U.S. Cuts 2016 Coal Production Outlook FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Molly Christian for SNL:The U.S. government cut its coal production outlook for 2016 as the year began with the lowest monthly production total since July 1983.The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that domestic coal production totaled 59 million tons in January, a 7% decline versus the prior month. The government agency expects that U.S. coal production will total 834 million tons in 2016, a 2.2% decline versus the prior outlook and a 6.4% decline versus the prior-year total of 890 million tons. For 2017, the EIA expects that coal production will rise 0.9% to 841 million tons, a 0.3% decline versus the prior outlook.The government agency expects the Interior region to account for 20% of domestic production in 2016 and 2017, up from 13% of production a decade ago, as production declines at a slower rate than that of the Appalachian and Western regions.“This increase in share reflects the [Interior] region’s growing competitive advantages compared with other U.S. coal-producing regions, [including] higher heat content, closer proximity to major markets than Western region coal, and lower mining costs than Appalachia-produced coal,” the report said.Meanwhile, the EIA expects power-sector coal demand will remain flat as increased demand resulting from rising natural gas prices is offset by growing renewables penetration of the power market and coal plant retirements. The government agency projects that power-sector coal demand will slide 0.1% to 746 million tons in 2016, a 0.9% decline versus the prior outlook, before recovering 0.5% in 2017 to 750 million tons, up 0.9% versus the prior outlook.Full articlee ($): US government trims coal production outlook, projects demand to remain flat
52 Coal Companies Among Norway Divestiture Sales FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Stine Jacobsen for Reuters:Norway’s $863 billion (£610.3 billion) sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, said on Thursday it had sold shares in 52 coal-dependent companies from its portfolio as part of a policy to fight climate change.A Reuters calculation showed the stakes sold were worth at least $1 billion at the end of 2014, before the fund started big divestments from coal. The biggest holdings included a $188 million stake in CLP Holdings (0002.HK).Norway’s parliament agreed last year to make the fund, built on revenues from the country’s vast offshore industry, sell out of companies that derive more than 30 percent of their turnover or activity from coal.The fund listed U.S. firms American Electric Power Co Inc (AEP.N), AES Corp (AES.N) and Allete Inc (ALE.N) among the firms, along with China Coal Energy Co Ltd (601898.SS) and Coal India (COAL.NS), the world’s biggest coal miner by output.Global coal producer Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N), which filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, was also on the list. The fund expects to exclude more firms from its investment universe amid the new rule.Full article: Norway’s $863 billion wealth fund bans 52 coal-linked firms
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享By Duncan Adams for the Roanoke Times:One partner in the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline project informed investors that “competition for pipeline infrastructure within the Appalachian Basin is intense” and warned that lack of access to such infrastructure could drag down company earnings.EQT Corp.’s annual report, filed Feb. 11, said investments in affiliate EQT Midstream, one partner in the 301-mile Mountain Valley interstate pipeline, should help yield the infrastructure desired.Yet a study by a Cleveland-based think tank that promotes renewable energy contends that natural gas pipelines out of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the Appalachian Basin are being overbuilt.David Messersmith, an educator with Penn State Extension’s Marcellus Education Team, said he believes the truth resides somewhere in the middle.“There is clearly a need for additional pipeline infrastructure, although perhaps not as much as is currently proposed,” he said. “This is a market-driven process, and we are perhaps beginning to see the market correct itself regarding pipeline capacity.”He cited a recent decision by Kinder Morgan and subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline to suspend the Northeast Energy Direct interstate natural gas pipeline project. A statement from Kinder Morgan said it decided to suspend the 420-mile, $3 billion project because not enough customers had signed on to ship gas through the pipeline.“It wouldn’t surprise me to see additional projects in the Marcellus-Utica basin canceled or put on hold,” Messersmith said.The study suggesting that pipelines are being overbuilt was published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis at the request of Appalachian Mountain Advocates and Appalachian Voices, two nonprofit organizations opposed to both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the separate Atlantic Coast Pipeline.Full article: http://www.roanoke.com/business/news/debate-over-overbuilding-raises-questions-about-pipeline-projects/article_8f5c9cec-447f-521e-b580-c9869e746723.html Will Pipeline Market Correct Itself to Address Overbuilding?
EIA: Renewables and Gas Continue to Overtake Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Natural gas and renewables combined to fuel more than half of U.S. power generation in April. Coal’s share of generation, which saw declines in February and March, dipped to 24%.According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” released June 25, utility-scale generation net of hydroelectric pumped storage increased 2.9% year over year in April to 302.6 million MWh.Over the same period, gas-fired generation climbed 16.0% to 100.0 million MWh, accounting for 33.0% of the net total. Meanwhile, coal-fired generation declined 9.9% versus the prior-year period to 73.5 million MWh, to account for 24.3% of the nation’s electricity.Renewable output climbed 0.5% year over year to 66.6 million MWh as growth among renewable resources was mixed.Year-to-date through April, utility-scale generation climbed 4.5% to 1.30 billion MWh, with coal supplying 27.2% of the nation’s power and natural gas at a 31.4% share. So far, renewable generation has supplied 19.5% of the nation’s power, compared with 19.8% a year earlier.Over the same period, coal-fired generation declined 4.9% year over year to 354.9 million MWh, while gas-fired generation climbed 16.0% to 409.8 million MWh. Meanwhile, renewable generation grew 2.9% to 254.2 million MWh.More ($): Natural gas, renewables combined for 55% of US power generation in April
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Bangladesh’s electricity generation from renewable sources has passed the 5 percent mark with the opening of a major new solar plant – boosting hopes the country might meet its goal of getting 10 percent of power from renewables by 2020, experts say.The new 28 megawatt solar power plant in Cox’s Bazar District is the largest yet opened in the country, following the earlier construction of a 3 MW plant. The solar plants come on top of the widespread use of solar home systems in the low-lying country, considered one of those most vulnerable to climate change impacts.Currently about 5.2 million small-scale solar home systems provide electricity to almost 12 percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million people, Dipal C. Barua, president of the Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He called the new plant “good news” for the country, saying the accelerating construction of solar power facilities “will build confidence among future investors”.Nuher Latif Khan, managing director of Technaf Solartech Energy Ltd., a subsidiary of Joules Power that owns the plant, said the plant had begun operations ahead of schedule. In Bangladesh, “the future of solar power is very fantastic,” he said, noting that company “definitely” planned to invest more in renewable energy, including potentially wind power.Sheikh Reaz Ahmed, director of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), said the country’s 2008 renewable energy policy calls for generating 10 percent of electricity from renewables by 2020. With the country expected to generate 20,000 MW of electricity in total by the date, renewables would have to reach 2,000 MW to hit that target, he said.So far Bangladesh generates just over 530 MW from renewables, nearly half of that from hydropower plants, he said. But the country is set to put online another 600 MW of renewable power in 2019 alone, he said, with another 1,100 MW rolled out in 2020 and 2021. Altogether, plants now in the pipeline should bring the country’s renewable energy generating capacity to 2,235 MW by 2021, Ahmed said.More: With solar farms and roof panels, Bangladesh inches toward green power goal Bangladesh taking steps toward renewable energy goal
Rocky Mountain Power, Sonnen team up on major solar-plus-storage project in Utah FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:German home energy storage company sonnen fulfilled a long-time dream for its U.S. operation: It will supply battery systems to an entire new residential community, with a contract in place to deliver grid services to the local utility.Sonnen will install more than 600 ecoLinx batteries in developer Wasatch Group’s Soleil Lofts apartments in Herriman, Utah, a rapidly growing region south of Salt Lake City. The fleet of batteries will total 5 megawatts/12.6 megawatt-hours of storage paired with onsite solar generation. The deal brings to life the company’s long-avowed wish to harness residential clean energy investments to help the broader grid run more efficiently.Sonnen, which was acquired by Shell in February, previously struck deals to supply new eco-conscious developments in Arizona, Florida and Illinois. But this is the first time the company has contracted with a utility — in this case, Rocky Mountain Power — to put its devices to work for the grid.“This is transformative,” said Blake Richetta, chairman and CEO of sonnen’s U.S. business. “This is what we’ve been working on for years.”The network of batteries, dubbed a virtual power plant in industry parlance, will shift the community’s solar production to serve the evening peak, incrementally reducing the utility’s need to run fossil-fueled plants during the hours of highest electricity demand. The batteries will also deliver demand response for the utility and provide backup power to the residents in case of grid outage.Rocky Mountain Power sees it as a trial run for a statewide push to tap distributed energy tools for the broader grid. Even more surprising, this deal is not pegged for future delivery after 2022, like the capacity market contract Sunrun won for its own network of home batteries earlier this year. Sonnen installations started last week, and customers will move into their battery-equipped rental apartments later this year.More: ‘Transformative’: Sonnen to deliver community battery network with grid services contract
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A proposal by several Democratic presidential hopefuls and environmental groups aimed at helping rural electric cooperatives transition away from coal-fired plants to renewable generation sounds relatively straightforward but, in reality, faces a number of challenges that put the viability of such an option in question.The Center for American Progress, Center for Rural Affairs, advocacy group Clean Up the River Environment and co-op association We Own It have suggested that Congress could help electric cooperatives transition to a greener generation portfolio by allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, or RUS, to forgive the outstanding debt that cooperatives owe related to coal-fired generation.As a second step, the groups said Congress could authorize the RUS and the U.S. Department of Energy to offer grants in lieu of tax credits to install renewable power capacity equivalent to that of the retired coal plants and fund related needed grid improvements. One of the proposals would make the debt relief contingent on investing in renewables.However, the potential impact of the proposal remains unclear, given that several of the co-ops with the most coal-fired generation no longer owe the federal government money. The plan also faces practical hurdles, such as gaining the support needed to change existing tax laws to accommodate the plan.The cooperative debt forgiveness and grant idea has nevertheless picked up new traction among some Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren and businessman Andrew Yang, who included one or both aspects of the proposals in their recent climate change plans.Electric cooperatives reduced their annual carbon dioxide emissions by 9% from 2009 through 2017 and have invested in 7.5 GW of wind generation and 900 MW of solar generation through ownership or power purchase agreements through 2018, according to a July report by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Co-ops have another 3 GW of wind and solar generation capacity planned. But while the U.S. power sector, in general, has shifted from a coal-dominant mix to one led by natural gas, coal plants in 2017 accounted for 64.2% of cooperative-owned generation, the report said. The goal of the debt forgiveness and grants proposal is to provide the money cooperatives need to shutter coal plants and help them invest in renewables.More ($): Forgiving co-ops’ federal coal debt to promote renewables faces hurdles Green groups push debt forgiveness plan as means of moving U.S. co-ops away from coal generation
Poland’s largest utility talking about long-term coal phaseout, green energy transition FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Platts:Poland’s largest power utility Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) is targeting phasing out its coal-fired power station fleet by 2040-2045, company officials told S&P Global Platts on June 2.“We’re talking about withdrawing the entire hard coal and lignite fleet in 20-25 years,” said Maciej Burny, director of the company’s Brussels office. “In Poland, we’re thinking of a similar direction to the one that Germany is taking. If you look at the timeframe for both countries it is quite comparable. The Germans are doing it in 2038 with a smaller coal base in the energy mix,” he said.Deputy chief executive for corporate affairs Pawel Cioch said PGE planned to publish a 10-year strategy in three months’ time that will rest on three pillars ‒ offshore and onshore wind and PV solar. “Our green transition is a fact, this is not just talking,” he said.The strategy would provide a clear timeline for decommissioning coal assets. “Our coal phase-out plan will lay out the lifetimes of the existing assets. Many of them will be decommissioned much sooner than 2045 due to lower efficiency and technical degradation,” Burny said.The last coal assets to be decommissioned will be two 900 MW units commissioned last year at Opole and a 490 MW lignite unit at Turow that is scheduled to be commissioned later this year. Burny said those units’ viability over the next 25 years would depend on how carbon prices evolved, but guaranteed 15-year capacity market payments should help them remain profitable for longer.PGE’s generation is dominated by lignite and hard coal. In the first quarter of this year, the fuels accounted for 84% of the company’s generation despite a 10 percentage point year-on-year fall in lignite utilization. In 2015-2018, the company spent 96% of its investment outlays, or Zloty 27.9 billion ($7.1 billion), in acquiring, renovating or building coal and lignite generation assets, as well as on gas co-generation plants.The company’s change of direction was prompted by rising carbon prices and higher EU emissions targets. “Previously, there was perhaps a notion to prolong difficult decisions. There were signs that things may change in a few years. Now, we see that this is not the way forward. We either change now or never,” Burny said.[Henry Edwardes-Evans, Adam Easton]More: Interview: EU policies prompt Poland’s PGE to pursue green transition
UN secretary general calls for end to coal plant financing, shift to clean energy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries on Thursday to stop financing coal and pledge not to build new coal-fired power plants to enable a shift to clean energy.He spoke at a virtual clean energy transition summit of 40 countries representing 80% of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. They discussed steps to buoy economies, cut emissions and make energy systems more resilient to climate change. As countries seek to revive their economies from the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and investors have called for recovery packages to focus in part on green stimulus.The European Union and South Korea have already pledged environmentally-minded recovery programmes. But Guterres said some countries have also used economic packages to support fossil fuel companies that were already struggling financially, and others have chosen to jump-start coal-fired power plants.“Coal has no place in COVID-19 recovery plans,” Guterres said in a videolink speech to the summit, hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA). He said the business case for renewables was better than for coal in nearly every market and that green jobs and sustainable growth were crucial. Costs for renewables such as wind and solar have plummeted over the last decade.[Nina Chestney, Matthew Green and Timothy Gardner]More: U.N. chief urges end to coal financing to spur clean energy shift
When it comes to backcountry camping, it is hard to find a place more rugged, yet, at the same time, so beautiful, as the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. For years the area has been explored by those looking to get off the beaten path and out into the wilderness to test themselves and their abilities against the unforgiving landscape of densely forested hillsides, towering cliffs, raging whitewater, and endless boulderfields that line the river. The miles of cliffline have long been explored for their climbing potential, offering those who seek adventure climbing a chance to explore high-quality stone in a wilderness setting – a combination that forces climbers to be certain of their skills and abilities before committing to the challenges that lie above on the vertical walls of the Linville Gorge. For kayakers, the river was one of the last great challenges in whitewater boating in North Carolina. The continuous barrage of massive holes and dangerous rapids make for an adrenaline packed paddle that affords those who are willing a chance to check out the views from their boat – a rare opportunity that is seen by only the most experienced whitewater boaters. When it comes to hiking, the rugged, rocky trails, steep climbs, and beautiful views have been drawing backpackers deep into the Gorge for decades. The newly renovated Rock Jock Trail is a highlight of the Gorge that is not to be missed for those seeking a change of pace and a view of the apocalyptic-looking burned out forest that remains after the fire of 2008. Regardless of the adventure one chooses in the Linville Gorge, explorers to this area can be certain that they will find beautiful views, a rugged wilderness setting, and plentiful opportunities to pitch a tent beside a roaring river and admire the beauty of one of North Carolina’s finest Wilderness Areas, the Linville Gorge.