FT: Australia’s Biggest Utility Turns to Solar

Posted On Dec 31 2020 by

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Jamie Smyth for the Financial Times:In a dusty mining town in the Australian outback, AGL Energy is plotting a green power revolution that could transform the country’s electricity sector.Australia’s biggest utility recently opened a solar farm in Broken Hill, the birthplace of global miner BHP Billiton. A sister AGL solar farm in Nyngan, about 500km away, is the biggest in the southern hemisphere. Together the A$440m ($325m) plants will produce 155 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 50,000 homes.“These projects were built on time and on budget — they are proof large-scale solar can be built in Australia,” says Brett Redman, AGL’s chief financial officer.AGL, which was founded in 1837, is undergoing a transformation. For a century the A$12bn utility has relied mainly on coal and gas to provide electricity to its customers, making it Australia’s largest polluter. But when Andrew Vesey, an American, took over as chief executive last year AGL began pursuing a future without coal — a controversial policy in a country with the world’s fourth-largest coal reserves.“We have recognised that our communities and our customers are expecting the world to decarbonise,” says Mr Redman. “We need to be part of the change.”AGL, which last year generated 87 per cent of electricity for its 3.7m customers from coal, is beginning a staggered phase out of coal-fired generation that will see the last of its three huge coal plants close by 2050.It is quitting gas production and exploration, has built the largest renewable energy generation portfolio in Australia and invested A$20m last month in Sunverge Energy, a company specialising in renewable battery technologies.However, AGL faces a similar conundrum to utilities in many developed countries: how to scrap its fossil fuel generation to make room for renewables while protecting its earnings?The dominance of coal generation in Australia, which accounts for 61 per cent of electricity production, and a government wedded to promoting the fossil fuel makes this transition even harder.“AGL’s newish chief executive is recognising the writing is on the wall for coal and trying to turn the ship, but it is like an ocean tanker and will take a long time to turn,” says Tim Buckley, director at the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.Mr Buckley says there are headwinds facing renewables in Australia: surplus electricity generating capacity; flat or declining demand; and continued policy uncertainty.Sun shines on AGL’s Australia solar energy plans FT: Australia’s Biggest Utility Turns to Solarlast_img read more


U.S. Coal Production, Deliveries Down; Central Appalachia Off by Half Since 2011

Posted On Dec 31 2020 by

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Taylor Kuykendall and Hira Fawad for SNL:In 2015, Central Appalachia produced less than half of the amount of coal it was producing annually in 2011.West Virginia, the second largest coal-producing state in the nation, has seen production fall 15.4% year over year from 2014 to 2015 alone. Kentucky’s production drifted to 61.6 million tons, 20.5% lower than the year-ago period.In Wyoming, production was down just 5.0% year-over-year. However, signs are beginning to point to dramatic declines in the Powder River Basin as well. While production has fallen 13.4% in the Powder River Basin since 2011, early MSHA data shows the region’s top mine, North Antelope Rochelle, trimmed production by about one-third in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the year-ago period.An analysis of SNL Energy coal delivery data showed that most power plants in the U.S. received a typical delivery spike in the third-quarter after a sharp slump in deliveries in the first half of the year. However, deliveries fell sharply again in the back half of 2015.Persistently low natural gas prices likely compounded what ended up being a relatively mild winter. Several producers had indicated they were hoping a cold winter could drive utility demand or at least diminish their stockpiles, a hope that never materialized in 2015.A trend toward higher utilization of natural gas power generation is projected to continue. The U.S. government is projecting 2016 will be the first year natural gas overtakes coal as the primary source of U.S. generation after taking the top fuel on a monthly basis multiple times in 2015.Those looking for hope for U.S. coal overseas may also be disappointed. Total U.S. coal exports have fallen from a near-term peak of 43.5 million tons of coal in the second quarter of 2012 to 24.3 million tons of coal by the fourth quarter of 2015 — a decline of 44.1%.Full article ($): Central Appalachia coal production cut in half in past 5 years U.S. Coal Production, Deliveries Down; Central Appalachia Off by Half Since 2011last_img read more


Maryland-based electricity-development company: Subsidies are the ‘wrong way to go’

Posted On Dec 31 2020 by

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享RTO Insider:Competitive Power Ventures, which last week celebrated the opening of its new 805-MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant in Oxford, Conn., would like to build more gas plants. But it said it is wary of subsidized competitors.The company announced Thursday that is has begun selling power in ISO-NE from its Towantic Energy Center, which uses two GE Power 7HA.01 combined cycle, dual-fuel turbines, one of the most efficient designs in the world, with up to 64% efficiency.The plant represents the 26th HA unit to go online, GE said. The HA series is air-cooled, which CPV says “saves as much as 90% of the water used by similar” steam-cooled designs. Poor sales of its previous steam-cooled H-class turbines prompted GE to switch to condensed air, which allows for a simpler configuration that is not only more efficient but more economic to construct as well, the company says.The turbines’ efficiency will give Towantic an advantage in ISO-NE’s energy market, said Tom Rumsey, CPV senior vice president of external and regulatory affairs. With no load growth in New England, new plants must be more efficient to be profitable, he said.Rumsey said the company expects the plant to be a baseload resource, and it isn’t worried about there being gas shortages for the plant because it can also burn ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel. In the 2014 polar vortex and this year’s bomb cyclone events, “it wasn’t that you couldn’t get gas. It was that gas was so expensive,” he said.CPV is concerned, however, about state-subsidized resources disrupting the markets, Rumsey said. The company is looking to build more gas plants in New York, Illinois and New Jersey, all of which have enacted zero-emission credit programs for at-risk nuclear plants. They “represent the biggest challenge to the competitive markets since they began,” Rumsey said. “Accommodating these resources is the wrong way to go.”More: CPV: Subsidies, not gas fears, challenge for new plants Maryland-based electricity-development company: Subsidies are the ‘wrong way to go’last_img read more


Cost of Dominion’s delayed Atlantic Coast Pipeline rises to $8 billion

Posted On Dec 31 2020 by

first_imgCost of Dominion’s delayed Atlantic Coast Pipeline rises to $8 billion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Platts:Southern Company is out as an equity partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline after majority owner Dominion Energy agreed to buy its stake, amid ballooning costs and legal challenges that have stalled the 1.5 Bcf/d US Northeast natural gas project.Dominion disclosed the new ownership structure Tuesday as it released financial results for the final three months of 2019. It will own 53% and Duke Energy will own 47%, with Dominion acquiring Southern’s 5% stake in the pipeline and gas transmission assets, which include an interest in a small LNG project in Florida, for $175 million. Southern will remain an anchor shipper on Atlantic Coast Pipeline.The 600-mile pipeline, which would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, moving Appalachian Basin gas to Mid-Atlantic markets, is now expected to cost approximately $8 billion, slightly above the high end of Dominion’s previous guidance range of $7.3 billion to $7.8 billion. And while Dominion expressed confidence it will eventually finish the pipeline; it isn’t talking about the pipeline’s growth potential in the same way it has before.Assuming everything goes as Dominion hopes, the operator is maintaining its target of completing construction by the end of 2021 and finishing commissioning in early 2022. At the time the operator filed its permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in September 2015, it was estimated that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would enter service by November 1, 2018, at a total cost of $5.1 billion.With the price tag having soared, talks continue with shippers to revise rates to reallocate how costs for the pipeline are shared, Dominion said. An agreement is expected to be formalized in the coming weeks, CFO James Chapman said on the investor conference call.[Harry Weber]More: Dominion agrees to buy Southern stake in Atlantic Coast Pipeline as project costs soarlast_img read more


Germany’s RWE planning to build another 4GW of renewable capacity by 2022

Posted On Dec 31 2020 by

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:German utility RWE confirmed plans Thursday to build another 4 gigawatts of renewables by 2022, expanding the scope for its annual investments into wind and solar.In its annual report, RWE said it will invest €1.5 billion to €2 billion (or as much as $2.2 billion) into renewables each year in the near term. That’s up from the €1.5 billion pledged just six months ago when the company completed the bulk of its complex asset-swap deal with E.ON, another German utility.That deal saw RWE effectively swapping its customer supply business for a 17-gigawatt development pipeline of renewable projects, mainly wind. In Thursday’s update, RWE said it now has a 20-gigawatt development pipeline and 2.7 gigawatts under construction. In total, RWE will spend €5 billion by 2022 growing its renewables portfolio, with 20 percent earmarked for Germany.RWE is one of a number of European utilities to have enjoyed considerable success in international renewables markets, including North America.In the past, RWE set itself apart from its peers by mining its own coal for its power stations, said CEO Rolf Martin Schmitz. But now it needs to look for other differentiators.Schmitz cited floating wind as a prime example where first movers would be able to benefit from an expanded marketplace for offshore wind in deeper water. RWE (via Innogy) has partnered with Shell to develop the TetraSpar floating foundation. A demonstration unit will go into the water off the coast of Norway this year.[John Parnell]More: RWE wants ‘dignified’ end for coal plants as it storms ahead with renewables Germany’s RWE planning to build another 4GW of renewable capacity by 2022last_img read more


Spain’s Acciona to build 1GW wind farm in Australia

Posted On Dec 31 2020 by

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Spanish renewable energy giant Acciona is to build a 1GW wind farm in Queensland – the largest in Australia – after signing a deal with the state government’s newly created state-owned clean energy generation company CleanCo.In an announcement on Thursday, CleanCo is to build its own 100MW wind farm at the 1.026GW MacIntyre project near Warwick in the southern downs region of the state, and contract another 400MW of capacity from the project owner Acciona. This will pave the way for the entire project to be built by 2024, with the first power to be delivered in the middle of 2022.CleanCo has a mandate to source another 1,000MW of capacity over the next five years, but it is not immediately clear how or when this will be managed.Early works are expected to start later this year, with construction scheduled to run from mid-2021 to 2024, with the precinct generating its first power from mid-2022. It will connect via a 64km line to the Milmerran substation. The wind farm is located about 50km south west of Warwick and will be built on around 36,000 hectares of mostly sheep farming country.Acciona Australia Energy managing director Brett Wickham would not comment on the cost of the power from the wind farm. Previously, energy minister Dr. Anthony Lynham has suggested that both wind and solar is priced below $50/MWh in Queensland, and the current futures market is pricing in a wholesale price of around $50/MWh in 2022 and beyond, meaning that the wind farm will lose money if the cost of power is more than that.And given that Acciona has landed the entirety of the 400MW tender, and includes no storage, one must assume it was priced very competitively. “We are building it at a price that allows us to build it,” Wickham said. “This will be our sixth wind farm in Australia.” He said there is no storage component in the project at this stage, but noted that the wind farm was “very complimentary” to solar PV production in the state.[Giles Parkinson]More: Acciona to build huge 1GW wind farm in Queensland after landing CleanCo deal Spain’s Acciona to build 1GW wind farm in Australialast_img read more


Bike Trail Love

Posted On Dec 30 2020 by

first_imgIt was one of those rides that kept me giggling for two days.It wasn’t easy, and much of the “ride” was spent heaving my bike onto one shoulder while scrambling up roots with the free hand. “Flow” is not in the vocabulary for this experience. I left the woods with scratches, bruises, and my spare tube gone.The long fire road climb was actually lovely, stopping frequently for the dogs to stay hydrated. The baby spring leaves painted the valley in bright patches of green. Pedal, pedal, pedal…giggle…pedal, pedal. “We LIVE here!” is what I kept giggling about. Might as well look at the positive when on a long climb. But once you come to terms that you’ll be cranking it for a while, you tend to sink on down into the raised saddle and think happy thoughts. Plus, I knew once that was over there would be tight singletrack to pick through up to the vista a couple miles up. The worst thing you can do is blow it up on the fire road and have nothing left for the fun part.And then it began. The drop into the trail is a bit misleading, making it look like smooth, rolling downhill. It was all about working it until failure and unclipping milliseconds before tipping shoulder-first into a bed of rocks. This high, the trees are low and gnarled due to all things blustery. The rolling immediately turned to a handlebar-gripping, teeth-clenching journey of spent legs and scraped shins. Each new corner offered another series of rocks and waterbars to pick through. I peered up the seemingly endless opportunities to bleed and got excited at the possibility of making it further up this time. It was that lovely game of choosing the perfect line to heave the front wheel, hop the rear wheel, and then get the front wheel up again. I pushed off with wild abandon and after four waterbars silently swore to do hanging ab work this week. Or ride my bike more.There were several vistas to gape over and snarf stale nutrition bars dug from the depths of the pack. This was a great way to prepare for the downhill, which was so rutted it required either long jumps or teeth-rattling bounces. The front wheel needed extra launching power to keep it out of the deepest holes. Stopping was out of the question unless it was to crash. My forearms were searing with muscle-burn trying to keep myself on the correct side of the handlebars while gripping the brakes. That’s about the time we met hikers. Although the trail was wide enough to share with onlookers, the line had to be chosen carefully enough to avoid falling on top of anybody should a problem arise. For me this entailed dropping the front wheel into a snug little babyhead, allowing my rear wheel to raise up far enough to make the hiker cry out in fear. I was NOT going down in front of an audience. Somehow I managed to hop sideways with my rear far enough over the back wheel to drop it into a “safe” place, looking for the next crisis to avoid. “Nice save,” were the words I was grateful to be hearing, rather than something like, “Oh shit!”What made this ride so awesome is that not only would we get the taste of Pisgah rocks, but we would be ending the ride with fast rollers and big air, making us forget our previous pain. It was at the bottom of this that I was confused to be waiting for my riding buddy. He arrived with sticks and leaves poking from his helmet, a dusty shoulder and an innocent look on his face. He knew he had to come clean when I started laughing. But there is no shame when eating Pisgah. Especially when you’ve been so smart as to leave cold beers in the river at the trailhead.Lovelovelove bikes.last_img read more


Best Fests: Sonic Overload Music Festivals

Posted On Dec 30 2020 by

first_imgThe Drive-By Truckers at FloydFest 2012. Photo: Roger GuptaIf you are looking to have your face melted, check out these music festivals:Bonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalJune 13-16Manchester, Tenn.bonnaroo.com Basics: After more than a decade, the dusty 700-acre farm in the middle of Tennessee is still hosting one of the country’s best music fests. Pace yourself and stay hydrated—best advice if you want to catch even a reasonable percentage on Bonnaroo’s stellar line-up that’s featured on a dizzying number of stages. Plus make time for additional offerings like the comedy shows, cinema tent, Silent Disco, and Food Truck Oasis.Bands: Headliners this year include Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, and Mumford and Sons. Looking deeper, lesser-known gems on the bill include Tame Impala, Father John Misty, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Local Natives. Don’t miss the special Soul Superjam led by Jim James of My Morning Jacket.Set Break Escape: If the crowds get too heavy, take a post-fest sojourn to Fall Creek Falls State Park—less than 60 miles east of Manchester. You’ll find 34 miles of hiking trails amid an abundance of gorges, waterfalls, and a lush stretch of virgin hardwood forest.FIVE MORE…Hangout Music FestivalMay 17-19Gulf Shores, Ala.A mega-fest on the beach. If this sounds like your kind of party, get down to Gulf Shores and catch sets from Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, Kings of Leon, Trey Anastasio, the Shins, Bassnectar, and many more.hangoutmusicfest.com Nelsonville Music FestivalMay 30—June 2Nelsonville, OhioBig on musical offerings and intimate on vibe, this festival in the hills of Southeast Ohio offers a relaxed atmosphere as it hosts some of the best in indie rock and Americana. From multiple stages at the Historic Village of Robbins Crossing at Hocking College, catch sets from Wilco, John Prine, Calexico, Mavis Staples, and many more.nelsonvillefest.org Forecastle FestivalJuly 12-14Louisville, Ky.From the same folks that bring you Bonnaroo, Forecastle features a huge slate of bands at Louisville’s Waterfront Park. Headliners this year include the Black Keys, Avett Brothers, the String Cheese Incident, and Jim James. In addition to the tunes, this fest honors its home state’s great trade with a Bourbon Lodge. Enjoy.forecastlefest.com All Good Music FestivalJuly 18-21Thornville, OhioA couple of years ago All Good notched over a state from West Virginia to Ohio’s idyllic Legend Valley. If you’re a jam fan, it’s still worth the trip, as this fest packs in the heavyweights including Furthur, Primus, Pretty Lights, STS9, Grace Potter, Keller Williams, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Leftover Salmon.allgoodfestival.comMidtown Music FestivalSeptember TBDAtlanta, Ga.Entering its third year after a lengthy layoff, this revitalized bash packs heavyweight acts and huge crowds into Piedmont Park. Last year featured sets by Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and the Avett Brothers. This year’s line-up coming soon.musicmidtown.comCheck out the rest of our Outdoor Festival Guide!last_img read more


Quick hits: Stolen Cacti

Posted On Dec 30 2020 by

first_imgFriends of the Smokies has released their ninth annual Classic Hikes of the Smokies series. On the second Tuesday of each month from March to December, the organization holds guided hikes to raise funds for the Trails Forever program, which supports restoration and rehabilitation of some of the most impacted trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Classic Hikes of the Smokies series announced But sales of cacti in the US and around the world are exploding; the market is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. Because cacti are notoriously slow growing, poachers have taken to pulling them directly out of the ground. While it is difficult to measure the extent of the poaching, major busts point to the scale of the problem. In 2014 (most recent numbers), more than 2,600 cacti were seized at US borders, up from 411 the year before. On the second Tuesday of each month from March to December, the organization holds guided hikes to raise funds for the Trails Forever program, which supports restoration and rehabilitation of some of the most impacted trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hikes feature interpretation of the trail, history, and park projects supported by Friends of the Smokies. The first hike of the year is the 4.3-mile Big Creek trail on March 12. Tickets are $20 for members and $35 for new members. At it’s February meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission directed staff to move forward with a draft rule to protect Florida’s native songbirds from illegal trapping. Illegal trapping of native birds is a long-time concern in the state of Florida, especially in southern Florida, where trapping is believed to be widespread. The public is invited to provide feedback to the proposed rule. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission advance draft rule to protect Florida songbirds From the towering saguaros in Saguaro National Park to tiny cacti species popular as houseplants, the global demand for cacti is driving an underground trade that is difficult for law enforcement to police. To prevent the continued taking of native birds, staff recommended creating a new rule for bird traps. The rule would provide an additional tool to law enforcement to prevent the poaching of birds, while still allowing for lawful uses of bird traps. The hikes feature interpretation of the trail, history, and park projects supported by Friends of the Smokies. The first hike of the year is the 4.3-mile Big Creek trail on March 12. Tickets are $20 for members and $35 for new members. Across the southwest, cacti are being stolen from public lands in record numbers In Saguaro National Park, cactus poaching became so grave that the National Park Service began inserting microchips into cactus trunks, an effort that has since discouraged poachers. last_img read more


The Tragedy of Morro do Baú – A Lesson Learned

Posted On Dec 20 2020 by

first_imgBy Dialogo January 24, 2011 To my noble classmate Col. Kern: All the praise in the world would not be enough to thank you and pay tribute to your work, performed with exemplary professionalism. The Brazilian people, especially from the state of Santa Catarina, are proud to know that they have an officer with your qualities in the corporation. Congratulations. May God be with you. Cabral In a week in which the world is witnessing with dismay the drama of thousands of families from the mountain region of Rio de Janeiro State, affected by the greatest natural disaster in Brazilian history, to which over 750 deaths have already been attributed, it is also the moment to remember another large-scale disaster that happened in the state of Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil, in 2008 and mobilized the Armed Forces and Public Safety Forces, and to draw some lessons from that operation. At the end of that year, Santa Catarina faced a natural disaster without precedents. Rain, floods, and mudslides caused a tragedy in the region of Vale do Itajaí. With no communications and all roads blocked, the only way to carry food, to provide medical assistance, or to rescue victims was by air. The largest aerial-rescue and humanitarian-aid operation in Brazilian history began. Operating under adverse meteorological conditions, in a limited airspace in a region of mountainous terrain, twenty police helicopters and 150 crew members carried out 733 missions, rescuing 1,250 people. The commander of the Aviation Battalion of the Santa Catarina Military Police, Lt. Col. Milton Kern Pinto, was at the head of the entire operation. Lt. Col. Kern had the responsibility of coordinating all aerial operations by the Santa Catarina Civil Defense. The operation attracted international attention. Journalists from around the world arrived in the region. State police helicopters and those that came from federal agencies all over the country took off for the affected areas on missions of the most varied kinds. The operation was a success. Within scarcely thirty-six hours, aircraft from the most diverse parts of the country were mobilized, joining the search-and-rescue and humanitarian-aid operations. The Brazilian model needed to be exported. The American embassy sent a delegation to the Aviation Battalion of the Santa Catarina Military Police to learn how the entire aerial operation was managed and to take back to the United States the knowledge acquired in a real operation in Brazil. To learn the background of this operation, Kaiser Konrad went to Santa Catarina and interviewed Lt. Col. Milton Kern Pinto of the the Santa Catarina Military Police. Kaiser Konrad – Regarding the helicopters, did they accomplish their missions well? Lieutenant Colonel Kern – From the multi-mission perspective employed, the helicopters accomplished their missions very well. They were all deployed according to their capabilities and always seeking to improve the use of their resources. The Squirrels were used in all kinds of missions due to their durability and ability to change configuration quickly (rescue, police operations, transportation, transportation of supplies). The Jet Rangers and Bell 407s were also widely used for removing people from at-risk areas and for transporting food, and the EC120s were used more for transporting medicine. On the other hand, the Brazilian Navy’s Super Puma was used to transport cargo. The crews carried out the immediate removal of people from at-risk areas, carrying drinking water, milk, food, mattresses, blankets, diapers, basic hygiene and cleaning supplies, and clothes in the aircraft. Kaiser Konrad – How were the operations coordinated and missions distributed to each crew? Lieutenant Colonel Kern – All requests were made through the Civil Defense and through aircraft returning from mission locations. As soon as they received the requests, the operations officers prioritized the responses and passed them on to the dispatchers who issued the mission orders. Many missions were also passed on via radio and via mobile and landline phones when the aircraft were away from the base. Kaiser Konrad – How were control of the regional airspace and integration with the Armed Forces carried out? Lieutenant Colonel Kern – Control of the airspace was a factor of concern, since there were many aircraft operating in the Morro do Baú region and surrounding areas. Besides the rescue aircraft, some aircraft tried to approach the region to obtain images of the tragedy. Therefore, with the support of the Brazilian Air Force, an official notice was issued forbidding access to the area to any aircraft not involved in the Civil Defense Operation. Besides this, the layout of the parking area at Navegantes Airport was modified to be able to accommodate the aircraft. All the Civil Defense requests were made through our Air Operations Coordination. The Air Force ended up interacting with us, making available some of its aircraft. For some days they operated jointly, and later the operation was integrated, but not joint. The Brazilian Army was focused more in the Blumenau region, and in practice, there was not much interaction. Whenever we had a mission in that region, we tried to establish contact to avoid duplication in deploying the aircraft, but since the demand was very high, I believe that it might have happened at some point. Kaiser Konrad – You were at the head of the largest aerial humanitarian-aid operation ever carried out in the history of Brazil. What were the lessons learned? What do you believe should be improved so that future operations of this kind also have the same success? Lieutenant Colonel Kern – That the state Civil Defense should always take the lead on any disaster or catastrophic event that impacts a state, either partially or entirely, and that it maintain a defined aviation operational vector, whether on the state or federal level, in order to alleviate the suffering of the victims.last_img read more