FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Despite political support from the White House, U.S. coal consumption continues to fall, as power producers shutter coal-fired units in favor of cheaper and more flexible natural gas as well as solar and wind.Electric power producers’ coal consumption fell to 298 million short tons in the first half of 2018, down from 312 million in the same period in 2017, marginally below 2016, and the lowest since 1983.U.S. power producers generated almost 6 percent less electricity from coal in the first half of the year even as total generation rose almost 5 percent and gas-fired generation was up 17 percent. Coal-fired generation declined by 32 billion kilowatt hours in the first six months, while gas-fired generation rose by 89 billion, nuclear was up by 16 billion, solar rose 7 billion and wind was up by 15 billion.Generators continued to close coal units, with coal-fired generating capacity down to 246 gigawatts at the end of June 2018, compared with 262 gigawatts in June 2017 and 273 gigawatts in June 2016.Remaining coal units are being run for fewer hours and/or at lower rates than last year, another indication they are struggling to compete with cheap natural gas. Capacity utilization at the remaining coal-fired units was at or below prior-year levels in six of the first seven months in 2018 (“Electric Power Monthly”, Energy Information Administration, September 2018).Another 9 gigawatts of coal-fired generation capacity are scheduled to close before the end of 2020, so coal consumption is unlikely to rise and will probably continue to decline in the next few years.More: U.S. power producers’ coal consumption falls to 35-year low: Kemp Utility coal consumption continues downward spiral
Massachusetts regulators approve power contracts for 800MW offshore wind project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has approved long-term contracts for 800 MW of offshore wind between Vineyard Wind and the Commonwealth’s electric distribution companies.Vineyard Wind, a 50/50 partnership between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and Avangrid Renewables LLC, in May 2018 became the winner in Massachusetts’ first offshore wind solicitation and secured the right to negotiate contracts for the construction of an up to 800-MW wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The proposed project involves the installation of up to 106 wind turbines, of 8 MW to 10 MW each, at water depths of 37 to 49 meters (121 to 161 feet). It is planned to become operational in 2021, producing power and renewable energy certificates (RECs) at a total levelised price of USD 0.065 (EUR 0.058) per kWh over the 20-year term of the contracts.According to DPU, the contracts with Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies are “cost-effective as well as in the public interest.”As per the contracts, Vineyard Wind has pledged to provide USD 15 million to a fund that will invest in projects promoting the use of energy storage in low-income communities and back the deployment of battery storage in the Commonwealth.“The approval of these contracts is an important step toward the completion of the largest offshore wind project in the country, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide Massachusetts residents and businesses with cost-effective clean energy and promote economic development,” said governor Charlie Baker.More: Massachusetts nods to Vineyard Wind’s contracts for 800 MW of offshore wind
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Chicago Tribune:As President Donald Trump attempts to prop up the nation’s dwindling coal industry, Illinois is taking another step away from its dirtiest source of electricity. Under a deal brokered by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration, the Texas-based owner of eight coal-fired power plants in central and southern Illinois agreed last week to shutter 40% of its fleet by the end of the year.Vistra Energy will be allowed to choose which units it retires and might scrap some of its cleaner power plants instead of the dirtiest. But the company’s agreement with the state’s new Democratic governor is far more stringent than industry-friendly rules proposed two years ago by former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.Rauner’s plan would have allowed Vistra to dramatically increase its emissions of lung-damaging and climate-changing pollution. Instead, the state-imposed limits brokered by the Pritzker administration are slightly higher than the fleet’s emissions during the past five years and will become more restrictive every time a coal plant closes for good.The agreement is another sign that Illinois, like many other states, isn’t turning back from a steady shift to cleaner sources of electricity, despite Trump’s move last week to gut national climate pollution standards adopted by former President Barack Obama. It appears the only question is whether Trump’s latest rollback of environmental regulations will enable some coal-fired power plants to keep running longer than expected, slowing the transition to wind, solar and other forms of clean energy that are quickly becoming less expensive than coal.Vistra became Illinois’ largest producer of coal-fired electricity last year when it acquired eight power plants in a merger with Dynegy, another Texas-based company. Even before the deal was finalized, Vistra executives hinted they might end up scrapping the entire Illinois fleet because the aging coal plants struggle to compete in energy markets.Another sign that coal is still on the way out in Illinois: Vistra is pushing legislation in Springfield that would require downstate ratepayers to subsidize the company’s proposed shift to solar power on the sites of its shuttered coal plants. Lawmakers remain skeptical. The company’s proposal failed to gain traction during the recently completed legislative session.More: Illinois is moving away from coal, despite Trump bailout of struggling industry Illinois deal with Vistra will close 2GW of coal capacity in the state by year’s end
China’s solar installations totaled 11.4GW in first half of 2019 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:China deployed around 11.4 GW of new PV generation capacity in the first six months of this year, according to statistics released today by the country’s National Energy Administration (NEA).Around 6.82 GW of the new capacity was accounted for by large scale PV plants with the 4.58 GW balance coming from distributed generation arrays, according to the state body. Northwest China boasted the largest share of new PV plants – with 3.43 GW of new grid-connected capacity – followed by the north of the huge nation, with 3.29 GW; and the east, with 2.28 GW.The relatively modest new additions took China’s cumulative installed capacity to 185.5 GW, according to the NEA figures. Large scale solar parks make up around 130.5 GW of China’s PV capacity with just over 55 GW coming from small arrays.China is expected to experience a deluge of new installations from next month as developers of projects which qualify for state subsidies rush to get them connected by December 31 in order to receive their full subsidy.To put the first-half, 11.4 GW figure into context, China installed 44.1 GW of new solar in 2018 and a year earlier the volume was a record 52.83 GW, according to NEA figures.More: China added 11.4 GW of solar capacity in first half of this year
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy Storage News:The market for grid-connected energy storage will defy the “headwinds” caused by the coronavirus pandemic on industries across the world, analysis firm IHS Markit has predicted.The team at the IHS Markit Energy Storage Service has forecast that global installations will grow by over 5GW this year, despite disruption caused by COVID-19. Battery energy storage is becoming increasingly able to competitively provide critical capacity to energy networks, the analysts said, particularly in the US, which is currently the world’s biggest market for grid battery storage.After what was a relatively low level of installations in 2019 of 2.7GW, the rebound that began with a strong first quarter of 2020 will continue on, IHS Markit believes, with annual installations set to rise fivefold between 2019 and 2025. While installation figures could reach 15.1GW / 47.8GWh, hardware revenues will increase from US$4.2 billion this year to US$9.5 billion in 2025. At the same time, battery module prices are expected to fall around 32% in those years.In the release sent to Energy-Storage.News today on IHS Markit’s revised forecasts, the analysis team reasserted that the US will remain the largest market for a number of factors: “ambitious” deployment targets at state level brought in by a handful of jurisdictions, a “strong pipeline” of solar-plus-storage projects looking to capitalise on investment tax credit (ITC) incentives, as well as the bigger picture issue of energy storage being looked upon as an effective way to provide firm capacity to the grid.China, which has so far been slower to deploy energy storage projects at home than perhaps it has been to export energy storage equipment and technologies, will “see a resurgence in energy storage uptake,” IHS Markit forecasts, with various provinces looking to deploy solar PV projects co-located with battery storage, allowing them to reach higher shares of renewable energy on their networks. China alone will deploy 6.5GW of grid-connected storage between now and 2025, the research team said.New opportunities are developing in Europe too, strengthening outlook, including France’s tendering for low-carbon assets to participate in its capacity market (CM) – which earlier this year led to the award of 253MW of CM contracts for energy storage developers. Finally, wholesale arbitrage in select territories: so far mainly the United Kingdom and Australia, signals a “turning point as merchant energy storage breaks into a new opportunity,” the release said.[Andy Colthorpe]More: Opportunities develop for battery storage ‘despite the turmoil caused by COVID-19’, IHS Markit says IHS Markit: Global energy storage market could top 15GW by 2025
Dear EarthTalk: Some drycleaners I’ve seen offer “wet cleaning” as opposed to dry cleaning. What’s the difference? Is it better for the environment?— Elizabeth Connelly, Tampa, FLThe dry-cleaning industry has come under attack in recent years for its use of perchloroethylene (“perc”), a noxious chemical solvent that does a good job cleaning and not damaging sensitive fabrics but which is also considered a hazardous air contaminant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.Also, exposure to perc can irritate the skin and has been associated with central nervous system disorders. Drycleaners are required to reuse what perc they can and dispose of the rest as hazardous waste, but there are still concerns about contamination at and around sites that don’t follow best practices. California has banned the use of perc by drycleaners beginning in 2023, and several other states may follow suit.Given the issues with perc—and the fact that most of the nation’s 34,000 commercial drycleaners still use it—many consumers are demanding greener ways to get their fine clothes and fabrics clean. So-called wet cleaning—whereby cleaning professionals use small amounts of water, non-toxic detergents and conditioners (instead of perc and other harsh detergents) inside specially designed machines to get fine garments and other fabrics clean—is one of the most promising alternatives.“The garments are agitated in the computerized wet cleaning machine just enough to extract the dirt and grime, but not enough to alter the structure, size or color,” reports the website Earth911.com. “The garments are then transferred to a high-tech drying unit that [that] automatically stops once the prescribed level of moisture is reached.” Earth911.com adds that after drying, wet cleaned garments are pressed, hung up and bagged for pick-up by or delivery to customers—just like at the drycleaners.The EPA is encouraging drycleaners to make the switch to greener solvents through a cooperative partnership with the professional garment and textile care industry. The agency’s Design for the Environment Garment and Textile Care Partnership recognizes the wet cleaning process as “an environmentally preferable technology that is effective at cleaning garments.”Another green alternative to perc is also starting to catch on: using pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) to get fabrics clean. CO2 exists as a gas at low pressure but turns to liquid at higher pressure and can serve as a solvent in tandem with non-toxic soap to get materials clean. “Clothes are placed in the dry cleaning machine drum and cool CO2 is pumped in until, at high pressure, [it] becomes a liquid,” reports Corry’s, a leading drycleaner in the Seattle area. “After the wash cycle is complete the CO2 is filtered, and the pressure is released spontaneously converting the CO2 back to a gas from a liquid. The CO2 then goes back into the holding tank. The clothes are left clean, smelling fresh, cool and perfectly dry.”There are other greener processes out there as well. If a new cleaner opens up in your neighborhood, chances are they are using something cleaner than perc. Or they should be. So make sure to go in and ask.CONTACTS: Earth911.com, www.earth911.com; Design for the Environment Garment and Textile Care Partnership, epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/garment/; Corry’s CO2 Cleaners, www.corrysco2cleaners.com.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: [email protected] Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
Race DetailsWhen: June 22, 2013Where: Giles County, VirginiaWhat: 50k (30 mile) ultrarunStart time: 7:30 amRace size: 200-250Website: www.easterndivideultra.comThe Eastern Divide Ultra is a scenic 50K trail race through the highlands of southwest VA. The point-to-point course will pass beneath waterfalls, meander through old growth Hemlocks and glide by waist high ferns. While we may not have the grand heights of the West, the Mountain Lake area has an average elevation of 4000′, which provides for cooler temperatures and a diverse ecosystem.Race ContactKirby [email protected]
Guide to the West Virginia Road Trip:BRING: Mountain bike, climbing gear, water shoesHIGHLIGHT: Long downhill on North Fork MountainSOUVENIR: Facebook status photo from the top of Seneca RocksDay OneThe trip begins near the peak of North Fork Mountain, off Forest Road 79, where an 11.5-mile backcountry mountain bike adventure awaits. Pedal north on the North Fork Mountain Trail over lichen-covered boulders near the dramatic edge of North Fork Mountain, where juggy cliffs hang 2,000 feet over the river valley below. The tread is technical, but completely rideable, and after you make it through several miles of rolling terrain, you’ll finish with a constant three-mile downhill that drops 2,000 feet in a series of scree-covered switchbacks. Make sure you take time off the saddle to check out the views from the western rim of the mountain, including a short scramble to the top of Chimney Rock, a pillar of sandstone with a bomber 360-degree view just before the final descent. Bring two cars or arrange a shuttle with Eagle’s Nest Outfitters (304-257-2393).Grab a site at the bottom of the North Fork Mountain in Smoke Hole Canyon Recreation Area ($20), which sits in the middle of a 20-mile-long gorge cut by the South Branch of the Potomac and offers excellent tubing and fishing from your campground.Day TwoBreak down camp and head to the south end of the mountain, where Seneca Rocks rises 1,000 feet from the valley floor in a near-vertical sheet of sandstone. Seneca is one of those iconic climbing destinations that even non-climbers owe it to themselves to scrape their way up and over. You can hike to the north peak of Seneca, but the south peak can only be summited via technical rock climbing. There are easy 5.2 routes to the top, but if you’re not familiar with Seneca, your best bet is to hire a guide from Seneca Rocks Climbing School. A full day will cost you $225, but they’ll get you to the top via a route that suits your ability and make sure all your knots are tied right, which is priceless, really.Camp at Seneca Shadows, the federally owned campground with tent sites that have views of the Rocks and clean showers for $20. There’s a trail that leads from the campground into town and the Front Porch, where the pizza is cheap (304-567-2555).Day ThreeTake WV 32 toward Canaan Valley, then FS 19 to the 17,371-acre Dolly Sods, a federally designated Wilderness area stacked with high elevation bog and heath ecosystems, the kind of terrain you usually only find in Canada. You’re going to knock out an 8.5-mile loop that combines Red Creek Trail, Rocky Point Trail, and Big Stonecoal Trail, which serves as a mini-highlight reel of the Sods. Start at the Red Creek Trailhead off FS 19 and be prepared for pristine swimming holes, fields of reindeer moss and spruce groves. You’ll also enjoy long-range views from Lions Head, a series of flat outcroppings on Rocky Point, before you call it a day.After the hike, head into tiny downtown Davis for a Shovelhead burrito (homemade pulled pork and horseradish slaw, $8) at Hellbender Burritos, then travel a bit farther into the even tinier town of Thomas for one (or three) pints of Almost Heaven Ale, an amber ale with a subtle and seductive caramel finish, at the uber-hip Mountain State Brewing Company.Call it a night at Canaan Valley State Park, where $20 gets you a primo car-camping site with hiking and mountain biking trails spreading out from the campground.Want more adventure? Check out our full list of road trip guides!
Photo Courtesy Heather ‘Anish’ AndersonNew Unsupported Speed Record Set on Appalachian TrailBack in late September a thru-hiker named Heather ‘Anish’ Anderson somehow managed to fly under the radar of national and many regional media outlets when she set a new unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail, hiking the trail in 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes. The record came in the wake of Scott Jurek’s widely publicized supported speed record and during much A.T. fanfare with the release of Robert Redford’s “A Walk in the Woods”. To learn more about Anish’s historic record click here.First Climbing Gym Open in Boone, NCThanks to a locally powered crowd funding program, Boone, North Carolina now has its very own climbing gym. According to Center 45’s website the gym’s mission is to provide an open and energetic bouldering and training environment supporting the advancement of the Appalachian climbing and fitness community. Learn more here.Interscholastic Cycling Comes to North CarolinaNorth Carolina has been named as one of only 4 states to be welcomed into the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. North Carolina towns that have shown interest in league involvement include Hendersonville, Brevard, Cornelius, Huntersville, Charlotte, Davidson, Leland, Mayodan, Jacksonville, Carrboro, Raleigh and Wilkesboro.“Chris McQueen and I are very excited to be working with NICA to bring organized middle and high school mountain bike racing to North Carolina,” Mike Long, co-director of the North Carolina league told BlueRidgeNow.com.”With thousands of miles of trails across North Carolina, mountain biking is tremendously popular in this state, and a lot of students and their families will benefit from the NICA program. North Carolina has ample infrastructure to support an interscholastic mountain biking league and our robust cycling community will certainly make this a success.” Learn more here.
We recently sat down with Zack Lowden, avid road cyclist and member of the Brevard College cycling team, to talk about his top seven rides in Brevard, NC and the surrounding area. “We’re really lucky here. This is world class riding and it’s right in the backyard of my college,” Lowden said. “It’s scenic, the roads are nice and maintained, the temperature is mild and I have so many options to ride every day after class.”Next time you’re in the Brevard area with a road bike in tow, don’t miss out on these 7 classic road rides.1. 276 Up and DownThis intermediate ride begins in Brevard and climbs up Hwy. 276 in the Pisgah National Forest. An out-and-back ride, it leads cyclist all the way to 276’s intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway before ending and heading back into town. The climb is intermediate to advanced and the descent is moderate. In total, this is a 37.5-mile route requiring about 2.5 hours of ride time and 2,864 feet of elevation gain.2. The Parkway LoopIf you are interested in extending the 276 ride, this loop begins in Brevard and heads up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The total distance is 61.7 miles and moving time is typically about 4.5 hours. It is a scenic ride with an extended 2-hour climb. The total elevation gain is 4,551 feet and the descent travels down Hwy. 215 in Pisgah National Forest. 3. DuPont LoopThis is an intermediate ride with rolling terrain and a few intermediate climbs. The loop is 31 miles and takes approximately 2 hours with a gain of 2,480 feet. This ride can begin in Brevard and you will ride past the Little River, which is home to several waterfalls, close to the Holmes Educational State Forest center, and past Cedar Rock. 4. Rosman LoopThis loop through Rosman, NC is a beginner-intermediate road route, with relatively flat terrain that transitions into rolling hills. It is an easier ride on country roads with one small high-speed descent. It is a 27.8-mile loop that will take around 1 hour and 45 minutes, gaining 1,752 feet.5. Waynesville LoopThis is a difficult climbing loop that begins in Brevard and goes up and over 276 and into the outskirts of Waynesville. Riders will travel through back on Hwy. 215 through Pisgah, past the Blue Ridge Parkway, and around the border of Shining Rock Wilderness Area. The loop is 81.3 miles and with a gain of 7,141 feet, the ride will take around 5 hours. 6. Pretty PlaceThis is an out-and-back ride to South Carolina that involves biking on back roads to Pretty Place Church. The view from the church is scenic and an iconic spot for the area. The route is 38.7 miles with a gain of 2,562 feet. It will take about 2.5 hours to get from Brevard to Pretty Place and back.7. Caesar’s HeadThis is a loop through SC that passes Caesar’s Head State Park. The overlook provides views of Table Rock and many hikes dot the surrounding area, one being the hike to Raven Cliff Falls. The loop involves difficult climbs with high-speed descents and a rolling middle section. It is 63.3 miles total and gains 5,253 feet. Total travel time will be around 4 hours but be prepared to stop and enjoy the view. All of these begin in Brevard but start and end locations can be modified for your personal experience. Visit Lowden’s Strava account here to see more information on these rides and many others for the area.[divider]Related Articles[/divider]