Ohio Regulators Approve Coal-Plant Bailouts; Legal Challenges Loom

first_imgOhio Regulators Approve Coal-Plant Bailouts; Legal Challenges Loom FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Tom Knox for Columbus Business First:Ohio energy regulators have approved proposals by AEP and FirstEnergy to guarantee income for certain power plants, accepting their arguments that the seven coal plants and one nuclear plant should be subsidized by ratepayers because the benefits outweigh the potential costs.Parts of AEP’s Conesville coal-fired power plant in Coshocton County are included in the income-guarantee proposal.The decision means ratepayers will be on the hook for any costs related to keeping the plants open, although regulators said they modified the proposals to stabilize rates and limit the impact on customers.The landmark decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio caps more than a year of fiery criticism from other power producers, business groups and environmental organizations that derided the plans as corporate bailouts. Legal challenges are expected on multiple fronts.Full article: Ohio regulators approve income guarantees for AEP and FirstEnergylast_img read more

Unable to compete with wind, Iowa nuclear plant will close five years ahead of schedule

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:NextEra Energy will close its 601 MW Duane Arnold nuclear plant in Iowa in late 2020 after reaching an agreement with utility Alliant to end its power purchase agreement (PPA) with the plant five years early. Nuclear plants in the U.S. are under pressure from cheap natural gas and renewables, forcing many to close before the end of their operational lives. Roughly a quarter of the 99 nuclear reactors in the country are at risk of early retirement, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported in March. The Duane Arnold Energy Center, opened in 1975, is the latest casualty of the trend. Iowa gets roughly 40% of its electricity from low-priced wind, and the intermittent generation can put extra strain on nuclear finances, since the plants cannot easily ramp up and down to adjust to changes in wind output. Alliant says that ending its nuclear PPA five years early and pivoting to wind will save its customers $300 million from 2021 to 2025, though the plant is licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate until 2034.NextEra will evaluate the site for redevelopment as a natural gas, solar or battery energy storage facility.More: NextEra to retire Iowa nuclear plant in 2020 Unable to compete with wind, Iowa nuclear plant will close five years ahead of schedulelast_img read more

Indiana utility tells regulators renewables are cheaper than coal

first_imgIndiana utility tells regulators renewables are cheaper than coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:NIPSCO’s upcoming IRP is more evidence that coal generation is steadily declining in the U.S. despite efforts from the Trump administration to save it.In Indiana, as elsewhere, the issue is economics. The youngest generating units at NIPSCO’s 1900 MW Schahfer plant were built in the mid-1980s, and the utility’s analysis found that keeping them on the system would be more expensive than replacing them with new wind, solar and batteries.NIPSCO’s current preferred resource plan…would see it retire all four units of the Schahfer plant in 2023 and the last coal unit at its Michigan City plant in 2028. Eliminating coal from its portfolio would actually be the cheapest option, NIPSCO reported. Taking all the Schahfer and Michigan City units offline by 2023…was the lowest cost resource plan, but it presented “unacceptable” reliability risks to the utility.Coal’s inability to compete persisted even when NIPSCO modeled scenarios friendly to the resource. At the request of the Indiana Coal Council, a trade group, the utility analyzed a situation with high natural gas prices, no price on carbon, and a flat fee for delivered coal. In that scenario, retiring coal faster was still cheaper than keeping it around, and the least cost plan was still more expensive to consumers than NIPSCO’s preferred scenario.To replace the retiring coal, NIPSCO plans to propose a mix of 1,500 MW of solar and storage, 150 MW of wind, 125 MW of efficiency and demand-side management and 50 MW of market purchases by 2028….The plans are based on renewable energy prices NIPSCO received in response to a request for proposals (RFP) earlier this year. Adding those renewables was also cheaper than building natural gas plants or converting coal facilities to gas, NIPSCO found, even though Indiana does not have state policies supporting wind and solar.NIPSCO’s upcoming IRP represents an acceleration in its move away from coal and toward renewables. In 2016, the utility announced it would retire two units at the Schahfer plant by 2023, but planned to keep the other units open years into the future.More: Even in Indiana, new renewables are cheaper than existing coal plantslast_img read more

BNP Paribas Asset Management tightens coal investment policies

first_imgBNP Paribas Asset Management tightens coal investment policies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:BNP Paribas Asset Management, the investment management arm of the French bank, is to stop investing in companies that obtain more than 10 percent of their revenue from thermal coal.The exclusion of such companies producing thermal coal and generating electricity from coal was announced on Thursday and will come into effect at the start of next year as part of the fund’s strategy to reduce economic risk within its portfolios as coal becomes uncompetitive as a fuel for power generation.BNP Paribas Asset Management, which had nearly 400 billion euros ($452.6 billion) of assets under management at the end of last year, said it will exclude companies that derive more than 10 percent of their revenue from mining thermal coal and/or account for 1 percent or more of total global production.Power generators with carbon intensity – the level of carbon emissions per unit of economic growth – above the 2017 global average of 491g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour (CO2/kWh) will also be excluded, it said.“From an investment perspective the outlook for the coal industry looks increasingly uncertain as less carbon-intensive fuel sources, in particular renewables, become ever more competitive,” said Mark Lewis, global head of sustainability research at BNP Paribas Asset Management.More: BNP Paribas fund arm to exclude some coal and mining companieslast_img read more

IRENA: Renewables now the lowest-cost power source in most of the world

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Solar power’s leading role in driving the energy transition – and the decarbonization of other sectors required to stave off catastrophic climate change – has once again been highlighted in a major global study.The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published a study that not only signals the end times for coal-fired power, thanks to plunging unsubsidized clean power generation costs, but also indicates how cheap renewables can power the electrification needed to reduce carbon emissions from transport and space and water heating.“In most parts of the world today, renewables are the lowest-cost source of power generation,” states the first sentence of the Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018 report. That bold statement is backed up by a prediction that next year some 83% of the electricity generated by new PV capacity will be cheaper than new fossil fuel generation. Based on IRENA’s power purchase agreement and solar auction database, solar will generate electricity at a global weighted average price of $0.048/kWh in 2020. Such a figure would ensure PV electricity would also be cheaper than the marginal costs of power generated from 700 GW of existing coal-fired power stations worldwide.IRENA reports PV panel prices fell 26-32% between December 2017 and the end of last year, to European prices of around $216/W for the cheapest products, $306 for standard modules, $400 for high efficiency options and $420 for ‘all black’ panels. That in turn led to notable year-on-year falls in the cost of developing solar plants around the world, with India leading the way with PV projects costing a weighted average of just $793/kW of capacity installed. Project costs in China came in at $879/kW last year and Italy saw a fall to $870/kW. The wide variability of global prices was reflected by the fact solar projects cost an average $2,101/kW in Japan and $1,500 in the U.S. and Australia.Despite such wide price ranges, the levelized cost of solar electricity (LCOE) continued to fall in most regions, with the U.K. and Germany rare exceptions. The end price of solar electricity fell 21% year-on-year in India to $0.063/kWh; 20% in China, to $0.067; and 18% in the United States, to 0.082/kWh. While Japan experienced only a 1% fall last year, to $0.153/kWh, Germany actually saw a 2% rise in the solar LCOE, due to higher project development costs.Record low LCOE figures recorded in the UAE, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Saudi Arabia showed a price of just $0.03/kWh is possible in many of the world’s sunnier regions as IRENA recorded a global average price for solar power of $0.085/kWh in 2018.More: PV leads the way as renewables threaten coal-fired power IRENA: Renewables now the lowest-cost power source in most of the worldlast_img read more

Kenya secures financing for 80MW of new solar capacity

first_imgKenya secures financing for 80MW of new solar capacity FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Dutch development bank FMO have agreed to finance the construction and operation of a duo of Kenyan solar plants that have a combined capacity of 80MW.The two banks will contribute US$53 million each to the two 40MW plants, found 300km north-west of Nairobi. Another US$41 million has been provided by renewables investor Frontier Energy and a pair of prominent Kenyan businessmen, Nairobi-based DL Group chairman David Langat and Ayaz Merali, the managing director of Kenya’s Paramount Bank.Construction of the plants is underway and is expected to wrap up in mid-2020, the EIB told PV Tech today, adding that Valencia-headquartered Grupotec is the EPC contractor.In early September, Kenyan authorities signed a provisional deal with Eurus Energy and Windlab for an 80MW solar-plus-wind-plus-storage facility – billed by project backers as the continent’s largest such hybrid project – in central Kenya. Construction of the US$150 million project is pegged to start in 2021.The EIB, the investment arm of the European Union, is debating plans to shift its multi-billion energy strategy decisively away from fossil-fuels and towards energy storage and free-market renewables, according to a draft energy policy circulated in mid-September.More: European Investment Bank and FMO go halves on 80MW of Kenyan solarlast_img read more

Australia’s Whitehaven Coal delays decision on $700 million mine expansion as sales slump

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Australian Financial Review:Whitehaven Coal shares slumped on Thursday after the miner downgraded its coal sales target for the second time in five months and ruled out investments in coal mine expansions this year amid turbulent financial marketsThe freeze on expansion decisions has most relevance for the $700 million Vickery project near Gunnedah in New South Wales, which was expected to be the subject of an investment decision in 2020.But the project continues to be held up in NSW approval processes, and Whitehaven said on Thursday it would be cautious amid the recent market turbulence, even though the coronavirus had not affected its business to any significant degree.The comments come after Whitehaven’s half year profits in February were 91 per cent lower than in the previous comparable period, on lower coal prices and lower sales volumes. Whitehaven also reported in February that its net debt had more than tripled.Whitehaven had originally hoped to sell between 20 million and 21 million tonnes in fiscal 2020, but was forced to downgrade both its coal sales and coal production targets in December after disruption from drought, bushfires and staffing problems. The company said on Thursday it would not achieve its downgraded coal sales target of between 19 million and 20 million tonnes, telling the market it would now sell between 17.5 million and 18.5 million tonnes in the year to June 30.The new target suggests Whitehaven will sell between 14 per cent and 19 per cent less coal than last year, and it looms as Whitehaven’s weakest year of coal sales since 2015.[Peter Ker]More: Whitehaven delays coal expansions, takes second sales downgrade Australia’s Whitehaven Coal delays decision on $700 million mine expansion as sales slumplast_img read more

Trade group expects a record 78GW of new wind capacity worldwide in 2021

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Wind energy will achieve record growth globally over the next five years, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) trade association said on Thursday, as the impact of COVID-19 has only been to delay, not cancel, projects.“While some project completion dates have been pushed into 2021 due to the pandemic, next year is expected to be a record year for the wind industry with 78 GW (gigawatts) of new wind capacity forecast to be installed in 2021,” GWEC said in an outlook report.In total some 348 GW of new onshore and offshore capacity are expected by the end of 2024, which would take cumulative wind power capacity to almost 1,000 GW, GWEC said.“Over 50% of the onshore wind capacity added between 2020 to 2024 will be installed in China and the U.S., led by installation rushes to meet subsidy deadlines,” it added.The costs of wind energy have fallen rapidly over the last few years and are expected to continue to decrease. Governments are also under pressure to cut carbon emissions, which is helping to shift investment away from fossil fuel and into renewable energy, such as wind.[Nina Chestney]More: Global wind energy set for five years of record growth: research Trade group expects a record 78GW of new wind capacity worldwide in 2021last_img read more

Weight Watchers

first_imgJetboil Sol-Ti Jetboil revolutionized backcountry cooking several years ago with its original all-in-one system that simplified everything from packing your stove to holding a hot pot. The company continues to push the envelope with their new titanium stove, the Sol-Ti. All the standard Jetboil goodies are there, including the insulated sleeve, but this titanium system weighs only 9 ounces. $149.95. Or get the aluminum version, which is $30 cheaper and 1.5 ounces heavier; jetboil.com Osprey Hornet 46 With 46 liters of space, this pack is roomy enough to carry all your weekend essentials and then some. The pack has a host of traditional backpack goodies like a hydration sleeve and front and side mesh pockets, but also comes with some nifty weight saving features you typically only see on custom- made rigs. We like the mesh backpanel with a removable foam pad in particular. All in, the pack weighs 1 pound, 8 ounces. But then, it doesn’t matter how light your pack is if you stuff it with oodles of heavy gear. So if 46 liters is too much room, step down to the 36-liter version. $159; ospreypacks.comBlack Diamond Z Pole Instead of the traditional telescoping design used in most trekking poles, the Z poles fold like tent sticks. The shafts are carbon fiber for ultimate weight and strength, and Black Diamond used avalanche probes as design inspiration to create a workhorse pole with featherweight characteristics. The Ultra Distance Z Pole comes in at 9.5 ounces a pair. $149.95; blackdiamondequipment.comThermaRest RidgeRest SOLite ThermaRest took the popular RidgeRest sleeping pad and added an aluminized surface to the closed-cell design that reflects your body heat like an emergency blanket. You get added warmth without the added weight of insulation. The regular size is only 14 ounces, the same weight as ThermaRest’s ridiculously popular minimalist Z Pad. Even better, SOLite will only run you $29.95. The only bummer: Closed cell pads are lighter than air mattresses, but nowhere near as compact. $29.95; cascadedesigns.comThe WringerMSR Fast Stash If you’re like most backpackers, you want the weight savings of a tarp shelter, but the coverage of a tent. The solution? A singlewall tarp-tent that you can erect with your hiking poles. But many Southern backpackers are reticent to bed down in lightweight singlewall tents because they typically don’t manage condensation as effectively as their heavier doublewall counter parts. The Southern Apps are muggy. You want a tent that breathes. Enter MSR’s new Fast Stash, an uber-light singlewall tent with superior ventilation.The Fast Stash breathes thanks to two mesh windows and a big mesh front door, which are protected from the elements by adjustable side wings and a large front porch. You can even close the front door panel completely and air still moves through a mesh strip above the door. Roll back all the panels, and you’ve got a large expanse of mesh on warm, rain-free nights. We tested the three-season Fast Stash in a number of situations, from our backyard to Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, and were never once muggy or damp inside the tent.Like most tarp-tents, the four-pound Fast Stash is built to be erected with trekking poles to save weight, but MSR also included a set of tent poles that do the same job in case you’re not inclined to carry trekking poles.  All corners have to be staked and guylines tightened. And it took us a few times to get the tent as taut as we wanted. $299; cascadedesigns.comSinglewall or Doublewall?Doublewall tents have a mesh body and optional rainfly. The combo reduces condensation inside the tent during a muggy night, but they’re heavier and can be more complex to erect.Singlewall tents have one waterproof wall, allowing for lighter tent weights and easy set up, but they typically aren’t as breathable as doublewall tents.last_img read more

Review: Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket

first_imgBefore receiving the Axiom to gear test I had never owned a shell. While I have owned jackets with liners, heavy duty down jackets, and GORE-TEX jackets I have never owned what one would call a shell. To be honest I didn’t really get the point of a shell, why wouldn’t I want more insulation or at least a zip out liner?It took a few trips before I really started appreciating the purpose of a shell, and now that I have come to this realization I love them. If you live in the Southeast you know that our winter has stuck around well past its welcome. But on the flip side this gave me a lot of days to test the Axiom out over a variety of activities. Before we get into that, let’s first go over some of the technology OR used to develop their award winning shell. First the shell is extremely light because it uses GORE-TEX Active Technology which is half the mass of the standard GORE-TEX membrane. This high tech material is extremely light and breathable, which allows OR to ditch pit zips on this shell further shaving weight. Second OR went with a very streamlined fit on this shell. We are an active bunch, so do we really need yards of extra fabric found on other jackets? I am glad OR realized this because having a well-fitting shell when hiking, biking, skiing, and more is important. The shell has a fully adjustable hood (non-removable), three large pockets, drawcord hem, cuff closures, and comes in blue, black, and green.So now that you have an idea of what this shell is packing, let’s get into how it performed. I went on a 5 mile hike on the Big Hollow Heartbreak loop in the GWNF with a friend in the wet and cold recently. This hike is no joke, a straight up assault on the mountain with technical rocks and steep pitches. Let’s first clear up something, I sweat, a lot. So breathability is pretty high on my list of needs out of clothing. The whole hike I kept the Axiom on. We were booking it, but I never felt overly hot or had the feeling it was like a rainforest beneath the shell. After this first test, I had a good feeling about the Axiom but wanted to see how it performed on the bike. Many times mountain biking in the winter calls for more than spandex. It gets colder and having something a little thicker on the descents can be a nice treat. I brought the Axiom on a few bigger rides, and while it kept me warm on the downs I ended up keeping it on over ridges too. The thing breaths so well and keeps you bone dry no matter how hard it rains, snows, sleets, hails, or whatever else the Southeast will try to throw at you.I guess you can say I am converted. I have seen the performance and flexibility a shell brings. Wear it with five layers of wool beneath it, wear it with just a t-shirt, hell wear it by itself. Instead of being limited by extra liners and bulky insulation, the Axiom instead delivers all day waterproof GORE-TEX breathability and leaves the rest to you. I would definitely recommend this shell to anyone looking for a multi-use, high performance, durable outer layer. Outdoor Research knocked this one out the park, be sure to check it out to beat the elements.Outdoor Research; $375last_img read more