,” Mr Wilkins told Fairfax Media during a visit to Sydney.Research out this month by S&P found the cost of new offshore wind farms had plunged 50 per cent since 2015 in the UK as developers rapidly learn how to overcome the challenges of the emerging sector.New wind farms were being developed at about £55 ($93) per megawatt-hour, far below the £92 /MW-hour locked in for 35 years for the UK’s controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, he said.Solar photovoltaic costs, which have halved in the last few years, will fall another 35 per cent by 2020, Mr Wilkins predicted.“You could argue we’ve reached a tipping point,” he said, adding that with falling storage prices, intermittent energy sources could soon compete with traditional fossil-fuels on dispatchability grounds alone even without including their environmental advantages.More: ‘Tide has turned’: Global rating agency says climate economics trump politics S&P Exec: Global Shift to Renewables Will Persist, All Politics Aside
Trump Administration Continues to Push for Coal-Fleet Expansion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence:The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking information about the potential for a pilot project to test the commercial viability of a small, modular coal power plant capable of highly efficient and low-emitting operations. The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy is focused on improving the nation’s existing fleet and spurring development of new coal-fired power plants to replace retiring generation domestically and export the technology abroad, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg told a coal conference in mid-May.“We have the opportunity to make great strides in efficiency and cost improvements to not only the existing fleet but also accelerate the development of transformational technology that will pave the way for the plants of the future,” Winberg said at the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance conference.The DOE has also opened requests for information on improving the efficiency, reliability and flexibility of existing coal-fired power plants and improving steam-based power cycles for coal boilers.The majority of today’s coal fleet was built in the 1970s, and facilities such as the Pleasants power plant in West Virginia are facing an early retirement, Winberg noted.The next generation of coal-fired plants would presumably look a lot more like the natural gas plants and renewable energy sources that are pushing coal plants out of the marketplace. The pilot project calls for a facility that improves the current 33% average efficiency of the coal fleet to above 40% while maintaining near-zero emissions and is compatible with carbon capture technology.More ($): Trump DOE’s fossil fuel office envisions spreading futuristic, small coal plants
DOE official: White House still reviewing coal bailout plan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The White House is still reviewing recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy on how to avoid further premature retirements of coal-fired and nuclear power plants, a DOE official told lawmakers Sept. 27.Karen Evans, assistant secretary of the DOE’s newly formed Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, testified Sept. 27 before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee. During the hearing, U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., asked Evans about the status of recent DOE proposals and requests from industry for emergency action to prevent financially struggling coal-fired and nuclear plants from closing. Based on comments Energy Secretary Rick Perry made Sept. 26, Evans said he “does not have anything new to update at this time” and “this is still a policy that is being reviewed by the White House.”The DOE in a draft memo leaked in late May was contemplating requiring grid operators to buy power or capacity for two years from certain “fuel-secure” nuclear and coal-fired power plants while the federal government determines which energy resources may be critical to national security and defense. The proposal was not final, and neither the DOE nor White House has provided updates on the draft plan, which would involve using authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 and Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act.During the Sept. 27 hearing, McKinley raised concerns about New England importing…power from Canada and receiving LNG shipments from Russia this past winter to meet its electricity demand. The region’s reliance on foreign energy sources highlights the need for supporting U.S. coal-fired and nuclear plants, he said.“That’s why I think it’s so important that the White House and others move on this 202(c) or Defense [Production] Act,” McKinley said. Evans responded that she would “elevate” McKinley’s concerns with DOE leadership “to make sure it will feed into the policy process.”Coal and nuclear proponents say regulatory and market pressures are forcing the closure of plants that are needed for reliability and resilience. But critics say subsidies to support those plants will raise costs for consumers and disadvantage other forms of energy without any added reliability benefits.More ($): DOE official: White House still mulling policy to halt early plant closures
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Wind turbine maker Vestas sees U.S. demand peaking in 2020 as government incentives, which have spurred investments in the sector, are phased out.Strong interest from utilities looking to replace retiring coal assets and big companies looking to buy renewable power will ensure U.S. demand does not fall off a cliff, as some analysts have predicted, Vestas’ North American chief said.“There’s no such thing as a cliff,” Chris Brown said at the firm’s capital markets day on Thursday. “I think that 2020 is going to be the peak of where the demand is and you’re going to see it fall off a little bit as you lose the PTC (production tax credit). And then you’re probably going to see it come back,” he later told Reuters.The PTC scheme has been critical to enabling wind projects to compete with fossil fuel plants but will start being gradually phased out from 2020.Brown pointed to 22 gigawatt (GW) of unmet demand by 2030 from so-called RE100 companies, which is an alliance of firms including Goldman Sachs, Walmart and Starbucks that aims to get 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources to combat climate change. Another 11 GW of unmet demand comes from utilities across the United States looking to replace coal plants with new wind generation, Brown added.More: Vestas sees U.S. demand for wind turbines peaking in 2020 Vestas optimistic about long-term wind power growth in U.S.
AEP, Honda join forces to study EV battery reuse FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Daily Energy Insider:Honda joined forces with American Electric Power (AEP) this week on a mission to give new life to used electric vehicle (EV) batteries and to expand EV integration into the power grid.Under the agreement, Honda will take used batteries from its short-lived Fit EV to AEP, which will study how best to integrate those systems into the electric grid. For the Ohio-based utility, it is the latest investigation into the implications of large-scale electrification, as it works to identify the best way to support the emerging mobility system. What AEP learns will be shared with Honda, so they can jointly develop new technology and industry standards for vehicle grid integration.“Together with AEP, we are exploring opportunities to use the 2nd life battery to improve energy security, reduce CO2 and prepare for broad scale electrification of the transportation ecosystem,” Ryan Harty, manager of Connected and Environmental Business at American Honda Motor Co., said. “Neither automakers nor utilities can address these complex technical, policy and business issues alone.”The project aims to address some challenges for the growing EV market. Managing demand will be a part of this, but increased renewable energy incorporation and the use of EV batteries as storage also require large-scale planning. Repurposing used EV batteries as additional power stores factors into this as a way to reduce strain on the power grid.Evenings, for example, could become a source of power spikes, as increasing numbers of drivers charge up after work. Batteries could store energy in anticipation of such moments, bolstering supplies during lower demand hours or when solar and wind are generating the most energy.More: AEP and Honda team up to find new use for old electric vehicle batteries
Illustration by Scott DuBarMartinsville used to build chairs. Now the town builds trails. The former thriving furniture and textile hub once had the highest rate of per capita millionaires in the country. But with industry moving abroad, the small city in Southern Virginia’s Blue Ridge foothills is now focused on utilizing the vast natural beauty that surrounds it.“We now have a clean slate,” says resident Brian Williams, member of the Dan River Basin Association, who’s helping to spearhead recreation development. “We have a perfect opportunity to reinvent the way we do things here.”The former furniture mecca and NASCAR hotbed is getting a new reputation for outdoor recreation. A 44.5-mile section of the Smith River bisects Henry County, as it travels from the 3,000-acre Philpott Lake (Virginia’s largest Smith Mountain lake is actually Virginia’s largest lake) down to the North Carolina border. Williams has helped develop multiple access points for paddling and a growing accompanying trail system.Town culture is also changing. Part of Martinsville’s 15,000-person population now visits uptown coffee shops and lives in loft apartments. An arts scene is budding at Studio 107 and the Piedmont Arts Association. There are bluegrass shows and independent movies at the Rives Theater and plays at the Black Box Theater.“People here are starting to realize how much potential there is with community arts and our natural surroundings,” adds Williams.Williams’ Outdoor Picks:Paddle the Smith River Henry County has eight easy access points to get onto the Smith River. A popular class II stretch is the 6.5-mile run from Philpott Dam to Bassett. A quiet flat stretch is the 3.5-mile run from Merribone to Mitchell Bridge. The town celebrates the river every August with the Smith River Festival.Rail Trail Recreation Locals have been taking advantage of the new Dick and Willie Passage, a rail trail that’s popular for running and cycling. The six-mile out-and-back Fieldale Trail offers a more wooded riverside stroll with seasonal spring rhododendron blooms. Both of these trails are part of the growing Smith River Trail system, which will eventually run for 45 miles down to the North Carolina border.Hiking at Fairy Stone Nearby Fairy Stone State Park has a range of hiking options, including five miles of footpaths in the Stuarts Knob trail system and 13 miles in the Little Mountain trail system.Ride the Roads Martinsville has an active road cycling scene led by the Henry County Bike Club. The club leads open 25-mile group rides on the idyllic country roads around Martinsville every Tuesday and Thursday evening. For a longer ride, complete the 60-mile course of the former Tour de Scholar metric century.Jamison Mill SingletrackMountain bike clubs in surrounding counties recently banded together and added newly constructed singletrack to the Jamison Mill Recreation Area around Philpott Lake, giving fat tire freaks a rolling six-mile wooded maze to spin their wheels.
Torn up. Wrecked. Sauced. Bent. Or just plain drunk.Whatever you want to call it, I had reached that lamentable state the other night during a SORBA (Southern Off Road Bicycle Association) event at Jack of the Wood in downtown Asheville. Imagine 200 mostly bearded, poorly dressed mountain bikers gathered together in a bar trying to win a sweet bike frame from REEB cycles and you’ll get the picture. Sounds great, but the problem was, Oskar Blues was a sponsor of the event, because Oskar Blues likes to sponsor events, especially if mountain biking is involved. So I proceeded to drink one Dale’s Pale Ale after the other in rapid succession. You would think that after 15 years of drinking craft beer, I would know better. But when you grow up on cheap beer—the kind of beer you can drink all day long and only hit the slightest of buzzes (I’m looking at you, Miller Lite in the can)—it’s hard to break those cheap beer habits. I don’t savor my beers. I drink them. Fast. And when you drink craft beer fast, you get drunk fast.I didn’t even realize I had crossed the line until I was riding my bike home with a buddy, discussing the finer points of Jim Morrison (was he the worst song writer of the ‘70s, or am I being too harsh?) and I couldn’t keep my feet on the pedals.Now for the disclaimer: You should never ride your bike drunk. It’s dangerous. Sure, you could argue that the only person you’re endangering when you pedal drunk is yourself–unless there’s a kid playing in the middle of the street at 1am and you happen to run into him, but then, why is that kid playing in the street at 1am? Is it really your fault, or perhaps the fault of someone’s lapsed parenting skills?But I’m not here to argue the pros and cons of riding bikes drunk. I’m just going to say that I happen to like riding my bike after drinking a few beers. I’m not perfect. I take joy in that taboo.I also like to challenge people to foot races when I drink. Chances are, if you come to Asheville and we have some beers, at some point in the evening I’ll take my shirt off and ask you to step outside for a sprint race to the stoplight. I’m not being aggressive. I just like to see who’s faster. Don’t worry, you’re probably faster.But I digress. My point is, I’d like to thank Oskar Blues for sponsoring so many mountain bike events since opening up their brewery in Brevard. The brewery has made an honest effort to become part of the fabric of the local biking scene, and I appreciate it. I hope the other big breweries that are coming to town take the same approach.I also appreciate the tasty beers. Sometimes, I appreciate them too much.Check out all the fine work that Pisgah Area SORBA is doing here: pisgahareasorba.org
Bare Me: Public Nudity Rocks!Across the country, buds are blossoming, bees are buzzing, and everyone is enjoying blissful summer days spent enjoying the great outdoors. But too often, in our congested cities and technology-focused lives, it can be difficult to really get in touch with nature. For those looking for a great way to unplug from cell phones and email and reconnect with nature (and yourself) we have a solution: Bare it all!Clothing-optional and clothes-free campgrounds and RV parks across the United States offer a way to escape the craziness of the city and return to nature, on many different levels. Think about the possibilities of a nude camping experience: If you are not wearing any clothes then you have nowhere to put your cell phone…a true vacation. Going for a skinny dip in the nearby streams is sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. And just imagine falling asleep—in the nude—listening to the sounds of nature as you gaze up at a star-studded sky.The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) is the largest and most respected organization of its kind. It is the authority on nude recreation and family social nudism, and has been since 1931. The popularity of public, recreational nudity has only grown since the organization’s inception. From “Dare Bare” 5Ks to nude volleyball tournaments to the seemingly limitless amount of nude bicycle races and rides, organized recreational nudity is enjoying a heyday. The possibilities are endless: try nude Frisbee golf, gardening, petanque, tennis, kayaking, bowling, and jazzercise!Think nudism is un-American? Think again. In one survey, we found that one in five Americans have skinny-dipped at one time or another. Benjamin Franklin himself was fond of taking daily “air baths” sitting nude for an hour or so while he read or wrote. Others known to have enjoyed skinny-dipping or other recreational nude activities include John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau. In popular culture, Helen Mirren, Drew Barrymore, Alanis Morissette, Elle McPherson, Alicia Silverstone, Woody Harrelson, Heidi Klum, and many others have indicated that they too enjoy shedding their clothes.It is widely accepted that sunlight counteracts the effects of the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder. Studies indicate your body needs at least 20 minutes a day of sunshine to help prevent a vitamin D deficiency – one notable side effect of which is depression. Those who routinely enjoy the benefits of a daily exercise in the buff are on a steady course for healthy living.Carolyn Hawkins is a member of the American Association for Nude Recreation.Spare Me: Public Nudity Sucks! My mother used to tell me, “Don’t ever say anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear.” Which, of course, I took to mean don’t do anything of that nature either. And while none of us is perfect, I’d like to think Grandma would be pretty damn proud of the life I’ve lived thus far: one of steadfast dedication, unwavering morals, charitable selflessness, and walking around clothed. All the time.Let’s be honest people: we’re not cavemen. Hell, cavemen didn’t even walk around naked. I think we can all agree that freedom is a great thing. But do we need to be so free that we look like a bunch of idiots with our junk hanging out? Humans are a naturally defenseless, vulnerable lot, and walking around naked only exacerbates the condition. Besides looking silly, think of all the hazards of an active nude lifestyle. Do you really want to expose your most sensitive areas to the blazing sun, piercing brambles, and jagged rocks that you are bound to encounter on the trail or at the beach?Evolutionary misfortunes aside, society has rules. Rules that allow it to function in a (somewhat) operative manner. Public displays of nudity can be distracting, rude, and in some cases, downright illegal. Think about the rest of us, who don’t need to “let it all hang out,” who just want to live and work peacefully and walk down the street, hike the Art Loeb, or go to yoga class without being assaulted by the sight of your sex organs waving in the wind. You could be responsible for traumatizing legions of sheltered children who don’t need to see your hairy, wrinkled parts up close and personal. That’s scary enough between consenting adults.Why don’t we bare it all? Blame it on “societal conditioning,” or call us uptight if you must, but maybe we just don’t need the attention. We get enough of it from the IRS, city utilities, and the bank. Questioning those authorities is all well and good. But you can go against the grain by biking to work or marching against Monsanto downtown – and you don’t need to do it naked.So next time you and your attention-deprived significant other conjure up the idea for another nudie adventure, ask yourselves, “What is the deeper psychological motivation I feel here? Why do I have to resort to such an extreme act to receive the attention I crave? Is it really necessary to perturb and perhaps offend my fellow human beings?” Then make sure to take your eyes off his/her junk while you answer.Keep your pants on and your grandmother from rolling over in her grave.Evans Prater is a journalist and triathlete living in Asheville, N.C. He blogs at hiketilyourehigh.wordpress.com
The March issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors celebrates three popular passions among Blue Ridge outdoor enthusiasts: fishing, dogs, and beer (not necessarily in that order). Our second annual dog photo contest begins in March, and to kick it off, we feature southern Appalachia’s search and rescue dogs with heroic tales.Also in March, we’ll take several spins around the region…looking at beer and food pairings, the youngest person to thru-hike the A.T., laid-back lodges perfect for outdoor dirtbags, hidden fly fishing gems you might not know about, and a talk with the Blue Ridge runner who set a first in the history of the Tour de France. Our former online editor Jack Murray tops off the fly fishing issue with a comprehensive run-down of the latest fly fishing gear around.Here’s your digital sneak peak:FEATURESA River Runs Through It: Fly Fishing DestinationsLe Tour de ZoëHippie LodgesKelly Parham: Saving lives and riding bikesBeing Buddy BackpackerA Tail of Two TeresasWinter Paddling WondersDEPARTMENTSDebate: Hiking off-trail: Cool or Not Cool?Spring Into BeerWhiskey NationSpring Fly Fishing GearESSAYIn the Footsteps of Griz
Dear Mountain Mama:I’m writing to you about fear. A week before kayaking I make plans and am excited. Then the doubts set in. My mind thinks of all the holes, undercuts, and hazards on a river and magnifies them. I visualize my head thrashing around, banging against rocks and my roll failing.All of a sudden the stack of laundry becomes pressing, and I think about how much I need to get some cardio in or go for a ride. “You’re too tired to kayak well.” My stomach churns on the way to the river, and I silently rehearse excuses for running shuttle instead of paddling.I fought fear. I ignored it. Nothing worked, so eventually I stopped paddling. But I missed the intoxication of nailing a perfect line and chatting with other paddlers in eddies.So I’ve started kayaking again. All that nervous chatter has resumed. How can I make all that noise stop?Yours, Anxious PaddlerDear Anxious Paddler:I had the privilege to attend Elizabeth Gilbert’s reading of her book Eat, Pray, Love and she spoke about her acceptance of fear.She compared the start of every new creative endeavor to a road trip and recognized that fear comes along. But she lay downs the law. “Oh I know, fear, you won’t shut your mouth. Talk all you want, but you’re not going to have a say in anything. You’re not going to touch the radio dial. You’re not even going to pick any of the snacks.”Fear comes along on my paddling trips too. And fear is like my toddler — the more I try to ignore it, the louder and more insistent fear becomes.So I decided to test out Elizabeth Gilbert’s tactic of acknowledging fear and creating healthy boundaries about the role it was going to play when I went to this year’s Boater Chic Fest.I’d been telling myself paddling and working and parenting were too much to balance. I’d stepped back my paddling, and like you, I missed getting out on the river. I signed up for the Cheoah clinic despite fear and his cousin, doubt, whispering in both ears. That night I had difficulty sleeping, imagining the water cascading over Bear Creek Falls.The next day I met dozens of friendly women, and we spent the ride to the put-in telling stories and laughing. Several paddlers volunteered to lead less experienced paddlers down. They clapped and whistled for us when we styled a boof. Their smiling faces greeted us at the end of every rapid.The biggest lesson I learned at this year’s festival had nothing to do with paddle strokes or boat handling. On the way to the put-in we talked about books we read and yoga studios, rivers we wanted to paddle and the brownie cookies we’d brought to snack on at the take-out. As we paddled we pointed out turtles, butterflies, herons, dragonflies, and, snakes. On the drive back to camp, we looked up their animal meanings and joked about which animal we most closely resembled.Between swapping stories and laughing with new friends, I was reminded that if fear is going to be a passenger on my paddling road trips, that I should make an extra effort to invite some other more positive voices too. And this year’s Boater Chic Fest introduced me to lots of great women who love to boat. There are few weekends where I return home and immediately mark off my calendar for the event the following year. Boater Chic Fest is one of them!Fear is always going to be part of your boating equation. Anxious Paddler, lessen fear’s input by surrounding yourself with fun paddling partners and find some other subjects to chat about on the way to the river.Paddle On!Mountain Mama