FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bill Richardson for Time magazine:In a bold break from the past, this sun-drenched as well as oil-rich nation is making a big bet on a solar future. This means turning away from wasteful policies and practices, such as producing almost half its electrical power by burning oil and subsidizing energy prices so heavily that Saudis have been buying gasoline for 50 cents a gallon and electricity for about a penny per kilowatt-hour.These policies and cheap energy prices had costly consequences: buildings constructed without insulation, highways clogged with gas-guzzling cars and SUVs, and families running their air conditioners even when they’re on vacation. With air conditioning consuming some 70% of its electricity in 2013, and the Kingdom burning a quarter of the petroleum it produces, costly subsidies and excessive consumption threaten the future of Saudi Arabia’s oil exporting sector as well as the solvency of its government.These are some of the reasons why Saudi Arabia has set the ambitious goal of developing 41 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2032 (that’s 20 times what’s produced by Hoover Dam)—a move that would make it one of the five leading solar producers on the planet. Among other projects, the Kingdom is building its first solar panel factory and another factory producing polysilicon, a material used for manufacturing solar cells, as well as installing rooftop solar facilities in Riyadh.For me—and, I hope, for American policymakers and investors—Saudi Arabia’s shift toward solar energy is an indication of its seriousness about undertaking other transformational changes.Saudi Arabia’s willingness to move beyond oil is a clear sign that the Kingdom has the courage and commitment to embrace new economic and geopolitical realities.Full item: Bill Richardson: What Saudi Arabia’s Bet on Solar Power Means Op-Ed: What Saudi Arabia’s Bet on Solar Power Means
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:In a small tea shop along a dusty, unpaved road in the marketplace of Sujawal, a town about 93 miles east of Karachi in Pakistan, Imam Dino has hit upon a profitable idea. He attracts customers with a 24-inch television playing Bollywood movies through the day and by providing mobile phone charging sockets in a town that otherwise suffers long outages.Power for the TV and charging points comes from a solar-panel system that he rents for 2,500 rupees ($22) a month. It’s been a sound investment. Dino makes as much as 3,000 rupees extra a month because of the attractions. Previously, he spent more to run a gasoline generator.Rural Pakistanis like Dino are increasingly turning to renewable energy to circumvent the country’s notoriously unreliable power supply. Deficient generation and distribution shave an estimated 2 percentage points off Pakistan’s economic growth annually and faults in the national grid are exposed every summer as demand increases. That’s despite a rise in generation by 35 percent to 31,000 megawatts since 2013.As customers like Dino are discovering, off-grid solar may be the answer. With global panel prices plummeting in the past five years, units powering fans and lights are being sold or rented in the nation’s poorest regions for 1,000 rupees to 3,000 rupees a month, according to distributors EcoEnergy and Nizam Energy. About 10,000 solar systems have been installed since 2013 ranging in size from 50 watts to 200 watts, enough to power six light bulbs and two fans.Small-scale solar in Pakistan attracted $540 million in 2017, having received less than $100 million in each of the previous two years, according to a report published last month by the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Solar and wind energy contributed 3 percent to Pakistan’s electricity generation, or about 300 megawatts as of March, according to Arif Habib Ltd.Meanwhile, at Nizam Energy’s office in Karachi, Chief Executive Officer Usman Ahmed boasts they aren’t crippled by the city’s shortages. Their headquarters is powered partially by solar panels on the roof, which he says is 30 percent cheaper than electricity from the grid. The off-grid market may double annually over the next three years, he said.More: Rural Pakistanis Take To Solar After Power Cuts Deepen In Karachi Small-Scale Solar May Win Big in Electricity-Short Pakistan
Falling demand prompts Peabody to cut coal mine lease acreage FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Peabody Energy Corp. has asked the U.S. government to let it relinquish thousands of acres of coal leases associated with two of its Powder River Basin coal mines as the region faces ongoing pressure from waning domestic utility demand.Documents from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management show Peabody, the largest coal company in the U.S., applied to relinquish 2,740 acres of federal coal lands at its Caballo mine in February 2017. Peabody applied to relinquish another 1,775 acres of federal coal property from the Caballo mine and 1,136 acres from its Rawhide mine in June of this year.Peabody sold a combined 21.4 million tons of coal in 2017 from Rawhide and Caballo, according to an annual report. The company estimates it held about 294 million tons and 477 million tons of proven and probable reserves at its Rawhide and Caballo mines, respectively, at the end of the year. The combined 771 million tons of proven and probable reserves are of a lower heat content than the company’s larger North Antelope Rochelle mine, which reported 1.80 billion tons of proven and probable reserves.Coal from the Powder River Basin is generally of a lower quality than that from eastern U.S. coal mining regions and also typically has a longer distance to travel to customers in the U.S. and abroad. However, the coal is also easily and cheaply mined compared to eastern U.S. reserves. While much of the coal burned in the U.S. for power still comes from the Powder River Basin, demand from the region has taken a major hit in recent years.As overall U.S. coal demand pinches Powder River Basin producers, mines with the lowest-quality coal find it more difficult to economically justify mining that coal. While Peabody’s flagship North Antelope Rochelle mine churns out coal with an energy content of about 8,800 Btu/lb Caballo produces coal with about 8,400 Btu/lb while Rawhide’s coal boasts just 8,300 Btu/lb.“The definition of [what is economical to mine] is getting tighter and murkier as more coal plants close, because that coal is in less demand,” said Tom Sanzillo, director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “That all makes sense as a sort of rationalizing of a market that is shrinking and perhaps the beginning of an exit strategy from the 8,400 line completely.”More ($): Peabody relinquished thousands of acres of federal coal leases in recent months
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享E&E News ($):The House Natural Resources Committee yesterday inveighed against Puerto Rico’s decrepit and inept power company but saw no clear path to provide the territory with clean and affordable energy.Puerto Rico is back in the headlines in recent weeks, as lawmakers negotiate a new aid package and as President Trump tweets that the territory’s leaders are incompetent and corrupt. Key to recovery is the energy system, which the hearing was meant to address.Since Hurricane Maria toppled the power grid in late 2017, leading to the worst blackout in American history, the Puerto Rico Legislature has adopted new laws to temper some the island’s worst power problems. But federal lawmakers fret that the territory is almost as vulnerable as ever, as the 2019 hurricane season approaches.Were a Category 4 hurricane to strike now, devastation would be widespread but recovery time would be cut in half because of better communication, bigger stockpiles of equipment and new mutual-aid agreements with mainland power companies, said José Ortiz Vásquez, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) executive director.Representatives plumbed a variety of issues, including the energy mix and the prospect of privatizing PREPA, and expressed frustration that most of $2 billion in federal funds that Congress approved to rebuild the grid have not yet been released.An alternative to PREPA’s mismanagement – selling off its assets and privatizing the grid – was greenlighted by Puerto Rico’s government last year but so far is not on track to improve service for Puerto Ricans.“For more than a decade, PREPA has been operated in a manner to benefit the interests of fuel suppliers, bondholders and other private interests via lucrative and poorly managed contracts, at the expense of the people of Puerto Rico,” said Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, in his testimony. “The current privatization process is designed in a way that will only make this problem worse,” he added.More ($): Lawmakers befuddled by Puerto Rico grid woes Puerto Rico PREPA utility oversight and privatization focus of House hearing
Japan’s largest thermal power generator boosts investment in offshore wind industry FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Japan’s power generator JERA Co said on Wednesday it will buy a 49% stake in the Formosa 2 offshore wind project in Taiwan from Macquarie Capital for an undisclosed sum, in a bid to expand its renewable energy portfolio.JERA, a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings and Chubu Electric Power Co, already holds a 32.5% stake in Taiwan’s first commercial offshore wind project Formosa 1, which has 128 megawatts (MW) capacity.The latest investment on the 376 MW project, due to start operation at the end of 2021, will boost JERA’s renewable energy capacity through its equity holdings to 1.2 gigawatts (GW), a step closer to its 2025 renewable target of 5 GW.JERA declined to disclose the size of investment, but its general manager, Ken Matsuda, said the total cost of the Formosa 2 project is expected to be a “few hundred billion yen”.The company is also considering investing in the bigger Formosa 3 project, Matsuda said. “Formosa 3 is still in the early discussion stage and has not been decided, but we are in talks with parties involved with an aim to take a 30-40% stake in the 2 GW project,” Matsuda told a news conference. If agreed and approved by authorities, the Formosa 3 project is expected to start operation over 2026-2030, he added.JERA, Japan’s biggest thermal power generator, is also eyeing investment in offshore wind projects in Japan, Matsuda said. Japanese utilities are stepping up investment in renewable energy projects as they face growing pressure by investors and environment activists to divest coal-fired power plants as well as increasing demand for greener energy from their key customers.More: Japan’s JERA to buy 49% stake in Taiwan’s offshore wind project
In recent years the sport of trail running has made huge gains in popularity. It seemed like only yesterday that specialty running stores offered only a couple brands of trail shoes and just a model or two at best. Today trail running is simply becoming more mainstream and the running market is flooded with many types of trail shoes as well as trail accessories. Trail running is no longer considered a niche or a fringe arm of running, as more and more runners seek to the solitude of the woods.I personally started out as a road runner often referred to as a “roadie”. I strictly raced road distances from 5k to road marathons. However I soon came to realize I live in a mecca of outdoor trails here in WNC. I grew up here and hiked lots of trails with my family, it never did occur to me that one day I’d be running down these same trails. I remember back several years ago when my wife who was the co-founder of Jus’ Running in Asheville, NC told me about trail running. I think I was purchasing my tenth pair of Brooks Mach 1’s (road shoes) when Anne said “you know there are some great trails around here for running.” I thought how in the world does someone run on trails with all those rocks, roots, mud and leaves?She sent me out to the trails in nearby Bent Creek Recreation Area and I was admittedly apprehensive at first. However it was actually easier than I thought and soon I was running on trails several times a week. It was quite relaxing, therapeutic and simply more fun than the roads for me. I could not get enough of the experience and the euphoric feeling of floating along a trail in the secluded woods.Trail races back in the late 90’s were few and far between even throughout the Southeast. Shut In was and still is the big trail race around here in WNC but that was about it. I continued to race on roads but often found myself injured. Somewhere between six or seven stress fractures in my tibia later, I realized something had to change. I was missing out on lots of training for months at a time while I healed. So I dedicated even more miles of training to trails and ignored that I needed to run strictly on roads to have my legs “hardened” for road racing. There is some truth to that but definitely not worth it if you are injured all the time. To my surprise what little road racing I continued to do, I only got better. Soon more trails races were popping up all over the area so I sought those out. I found that being healthy and able to run day in and day out was now possible mostly due to the friendly soft surfaces of the trail.After a couple Shut In trail races later I very rarely raced on the roads anymore. The lure of wanting to do longer trail races led me towards ultra marathons. Most ultra marathons are on trails so even though the distance and time on your feet is greater, the post recovery is an easier process than the road marathon. Having stated my love for running on trails, I do still enjoy some road miles for many reasons. I’ll delve into the pros and cons of trail running vs. road running for my next post. Running on trails or roads has become quite a touchy subject these days, much like one’s political party affiliation. Each side believes their party – surface is the better one and most seem to have a partisan viewpoint. I’ll try to prove each side’s worthiness, however in the end there can be only one victor!
No surprise there. But while we’re enjoying an unseasonably warm start to December, temperatures in Alaska reached as low as -58 degrees F this week. And some meteorologists say that the cold air could be moving south soon. Winter is coming (finally?)
Winning is so over rated. I mean, who wants a medal or a trophy that says to the world, “I’m the best at FILL IN THE BLANK”? That’s just ostentatious.I feel like I’ve earned the right to say that, because I’ve never won anything in my life. Not even those school superlatives. In an informal poll my senior year, I had a real shot at winning “Most Likely to Drop Out of College,” but for a while it looked like I wasn’t even going to go to college, so my name was unceremoniously removed from the contest. Because I grew up in the ‘90s when they gave awards out to everybody who bothered to show up, I have a box full of “participation” medals, but none that I actually won.So yeah, winners are lame.And yet, I can’t help but get really excited when the winners of the Great American Beer Festival are announced. This is the biggest craft beer contest in the world, and most American breweries are represented, each submitting beers they’re proud of in specific styles. There was a time when the festival was dominated by West Coast breweries and a few progressive Midwestern shops, but I’m happy to say that the Southern Appalachians represented pretty well this year (the GABF was held last week in Denver).A number of our finest breweries pulled in some beautiful hard wear, but there are three winning beers that I think everyone should seek out if they have the opportunity.Hardywood Park’s Raspberry Stout. This Richmond brewery pulled big boy gold in the fruit beer category. Word on the street is their Raspberry Stout is worth its weight in, well, gold.Pisgah Brewing Chocolatized Vortex II. The limited release of this imperial stout has reached feverish levels in Asheville, and it earned a gold for Chocolate Beer at GABF.Monday Night Brewing Bourbon Barrel Drafty Kilt. I can’t imagine the big hitters that Monday Night went up against to win gold in the Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer category. Some of the most sought after beers in the country fall into this category. And this year, Monday Night, out of Atlanta, has the gold standard.The biggest round of congratulations in our region has to go to Virginia’s Devils Backbone, which won four individual medals (including a gold for their Schwartz Bier) and the biggest award of all: Midsize Brewing Company of the Year. That’s their third consecutive national title for Devils Backbone at GABF. Obviously, these dudes are on a roll. It’s enough to make me change my stance on winners.
It’s not too late to join the fun at America’s Friendliest Marathon — the Richmond Marathon in Richmond, Virginia! On November 15, run the race or party on the sidelines to see why this event has earned its famous title.The marathon provides one of the best tours of historic Richmond that you could ask for: Monument Avenue, the Fan District, Brown’s Island, and the James River make an ideal setting for your big day. Junk food stops, wet washcloth stations, party zones, live music, and screaming fans will motivate you the whole way. Plus, beer and pizza wait just across the finish line and provide the perfect caloric motivation. Who could say no?Not ready to tackle the big 26.2? Don’t write off this event just yet: the American Family Fitness Half Marathon and the HCA Virginia 8K accompany the Anthem Richmond Marathon and open the door for any level runner. You can even spend a great morning cheering on the runners, decking out the party zones, pumping out the tunes, and enjoying the city. It’s hard to miss out on the fun, no matter where you stand.A precious few spots remain for the Half Marathon, while the full Marathon and 8K have no runner limit. Let RVA put a smile on your face as you pound the pavement, and come on out to the Richmond Marathon!
2015 was an especially big year for the outdoors. BRO covered everything from record-setting runs to lumbersexuals. There were tragic deaths—and close calls. Here are the stories that generated the most chatter in 2015. 15. A Crowded Walk in the WoodsWith the Hollywood release of A Walk in the Woods in 2015, even more hikers are expected to hike the Appalachian Trail. Will crowds swamp the A.T. or help save it? BRO looks at the past, present, and future of America’s most iconic footpath.14. Won’t Pipe DownA 550-mile pipeline pumping natural gas is planned for West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, cutting a broad swath through George Washington National Forest and across the Appalachian Trail. Can activists stop another Keystone in our Blue Ridge backyard?13. Digital DangerSocial media is changing the way we play. Does Strava enhance or erode the outdoor experience? Does paddling porn amplify adventure or push risk-taking too far? Critics and supporters discuss technology on the trail.12. Monumental Battle in the Mountain StateThe proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument in West Virginia would permanently protect some of its most beloved landscapes, but it sits squarely atop a natural gas oasis. A coalition of outdoor enthusiasts collide with a booming fracking industry over West Virginia’s most treasured wildlands.11. The Ragged EdgeWhy do kayakers risk their lives dancing with danger? What propels paddlers to plunge off waterfalls? Blue Ridge boaters share their candid stories from the horizon line.10. Bear attacksIn the summer of 2015, bears attacked hikers in Douthat State Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bear encounters are becoming more common as urban sprawl encroaches upon wildlife habitat.9. Bouldering’s Best-Kept Secrets High Country climbers have traditionally been tight-lipped about their favorite bouldering spots. That’s because access issues and development have threatened their most treasured rock faces. In 2015, new guidebooks and a rapidly growing climbing community have revealed most of the High Country’s best-kept bouldering secrets. Will climbing hotspots be better protected or overused and closed down?8. End of the Ocoee?One of the nation’s most popular whitewater rivers could be closed to paddlers. In 2015, TVA announced plans to charge $11 million to continue dam releases for recreation on the Ocoee River. The Ocoee was the site of the 1996 Olympics’ whitewater paddling events, and now its world-class whitewater is currently being held for ransom.6. The Future of ForestsThroughout 2015, all eyes have been on the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Plan, which will decide the future of the largest forest system in the East. Controversies over logging, recreation, and access have dogged the plan, but in late 2015, a coalition of over 30 outdoor groups joined together to support a comprehensive compromise that includes two new national recreation areas and 109,000 acres of wilderness.5. Rise of the LumbersexualAward-winning author Wiley Cash examines the phenomenon of the lumbersexual—the flannel-wearing, bearded outdoorsy hipster—and its roots in our longing for the past, especially in Appalachia.4. Lessons Before DyingALS is taking Royce Cowan’s body, but not his adventurous outdoor spirit. Five years ago, he was at the top of his game: a gonzo whitewater paddler who had just married the love of his life. Five years later, he cannot move his muscles. Nobody knows what causes ALS, and there is no cure for ALS. His story could easily be yours or mine. Yet he has lived long beyond expectations thanks to healthy living, a dedicated wife, and plentiful outdoor adventure—even as his body fails him.3. Wolf WarsOnly 75 red wolves remain in the wild—all of them in eastern North Carolina. A red wolf recovery program has brought them back from the brink of extinction, but now agencies are considering abandoning the program. Will the howl of the red wolf disappear forever?2. Jenny Bennett’s death62-year-old hiker and local author Jenny Bennett had been exploring off-trail in the Smokies for decades. Then, in early June, she was reported missing after embarking on one of her favorite off-trail hikes. Her body was eventually found near the Porters Creek Trailhead. What went wrong?1. Records (and Rules) Broken on the A.T.: Scott Jurek’s Speed Record (and Jennifer Pharr Davis’s response)Legendary ultrarunner Scott Jurek set a new Appalachian Trail speed record of 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes, overcoming a severe quad injury early in the trek and severe flu in the final few weeks. He topped Katahdin only a three hours ahead of the previous record held by Asheville’s Jennifer Pharr Davis, who wrote a powerful and candid response to Jurek’s record in the August issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors. Jurek was fined by Baxter State Park for his post-run celebration atop Katahdin, which also generated controversy among the outdoor community. Less than a month later, Heather “Anish” Anderson set the unsupported A.T. record, completing the trail in 54 days without any crew or assistance along the way.Jurek Sets Out to Break AT Speed RecordJurek Sets New AT Speed RecordScott Jurek Fined for Khatadin CelebrationFormer AT Record Holder Jennifer Pharr Davis Responds to Jurek’s Achievement Heather Anish Sets New Unsupported AT Record