China Daily: ‘Taking Energy in the Right Direction’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享By IEEFA’s Tim Buckley in China Daily Asia:China has formally confirmed two new clean energy world records in 2015 — one for installing 32.5 gigawatts (GW) of wind in a single year, and the second for installing between 15 and 18 GW of solar.The Indian solar sector has started 2016 with a staggering development, that being a further 7 percent reduction in tariffs to a record low unsubsidized 4.34 rupees (6 cents) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) fixed flat for 25 years. This builds rapidly on the 20 percent decline achieved in 2015 alone (and an 80 percent decline in just five years).China’s figures confirm the country’s record-breaking shift toward renewable power and away from coal. Hydroelectricity, solar and wind continue to be the big winners, as illustrated by a 73.7 percent increase in grid-connected solar generation capacity.Declining consumption coupled with an overabundance of domestic supply meant coal imports into China were particularly badly hit and dropped 30.4 percent year-on-year.While these figures are largely consistent with initial estimates for 2015, the official National Bureau of Statistics of China confirmed, yet again, that the global electricity markets are transforming a great deal faster than anyone actually expected.Full article: Taking Energy in the Right Direction
Tonawanda NY ‘Entering a New Phase’ as It Celebrates State Funding to Offset Impact of Huntley Plant Closing FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享By Joseph Popiolkowski in the Buffalo News: If the inclusion last week of $30 million in the state budget to assist communities like the Town of Tonawanda affected by the closure of electric power generating stations was like winning the Super Bowl, then the ticker tape parade was held Thursday.A cross-section of elected officials, labor groups and others involved in the year-long advocacy effort on behalf of the town and Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District took a victory lap to celebrate the fund, which will offset the loss of $6 million in annual tax revenue from the closure of the NRG-owned Huntley power station.“The future is a little brighter today for our town because of this mitigation funding,” said Town Supervisor Joseph H. Emminger said during an afternoon news conference at the school district’s administration building.The state wants to phase out coal-burning power plants, and while Huntley is believed to be the first to close, it will not be the only one.Now, focus is turning to how to eventually wean communities off the limited transition funding by spurring economic development at the sites of the former plants.“The localities have been, if I may create a new verb, ‘Huntley’d,’” said Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, who secured the funding. “They’ve been ‘Huntley’d.’ They’re left with the carcass of the plant. They’ve been left with a big gap in their revenue.”Deputy County Executive Maria R. Whyte said federal help will be needed to clean up the sites and return them to productive use as the nation moves away from using fossil fuels for energy.“This property represents potential development somewhere down the road,” she said of the 100-acre Huntley site on River Road.In Tonawanda, the industrial area around Huntley is ready for a transformation, mainly through a brownfield remediation program, Emminger said.“We’re entering a new phase of our town,” he said. “The River Road corridor is our growth area.”Full story: Tonawanda enters ‘new phase’ in wake of Huntley closureWIVB TV News: Funding helps stabilize community after Huntley plant closes
TVA planning for lots more solar generation, no new coal in next 20 years FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The Tennessee Valley Authority’s future generation portfolio likely will include no new coal plants and a lot more solar, as the federal government-owned power supplier looks to build a more flexible generation system.TVA on Feb. 15 released a draft integrated resource plan, or IRP, that features different generation portfolios it can use to supply power the Tennessee Valley region will need over the next 20 years. The draft plan envisions a growing role for solar, with as much as 8,800 MW of nameplate solar capacity added by 2038. Over that time, TVA could see as much as 3,000 MW of coal capacity retired and the addition of thousands of megawatts of natural gas and storage resources.The draft plan puts particular importance on flexibility to account for an evolving energy marketplace. “The IRP is focused on flexibility because TVA needs a diverse power-generation system that is well-positioned to meet future demand; has the capacity to incorporate renewable energy sources and [distributed energy resources] along with more traditional resources; and has the capability to respond in a variety of circumstances well into the future,” the draft plan said.The draft plan has 30 different resource portfolios that vary depending on scenarios that account for things such as modest economic growth or rapid expansion of distributed energy resources, and strategies TVA could follow in the future, such as promoting renewables or resiliency.Each of the scenarios shows a need for new capacity, partly to replace resources to be retired or supply contracts that expire. Along with “substantial” solar expansion, the draft plan includes the addition of varying levels of gas, storage and demand response, depending on a strategic focus to ensure reliability and provide flexibility. The draft plan also sees no addition of baseload resources, aside from one case where small modular nuclear reactors are promoted for resiliency.The draft plan includes no new wind or hydro resources and no new coal plants. In most portfolios, additional coal unit retirements range from about 800 MW to 3,000 MW, depending on the scenario and strategy combination.More ($): TVA sees ‘substantial’ solar expansion over 20 years
Chesterfield, Birchwood coal plants in Virginia to be closed FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Virginia Mercury:Even before major legislation that would set a timeline for the closure of all of Virginia’s coal plants clears the General Assembly, two coal-burning facilities in Chesterfield and King George have announced retirements.On Feb. 20, Dominion Energy notified PJM, the regional electric grid operator from which Virginia gets its energy, that it plans to deactivate its two remaining coal units at the Chesterfield Power Station, once the largest fossil-fuel fired power plant in Virginia.The same week, as first reported by the Free Lance-Star, Birchwood Power Partners also announced plans to close its King George facility, which has been producing energy for Dominion under a power purchase agreement since 1996. The plant is slated to close in February 2021.A spokesperson for Birchwood Power Partners, which is owned equally by GE Power and JPower USA, attributed the facility’s closure to “market trends and facility economics.”Coal, long one of Virginia’s most important resources, has declined precipitously from its peak in 1990, when 46.6 million short tons of the fossil fuel were mined in the commonwealth. In 2018, according to data from the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, only 13 million tons of coal were produced in Virginia.Combined, the Chesterfield and Birchwood retirements will take more than 1.2 gigawatts of coal-fired energy offline.[Sarah Vogelsong]More: Coal units to be retired in King George, Chesterfield, as pressure to transition from fossil fuels grows
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Eco-Business:South Korea’s ruling political party on Monday announced its ambition for the nation to adopt a Green New Deal and deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2050. If the plan goes through, the country—the world’s seventh-largest emitter—will be the first in East Asia to set a timeframe to end its contribution to climate change.In its manifesto for the upcoming legislative elections, the liberal Democratic Party of Korea outlined policies geared towards shrinking the country’s vast climate impacts. They include a carbon tax, a phase-out of domestic and overseas coal project financing, and large-scale investment in renewable energy.“Reaching net-zero carbon emissions is very ambitious in a highly industrialised country where climate change has never been high on the political agenda. That the ruling party makes this one of the major pledges for the coming election is a significant change,” said Daul Jang, government relations and advocacy specialist at Greenpeace Korea.Asked how likely the plan would materialise, he said the country’s Justice Party—its third-biggest political party—and Green Party Korea had both recently signaled their ambition to ramp up climate action through a Green New Deal Act. Together with these pro-climate parties, the Democratic Party is expected to secure the majority of seats in parliament, he said.Besides being the world’s seventh-largest carbon emitter, South Korea is also the third-biggest public coal financier and has long been under fire for failing to act on climate change. Its commitments are rated as highly insufficient and not consistent with keeping global heating below 2 degrees Celsius by Climate Action Tracker.If implemented, South Korea would be the first in East Asia to commit to climate action in line with recommendations by climate scientists. It would also be the first Asian nation to implement a Green New Deal Act with wide-ranging ramifications on the country’s economy.[Tim Ha]More: In East Asian first, South Korea announces ambitions to reach net zero by 2050 Ruling party in South Korea backs plan for net zero carbon emissions by 2050
What is one of the best ways for a trail runner to give back? Well after running thousands of miles over mostly well groomed trails, I feel that trail maintenance is the best way. Recently I have been putting some muscle and sweat out on the trail in a much different way. I’m helping to clear the path for other users where I have so greedily and shamefully been spoiled for years with my own trail running and hiking.Just before the epic Shut In trail race last year I was asked by a volunteer with the Carolina Mountain Club to help him clear a section of the course. The section needing the attention was the most famous (steepest) section on the Shut In course along the Mountains to Sea Trail. This section of the trail rises precipitously from Elk Pasture Gap up to the Mt. Pisgah parking lot. This section also has a ton of briars and weedy sections. I’ve run this race seven times and never once thought or thanked anybody for clearing the path to the finish line. I didn’t think much of it or assumed some trail fairies descended during the night and sprinkled some magic dust to clear the path for me.I was actually excited to volunteer especially on a section I have run, jogged, hiked and even crawled up to the finish line at the Mt. Pisgah parking lot. After my initiation of 6 hours of weed eating and small tree removal last Fall I was truly hooked and felt good about my efforts. I decided shortly afterwards to volunteer for the CMC full time and was actually awarded this same 2.1 mile section.The Carolina Mountain Club is an organization that has many wonderful trail volunteers and they do an outstanding job maintaining the Mountains to Sea Trail, Appalachian Trail and many other trails in the Pisgah and Appalachian Districts here in WNC. There are several “section leaders” overseeing the trail maintenance with the CMC. Les Love is the section leader for my particular section and his enthusiasm and dedication to trail work is quite obvious. He makes sure all of us are on task and getting the tools needed to maintain the trail. The Carolina Mountain Club does more than just maintain our fragile trail systems. They have many scheduled group hikes for their members and non-members are welcome as well. Their website is choked full of helpful information so I urge you to check it out. 1 2
Note from the author, July 2014: A few years ago, I wrote about my rural neighbor, Bill Banks, whom I considered to be the greenest man in the mountains. The 77-year-old Appalachian farmer didn’t look like a green hero; Bill was a born-again Baptist who wore overalls and was missing some teeth. Yet he was cooler and more committed to living off the land than even the hippiest New Age eco-villager.Bill died last week at age 79. He is deeply missed. Bill’s life reminded me the hardest part about truly being green: living simply doesn’t mean living easily. The simple life means dawn-to-dusk days of backbreaking labor: hauling manure, splitting firewood, digging fencepost holes. It means eating only what’s in season, which can seem dull and repetitive to our supermarket stomachs. It means staying put, without escaping to the beach for a few weeks in the winter or planning an exotic summer adventure.He also taught me life’s most important lesson: there is beauty everywhere if our eyes are open to it.Following is the original story from 2012:He’s not a tree hugger; in fact, he cuts them down regularly. Nor is he a vegetarian. He doesn’t belong to the Sierra Club or any environmental group. He’s never seen An Inconvenient Truth or read any books by Michael Pollan, though he knows a lot about climate and where his food comes from.I’ve met a lot of inspiring environmental activists protecting the planet and its people. I have spent time with the Occupy crowd, tree-sitters, and activists who have chained themselves to bulldozers to prevent coal companies from blowing up mountains. The courage of these activists is as impressive as that of gonzo paddlers plunging off waterfalls. But in their everyday lives—where most of our environmental impact takes place—none have as much integrity as my neighbor, Bill Banks.My family and I live a half-mile up the gravel road from Bill. We live on an off-grid organic farm, with solar panels on the roof of our green-built house. Yet even our solar-powered sustainability doesn’t measure up to Bill’s closeness to the land.Bill Banks is an Appalachian farmer. He has spent almost 50 years in the same small house that he and his family built. He grows most of his own food—corn, beans, squash, peppers, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, brussels sprouts—using heirloom seeds that his family and friends have passed down for generations. Most of his food is grown organically, although he doesn’t call it that.A small herd of cattle roam his pasture; he and a neighbor slaughter the animals and butcher the meat themselves.He heats his house with wood selectively harvested from the forest. For decades, he has used horses and chains to haul the logs down the mountain. In today’s eco-speak, that’s called sustainable forestry. He cuts, splits, and stacks all the wood himself.He owns no computer, cell phone, or other electronic gadgets. Instead, he watches the clouds roll over the mountains and the squirrels gathering walnuts.His house is surrounded by heirloom fruit trees, nut trees, and blackberry brambles, which today go by the environmentally fashionable name of edible landscaping. Though he has never heard of permaculture, he knows how to save labor, time, and money by using what’s available: manure from the cattle fertilizes his gardens; ash from his woodstove is used to make soap; rocks from the fields become walls for his root cellar.Most impressive of all is that Bill has been living with the land for 76 years. Unlike some well-intentioned environmentalists I know who are vegetarian (except on holidays and weekends) or carbon-neutral (except when jetting to the next conference), Bill has lived simply, sustainably, and self-sufficiently his entire life.His carbon footprint is negligible. He doesn’t buy anything. He fixes everything himself. He doesn’t travel. He is content to spend his days on the farm or in the national forest across the creek.“I don’t need to go anywhere,” he says. ”There’s no other place I’d rather be.”He has explored the mountains of Pisgah National Forest more thoroughly than any outdoor enthusiast. He roamed the mountains as a boy, racing to the top of Pinnacle Mountain with his cousins faster than most trail runners today. He knows where to find native trout better than any guide, and even as a septuagenarian, he can trek steeper and deeper into the mountains than most backpackers. He bushwhacks across ridgelines to find an old stand of chestnuts or a patch of ginseng, reading the cartography with his eyes and memory rather than a map or GPS.Bill resembles many Appalachian folk; there are probably others like him in these hills. They don’t call themselves eco-anything, but they are greener than most environmentalists. They’re not members of nonprofits or co-ops, but they give all of their surplus harvest to neighbors in need. They’re not Occupying Wall Street, but they are bartering food, labor, and skills in their own self-sustaining community economy.On our way to the trailhead in FlexFuel SUVs loaded with bikes and boats, we drive by many Appalachian farmers who know and love the forest as deeply as we do. In the past, I’ve been guilty of dismissing rural folk as overly conservative anti-environmentalists. Admittedly, some of them fit this description. But most mountain folk, especially old-timers like Bill, are greener than Prius-driving, eco-conscious city dwellers. We mountain bikers and trail runners may know a few narrow ribbons of trail through the forest, but our knowledge is often superficial. Blinded by adrenaline, we blast through the terrain checking our wristwatches and odometers. We don’t take the time to observe the whole forest beyond the trail, to listen to the hidden springs gurgling beneath the rocks, to explore the steep, overgrown thickets off-trail where bears and old trees take refuge.Bill is a born-again Baptist who wears overalls and is missing some teeth, yet I have learned more from him than any environmentalist about living sustainably in harmony with nature. He is also the most accomplished outdoor explorer I know, with seven decades of completely self-supported adventures in the wild.Bill’s life has reminded me the hardest part about truly being green: living simply doesn’t mean living easily. The simple life means dawn-to-dusk days of backbreaking labor: hauling manure, splitting firewood, digging fencepost holes. It means eating only what’s in season, which can seem dull and repetitive to our supermarket stomachs. It means staying put, without escaping to the beach for a few weeks in the winter or planning an exotic summer adventure.Bill’s wife Vernie, who passed away last year, worked even harder than him, he says. She taught him everything he knows, including life’s most important lesson: there is beauty everywhere if our eyes are open to it. Though Bill can name every species of tree in the forest and identify an animal by its tracks, he doesn’t claim to have any special knowledge or skills.“I just pay attention, that’s all.”Will HarlanEditor in Chief
You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.This sage advice, given from Bilbo Baggins to his nephew, Frodo, in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, seems mildly appropriate when considering B.J. Barham’s decision to step outside the comfort of his long time band, American Aquarium, and record an album on his own.Though not nearly as perilous as Frodo’s quest, Barham’s decision to go it alone, without the musical safety net provided by a decade’s worth of performing with American Aquarium, probably seemed equally as nerve wracking. But Barham, with the release of Rockingham, proved worthy of the task.Songs written over the course of days while on tour in Europe with American Aquarium were recorded with a new cast of musicians who rehearsed for just two days before letting the tape roll.The urgency in the writing and recording only accentuates the deeply personal subject matter in the songs, making Rockingham a great record.I recently got the chance to ask B.J. some questions about the new record, including how he handled writing songs about his hometown, recording with the new band, and giving advice to a daughter I didn’t even realize was pretend.BRO – What’s the biggest difference between having your name, instead of your band’s, printed across that CD packaging?BJ – It’s a totally different feeling. I started American Aquarium in college and it was my first band and, subsequently, the only band I’ve ever been in. Putting out a solo record elicits a lot of emotion. I was extremely nervous to begin with, but as the record started to take shape, so did my confidence. If it’s good, you get the glory. If it’s not, you have to be ready to take the “stick to your day job” comments.BRO – What did you learn – or, perhaps, relearn – about Reidsville, and your time in it, while using it as your inspiration for this record?BJ – It’s funny. I spent eighteen years of my life wanting to get out of that small town, only to find myself wanting in my thirties the exact same things I ran from as a teenager. In writing this record, I learned that Reidsville is just like every other town in America. Hard working people doing the best they can to provide for themselves and their families. Through the good and the bad, it’s still my hometown and that will never change. I do find it ironic that my wife and I just moved to Wendell, North Carolina, a tobacco town that’s one quarter the size of Reidsville, and I couldn’t be happier.BRO – If I ever pass through Reidsville, where can I get a killer cheeseburger?BJ – Without a doubt, Pete’s Burgers & More. Also, try Short Sugars BBQ, just down the road, for the best barbeque in North Carolina. BRO – Your band for this record met on a Monday and was recording by Thursday. How do you describe the energy, or kinship, you developed during just two days of rehearsals?BJ – Again, this is the first time I’ve ever played with anyone outside of American Aquarium, so it was exciting. Me and the boys have played together for a decade and know each other’s quirks, tendencies, and processes. It was really refreshing being pushed into a situation that was this spontaneous. Every take was exciting, just because I had no idea what the new guys were going to do with the songs. It was flying by the seat of my pants type stuff. Every now and then, as a creative person, I think it’s good to step outside of your comfort zone and throw yourself into those types of situations.BRO – Having a daughter myself, I found it especially powerful that you penned a tune for your little girl. Favor, from one father of a daughter to another . . . Do you think you could write something I could keep to give my daughter’s potential suitors? It doesn’t have to be a murder ballad . . . BJ – Hah! I actually don’t have a daughter. This is more of an open letter to a daughter that I hope to one day have. I wanted to write a song to pass down some of the things that I’ve learned in my 32 years that might help her not make her father’s mistakes. Don’t even get me thinking about a female teenage version of myself. That should scare anyone that knows me. I have a feeling that I will be the date who cleans the guns while the prom date waits.Yeah, so I totally fell for “Madeleine,” but having a five year old daughter made that one all the more poignant to me, so I don’t care that I was fooled all that much. And I can’t wait to hear B.J. sing it live. Speaking of, you can catch B.J. in Raleigh on August 20th, Charleston (SC) on August 21st, and Jacksonville (FL) on August 22nd, and Asheville, NC on August 30th. The rest of the month finds him all around the Southeast, so check out his website for his tour schedule and catch him when he comes to town.Before that, however, make sure to take a listen to “Rockingham” on this month’s Trail Mix.
Editor’s Note: About a year ago we featured Darius Nabors in our ‘Off the Beaten Path’ series, detailing his cross country quest to visit all 59 U.S. National Park in 59 weeks. Now Darius is nearing the end of his journey, and what an epic journey it has been. Here’s his latest update from the road. —People said that it was crazy to visit Florida’s National Parks in July. They said that it would be hot and the bugs would be awful. I am here to tell you, definitively, those people are absolutely, unequivocally, categorically, undeniably, and unquestionably…correct.An Alligator Dines on Fish in the Everglades.When I pulled into the Flamingo campground in Everglades National Park there was one car, with its lights on. I pulled into a campsite and decided to hop out, use the nearby restroom and scope out the bug situation. On the walk to the restroom a swarm of bloodsuckers descended upon me like kids after a piñata has burst. I was a piñata that fought back. I flailed my arms, ran fifteen yards away from the car and then sprinted back in hopes of losing them.In the 1.6 seconds that the car door was open, approximately 32 mosquitoes made it into the car. That number is approximate, because I killed 32 individual mosquitoes but am sure there were more present in the car. Their blood filled carcasses were streaked across the windows, ceiling, and my arms. After the great mosquito massacre I dined on half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some 80-degree water. I laid down in the back of the suburban, in my boxers, and sweat like Danny Devito running a marathon on the 4th of July for the entire night. In one of the dozen times that I woke up from sweating I came to realization that the other car had its lights on, because they were likely getting ready to leave for more amenable accommodations.When I set out to visit all 59 National Parks in 59 weeks and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service I knew that not everything would be perfect. The reminder of my time in the Everglades was punctuated with viewings of a rare American crocodile, manatees and an alligator that jumped out on the Shark Valley trail and devoured a fish 10 yards away from me as I skipped my bike to a halt.A tour group meets outside of Mammoth Cave National Park.As a native Coloradan, I was sad when I crossed the Rocky Mountains for the last time on this trip. My mood improved a bit when I had an astoundingly good tour of Mammoth Cave from a fifth generation cave tour guide (yes, his grandfathers grandfathers father gave tours of Mammoth Cave). It improved again after a tour of Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, where I learned about the historical importance of a fort that is 70 miles away from Key West. I was on a high again after pulling into Great Smoky Mountains and a trail run out to Charlie’s Bunion. As I drive the Blue Ridge Parkway from Cherokee, North Carolina to Charlottesville, Virginia and Shenandoah National Park I felt like I was on a 469-mile homecoming parade through nature.Mammoth Cave National ParkMy grandfather was born in Luray, Virginia and was five years old and present for the founding of Shenandoah National Park. My dad worked at Laurel Springs, near the Virginia-North Carolina border, just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I lived in Charlottesville for 10 years spending my weekends hiking and trail running in the Blue Ridge. Shenandoah is my second to last park on this 59-park adventure.While on the road I have not had the life changing epiphanies that we always expect to hear about. The trip has simply reinforced two important things that I already knew. (1) Keep in touch and spend time with your family and friends. (2) Take the time to enjoy the beauty of our natural world. I may only be in Shenandoah for a week, but the time will be spent hiking Humpback Rocks, Old Rag, White Oak Canyon, Hawksbill and some places yet undiscovered, by me. It will also be spent catching up with friends over hikes, coffee, dinner and beer.Related Content:
Everyone is going gaga over the concept of “micro-adventure,” the notion of sneaking quick adventures into the corners of your life—an impromptu camping trip to the nearest state park on a Wednesday night while still making it to work the next morning. Picking a mountain on the edge of your town for a dawn summit, then making it back to your kid’s little league game on a Saturday. It has its own tag on Instagram. #microadventure. And I love the idea. Sure, plan those epic backpacking trips and multi-day paddling excursions, but sneak in some quick overnighters along the way. It’s a good way to keep the adventure stoke, um, stoked during the work week.I’m in a situation right now (wife, two kids, busy job) where I have to take the concept of a micro adventure a bit further into the realm of nano adventure. I can’t get away midweek for an overnighter, but I’m occasionally able to carve an hour or two out of my work day. So, I’ve started seeking out the most badass adventures within striking distance of my house. The idea isn’t just to get a workout in, but to find something new and quench that thirst for exploration. I have a buddy who used to explore the sewers on the edge of downtown between work and dinner. Yeah. That’s a nano-adventure. I’m not crawling through the sewers, but I’ve uncovered a killer bike route that starts at my house, climbs 1500 feet of elevation in a mix of pavement and gravel and ends with a secret singletrack descent that drops right into downtown. I can pedal from dirt straight to Wicked Weed in about a mile. Which leads me to this beautiful beer here, a rotating IPA from Wicked Weed that you can now find in cans. It’s a 6.5%, super citrus-forward hop bomb. Wicked Weed just started canning this thing, and it’s the first time I’ve had the chance to drink it. Finding a new beer is a lot like a nano-adventure. It’s not going to change your life; it’s not epic; it’s not earth shattering, but it’s just different enough to make a regular Wednesday feel interesting. Finding a new beer after uncovering a fun mixed-terrain bike route close to your house? Between work and having to pick the kids up from school? That’s the perfect nano-adventure.