FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Liesl Eichler Clark for the Lansing (Mich.) Journal:When we think of American manufacturing, the first place that should come to mind is Michigan. This is a state that knows how to get things done; Detroit helped create America as we know it by ushering the era of the automobile, and Michiganders know how to build the goods the rest of the country needs.That still holds true for the products of the 21st century. Today, Michigan is a leader in building the parts needed for America’s fastest growing electricity source: wind energy. In 2015, wind was the largest source of new electric generating capacity in the U.S. and the cheapest, cheaper than natural gas and coal.With 32 factories in the state that build wind-related parts, among the most in the country, Michigan is once again playing a big role in America’s move toward a better future.In turn, this is helping people across the state. Wind energy supports up to 2,000 well-paying jobs in Michigan, and it has driven $3 billion of capital investments into the economy.Wind power is also strengthening communities. Up to $5 million in lease payments are paid every year to landowners who host wind turbines on their property.Wind farms also grow the tax base where they’re located, providing new revenue for schools, roads, public safety, libraries and services for seniors and veterans. By 2020, this revenue could surpass $11.6 million every year.Wind power provides these benefits while keeping more money in the pockets of Michigan’s families and businesses. Through 2050, it could save almost $3.6 billion on electricity bills, on top of $10.9 billion in savings from protection against conventional fuel price spikes.A specific policy helped create a lot of this good news.In 2008, Michigan lawmakers passed a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) calling for 10 percent of retail electricity sales to come from renewable energy sources by 2015. Not only did the state achieve this target, it did so at considerably lower costs than projected. Because the law required a 50/50 split of projects—half to be built by utilities and half in a competitive market by independent power producers – prices were driven down even more.Now, Michigan’s lawmakers once again have the opportunity to create more good jobs and savings for the state’s residents.They can amend legislation currently under consideration to increase the state renewable requirements while maintaining the 50/50 project split.State renewable requirements are smart policy with long track records of success. The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found renewable energy projects developed to meet state RPSs created $7.5 billion in annual environmental benefits from reduced air emissions, $1.3 billion to $4.9 billion in reduced consumer energy prices and 200,000 American jobs through 2013.Millions in consumer savings, thousands of good jobs and new resources for communities across the state- passing new legislation to further grow these benefits should be a slam dunk.Full item: Strengthen future with renewable energy standards Op-Ed: One Way to Harness Michigan’s Industrial Might? Wind-Turbine Manufacturing
Western Australian government backs ongoing transition from coal to renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Western Australia’s Labor government says it is drawing up plans to facilitate the shift from coal to a grid dominated by renewables, and will develop a “whole of system” plan as well as a strategy to cope with the dramatic uptake of rooftop solar and battery storage. The plan was unveiled on Wednesday by energy minister Bill Johnston, who said technological change in the energy sector is happening at a rapid pace.“In Western Australia, we’re blessed with world-class solar and wind resources, abundant gas supply, a wealth of battery metals, and a highly skilled workforce,” he said in a speech to the Institute of Energy. “We have a genuine opportunity to lead the way in establishing a cleaner, brighter and more resilient energy supply for decades to come. It’s clear that the generation mix will continue to change, so it’s important we have a whole of system approach to plan for the future. Put simply, advancement in technology means we can have reliable, affordable power, with lower emissions.”The progress of renewable energy in W.A. has been hampered in recent years – first by the former Coalition government that engineered an investment drought, then also by restrictive grid access rules – but is showing signs of rapid growth now.Three new solar farms have been added to the grid in the past year, and what will be the state’s two biggest wind farms, Warradarge and Yandin – both with capacity factors of 50 per cent or more – are now under construction.More significantly, the uptake of rooftop solar continues to grow as consumers, both household and business, react to the unwinding of the huge state subsidies that hid the true cost of what was then an almost completely fossil-fuel powered grid. Rooftop solar now totals some 1,100MW, making it the state’s biggest generator. In a relatively small isolated grid, this is starting to pose challenges to the grid operator.More: WA prepares shift from coal to renewables, and distributed energy
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:Chinese wind turbine maker Ming Yang Smart Energy (MYSE) has signed an agreement with local government to build a 1.3GW renewable-battery hybrid plant near the city of Tong Liao in China’s Inner Mongolia province, local newspaper Tong Liao Daily said.The project targets to eventually build up to 1000MW in wind power and 300MW solar, linked to a 320MW lithium-ion battery storage system, for which the company has pledged to invest ¥9Bn ($1.29bn).Construction of the project is scheduled to kick off in August 2020, with a plan to grid connect 300MW-500MW in four months and complete the full project by the end of 2021, deputy general manager of MYSE International Zhang Jian said on LinkedIn.The hybrid plan is the most recent of mega wind projects announced in the northern province of China, where local government in 2019 was allowed to approve large wind power projects again after a temporary ban on them by the central government in Beijing. Including Ming Yang’s hybrid plan, at least 11 other mega renewable projects with a combined wind capacity of 21.4GW (plus 1.5GW in solar capacity) have secured approval this year, Recharge understands from various project announcements.Ten of these projects are planned to be larger than 1GW each. Among them is a wind complex with 6GW of capacity being developed by State Power Investment Corp (SPIC), which will be the largest onshore wind farm in the world.Inner Mongolia is China’s largest wind power producing region, with 28.99GW in completed installations by the end of September that account for 15% of China’s total wind capacity.[Yuki Yu]More: Ming Yang unveils 1.3GW wind-solar-battery hybrid plan China developer planning 1.3GW wind, solar, battery storage hybrid plant
Court decision likely to prompt additional delays for Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley pipeline projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:The two biggest U.S. natural gas pipelines under construction are likely facing more delays after an appeals court ruling against the Army Corps of Engineers, energy analysts said.The Trump administration has pressed ahead with new pipeline construction, but several projects have been stalled by successful legal challenges saying the administration is not applying careful regulatory scrutiny.Last month, a Montana judge ruled the Army Corps authorized permits to cross streams without properly consulting other federal agencies on endangered species. Rather than limit its ruling to the Keystone XL crude pipeline case before the court, the judge questioned the Army Corps’ method of authorizing stream crossing under the entire National Permit 12 program.The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday left that ruling in place, which will likely prevent Keystone and other pipelines from using Army Corps’ stream crossing permits until the appeals court decides in early 2021, the analysts said.It means the two biggest gas pipes under construction – Dominion Energy Inc’s Atlantic Coast and EQM Midstream Partners LP’s Mountain Valley – are likely to be delayed by several more months.[Scott DiSavino]More: Court ruling in Keystone XL case another blow to big U.S. pipelines, say energy analysts
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Korea Economic Daily:South Korea’s parliament looks set to pass new legislation to ban financing on foreign coal power projects, putting all overseas coal-fired plant deals under way at risk of being scrapped.Late last month, four lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party proposed a set of bills, aimed at prohibiting utility Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), two state-run Korean banks and the state trade insurance provider from financing foreign coal projects.The draft bills concerning KEPCO, Korea Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea EXIM) and Korea Trade Insurance Corp. are very likely to pass at the ruling party-controlled National Assembly next month.Under the proposed bills, the four state-run entities will be prohibited from participating in the construction and operation of coal-fired power plants abroad, as well as extending the life of existing plants. After passing through the National Assembly’s regular session, the bills will take effect immediately.South Korea is the world’s No. 2 coal power plant exporter in terms of orders received, winning $5.8 billion worth of orders between January 2013 and July 2020, according to EndCoal. China is the biggest coal power plant exporter for orders of $50 billion, nearly 10 times more than South Korea.But the new legislation may herald the collapse of the relevant industry in Korea. In particular, Doosan Heavy would be hard hit by a ban on the country’s financing of overseas coal plants, as this accounts for half of its overseas business. The company has already suffered from the South Korean government’s policy to phase out nuclear power.[Kyung-min Kang]More: South Korea moves in on overseas coal project financing ban Pending South Korea legislation could force halt to country’s coal plant export deals
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Kyiv Post:Chinese company PowerChina and Ukrainian WindFarm have signed a contract on building a wind power station with a capacity of 800 megawatt[s] in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk Oblast, near towns Manhush and Nikolske.It will become the biggest wind farm in Europe if offshore wind farms aren’t counted, reads the WindFarm’s statement published on Oct. 30. The project will cost at least $1 billion.When built, the wind farm will sell its power for the market price, meaning that, unlike all other renewable power producers, PowerChina and WindFarm won’t be selling their electricity to the state for above-market prices — through the country’s green tariff, WindFarm deputy director Aleksandr Charun told the Kyiv Post. Currently, Ukraine has the highest tariff for renewable power in Europe.According to Charun, WindFarm does all the paperwork, while PowerChina is in charge of constructing the wind farm. At the moment, the WindFarm is submitting the documents for the project. Once the paperwork is done, the company will sign an agreement with state-run power company Ukrenergo and connect to its networks.Renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power and excluding hydropower, secure only 8.1% of the total electricity generated in Ukraine, according to the Energy Ministry of Ukraine.[Liza Semko]More: Chinese firm to build $1 billion wind farm in Ukraine PowerChina, WindFarm move forward with 800MW, $1 billion wind project in Ukraine
Jim Snyder paddles the longest undammed stretch of whitewater in the East.Jim Snyder’s at home in Albright, W.Va., waiting for the next big storm.Snyder has notched first descents on many steep creeks before most of today’s boaters were out of diapers. But he’s best known for an annual two-day, 140-mile paddle of the Cheat River, from its Shavers Fork headwaters down to Cheat Lake.Snyder knows the Cheat River better than anybody, and he knows that it is an anomaly in the Eastern U.S. For starters, it flows north. There is only one dam on the Cheat, and it is a short 3.5 miles upstream of the river’s confluence with the Monongahela River, bound for Pittsburgh. No other big Appalachian river can make this claim. Its normal flows are between 1000 to 5000 cubic feet per second (that’s similar to the famous stretch of Tennessee’s Ocoee and larger than Pennsylvania’s Youghiogheny at Ohiopyle). The watershed drains over 10 percent of the entire state.The class IV Cheat Canyon became one of the most popular commercial rafting destinations in the country in the 1980s, and the awareness created by the rafting industry helped keep it fairly clean. It prevailed as the premier destination for rafting for many years, until road access made travel to the New and Gauley Rivers to the south more reasonable. In the mid-90s, mine blowouts increased pollution to levels that killed most or all organisms in stretches of the river, and recreational use of the river hit dramatic lows. Local advocacy group Friends of the Cheat formed in 1995 as a response to the blowouts and began to use resources in legislation and science to turn things around. Because of restoration efforts, the water quality has improved substantially over the past two decades.Above the canyon, the forks of the Cheat reach into the highest elevations of West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest and drain an enormous watershed that creeps to the sub-continental divide. They represent over 200 more miles of stream and have reputations of their own among boaters, fishermen, and swimmers. Flowing through largely wooded mountains and through a few small towns, it is the Shavers Fork that stretches the longest. It begins high up inside Snowshoe Mountain Resort.Snyder was one of the first raft guides on the Cheat Canyon. In those days, Snyder pioneered the obscure sport of squirt kayaking in the 1980s. Squirt boating is intentionally paddling a barely buoyant kayak into downward pushing cross-currents found in whitewater for underwater “mystery moves,” sometimes lasting longer than 30 seconds. Squirt boaters around the globe know Jim’s name as the godfather of the sport.Snyder prefers to do his 140-mile trip solo. He paddles from 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. both days. He eats constantly, taking short snack breaks. His strategy—just keep paddling, not too hard—has worked well thus far; he’s completed 9 of the 10 trips that he started. The not-too-hard part is important. The one trip he didn’t fully complete, Jim paddled too fast and got ahead of the increasing water level. Before long he had paddled from a full streambed into a dry one, and didn’t have the time to sit for a half day to wait for the water to catch up.Jim looks for the perfect conditions to “ride the bubble” as it flows north through the better part of five West Virginia counties. Even perfect conditions can’t guarantee the trip will go smoothly. On the Shavers Fork, Jim once found himself entangled in grape vines that had come down with a fallen tree. He had to release from his heavy gear-stuffed kayak, which he then couldn’t wrangle until he got to calm water. The boat was too heavy to turn over to drain, so he emptied the entire boat with a sponge.Other than the three months when he was a cashier at the Pentagon, every job he’s ever held had something to do with whitewater. He makes his living designing whitewater kayaks and paddling gear specifically crafted for squirt boating. His wooden paddles, hand-made to order in Albright, W.Va., are used on rivers all over the world by kayakers, canoeists, stand up paddleboarders, and rafters. His business, Rivrstyx, has a long waiting list, though nobody complains when he tells customers that it may take as long as two months to get their paddle. They’re worth the wait.Snyder’s whitewater ultra begins with a 15-foot waterfall plunge, followed by several miles of technical boulder-strewn class IV rapids stacked one after another. Out of the steeps, the Shavers Fork mellows out to a class II run with little flatwater. Then, in Parsons, W.Va., the Black Fork merges from the east, creating the main stem of the Cheat. Miles-long flat pools push the mental and physical limits of boaters as the odometer creeps into the triple digits. The low angle of the early evening sun blinds, but Jim’s plan – just keep paddling, not too hard – prevails.After over 100 miles of river, Jim Snyder’s long trip picks up one last characteristic of West Virginia whitewater: big water. First comes the Narrows, a well-known section of picturesque Class III whitewater with pushier features, including a rapid known as Calamity. Then, Jim Snyder’s long trip down the Cheat enters the Canyon.“The Canyon’s the best part every year, because it always goes perfectly,” Jim tells me while recounting a decade of long trips. Cheat Canyon simultaneously marks the last and the most challenging rapids of the trip, through famous rapids like Big Nasty and Coliseum. Because the Canyon begins in his backyard, he drops off his camping gear at home to reduce weight and yard sale potential in the Canyon.At the top of the canyon, the river is 100 yards wide, but ultimately it squeezes through channels only 10 feet across. After a few more miles of big Cheat whitewater, the river mellows and deepens to form Cheat Lake.Why paddle the longest stretch of undammed river east of the Mississippi in two days? “It’s sounds tough, but really it’s a lot of easy miles,” Snyder says. “I just like to paddle a lot.”That’s an understatement. •
Trevor Thomas atop Katahdin.Your outdoor news bulletin for April 25, the day Hubble was launched into orbit…with a cataract…in 1990:Blind Hikers Dominate Thru-HikingA couple of blind hikers are making news in the Blue Ridge. First is the story of Minneapolis attorney Mike Hanson, a blind man who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2010. Hanson’s story was picked up by Slate.com earlier this year, and popped up again in the ether on fastcoexist.com this week. The focus of these stories is the fact that Hanson used an outdated Nokia phone GPS system as his guide during the hike. In a more recent and decidedly lower-tech case, another blind hiker passed through Mt. Mitchell State Park on the Mountains to Sea Trail. Trevor Thomas and his guide dog Tennille met with park rangers Wednesday before continuing the rest of his 1,000 miles to the coast. Thomas is no slouch, his accomplishments include an A.T. thru-hike in 2008, Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike in 2010, and a summit of Mount Whitney. You can read more about Thomas on his blog.Minor Leaguers Get Dirty on Arbor DayAmerica’s pastime just got a little greener. The U.S. Forest Service and the Potomac Nationals are going to plant 187 trees at an urban forest in Fairfax, Va. on April 26, Arbor Day. Through the “Break a Bat, Plant a Tree” program, the minor league baseball team joined with Fairfax ReLeaf and the U.S. Forest Service plants a tree for every broken bat during the season. “The Break a Bat, Plant a Tree program is a great way to raise awareness about forest restoration projects underway in D.C., Maryland and Virginia parks and trails,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Indeed, Tom.Courtroom Wins Against Mountaintop RemovalEarth Week must be working. Two significant court rulings went in favor of those against the practice of mountaintop removal mining in the past few days. On Monday, the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals revoked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ use of Nationwide Permit 21, a process they have used to expand mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, saying they did not assess and document environmental impacts before issuing new mining permits. Then, on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia essentially gave the EPA back it’s power to veto the Spruce Mine permit, one of the largest mountaintop removal mines in history.Read more here from ecowatch.com.
The U.S. Forest Service is planning to intentionally burn sections of the Linville Gorge Wilderness to reduce fuel loads and prevent more catastrophic fires in the future. If allowed, the burns would occur in four or more separate areas at different times and be repeated every three to five years.Should prescribed burns be conducted in the Linville Gorge Wilderness?YESThe Linville Gorge Wilderness is a unique and magnificent landscape. The fact that it is designated as wilderness means that we are obligated to do what we can to protect its natural character and preserve its unique plant and animal communities. One of the ways we can do that is by reintroducing fire to the Gorge.Linville Gorge is a fire-adapted ecosystem, unique to our region, with several fire-dependent species and plant communities. These plant communities are in decline and two species are federally listed as “threatened”. This means that fire has played a natural role and has shaped the Gorge throughout its history.For the last half century, fire has been kept out of the Gorge and every fire that ignites, whether by careless people or lighting strike, has been put out. Not allowing fires to burn has caused significant damage to the wilderness character and the ecology of the area. Without fire, the gorge has unnaturally built up heavy fuel loads of underbrush, and species that inhabit wetter areas have moved in, outcompeting the more native vegetation characterized by mixed hardwood and pine forests.These fuel loads of underbrush have also left the gorge susceptible to catastrophic wildfires which could devastate human settlements. The intensity of these fires would likely be outside of the natural range causing negative impacts to the forest communities. And, with a changing climate, we are likely to experience extended droughts and warmer temperatures, increasing the risk of catastrophic fire.Prescribed fires are those set intentionally by professionals under strict conditions that allow fire to burn under control. This approach is necessary to reduce heavy fuel loads of underbrush, thereby reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires. By reducing fuel loads, we will be able to allow wild fires to burn naturally without human intervention. This is the best thing for the ecosystem and for wilderness.If we want to protect wilderness character, maintain the integrity of ecosystems, restore threatened species, prevent catastrophic wildfires, and protect local communities, we need to reintroduce and allow fire to once again play its important role in the Linville Gorge.Ben Prater is associate executive director for Wild South.NOThe proposed burning of the Linville Gorge Wilderness is not in the name of preservation. What is going to happen to our aquatic wildlife in the Linville River and its feeder creeks when the loose soil and soot erodes into it? As the Forest Service’s own manual on fire states, “On steep terrain, if post-fire storms deliver large amounts of precipitation, accelerated erosion and runoff can occur, even after a carefully planned prescribed fire.” With the Linville Gorge Wilderness receiving an annual rainfall of 67 inches or more, heavy erosion is sure to happen.What about our hemlock population? It takes hemlocks 450 years to completely mature to good cone production. With most of the old growth already decimated by adelgid infestation, prescribed burns will kill the hemlocks trying to make a recovery—the same trees that the Forest Service spent thousands in taxpayer dollars to protect less than 10 years ago.Exposure to relatively low smoke concentrations over many years can contribute to respiratory problems and cancer. In the name of profit, they are going to endanger our health.Linville Gorge’s rugged terrain – the toughest terrain east of the Rockies – will make it extremely difficult to control fires and will put more firefighters’ lives in jeopardy. Our local businesses stand to lose much needed tourist income. And they are violating the spirit and the letter of the Wilderness Act by manipulating the wilderness with prescribed burns.At the very least, the Forest Service should conduct an environmental impact study, as required by law, before proceeding. The Linville Gorge Wilderness is a world-class gem. There is no bringing it back once destroyed. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”Phil Phelan recently hiked 160 miles through the Linville Gorge in five days to raise awareness about the proposed prescribed burns.
One of our most popular stories last year was this gem from BRO editor in chief Will Harlan about his first run sans clothes. Dare ya to try your own naked run in 2014…it’s part of our Ultimate 100 Challenge.They say 90 percent of life is just showing up, and that’s certainly true in running. Toeing the starting line is often the toughest part. For me, no starting line was scarier than the Fig Leaf 5K, a naked race at a north Georgia nudist colony.I had streaked across my college campus in a drunken blur, and I had once been dared to run a naked lap around a bar during a blizzard. But never before had I faced spectators and sobriety sans clothes.I waited until a few minutes before the start to disrobe. Instead of a race bib, my race number was written across my butt cheeks.Over 100 runners had gathered at the starting line. Many were top athletes from across the Blue Ridge. They seemed a lot less intimidating without their shorts.Still, I had plenty of reasons to feel self-conscious. How would I measure up? What if I was aroused by a beautiful female runner? Most of all, I was worried about the flop factor. How would my bait and tackle hold up to three miles of bouncing?It was a cold April morning in the mountains, and my twig and berries shriveled up as soon as I dropped my drawers. I joined the other nude runners at the start making jokes and milling around in the buff.“Weather’s a bit nipply this morning.”“Gonna run hard today?”“Nah…feeling a bit stiff.”At the starting line, it was hard to know where to look. Runners are always sizing up their competition, but this was nuts. I tried to stare ahead at the race course, but I felt like I was standing at a crowded row of urinals, trying not to glance.A crowd of stark-naked spectators—most of them from the nudist colony—gathered at the start. Cameras flashed as we took off. (I have no idea where those photos ended up.) For the first mile, I sagged back and dangled off the lead pack. Then around mile two, I made a hard sprint to the front.Freeballing had never felt so good. My junk jiggled and bounced, and my flabby bare skin rippled with savage delight. I felt primitive and raw. I was pure animal, unlocked from my self-conscious mind cage, running wild and free.I hung on through the final mile, though a heavy-breathing hardass approached me from behind in the final homestretch. I bared it all in a balls-out kick for the finish—and edged him by a hair.Afterward, I sat in the sun, soaking it all in. I had shed my inhibitions along with my clothes at the starting line. My mile splits and finishing time didn’t matter. It was the most fun I’d had running in a long time.Running au naturel exposed a naked truth: bodies are amazing—even the sagging, droopy parts. I vowed to spend more time in the buff, getting more comfortable in my own skin.No, the Fig Leaf 5K didn’t turn me into a nudist. I still wear shorts on my morning runs.But at least I’ve taken off my watch.