Month: December 2020

China, in Renewable Energy Push, Has Emission Targets in Sight

first_imgChina, in Renewable Energy Push, Has Emission Targets in Sight FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Andy Coghlan for New Scientist:China is surging ahead in switching to renewables and away from coal in what its officials say will allow it to surpass its carbon emissions targets.The country’s solar and wind energy capacity soared last year by 74 and 34 per cent respectively compared with 2014, according to figures issued by China’s National Bureau of Statistics yesterday.Meanwhile, its consumption of coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels – dropped by 3.7 per cent, with imports down by a substantial 30 per cent.The figures back up claims last month in Hong Kong by Xie Zhenhua, China’s lead negotiator at at the UN climate talks in Paris last December, that the country will “far surpass” its 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions per unit of national wealth (GDP) by 40 to 45 per cent from 2005 levels.Since China emits nearly a third of the world’s carbon dioxide, which is heating up the planet, this could make a major contribution to holding back temperature increases to the 2 °C degree maximum global target agreed by governments last December in Paris.“The latest figures confirm China’s record-breaking shift toward renewable power and away from coal,” says Tim Buckley of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an energy consultancy in Cleveland, Ohio.“China’s official 2015 wind installations are an all-time global record of 32.5 gigawatts,” says Buckley. “China itself is the only nation to have come anywhere near this, delivering 20.7 gigawatts of new wind capacity in 2014.”The latest figures state that “clean energy” – a combination of hydro, wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas – now accounts for 18 per cent of all its energy, up from 13 per cent in 2011.“We’re now at the point where these technologies can compete head-to-head with gas and coal on price, meaning that this growth is only going to accelerate,” says Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, representing the UK’s wind and wave power producers. “The UK alone has increased the amount it generates from wind power from 1 to 11 per cent in a decade.”“It’s a really positive signal, a perfect example of an emerging economy trying to shift the way it develops,” says Ranping Song of the World Resources Institute think tank in Washington DC.China is due to issue its next five-year economic plan this month. “So it’s a perfect time to see how serious they are about tackling emissions,” Song says.Despite renewables gains, coal still provides almost two-thirds of China’s power consumption. But the dip in coal consumption over the past two years – which equals an entire year’s coal consumption in Japan – suggests that China may now have reached “peak coal”. “China’s market for coal consumption has started to become saturated, and should gradually decline,” Xie said in Hong Kong.China set to surpass its climate targets as renewables soarlast_img read more

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As Trump Looks the Other Way, U.S. Solar Surges

first_imgAs Trump Looks the Other Way, U.S. Solar Surges FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Post:You may have missed the fact that exactly one week ago two major solar power plants, with a combined generating capacity of 179 megawatts, shifted into commercial operation on Bureau of Land Management property in southern Nevada. It’s totally understandable, since the Interior Department didn’t even issue a news release (although its Nevada state director did show up for the formal opening ceremony, and provides a quote for a solar firm’s publicity package).The launch of Switch Station 1 and Switch Station 2, which deliver electricity to massive data centers in Las Vegas and Reno, highlights the fact that solar power is still expanding in the United States even if President Trump rarely mentions it (despite his talk of a solar-powered border wall). The nation’s solar output rose 47 percent for the first three quarters of 2017, according the Energy Department — and the switch stations mark the first utility-scale energy facility built on BLM land through a streamlined process the Obama administration established in 2014.Backers of the project — which include First Solar (which built it); EDF Renewable Energy (which runs it); and the Nature Conservancy (which developed the plan to offset its environmental impacts) — say it proves that federal land has tremendous renewable energy potential if the planning is done right. The project lies within the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone, one of 19 zones that Interior identified as ideal for large projects, and siting it there cut the permitting time in half and reduced its cost to 3.8 cents per kilowatt hour.The span of the two stations stretches across about 1,797 acres. It boasts 1,980,840 solar panels and generates enough energy to meet the demand of 46,000 homes. Switch, a major data center operator, is tapping the energy as part of its plan to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.Deploying renewable energy on federal land ranked as a high priority during the previous administration. A year ago, then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the department had approved 60 such utility-scale projects, including 36 solar, 11 wind and 13 geothermal plans.The Trump administration’s emphasis on spurring fossil fuel production nationwide has raised questions about the outlook for renewable energy projects on federal land and in federal waters.More: Solar power is forging ahead, even if Trump doesn’t talk about itlast_img read more

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L.A. steps back from plans to expand power generation fossil-fuel footprint

first_imgL.A. steps back from plans to expand power generation fossil-fuel footprint FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Los Angeles Times:Los Angeles is abandoning a plan to spend billions of dollars rebuilding three natural gas power plants along the coast, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday, in a move to get the city closer to its goal of 100% renewable energy and improve air quality in highly polluted communities.The mayor’s decision marks an abrupt change of course for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where top staffers have argued in recent months that the gas plants are critical to keeping the lights on in the city. Environmental groups have urged DWP to replace the aging facilities with cleaner alternatives, saying the gas-fired plants need to go because they contribute to climate change and local air pollution.Los Angeles has steadily moved away from coal for electricity, divesting from the Navajo plant in Arizona three years ago and announcing plans to stop buying power from Utah’s Intermountain plant by 2025. But with coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, now nearly removed from the city’s energy mix, it’s time to start planning for a future with zero planet-warming energy sources, Garcetti said Monday — and that means no natural gas.“It’s the right thing to do for our health. It’s the right thing to do for our Earth. It’s the right thing to do for our economy,” Garcetti said. “And now is the time to start the beginning of the end of natural gas.”More: Los Angeles ditches plan to invest billions in fossil fuels, Mayor Eric Garcetti sayslast_img read more

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Wisconsin co-op to close Genoa coal plant in 2021

first_imgWisconsin co-op to close Genoa coal plant in 2021 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享La Crosse Tribune:Dairyland Power Cooperative will close its coal-fired station in Genoa by the end of 2021 — a move that will halt 50 years of continuous operation at the site and put about 80 people out of work.Dairyland CEO Barbara Nick said the age and inefficiency of the station, and the company’s plans to build a $700 million natural gas plant in Superior, are the primary reasons for the closure.In recent years, Dairyland officials developed a Sustainable Generation Plan meant to phase out coal and ramp up the use of renewable energy sources, while minimizing the harm to employees and communities.Chief among these efforts is the construction of the $700 million Nemadji Trail Energy Center, a joint venture with Minnesota Power. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved the project last week, and Dairyland officials said the Superior-based plant could open as soon as 2025.Nick said the project’s recent momentum gave Dairyland “the added confidence” to retire the Genoa station and continue its shift toward cleaner energy.The Sierra Club, which has frequently criticized Dairyland for not embracing renewable energy fast enough, praised the decision to close the Genoa station but questioned the merits of the planned Nemadji plant.[Kyle Farris]More: Dairyland to close coal-fired Genoa plant; 80 workers to lose jobslast_img read more

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Spain looks to boost solar capacity, speed coal phaseout in new energy plan

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Montel:Spain’s new government has revised a climate and energy plan for 2021-2030, increasing the solar capacity target by 2.3 GW to 39.2 GW, deepening a cut in carbon emissions and speeding up a coal phaseout.The Iberian nation now plans to cut its emissions 23% below 1990 levels by 2030, up from the previous government’s target of 21%.By the end of the decade, Spain’s combined wind and solar capacity should reach 96.8 GW, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the country’s estimated installed capacity of 160.8 MW.The country also envisaged a faster exit from coal-fired generation, with just 2.2 GW of capacity remaining in 2025, compared to 4.5 GW in the previous estimate, the plan said.“According to the plan’s forecasts, coal-fired power plants will cease to be competitive by 2030 given the expected increase in CO2 prices in the European emissions trading system [to] EUR 35/t, the continuous cost reduction in renewable technologies and the relative price of gas,” it said.Nine out of the existing 15 coal-fired units in Spain could “possibly not be in operation” by 2021 if utilities decided to avoid the investment required to comply with tougher EU rules, the document said.[Pablo Bronte]More: Spain raises 2030 solar capacity goal, speeds up coal exit Spain looks to boost solar capacity, speed coal phaseout in new energy planlast_img read more

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S&P analysis sees more early retirements coming for U.S. coal-fired power plants

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Several power markets have reported a drop in electricity demand of 10% or more due to the stay-at-home orders of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic recession. Furthermore, first quarter 2020 reports show coal usage and employment decreased significantly, and impacts are continuing into the second quarter. S&P Global Market Intelligence ran a scenario of its Power Forecast with a constant 10% decrease in demand across all power markets except the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., using the first-quarter forecast as the baseline for comparison. Results indicate significant decreases in coal-fired generation nationwide if demand reductions persist. Coal-fired generation in Midcontinent ISO and PJM Interconnection could use 30 million fewer tons of coal, while the Powder River Basin coal-producing region may deliver 34.8 million fewer tons due to the demand reduction.In 2020, when cheap natural gas and the 10% reduction in electricity demand act in concert to put pressure on coal, predictions show 154 TWh less coal production, equal to 23% of U.S. baseline coal generation, resulting in 83 million fewer tons of coal burned and 173 million fewer tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere. In 2021, after gas prices have rebounded, only the decreased demand remains, highlighting those impacts independently. Nationwide, 71 million tons of coal are at risk due to COVID-related demand decreases, equivalent to a 17% loss in production.In the case where demand remains 10% reduced and gas prices return, the power markets of MISO and PJM, both with historically large amounts of coal consumption, make up nearly half of the coal at risk. MISO could experience a 15.9 million ton loss from a drop in 28.5 TWh of generation from coal, equal to 15% of baseline coal usage. PJM could see a loss of 13.5 million tons, which reflects 31.3 TWh less generation, or 17% of baseline usage. The Southwest Power Pool is predicted to experience the largest cut in coal production, at 18%, or 9.7 million tons burned and 16.3 TWh of generation. In the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, Market Intelligence estimates a loss of 14%, equal to 7.9 million tons of coal, due to decreased electricity demand.From the perspective of coal production, the risk of demand reduction is not shared equally. With PJM in the East and MISO in the Midwest receiving much of the at-risk coal production, Powder River Basin coal for long-haul rail delivery is the first to be dropped. Western coal basins take the brunt of the risk, with more than 39 million tons in potential lost production.Powder River Basin and Northern Appalachia mines saw a sharp decrease in production in the first quarter of 2020, while Central Appalachia saw a slight increase. With a continued reduction in electricity demand and a return of gas prices, Appalachian coal is projected to greatly decrease, down 8.4% from 2018 production. Powder River Basin coal is expected to take the largest hit to volumes, with nearly 35 million tons at risk, or 10.5% of 2018 production.There are 15,628 MW of coal plants with scheduled retirement dates between 2021 and 2040 in the East, and 6,480 MW in the West. With decreased demand putting pressure on these units, there is an increased probability of early retirements, resulting in more strain on the mines from which they receive their fuel. In particular, Market Intelligence estimates that the North Antelope Rochelle and Black Thunder mines in the Powder River Basin are most at risk, attributed to the number of plants with planned retirements that may be accelerated due to reductions in demand. The Tunnel Ridge and Marshall County mines are the most at risk in Northern Appalachia from the same factors.[Katherine McCaffrey and Alexander Cook]More ($): COVID-19 electricity demand reductions could cut coal consumption 20% RRA S&P analysis sees more early retirements coming for U.S. coal-fired power plantslast_img read more

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Healthy Tip #24378: Hunker Down

first_imgThis week’s healthy tip is to weather the storm, pour yourself something warm, huddle up and hunker down. It’s Alive! Franken-storm Sandy is blowing throughout the East Coast and after you’ve battened down the hatches it’s a good time to stoke the fireplace and grab a warm blanket. Now is a good time to enjoy a snow day.It isn’t hard to admit that I miss the days of the true snow day. Of the normal days that turn exciting. When you wake up in dissaray to the new weather outside. It can be daunting at first, thoughts of frosted windshields and chattering teeth. But it’s not until I’m shoulder-deep in a large blanket huddled together on comfortable couch, do I realize the pleasant environment this ugly weather can provide.Once you get those basic amenities covered (adequate shelter, food, income, hot cocoa, wool socks, etc.) it is time to make like the forest mice and ride out the weather lodged deeply into a comfortable bundle. Grab a book, grab the monopoly board, and kick your feet up. With the weather dangerously cold and windy, take the time to explore, explore inward and stretch your imagination. Have a conversation, write down your thoughts, and make the hunkered down day mean something more then sniffeling noses and quiet cold grumbles.Stay safe, keep warm, and always explore,BDLlast_img read more

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Should hunting be allowed in national parks?

first_imgIllustration by Wade MickleyHouse Republicans recently introduced the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, which would allow hunting in national parks. Do bullets and big crowds belong together in our most treasured wildlands?YESHunting in America’s national parks should be determined by two principles: scientific data and the premise that our national parks belong to everyone.Hunting is a wildlife management tool based upon a scientific need to perpetuate a healthy population of diverse wildlife; those tactics involve hunting and trapping. Hunting is about perpetuating wildlife, not destroying it.Hands-off wildlife management seems like a fad in comparison to wildlife management, which has served America well for over a century. The theory that our ecosystems would naturally balance themselves if left to their own devices creates situations like that found in Rocky Mountain National Park, where elk are overrunning the public lands. We must not forget that hunters are part of the public that are owners of the national parks, too.Implementation of controlled hunts is humane and can be done inexpensively with little disruption. Hunting and trapping, when done on an as-needed basis, can easily achieve the needs of population control for healthy species. This hunting or trapping can be accomplished in a short period of time with little interruption for park visitors. It seems a shame to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to serve a need that can be done by qualified hunters at little or no cost with benefits for all.Tom Remington is a freelance writer and published author covering hunting and trapping. NOI grew up in a family of hunters and spent many memorable weekends of my young manhood hunting in the woods.  I still appreciate what hunters do for conservation efforts and respect their right to hunt on public lands across the country. I just don’t think hunting inside our national parks is a good idea.Hunting inside the parks runs counter to the National Park Service’s Organic Act, which says the parks were created to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein.” In simple terms, the national parks were created to protect the lands, and everything on them, including the animals.The parks have been a place where animal populations could re-grow naturally following a decline in numbers. They serve as a refuge, giving herds of elk, bears, and other wildlife a chance to rebound. When a species’ population grows too large for the habitat, the animals tend to naturally migrate onto surrounding public lands, where hunters are given the opportunity to harvest them safely.But the parks haven’t just been a refuge for animals. They have also been popular destinations for travelers who want to experience America in all its spectacular and serene glory. That changes when hunting is allowed on these lands, as visitors would have to be constantly alert to the dangers of hiking or camping in areas that are shared with hunters. Hunting accidents occur between hunters all the time. Add a large group of park visitors who aren’t hunters, and you have a recipe for disaster.Hunters already have access to millions of acres of public land, including most national forests. Opening the parks to hunting is unnecessary, unsafe, and introduces whole new layers of bureaucracy. Leave the parks alone so that they can function as they were intended: to preserve the land and wildlife for future generations to enjoy.Kraig Becker served as media director for the Primal Quest expedition adventure race and is a member of the National Geographic Expeditions Advisory Board. What do you think?Join the national park hunting debate at blueridgeoutdoors.comlast_img read more

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Review: Can You Survive?

first_imgNext month, Blue Ridge Outdoors will publish its Survival Guide, which provides key skills for staying alive in Southern Appalachia. If you’re looking for even more regionally focused survival skills, check out North Carolina native Benjamin Pressley’s new book Can You Survive? Pressley has been teaching and practicing primitive living skills for over 25 years and has studied the practices of Native Americans and aboriginal peoples worldwide. This book distills their insights into a simple, easy-to-read book that highlights basic shelter, food, water, fire, foraging, and orientation skills. “Primitive skills open up a whole new realm of possibility and appreciation for the outdoors,” writes Pressley. Even if you never find yourself in a survival situation, you’ll see the woods differently after reading this book. You’ll keep your eye out for dead, dry wood for fire and shelter making; you’ll be more attuned to animal tracks and edible plants; and you’ll notice the life-sustaining intricacies of the forest that previously may have only appeared as a blur of green and brown.Though it is written for beginners, more advanced survivalists will still find plenty of useful information in these pages. Pressley devotes several sections to advanced firemaking, signalling, basketry and cordage, and other outdoor arts. Its conversational tone makes the content easy to follow. And though it focuses on Eastern forests, the skills can be applied to just about any bioregion.last_img read more

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No More Brown Ales

first_imgI was well into day two of a backcountry trip recently and desperately in need of a beer. It was cold and raining and we were half way up a two-mile slog on a near vertical pitch of trail. We’re taking straight up fall line singletrack over rutted out root gardens that had basically been turned into a creek bed from all of the rain. My feet were soaked and I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore. Yay, sports!Fortunately, one of the dudes I was trekking with was a backcountry veteran so he had the wherewithal to stick a canned beer in his pack for just such an occasion. Unfortunately, it was dark when he packed the bag at camp earlier in the morning so he didn’t see which beer he packed. Some good Samaritans gave us a variety of beers at camp, so it could’ve been anything, from Coors banquet beer to a heady IPA.We stopped in the middle of the trail and my buddy said the four most beautiful words in the English language: “Let’s have a beer.” I went from miserable to enthusiastic. We still had a mile of steep climbing to go, but there is nothing more electrifying, more energizing than half a beer in the middle of a brutal backcountry slog. You can have your gels and bars…I’ll take my calories from fermented hops and malt.But when he pulled out a brown ale, it was like a kick in the balls. You ever been kicked in the balls? It sucks. Seeing that brown ale sucked on an equal level.“What the fuck?” My buddy said.“Yeah. What the fuck?” I added.Give me an IPA, a Pilsner, a stout…anything but a brown ale. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with the brown ale per se, it’s just so…beige. Like that kid you went to high school with for four years. The one who was always in your Spanish class. The guy who’s name you can never remember. The brown ale is like that guy. Forgettable. It’s not hoppy, but it’s not really that malty either. It’s straight up “middle of the road” boring.Don’t get me wrong, we drank the beer. We’re athletes and we needed the calories. But I can’t tell you what it tasted like. It was just…there. I crushed the empty can under my foot, packed it up and soldiered on, somehow more thirsty than before the beer. Thirsty for something else.PSA: Breweries of America, please stop making boring brown ales. That is all.last_img read more

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