FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bill Estep for the Lexington Herald-Leader:Kentucky’s coal industry continued to hemorrhage jobs in the first three months of 2016, hitting the lowest level in more than a century.The number of jobs dropped by a little more than 1,500 during the quarter. There were an estimated 6,900 people employed at coal mines as of April 1, the lowest number since 1898, according to a report released Monday by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.Coal industry employment dropped 21.8 percent in Eastern Kentucky and 12.2 percent in the state’s western coalfield. The coal jobs decline statewide was 17.9 percent, according to the report.The statewide decline was the biggest in a single quarter since the state began releasing quarterly reports in 2012.Production numbers were equally bleak in the first three months of the year. Statewide, companies mined 12.8 percent less coal.Production plunged 21.6 percent in Eastern Kentucky. The drop in Western Kentucky was far less, at 5.7 percent.Job and production numbers for Western Kentucky could continue to fall in the second quarter.In Eastern Kentucky, preliminary numbers show that Perry County edged out Pike County as the region’s biggest coal producer in early 2016, according to the report.Pike County was the state’s top producer from 1978 through 2011, but it was displaced in 2012 by Union County.The current production in Pike County is 89 percent lower than at its peak in 1996, the report said.A number of factors have combined to drive down demand for coal, including competition from natural gas and tougher federal rules to protect air and water quality, which create an advantage for natural gas over coal.Eastern Kentucky also faces particular challenges because many of the thickest seams have been mined out. Remaining seams cost more to mine. The region’s product also competes with cheaper coal from elsewhere in the country.Full article: 1,500 coal jobs lost in 1st quarter; total is lowest in 118 years With 1,500 Recent Layoffs, Kentucky Coal-Industry Employment Falls to Lowest Level Since 1898
In 2017, Unsubsidized Renewables Won the Cost Race FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Forbes:Rapid cost declines made renewable energy the United States’ cheapest available source of new electricity, without subsidies, in 2017. In many parts of the U.S., building new wind is cheaper than running existing coal, while nuclear and natural gas aren’t far behind. As renewable energy costs continue their relentless decline, they keep pushing fossil fuels further from profitability – and neither trend is slowing down.This dynamic is apparent in the decade spanning 2008-2017, where nearly all retired U.S. power plants were fossil fuel generation, and was capped by utilities announcing 27 coal plant closures totaling 22 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2017. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts coal closures will continue through 2020, potentially setting an all-time annual record in 2018.Despite Trump Administration actions to improve fossil fuel economics and reduce renewable energy competitiveness, updated levelized cost of energy (LCOE) data and new renewable energy projects show clean energy continues beating fossil fuels on economics, at a faster pace and in more locations than ever before. So just how low can renewable prices go?The 2017 edition of Lazard’s annual Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) study, released in December, shows renewable energy continues to decline (dramatically, in the case of utility-scale solar photovoltaics) in cost. LCOE accurately compares the economics of different generation technologies by measuring the total cost of first building a power plant, then operating it over its assumed lifetime. Think of it as evenly comparing apples to oranges.Unsubsidized onshore wind and utility-scale solar are both cheaper than new coal in many parts of the U.S., and are cost-competitive with combined-cycle natural gas on a levelized cost basis. In the words of Tom Sanzillo, Director of Finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, “clean energy is now cheap energy.”More: Cheap Renewables Keep Pushing Fossil Fuels Further Away From Profitability – Despite Trump’s Efforts
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Enid News & Eagle:Officials announced Tuesday that the Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project was approved by Arkansas Public Service Commission.The announcement was made by Southwestern Electric Power Co. Wind Catcher Energy Connection is a joint effort between SWEPCO and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, and is a $4.5 billion project that involves building a wind farm in Oklahoma, a 350-mile power line and two substations. SWEPCO will own 70 percent of the project, and PSO the other 30 percent.The wind farm, to be built on 300,000 acres in Cimarron and Texas counties in the Panhandle, will include about 800 2.5 MW wind turbines. A power line will stretch from there to Tulsa, bringing 2,000 megawatts of energy to customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma, in addition to parts of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. PSO’s share of the project investment is $1.36 billion.While the project was determined by the APSC in Arkansas to be “in the public interest,” PSO on Tuesday still was awaiting a decision from Oklahoma Corporation Commission for preapproval of the company’s request to allow PSO to charge ratepayers to help fund the project and recover an anticipated expenditure of the $1.36 billion.SWEPCO said the project will save its customers more than $4 billion over the 25-year life of the wind farm. The company said customers will see savings mostly through a reduction in the fuel portion of their bills starting in 2021. If completed, Wind Catcher will be the largest single-site wind project in the United States. More: Arkansas Public Service Commission Approves Wind Catcher $4.5 Billion Wind Catcher Project Moves a Step Closer to Construction
Construction starts on Australia’s largest wind farm FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Manufacturers’ Monthly:Construction on what is set to become Australia’s largest, and possibly cheapest, wind farm in Australia has officially started near Beaufort in Victoria.Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio yesterday visited the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm, about 35 kilometres west of Ballarat to mark the start of the construction.The wind farm is being developed by Goldwind and will see 149 turbines provide 530 MW of clean energy to power homes across Victoria and beyond.The project is estimated to be delivering 300 jobs during construction and injecting more than $5 million into the local economy each year.The Stockyard Hill Wind Farm is part of the Victorian Government’s Renewable Energy Target of 25 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025. TheStockyard Hill Wind Farm is due to be operational by late 2019.More: Work starts on Australia’s largest wind farm
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Northwest Indiana Times:Indiana utility NIPSCO decided to transition away from the coal it’s burned for 90 years because of financial considerations, not environmental concerns, company President Violet Sistovaris told the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.The Merrillville-based utility estimates it will save up to $4 billion by retiring its aging coal-fired plants, including the Michigan City Generating Station, passing the cost savings onto customers. NIPSCO believes that in a decade it will instead generate 65% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, 25% from natural gas, and 10% from other sources, such as buying power at market rates from the grid when it’s most cost-effective to do so.“It’s a customer-focused plan to meet the future energy needs of customers,” Sistovaris told a business crowd at a Lakeshore Chamber luncheon at Dynasty Banquets in Hammond. “It’s a decades-long transition to a more balanced portfolio. We’re going from coal-fired generation to lower-cost cleaner energy sources that will result in $4 billion in cost savings. It’s a more balanced, more diverse and more affordable way to reliably provide electricity. It’s not politically driven or environmentally driven. It’s lower cost.”Every few years, NIPSCO, the second-largest electric utility in Indiana, reviews how it will provide power in the future to its 460,000 electric customers, including five large industrial users that make up 40% of the total demand. The company looked 20 years out in a forecast and saw an opportunity to invest in cleaner and more balanced electricity generation, Sistovaris said.“Retiring all of our coal plants as quickly as possible was the least-cost option,” she said. “Running the coal plants to the end of life was the most expensive. They have aged and gotten more expensive to maintain and operate as anyone who runs an industrial facility can appreciate.”NIPSCO is partnering with developers to build four new wind farms across Indiana, in rural areas downstate. The company also expects to get power from solar panels, natural gas and the grid system, and will continue to evaluate the exact mix based on prices and market conditions, Sistovaris said.More: NIPSCO estimates shift from coal will save $4 billion Indiana utility says coal phaseout, new renewables will save customers $4 billion
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Ørsted, a developer synonymous with offshore wind, will have a novel experience in 2021: All of the new power plants it completes will be onshore, and most will involve solar panels.Since building the world’s first offshore wind project 30 years ago off the coast of Denmark, no other company has played a bigger role in transforming that technology into a competitive form of power generation. Yet as Ørsted cements its position in emerging offshore wind markets such as the U.S. and Taiwan, the Danish company is also focusing on a new opportunity: North America’s sunny skies.As of today, Ørsted has not completed a major solar project anywhere in the world, and it has just a single battery project in the U.K. to its name. Fast-forward a year, however, and things will look very different.Ørsted is currently building two huge solar arrays in Texas and Alabama, totaling nearly 700 megawatts. Particularly striking is the 460-megawatt Permian Energy Center in West Texas, which will sell its solar power to ExxonMobil and includes a 40-megawatt battery system.If its 2021 construction schedule holds, Ørsted will catapult into the upper echelon of U.S. PV developers in terms of capacity built in a single year, joining the ranks of heavyweights like First Solar and NextEra Energy. Whether Ørsted can sustain its solar pipeline at anything approaching that level remains to be seen, however.“Solar is the fastest-growing power generation technology in the world,” Vishal Kapadia, chief financial officer of Ørsted’s onshore business, said in an interview. Going forward, the company’s investments will spread across a “regionally and technologically diverse pipeline.” Ørsted’s push into solar has already accelerated its role as an energy storage developer, and that is likely to continue. “Given [solar’s] generation shape, it pairs well with storage, and that lends itself to opportunities as well,” Kapadia said.[Karl-Erik Stromsta]More: Orsted, the world’s offshore wind giant, gets serious about solar Offshore wind giant Ørsted takes aim at U.S. solar, storage markets
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:France’s Neoen SA has kicked off construction on its 41-MWp Metoro solar photovoltaic (PV) project in northeastern Mozambique.The start of construction works was marked by an official groundbreaking ceremony last week that was attended by French government officials and the Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi, the Africa Solar Industry Association (AFSIA) announced.French renewable energy project developer Neoen is implementing the project in partnership with Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM). The overall investment is estimated at USD 56 million (EUR 47.3m), of which USD 40 million were provided by French development agency AFD, through its financial arm Proparco.To be located in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, the solar farm will cover an area of 138 ha (341 acres) and will be capable of producing enough electricity to supply 175,000 local homes. Once operational, it will sell its output under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with EDM.Portugal-based Efacec Power Solutions is in charge of building the solar park.[Veselina Petrova]More: Neoen breaks ground 41-MWp solar farm in Mozambique French developer Neoen begins construction of 41MW solar farm in Mozambique
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Energy Wire:Wind power production in Germany could be doubled by 2030 thanks to technological progress and greater capacity of each turbine at existing locations, wind energy lobby group BWE and regional renewable energy association LEE NRW have said.A study by Deutsche WindGuard commissioned by the two industry groups found that technological progress allows wind turbines to achieve more and more full load hours and greater capacity, meaning more power can be produced more consistently than previously thought.The output by turbines built on areas designated for wind power production so far could be increased by 100 percent by 2030 to reach 200 terawatt hours (TWh) over the next decade and even reach 500 TWh if new areas are opened for turbine construction, the study found. Germany’s current power demand is 530 TWh per year but is set too increase in the future, the industry groups said.LEE NRW head Christian Mildenberger said modern wind turbines already produce ten times more electricity than those built in the year 2000. “The technology has made great strides in the past 20 years,” Mildenberger said.BWE’s Wolfram Axthelm said the study called for a review of so-called repowering measures, where older turbines are replaced by newer models at existing locations. “Today, less than one percent of Germany’s surface is designated for onshore wind power. This already would allow us to cover nearly 40 percent of power demand by 2030. If the share grew to two percent, we could cover almost 100 percent,” Axthelm argued.A large part of Germany’s existing wind power fleet will be replaced over the next years, as the first installations built under the country’s Renewable Energy Act after 2000 will fall out of the 20-year guaranteed remuneration scheme. According to LEE NRW, technology improvements mean that Germany could reach up to 700 TWh wind power output per year by 2040 with the same number of turbines it boasts today, meaning that a combination of renewable power technologies could cover the country’s entire power demand even if e-mobility, heat pumps and green hydrogen production mean that electricity use is going to increase.[Benjamin Wehrmann]More: Germany’s onshore wind power potential greater than previously thought – study Significant potential to expand existing German wind power generation via repowering–study
The problem we’re facing as we stand in our lycra, straddling our road bikes, is the road doesn’t connect. Well, on the map it connects. It’s clear as day—a little white line going from the bottom of the mountain to the top of the mountain, but here we are, standing at the end of a gravel road looking at a faint path going into the woods. This definitely ain’t no road. I check the GPS map again, then look at the dense woods in front of us. We’re definitely in the right spot. But no road. Then the farmer who owns the land we’re apparently trespassing on starts yelling at us. This isn’t how I saw my Thursday going.All we wanted was something a little different. A bit of adventure, a slight departure from our normal lunch ride route. So I looked at the map for a different road we could pedal and found this scribble of a white line climbing the back side of Elk Mountain, between Asheville and Weaverville, and here we are looking at either bushwhacking up the side of a mountain with our road bikes or getting shot by a farmer. Possibly both.Turns out the farmer is cool and just wants to make sure we know where we’re going. His name is Gary. People get lost on his property all the time. He says if we push through the woods a ways, hang a left on a brutally steep gravel road, we’ll find some pavement that climbs back to the top of Elk Mountain.“It’s straight up, but the pavement’s good,” he says. “You might even be able to ride some of it.”Sounds promising, so we push, climbing over blowdowns and ducking under spider webs and climbing over rocks with our skinny road bikes on our shoulders and our bike shoes slipping beneath us until we find road, glorious road. It’s a high-end home development that went under after the real estate crash in 07/08. The road is there, complete with perfect cul-de-sacs, but no homes.And Gary is right. The road is steep, but we can pedal it, and it has big views of the mountain range looking west. It would’ve been a hell-of-a neighborhood. We’re tired from the bushwhack, but we’re climbing so we’re happy. And we’re headed towards beer. Something light and refreshing. A kolsch perhaps. Maybe three.
There are a lot of places to go in the Blue Ridge, but as much as we all long for the trail beneath our feet, the hum of our tires on country roads, or the dig of our paddles in the water, sometimes we need a base that’s not so rustic. We dug out our maps and looked for towns large and small that have the right mix of city amenities (food, beer, and a shower) and outdoors thrills (no explanations necessary). Morganton, North CarolinaThe Blue Ridge Parkway is a short drive away, as is South Mountains State Park (the largest in the state), and Lake James State Park where there’s a paddle-access only campsite waiting for you. Hike to Table Rock, check out the waterfalls in South Mountains, post up around sunset and watch for the Brown Mountain Lights, take a wilderness survival class, even go hang gliding; and at the end of the day, head back to Morganton for a beer from Fonta Flora brewery and a bite from root & vine so you’ll have the energy to do it all again tomorrow.Fonta Flora Brewery Tap Room.Harrisburg, PennsylvaniaWith the Susquehanna River flowing by downtown and mountains lined with mountain biking and hiking trails within an easy drive, don’t overlook Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. Several kayak outfitters will get you on the water where you can paddle through town or on some more remote waters, a trio of tough mountain bike courses—including Lambs Gap Trail—are nearby, and, if you need a little sugar rush to help you out, pay a visit to the neighboring town of Hershey (yes, that Hershey) for a sweet treat or a pint (or two) at Troegs Brewery.A Susquehanna River Sunset.Roanoke, VirginiaA vibrant food scene, a superb greenway, the Blue Ridge Parkway on one side and the Appalachian Trail on the other makes Roanoke a must-visit . McAfee Knob—one of the most-photographed spots on the AT—is a short drive and an 8-mile hike from downtown, and in Carvins Cove you’ll find 12,000 acres of woodlands to explore on mountain biking trails (from bomber downhills to fire roads to cross-country single-track) and on foot. And if you’re a road cyclist, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a stone’s throw from downtown and there’s some mighty fine riding along those rolling hills.The Roanoke Section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.Seneca, South Carolina South Carolina’s coast is nice, but the mountains, that’s where it’s at. Oconee County is a playground and Seneca is a perfect jumping off spot. It’s on the banks of Lake Keowee, so fishing, kayaking, and SUP are at your disposal; and it’s a short drive to more than a dozen waterfalls, some excellent single-track biking, and the lauded Chattooga River. In town you’ve got The Beer Station to quench your thirst, great barbecue at Black’s Smokehouse, and the free Jazz on the Alley concerts every Thursday. Easy access to the outdoors, creature comforts of town, what more do you need?London, KentuckyLondon, at the heart of the “Cycling Capital of Kentucky,” does have 300 miles of developed cycling routes in the town and in Laurel County, but there’s more. Daniel Boone National Forest, larger than Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spans the Tennessee border and there you’ll find more than 600 miles of trail for hiking and mountain biking. You can kayak and canoe, camp, in Daniel Boone, even hunt in designated areas. If ATVs or dirt bikes are your thing, get your fill at Wildcat Adventure & Off Road Park. Refuel at Old Town Grill or, since you’re in the Colonel’s neck of the woods, hit up a KFC in his honor.Chimney Top Overlook in the Daniel Boone National ForestLeesburg, VirginiaLeesburg, an hour outside DC, has the cure for city madness: a weekend outdoors. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail runs 45-miles through Loudoun County, and the 10-mile stretch from Leesburg to Purcellville is shaded and excellent for cyclists and joggers, or use it to visit some of the 17 breweries, like Adroit Theory, for a little refreshment on the way. If you need to get some aggression out, hit Hogback Mountain Paintball or Pev’s Paintball Park. The Potomac River runs through town and there’s plenty of good food from MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers to Smokehouse Live (for barbecue and music) to the phenomenal Restaurant at Patowmack Farms. Guntersville, AlabamaWhat do you want to do? Hike? Bike? Hunt? Golf? Waterski? All of it? Then go to Guntersville. From this town on the banks of Lake Gunnison you can paddle to see 600-year old rock paintings or visit The Bat Cave (think bat colonies, not Batman). You can hit the 36 miles of hiking and 20 miles of mountain biking trails. Go birding and spot Peregrine falcons and bald eagles. There’s some killer barbecue in and around town, some hearty country dining, and tasty lakeside dining at Top of the River. Evans, GeorgiaDisc Golfers, mountain bikers, kayakers, and barbecue lovers take note, Evans, Georgia, is the place to be. At the International Disc Golf Center (yes, there’s an International Disc Golf Center and Hall of Fame) you’ll get your fill of flinging Frisbees far and wide, and there are some big rides to challenge you mountain bikers. How big? There’s a 67-mile route called the Thurmond Epic that connects a quartet of trails, and two other rides of 25 and 50 miles, plus the smaller trails. Kayakers will want to head to Betty’s Branch and the Savannah River and April’s Benderdinker paddling event is a great reason to get on the water. There’s the Wildwood Games in June, BanjoBQue music festival and barbecue bonanza on Memorial Day, and events, races, runs, and rides all year long.Betty’s Branch in Evans, GeorgiaMarlinton, West VirginiaWithin a 30-minute drive from town you have Snowshoe Mountain for skiing and mountain biking, the 78-mile long Greenbrier River Trail on a repurposed railroad bed, the three falls of Hills Creek, Cranberry Glades, and the largest state park in West Virginia. And at the end of September you have one of the strangest festivals you can find: the Roadkill Cookoff.