In Nuclear-Expansion Plans, Brash Expectations and Great Risk FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Richard Martin for MIT Technology Review:President Barack Obama’s final Nuclear Security Summit, which begins on Thursday at the White House, comes at a time of extraordinary promise, and extraordinary peril, for the global nuclear industry. While Obama’s efforts to reduce the availability of weapons-grade nuclear material have borne fruit in Ukraine and elsewhere, “tons of materials that terrorists could use to make small nuclear devices or dirty bombs remain deeply vulnerable to theft,” the New York Times reported.Building new nuclear plants could help countries with growing demand for electricity meet their targets for carbon emissions reductions under the Paris climate accord. But many observers think those plans are unrealistic.For example, two huge nuclear projects in India slated to be built by Westinghouse and GE are expected to cost upward of $95 billion.According to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, “the proposed Mithi Virdi and Kovvada nuclear projects are not economically or financially viable, they would take much longer than expected to build, they would result in higher bills for ratepayers, and, if they are built, they might not work as advertised.”Full article: Obama’s Last Nuclear Summit Meets as the Threat of Terrorism Looms
On the Blogs: India-Bangladesh Power Project Is Out of Step With the Times FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Jai Sharda for the Huffington Post:The plant, which has been delayed significantly from the original plans of commissioning by 2016, will be very expensive, despite major subsidies from both Bangladesh and India and multi-year lows in coal prices. The plant is set to receive subsidies worth over US$ 3 billion over its life in the form of income tax and operational subsidies from the Bangladeshi government and a soft loan from the Indian government-owned EXIM Bank. Despite this massive subsidy, the cost of electricity produced from the plant will be more than 30% in excess of the average cost of electricity in Bangladesh. This increase is after Bangladesh has already seen rapid increase in power costs over the last five years.The Rampal plant is part of the Power System Master Plan (PSMP) formulated by Bangladesh in 2010 to add generating capacity to the energy-starved country. The trouble with the plant, though, is that it violates almost all the objectives of the PSMP.The plant will use outdated supercritical technology, violating the objective to move towards a low-carbon economy.The technology, as well as the coal that the plant will use, will be imported into Bangladesh, contrary to the objective of the PSMP to develop domestic resources. In addition, it will use outdated supercritical technology, violating the objective to move towards a low-carbon economy. Since the plant is based on subsidies, it is also against the objective to build efficient capacities.All the major players involved in the development of the Rampal project are Indian government-owned entities. The plant is promoted by the Indian government-owned NTPC Ltd. The loan component of the plant is set to be provided by the Indian EXIM Bank. The main order for the construction of the plant was reported to be given to BHEL, again owned by the Indian government.Ironically, the Indian government is supporting the development of this coal-fired plant at a time when India itself is moving away from coal-based power. India has made significant progress on its ambitious renewable energy capacity addition program, which targets 175GW of renewable capacity by 2022. Simultaneously, the Indian Power Minister has made it clear that India will minimize its usage of imported coal. Indian coal power plants are operating at an average Plant Load Factor of below 60%.Full item: The India-Bangladesh Rampal Power Project Is A Waste Of Resources. Here’s An Alternative
St. Louis, Home of Peabody and Arch Coal, Votes to Move to Renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享NBC News:St. Louis became the 47th American city to set a goal of getting all of its electricity from clean, noncarbon sources with a vote by local lawmakers Friday — a significant watershed given its long-standing ties to the fossil fuel industry.The unanimous vote by the Board of Aldermen commits the city to transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2035. The city will assemble a group — made up of workers, environmentalists, business people, utility representatives and others — to draw up a plan by December 2018 for reaching the benchmark.The 100 percent clean energy goal has been set by many cities that have already made substantial progress in obtaining power from sources other than coal and natural gas. The challenge is steeper for St. Louis, a city that still gets about 95 percent of its power from utilities that burn fossil fuels and from nuclear power. The latter represents about 20% of the local utility’s energy portfolio.The move is also striking because St. Louis has long been the corporate home of many of the nation’s largest coal companies, including the industry’s two giants, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. Both of those companies did not immediately respond to a request from NBC News for comment.Lewis E. Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, said he hopes the city can now push ahead with initiatives like shifting its vehicle fleet to electric power instead of gas. The lawmaker said the city’s action also will create momentum for others to push for wind and solar and for the state’s biggest utility, Ameren Missouri, to move more quickly to clean power.The utility introduced a plan last month to spend more than $1 billion on renewable energy generation. It plans to add 700 megawatts of wind generation by 2020, to bring that source to 10 percent of the utility’s total. And it plans a modest increase in solar generation, adding 100 megawatts over the next decade.Ameren Missouri’s president, Michael Moehn, said in a statement before the vote that the utility “fully supports” moves by governments and other customers to push for more renewable energy.More: St. Louis, Long a Coal Capital, Votes to Get All of Its Power From Clean Sources
Resistance growing to Canada’s planned purchase of Kinder Morgan pipeline FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享247WallStreet.com:Canadian resistance to buying the Trans Mountain pipeline system Kinder Morgan Inc. subsidiary Kinder Morgan Canada is increasing, and with it so is short interest in Kinder Morgan. Short sellers added 12.5 million shares to their positions in the two-week reporting period ended July 31, and 2.4% of Kinder Morgan shares were short.Environmental groups and Canadian First Nations have ramped up opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion project, but the rise in short interest may be due to growing doubt among investors about whether the U.S. government will approve the pipeline’s sale to the Canadian government.A report last week at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) noted that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) must approve the sale. And because one of the assets included in the sale is an existing pipeline that crosses the Canada-U.S. border, the U.S. State Department must issue a “presidential permit” for the sale. Given the current frosty relationship between the U.S. and Canadian governments, neither of these approvals is a foregone conclusion.Then there’s a potential increase in the cost of the expansion project. In a filing with Canadian regulators earlier this week, Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. (KML) revealed cost estimates to complete the Trans Mountain expansion project that were as much as C$1.9 billion higher than the published estimate C$7.4 billion. The new estimates are included in the company’s proxy filing and announcement of a special meeting of KML shareholders scheduled for August 30 in Calgary.Canada’s federal government has agreed to acquire the Trans Mountain system for C$4.5 billion and to contract with KML to complete the construction project that expands the system’s capacity from 300,000 barrels a day to 890,000 barrels a day. The pipeline transports crude oil from the oil sands of Western Alberta to a KML terminal near Vancouver where it will be loaded on ships for transport, primarily to Asian and U.S. west coast buyers.According to the TD Securities review, if the expansion project is not completed, the implied value for the Trans Mountain system is between C$2.2 billion and C$3.1 billion. From where we sit, Canada may be about to plunk down C$4.5 billion for a pig in poke. If scrutiny of the deal intensifies, Kinder Morgan may not realize a payday after all, and that’s what the short sellers may be counting on.More: Why short sellers piled on Kinder Morgan
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享OilPrice.com:The financial struggles of the U.S. shale industry are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, but drillers in Appalachia are in particularly bad shape.The Permian has recently seen job losses, and for the first time since 2016, the hottest shale basin in the world has seen job growth lag the broader Texas economy. The industry is cutting back amid heightened financial scrutiny from investors, as debt-fueled drilling has become increasingly hard to justify.But E&P companies focused almost exclusively on gas, such as those in the Marcellus and Utica shales, are in even worse shape. An IEEFA analysis found that seven of the largest producers in Appalachia burned through about a half billion dollars in the third quarter.Gas production continues to rise, but profits remain elusive. “Despite booming gas output, Appalachian oil and gas companies consistently failed to produce positive cash flow over the past five quarters,” the authors of the IEEFA report said. Of the seven companies analyzed, five had negative cash flow, including Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy, EQT, Range Resources, and Southwestern Energy. Only Cabot Oil & Gas and Gulfport Energy had positive cash flow in the third quarter.The sector was weighed down but a sharp drop in natural gas prices, with Henry Hub off by 18 percent compared to a year earlier. But the losses are highly problematic. After all, we are more than a decade into the shale revolution and the industry is still not really able to post positive cash flow. Worse, these are not the laggards; these are the largest producers in the region.The outlook is not encouraging. The gas glut is expected to stick around for a few years. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has repeatedly warned that unless there is an unusually frigid winter, which could lead to higher-than-expected demand, the gas market is headed for trouble. “A mild winter across the northern hemisphere or a worsening macro backdrop could be catastrophic for gas prices in all regions,” Bank of America said in a note in October. [Nick Cunningham]More: Shale’s debt-fueled drilling boom is coming to an end U.S. shale producers still struggling to find a profitable path
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ReNews.biz:China continues to be the world’s largest producer of renewable power from wind as well as solar photovoltaics, according to the International Energy Agency’s Key World Energy Statistics report, released on Thursday. The country accounts for 28.7% of global wind production, supplied by an installed capacity of 184GW, and 31.9% of global solar production, from an installed base of 175GW.The IEA’s Key World Energy Statistics report has used data from 2018 to compile its figures.The US is the world’s second largest producer of both wind and solar, IEA’s KWES figures found. The country accounts for 21.7% of global wind production, from an installed capacity of 94.5GW. The US accounts for 14.7% of global solar production, supplied by an installed capacity of 62.5GW.Germany is the world’s third largest wind producer, the statistics found, accounting for 8.6% of the global total, from an installed capacity of 59GW. India is the world’s fourth largest producer of wind-generated electricity, accounting for 5%, generated by an installed base of 35GW.Japan is the world’s third largest producer of solar PV electricity, the study found, accounting for 11.3% of the global solar PV total, supplied by an installed base of 56GW. The KWES report found Germany is the world’s fourth largest producer of solar PV electricity, accounting for 8.3%, from an installed capacity of 45GW.More: China dominates global wind and solar output IEA: China, U.S. account for 50% of global wind capacity, 46% of solar
This winter, outdoor lovers from across the region will flock to Pocahontas County, W. Va., known as the Birthplace of Rivers because it shelters the headwaters of eight pristine mountain streams. Among these is the Elk River, which many consider the Mountain State’s best wild trout stream. Like the wary trout that call the Elk home, the river frequently hides itself by running for several miles through underground limestone caves.On August 7, a group of cavers, hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, and other concerned citizens descended upon the tiny hamlet of Durbin, West Virginia, to voice their concerns over the site selection for a new regional wastewater treatment plant. The chosen site? The famed Elk River itself. The Public Service District (PSD), a three-person committee charged with overseeing water issues in Pocahontas County, has been in the middle of a contentious battle over the proposed plant for years. Pocahontas County is home of Snowshoe Mountain Resort, one of the most popular ski resorts on the East Coast.And therein lies at least part of the problem: For many years now Snowshoe Water and Sewer has been insufficient to meet the needs of the resort’s ever-expanding number of guests. According to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), Snowshoe has been cited for numerous regulatory violations over the past five years and for more than 30 violations between 2004 and 2005 alone. Some of these violations include spills, overflowing manholes, and high levels of ammonia, which are especially deadly to native trout. Officials of Pocahontas County and Snowshoe devised a plan to regionalize the water and sewer treatment plant, thus transferring oversight of the facility to the county.Area residents oppose the plan because records indicate that the vast majority of system users will be on resort property. Residents are asking why they must foot the bill to finance the proposed plant largely for the benefit of Snowshoe guests.Other detractors include outdoor enthusiasts, who contend that the proposed plant threatens the Elk River watershed. Leading the charge against the plant is 8 Rivers Safe Development, a coalition of cavers that has filed suit against WVDEP for not requiring an Environmental Impact Statement before approving the $20 million project.“Snowshoe has just plainly overdeveloped without investing enough into their infrastructure,” asserts George Philips, president of 8 Rivers Safe Development. “We are not against development; we just want it done correctly and with an eye towards the environment.”Also opposing the plant are the Federation of Fly Fishers, West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited, and the Elk Headwaters Watershed Association. They believe that the risk of a raw sewage leak from the miles of proposed pipe is too great; leaked sewage could remain trapped in underground caves and foul the Elk River for decades.Snowshoe maintains that the environment is a top priority. The resort recently collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create a Habitat Conservation Plan—the first of its kind in the state—to protect two endangered species, the West Virginia northern flying squirrel and the Cheat Mountain salamander.Snowshoe attempted to solve regulatory issues by filing an application with the West Virginia Public Service Commission for a Certificate of Need and Necessity to build a plant in 2001. That case concluded in 2002 when the Commission ordered Snowshoe to facilitate exploration of a “regional solution.”“Over the past several years, Snowshoe has worked diligently with elected and appointed officials at both the county and state level to develop an acceptable regional solution,” says Laura Parquette, communications manager for Snowshoe Mountain Resort. “Snowshoe supports a regional concept that is environmentally sound, economically feasible, promotes economic development, and improves the quality of life for those who visit and live on the mountain, as well as those in the local community.”All parties agree that the status quo is unacceptable, but the devil is in the details: It seems unlikely that county officials, county citizens, the resort, and conservationists will be able to hammer out a compromise in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the native species of the Elk River watershed hang in the balance.
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1. Watch Out for the Pink DeerFairfax County, Va.If you see deer running around the woods of northern Virginia branded with pink stripes, it’s not a misguided graffiti prank. Wildlife biologists in Fairfax County are marking deer with a pink-dyed pesticide in an effort to eliminate ticks. By killing black-legged ticks before they can latch onto their hosts, county officials are hoping to reduce the transmission of Lyme disease to humans. Deer are lured into the paint job with bait stations containing corn. The county insists the pesticide is not toxic to the animals.2. Downtown WhitewaterColumbus, Ga.With the late spring breach of two dams, the city of Columbus is moving forward to create the longest urban whitewater course in the world. A 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River is being developed as a downtown whitewater course for paddlers and rafters, with river access points and engineered features like a standing wave. Although the course isn’t expected to open until 2013, boaters were already hitting the Hooch’s unshackled rapids after the dam went down.3. No More Free RidesOuter Banks, N.C.Those used to cruising the sands of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina’s Outer Banks will now have to pay to bring cars on the beach. The National Park Service recently announced that off-road shore driving now requires a permit—$50 for a week and $120 for a year. Beach cruisers will also be restricted to certain areas to protect birds and vegetation, and drivers will be required to watch an instructional video. Some were miffed about lost fishing access, while others championed the reduced environmental impact. But most people were wondering, what took so long? Management of Hatteras access was mandated by a presidential directive back in the 1970s, and apparently took a whopping four decades to complete.4. Keep it Down…Trees are Trying to Get It OnDurham, N.C. Recent research from North Carolina’s National Evolutionary Synthesis Center claims noise pollution is making it hard for trees to do the deed. The nonprofit science center, jointly operated by Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State, studied a patch of New Mexico forest located near noisy gas wells, and found that consistent industrial racket deterred pollinators from helping trees reproduce. The research also found that noise was deterring animals from consuming and eventually redistributing plant seeds, something that could reduce the natural expansion of critical habitats.5. Scouts honor the Mountain Statefayetteville, W. Va.If you build it, will they come? The Boy Scouts of America are banking on it as they move forward with the Summit Betchel Family National Scout Reserve, a 10,600-acre complex in West Virginia’s New River Gorge region. It’s shaping up to be an adventure playground with a vast trail network, climbing walls, zip lines, and skate park. Structured to accommodate 40,000 campers, the reserve will be the permanent home of the Scout Jamboree, starting in 2013. And in 2019, it’s also bringing the World Jamboree to the U.S. for the first time in more than a half century.Beyond the Blue RidgeKids These DaysHueco Tanks, TexasAt 10 years old, bouldering wunderkind Ashimi Shiraishi recently matched the hardest problem ever ascended by a woman. In late March, Shiraishi became the third woman to send the V13 Crown of Aragorn in Texas’ Hueco Tanks. Shiraishi, who turned 11 just before press, has gained notoriety as subject of the short climbing film “Obe and Ashima.”Boozing Bike Thief Has a HeartAspen, ColoradoIt turns out the thief who stole Aspen resident Jay Martin’s Trek bike was drunk and just needed a ride home. Martin’s bike was dropped off near the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office with a handwritten note of apology that said: “Sorry. I stole this bike. I rode it home. Please give it back – Drunk.”That’s an Expensive TrikeFort Walton Beach, FloridaThings didn’t go as well for a 10-year-old boy on Florida’s Gulf Coast, who apparently stole a $400 tricycle from his neighbor. While he tried to claim the trike as his own, police matched the serial number to a three-wheeler reported stolen and the boy was charged with a felony.
As a competitive kayaker, I have always laughed at the word “pro” when it is accompanied with my sport. Due to the small numbers in the whitewater industry, there are very few, if any, athletes who can eke a living solely out of being an athlete. The people who are passionate and dedicated enough to try to make their living in the industry end up doing a number of different things to make ends meet… design product, produce videos, take pictures, etc.I have sometime dreamt of what it would feel like to sign the multi-million dollar contracts that exist in some larger sports. There couldn’t be anything cooler than doing what you love to do, and being compensated well enough to support your family once you have cashed in your athletic shelf life.As far as kayaking goes however… there is no doubt about the fact that our sport is continuing its movement towards the mainstream. I just watched this video of whitewater legend Steve Fisher dropping Jackass personality Bam Margera off of 82 foot Metlako Falls in Oregon:With Margera and motorsports icon Travis Pastrana giving kayaking some legitimate press, things seem to be accelerating towards the world of energy drinks and other commercial involvement in our sport. While athletes are obviously going to be psyched about the increased revenue injection into the pie, my question to you is this…Is exposure, money, and the movement to the mainstream a good thing?There is something to be said for the grassroots nature of a bunch of people doing something that they love simply because they love it, and with no ulterior motives. The river is a place of solitude and meditation that doesn’t lend itself well to spectators, grandstands, and booming commentators. We risk losing something essential about our sport if that is the way things develop…On the other side of the coin, it is impossible to get on the river without being affected by its power, and realizing what is really important out there. The same people who are currently leading the mainstream development of our sport are also those who have the deepest respect for the river.I competed in a spectacular event this past weekend by the name of the North Fork Championships. This race was an unbelievable one to be a part of… 30 invited athletes, five wildcards, a massive class V rapid, remote control camera helicopters, a Red Bull ramp… you get the idea. Regardless of the high profile nature of it, and the huge cash purse that was up for grabs, the competitors banded together like no event that I have ever seen. Lines and strategies were shared freely, and everyone had each other’s backs at all times. A great river was done justice through a great event and great paddlers. And there was not a spec of garbage to be seen afterwards… the rapid roared on as it always had.Ultimately, there will be people on both sides of the argument here. I am excited about the development of our sport, but I just hope that we can all keep those roots in mind. Let’s channel that development to increase advocacy for clean water, river access, and protection of the wild places on the planet. I think that we can have it all if we do it right.What do you think?