Renewable Energy Investment Grew by 5% in 2015, to $286 Billion

first_imgRenewable Energy Investment Grew by 5% in 2015, to $286 Billion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bobby Magill for Climate Central:Renewable energy investments, excluding large hydroelectric projects, jumped 5 percent last year, leaping over the previous investment record of $278.5 billion set in 2011. The findings were published in an annual report published on Thursday by the UN Environment Programme, the Frankfurt School and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.The world collectively spent nearly $286 billion on renewable energy development in 2015. The investment comes following an unprecedented worldwide boom in renewables in 2014 that suggested some countries are shifting dramatically toward low-carbon energy. Rising investments are in part being driven by the falling cost of solar and wind farm construction.  The money put into renewables was  more than double the $130 billion that spent on fossil fuel power plants. Developing countries led the renewable charge. China, India, Brazil and other developing countries put $156 billion into renewables last year, a 19 percent increase over 2014.The renewables investment record also shows that the transition toward the goal of reducing global reliance on coal and other fossil fuels is well underway mainly because investments in wind, solar and other renewables are now more than double investments in power plants running on fossil fuels, the report says.Renewable Energy Investments Set a Record in 2015last_img read more

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Still Seeking Buyer for Failing Arizona Coal Plant, Owners Are Running Out of Time

first_imgStill Seeking Buyer for Failing Arizona Coal Plant, Owners Are Running Out of Time FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:A coal-fired power plant in far northern Arizona is set to shut down in 2019 unless a new owner can be found. The deadline for interested buyers is Sunday.The operator of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, the Salt River Project, says the deadline will determine whether to maintain the plant for long-term use or plan to tear it down. The utility and other owners voted this year to shutter the plant on the Navajo Nation near Page because natural gas became a cheaper option for energy production than coal.Peabody Energy, the owner of the coal mine that feeds the power plant, sees it differently. It hired investment firm Lazard earlier this year to look for new owners.The Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe want a new owner, too, because their budgets rely heavily on the vast reserves of coal mined from near Kayenta. Environmentalists who have fought the power plant on health and environmental grounds say the tribes instead should focus on renewable energy.Here is a look at the economics of the plant and what’s expected Sunday:WHAT IS THE SITUATION WITH THE PLANT?The plant was built in 1969 to power water delivery to the state’s desert region through a 336-mile canal system. The sole coal supplier is Peabody Energy’s Kayenta Mine, which ships the coal to the plant via rail line.The plant became a steady supplier of electricity to Arizona, Nevada and California over the decades. But utilities increasingly are switching from coal to natural gas, which is cheaper and better for the environment, or renewables. As a result, the plant’s owners say financial considerations make it impossible to keep the location open, and they want to shut it down. The loss of the plant would kill the coal mine, where hundreds of tribal members work.WHO IS LOOKING FOR NEW OWNERS?Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says long-term operation of the plant is among the department’s top priorities.The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation owns a portion of the power generated from the plant and says it has to look out for the best interests of tribal governments. It is keeping the players talking about potential new ownership, cost-reduction at the power plant and mine, and new power buyers.But the customer base is dwindling. California cut out power from coal, and Nevada is doing the same. The largest user of power from the Navajo Generating Station, the Central Arizona Project, is in favor of ditching coal, too. Officials say they could have saved $38.5 million last year by buying power on the open market.Peabody argues that coal is more stable than natural gas, and it would offer a reduced price for it.WHO ARE THE POTENTIAL NEW OWNERS?No one will say. Prospective owners have signed confidentiality agreements. SRP gives them access to information on the plant, past performance, maintenance schedules and cost, existing lease agreements, the coal supply from Peabody Energy’s Kayenta Mine, staffing and union contracts through a virtual data room.SRP spokesman Scott Harelson says the utility has 14 signed non-disclosure agreements but it doesn’t know the level of interest.Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton wouldn’t say whether any serious contenders have been found, only that the company is pleased with the caliber of firms interested in the process.WHAT IS THE VALUE OF THE PLANT?Construction of the plant cost $650 million, according to SRP. Another $465 million went to pollution controls in later years. Harelson said the value now depends on how much money could be made running the plant.The owners don’t expect to make a huge profit if it sells.Operations and maintenance costs totaled $204 million in 2016. Environmental regulations also would factor in to future costs. The plant owners committed to shutting down one of the three units by 2020 to cut haze-causing nitrogen oxide emissions and install pollution controls on the other two units by 2030.WHAT HAPPENS OCT. 1?Harelson said it’s a firm deadline for interest from potential owners.Others see it as a softer deadline considering the Interior Department and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a former owner, have until Dec. 1 to sign off on the lease with the Navajo Nation that extended the plant’s operation through 2019.Harelson said Lazard has been communicating with the Navajo Nation, and SRP expects a list from the tribe by Sunday on interested buyers. Lazard didn’t return a call from The Associated Press. But a managing director, Juan Correa, told Arizona regulators earlier this year “the universe of buyers is relatively small.”WHAT’S IN IT FOR TRIBES?The Hopi Tribe’s interest is in coal royalties that make up 80 percent of its budget. Few of its members work at the power plant or mine.Hundreds of jobs for Navajos and 30 percent of the tribe’s budget would be lost if the plant and mine close. A new owner would have to negotiate a lease with Navajo.Meghan Cox, a spokeswoman for Navajo President Russell Begaye, said the tribe is hopeful for ownership proposals and looks forward to reviewing them.Percy Deal, a Navajo who lives south of the coal mine, says the Navajo Nation should stop wasting time thinking a new owner will come aboard. He said the economics don’t support keeping a coal plant open.More: Sunday deadline for interest in Navajo coal plant approacheslast_img read more

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Australian zinc refiner opens 125 MW, onsite solar farm

first_imgAustralian zinc refiner opens 125 MW, onsite solar farm FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:A 125 MW solar farm built to lower costs and underpin the expansion of Korean zinc refiner Sun Metals in north Queensland has been officially opened at its site, south of Townsville.The ground-breaking project, which was constructed by RCR Tomlinson, marked the first large-scale solar farm to be built directly by a major energy user in Australia, and signaled the start of the shift of Australian heavy industry away from “baseload” coal power and to renewable energy.Since then, Sun Metals has been joined by UK steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, who earlier this week launched his own plans to build more than 1GW of dispatchable renewable energy to expand Australia’s manufacturing and heavy industry around a supply of cheap and reliable energy.Speaking at the solar farm’s launch, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project demonstrated that no new coal-fired power generation needed to be built in the state’s north, despite calls for just that from various Coalition party members, including the local member, the MP for Dawson, George Christensen. “There is no need for a new coal-fired power station for Queensland. I have ruled that out,” she said.Sun Metals chief Yun Choi said the $200 million solar farm gave Sun Metals the ability to produce 30 percent of its own electricity for the refinery, while also providing an opportunity to sell power to the grid. “Sun Metals’ mission is to become the safest, the most environmentally responsible and the most competitive zinc refinery in the world,” Choi said.“The solar farm is one-of-a-kind in Australia in that it will directly power a large industrial user and export electricity into the National Electricity Market. Now that the solar farm is operational, it will enable the refinery to be the largest single site renewable consumer in Australia.”More: “No need for new coal:” Sun Metals formally opens solar farm in “George” townlast_img read more

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Leading buyout group to back renewable energy development in Middle East, Africa

first_imgLeading buyout group to back renewable energy development in Middle East, Africa FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times ($):Blackstone, the world’s largest buyout group, is launching a standalone company to invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in renewable power assets in the Middle East and north Africa, said people familiar with the plans.The new business, named Zarou after an ancient bridge built on the River Nile to connect Africa and Asia, aims to tap into rising electricity demand in the region by buying and developing renewable and thermal power generation.The projects’ enterprise value, a measure that includes net debt, could be in the billions of dollars, the people familiar with the venture said. “There is plenty of appetite.” Zarou will also invest in oil and gas assets and water infrastructure.Economic growth in the region combined with huge population increases has driven demand for electricity and new infrastructure to produce it. Countries in the Middle East and north Africa historically have been reliant on hydrocarbons to meet energy requirements — either by importing these fossil fuels or by using up domestic resources. But they are now increasingly looking to renewables.More ($): Blackstone launches Africa-Middle East power venturelast_img read more

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Schnitzel

first_imgRoots rock band Schnitzel energizes audiences in its hometown of Richmond, Va., with raw, catchy Americana and evocative lyrics. Bandleader and songwriter Jim O’Brien relies on a lineup of notable central Virginia musicians to back his quirky folk tunes that are occasionally augmented by edgy soundscapes in the vein of Wilco. Earlier this year his tune “Sandston Girl” off the band’s latest album Cold Harbor took third place at Merlefest’s venerable Chris Austin Songwriting Competition. Among other things, O’Brien told BRO how his German grandmother’s cooking led to the band’s formation.How did the band first get together?The band started with the name. I thought it would be a great band name someday.I was working at the University of Richmond’s radio station, and we were noticing that UNC-Chapel Hill’s playlist was extremely esoteric. We had this theory they were making up bands (they weren’t). So we decided to prank them and say we were music promoters and berate them for not playing any Schnitzel. They called us on our bluff and asked us to send a track. So we had to write and produce a song and the band was formed.Do all of your songs take place in this area?Geography is everything. The newest record, Cold Harbor, was all about Richmond, its surrounding suburbs, and North Carolina. The last one, Southbound Freight, was a concept album about upstate New York and 19th century France. The next one will probably be about everything west of the Blue Ridge. I heard somewhere that life exists there.Are the songs about people you’ve observed, or are they complete works of fiction?In telling a story, it makes more sense to merge fact and fiction. My song “The Smiling I Do” is not exactly true, but I am guilty of all those horrible things I mention. I wouldn’t sing something if it weren’t true. You can tell when someone does.Do you produce your own albums?I write and play on the records, but bassist Stewart Myers is really the one who produces them. He and drummer Brian Jones played in Agents of Good Roots and do a lot of session work together today. Stewart is the one who makes my ideas better. He epitomizes what I appreciate in producers. They do the work and you take the credit.What inspired you to include found sounds in the flow of the albums?We’re heavily influenced by Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. We stole from the same place as they did—The Conet Project—for Southbound Freight.Aside from obvious musical influences, who do you listen to that might surprise us?I try to pay attention to Top 40—Rhianna, Britney Spears. Even today, a good song should still bubble up through the system. I also enjoy Thin Lizzy and early 80s hardcore.Your albums are part of the iTunes library. Do you get the sense that your fan base is expanding to places you never dreamed of?Expanding is an ambitious word. I make one fan at a time. Apparently there’s a decent Americana fan base in Europe. Or maybe it’s just that the dollar has been so weak, but they appear to like us more over there.last_img read more

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High Five: September 2012

first_img1. Woman Kicked in the Face by Rabid Deer: Lavale, Md.Theresa Stevens was letting her Yorkie out of the house for some morning relief when she found herself face to face with a deer. The startled animal stood up on its hind legs and kicked Stevens in the face. The deer—emaciated and obviously not well—then retreated to rest under Stevens’ cars. Feeling compassion for the animal, she told the Cumberland Times-News, “I got it a bucket of water and it stuck its head in it.”It turns out the deer was rabid, and since Stevens had cuts on her hand, her Good Samaritan act exposed her to the deer’s saliva, giving her rabies as well. Nearly a month of treatment shots followed.2. When Beavers Attack: Louisa, Va. And if one animal attack wasn’t enough, another took place in Virginia’s Lake Anna, where two young girls were bitten by the same beaver in mid-July. Annabella Radnovich, 11, and her eight-year-old cousin Alyssa were swimming near Sorbie Cove when a beaver bit Alyssa on the leg as she tried to exit the water. Then the critter circled around Annabella and bit her on the back of the leg. The result was 15 stitches for the younger cousin and three wounds above the knee for the elder. The girls’ uncle didn’t take kindly to seeing his nieces being attacked, so he shot the beaver with a BB gun and killed it with a knife.3. High School Kid Hikes Across Belize: Richmond, Va. What did you do on your summer vacation? Joseph Gallagher, a senior at Richmond’s Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, hiked across Belize. His four-day, 92-mile walk from the Guatemalan border to Belize City was done to raise money for an organization in the country that helps the visually impaired. Gallagher walked with 14-year-old Rowan Garel, who has been blind since birth. Gallagher had met Garel during a previous family mission trip to Belize.4. A.T. Hiker Set on Fire: Gettysburg, Pa. This was not the zero day an Appalachian Trail hiker had in mind when he stopped in Gettysburg. An Alabama man working his way up the trail in mid-July went to a bar in town and on his way out he got into a confrontation with some people in a small blue car. When things escalated, two men got out of the car, one of them doused the hiker with a flammable liquid and the other lit him on fire. The hiker, whose named was not listed in a local news story, sustained burns to his arm, chest, and scalp.5. Watch Where You Swing that Thing: Knoxville, Tenn. A Knoxville man was arrested for indecent exposure after a neighbor called the cops on him for doing yard work in the nude. After the complaint, Lindsay Stevens was nabbed by the cops for chainsawing a tree naked. Apparently it’s not the first time he’s been seen baring all outside of his house. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, other neighbors have seen him riding his lawn mower with no cloth between him and the seat.Beyond The Blue RidgeRunner Disappears During Rough Race: Seward, AlaskaThe three-mile Mount Marathon Race is an out and back to the top of a 3,000-foot summit. 66-year-old Michael LeMaitre was last seen 200 yards from the top, well behind the rest of the pack, but he never made it back down. As of late July he was still missing. Another racer had to be put into an induced coma after breaking his skull—a result of falling off a cliff. Organizers are considering a course change.Flying High at 90: Pittsfield, MaineLester Slate gave himself a great birthday present when he jumped out of a plane above Pittsfield Airport this past summer. Slate had learned how to use a parachute as a Navy pilot during World War II, but he waited until turning 90 to use his skills.Surfing Goats: San Onofre State Beach, Calif.Dana McGregor loves riding waves so much that he decided to teach his pet goats, Goatee and Pismo, to do the same, with the dynamic duo riding together on their own board.last_img read more

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Mountain Town Video: Roanoke, Va.

first_imgRoanoke, Virginia is the winner of the mid-size city category in our Best Mountain Towns reader poll. Check out this behind the scenes look at the city.Read the full article on Roanoke, and the rest of our Best Mountain Town poll winners here.Best Mountain Town – Roanoke from Summit Publishing on Vimeo.last_img

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Resorts on the Rebound

first_imgLet It Blow: keeping the slopes covered takes as much science as nature these days.Snowsports hope to bounce back from last year’s warm winterMother Nature can be a fickle broad. One minute, she blesses us with more snow than we can handle, the next she leaves us high and dry. The 2011-2012 ski season had much of North America struggling to keep the slopes covered and the lifts turning: bare slopes in California, endless sunshine in Utah, melting snowpack in Colorado. Only Montana and Wyoming were spared the brunt of Ms. Nature’s (as she will now respectfully be called) changing mood.This is the challenge of being a snowsports junkie, especially in the mid-Atlantic or Southeast. Ski resorts in the Blue Ridge are dependent on nature’s bounty for sure, but cold temperatures are enough to manipulate the landscape into a wintery wonderland. We didn’t even get that last season. What gives?“The last two seasons were a little bit of an anomaly, but they were as forecasted,” said Dave Dekema, marketing director at West Virginia’s Snowshoe Resort. “We worked to try and mitigate it heading into the season, but they were expected to be below average snowfall seasons with slightly warmer temperatures, and that’s exactly what we got.”The statistics are staggering: visits to ski resorts were down 15 percent nationwide, the second lowest totals in 20 years and the highest percentage drop in 30 years. Nationally, 50 percent of resorts opened late and 48 percent closed early; average resort snowfall was at its lowest since the 1991-92 season. In the Southeast, the number of days resorts stayed open was down nearly 14 percent.Now, the good news: ski resorts have a penchant for bouncing back. Ski resort visits rebounded 22 percent following the 1981-82 season when resort visits fell 17 percent from the previous year. Also, the 2010-11 season saw the largest number of skiers on the slopes ever, so the industry as a whole is trending upward. Forecasters are predicting colder temperatures in the Southeast, the strongest indicator for a solid ski season, says Dekema.Farther north, at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in western Pennsylvania, communications manager Anna Weltz says the resort dealt with the dreaded ‘backyard effect’: “If people look out their back windows to their backyards and don’t see snow, they are not thinking about it,” Weltz explained. “So we’re using media outlets, local meteorologists, social media, and e-newsletters to say, ‘Hey, you may not have snow in your backyard, but we have plenty here.’”Snowshoe is doubling down on its Snow Guarantee, a program that gives a free lift ticket to anyone who skis the resort on a day when it does not have the most terrain open in the region. Resorts are also pushing deeply discounted early bird ticket and lodging deals to entice skiers to commit to the season earlier and making general upgrades like lodge renovations or more signage to improve the overall mountain experience.In addition, many Southern resorts are dedicating more resources to a four-season revenue stream to offset the ups and downs of the winter. Mountain bike parks and zip line tours are becoming more common at ski resorts.On the slopes, more beginner terrain parks are aimed at attracting a broader audience, and upgrades to snowmaking infrastructure will improve the overall quality of the snow.Ultimately, it’s not just the amount of snow that determines the success of a season. Timing of snowfall is often the difference between shredding pow and shredding dirt.“We are making sure we are maximizing what we do get, when we get it,” Dekema said.And it is not just the larger resorts that are stepping up their snowmaking game this season. Wintergreen Resort outside Nellysford, Va. is investing $12 million in resort upgrades this year, including $6 million specifically for snowmaking. The resort has built a new storage tank and pumping station it says will double its snowmaking capacity this season.There is no doubt that Southern resorts have the ability to rebound from the dismal 2011-12 season, and with forecasters calling for a cold winter, Ms. Nature could be on board as well.How Snowmaking WorksAll ski resorts in the Blue Ridge rely on snowmaking for the bulk of their on-slope coverage. The first snowgun was invented in 1950, and their use became widespread by 1970 at resorts across the county. Here is a breakdown of the process:•Water is piped through a special nozzle that shoots it into the air as very tiny particles. How small? The process is called “atomizing.” That’s how small.•A second nozzle shoots out compressed air. When the compressed air is released, it becomes super cool – in temperature not social status – and freezes the atomized droplets.•A second round of water is sprayed. These larger droplets latch on and freeze to the tinier droplets, forming flakes, and in turn huge piles of snow and/or an ice coating on your goggles.•It takes about 200,000 gallons of water to cover an acre of slope with one foot of snow.last_img read more

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Should I Make My Child Go to Summer Camp?

first_imgDear Mountain Mama,I’m trying to convince my 13-year-old daughter to go to camp, but she doesn’t want to go. As a child, my parents didn’t have extra money to afford the extras like summer camp.  I want to expose her to as many outdoor activities as possible. Should I register her for camp anyway?Yours,Just Want a Happy Camper———————————————————————————- Dear Just Want a Happy Camper,As parents, we want what’s best for our children. Our kids might not see it that way, especially when they are on the road toward adulthood. But parenting should be more like a benevolent dictatorship than a democracy, at least until kids turn 18.My niece didn’t want to go to camp. My brother, who is one of those model parents who makes raising kids look easy, sat down with her and looked at several different options. She didn’t want to go to any of them. She was afraid she wouldn’t meet any friends. She didn’t think any of them sounded fun. In the end, even he was exasperated and told her if she couldn’t decide on a camp, he was going to pick one for her. That’s how she ended up at sailing camp last week.After the first day, she came home and told him, “Thanks for making me go. I love it!” She had fun even though she had to jump into a river with jellyfish in order to pass the mandatory swimming test. I suspect being afraid and overcoming her fear actually made the experience all the more rewarding.After the first week, she came home and said, “That was the best week of my life.” She made friends. She and her new friends got to sail a boat. A sudden thunderstorm caused the winds to pick up, which capsized their boats. The girls managed to right the sailboat themselves, and sail back to the dock before all the other campers.As my niece told me about her day, there was a gleam in her eye. She had encountered nature on her own terms. She had a new connection with the river, and a certain confidence that she could handle what came her way.Just Want a Happy Camper, you might have to endure some unpleasant pre-camp jitters in order to have a happy camper. Just remind yourself that in the process, your child will learn skills that will serve her well. Your responsibility as a parent is to provide the gentle push she needs to help her overcome her fears and take risks! Yours,Mountain MamaLooking into camp for your child? Check out our Summer Camps Guide!last_img read more

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Review: Lycan Sunglasses by Switch Vision

first_imgWhen it comes to mountain travel, many of us have experienced how quickly and drastically conditions can change. In these times, it’s great to have equipment that can adapt as easily as we can. The Lycan sunglasses by Switch Vision (switchvision.com) live up to that standard.The signature feature that Switch has built into all of their glasses is a patented magnetic interchange so you can easily swap out lenses to meet the conditions. When I first saw them, I had doubts as to how secure the lenses would be against jostling and bumps. I can shake them and bump them against anything and the magnets are strong enough to hold the lenses in place, and then they easily swap out. This doesn’t mean they will never scratch, though I haven’t had troubles in that arena as of yet and all of their lenses are made of a shatter-proof polycarbonate.Early morning starts mean low light and sometimes the clouds don’t break for some time. This is why it’s great that their frames come with 2 sets of lenses to get you started. I can start my day with the low-light Rose Amber lenses and transition to the polarized lenses once things brighten up.Getting above tree line, things can be windy so I appreciate the full coverage the Lycan’s offer. The temples are nice and wide to compliment the large lenses. They meant for this model to offer some of the fullest coverage possible against sun and wind which is just what I’m looking for under the harsh sun of the high country. The frames also come in a variety of colors to suit your tasteSwitch has a full line of frames and lenses for just about all conditions and activities.Retail: $169.95 | switchvision.comThis review originally appeared in our sister publication, Elevation Outdoors, based out of Boulder, Colorado.last_img read more

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