FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享E&E News: About 16 percent of the U.S. coal fleet has retired in the past five years, but don’t expect major new coal-fired plants to fill that void.The federal government counts four new coal projects on a list of planned power plants nationwide. Three of those face long odds, and none will be able to replace the millions of tons in lost coal demand resulting from recent retirements, even as the Trump administration has vowed to revive the ailing industry.The developer of a proposed 320-megawatt unit in Wyoming is facing jail time after pleading guilty to stealing government cash. A Kentucky coke plant that would have generated electricity as a byproduct has been scrapped. And a planned $2.1 billion plant in Georgia has idled.The sole U.S. coal facility under construction: a tiny plant being built by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.The dynamic amounts to an existential crisis for the U.S. coal industry. While coal still accounts for roughly a third of U.S. power generation, the industry is slowly contracting as plants retire and utilities replace them with natural gas and renewables. American Electric Power Co. Inc., one of the country’s largest coal-burning utilities, recently announced plans to build a $4.5 billion wind farm in Oklahoma . PacifiCorp, another coal-centric power company, has similar plans to upgrade its wind fleet while slowly transitioning away from power plants fueled by the black mineral.Utilities entered 2017 with plans to retire 4.5 gigawatts of coal — or 2 percent of 2016 U.S. coal capacity — and add 11 GW of natural gas and 8.5 GW of wind, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.The trend has prompted a series of rescue efforts. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) has proposed a $15-per-ton subsidy for utilities burning Appalachian coal In Congress, there is an effort afoot to expand tax credits for power plants that use carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). (Both efforts hint at coal’s long-term challenges and the reason for the dearth of planned coal plants.“There are two big risks for coal generation right now. One is gas prices stuck at low levels for a long time. Second, developers take on a lot of environmental risk in the future,” said Travis Miller, who directs utilities research at Morningstar Inc. “So environmental risk might not be a risk for four years, obviously referring to the presidential administration, or eight years.Full article: Will the U.S. ever build another big coal plant? ‘Don’t Expect Major New Coal-Fired Plants’ in the U.S.
Report: Nuclear Energy in ‘Terminal Decline’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享SNL:Nuclear energy is in irreversible decline across the world, with the construction of new units appearing to bottom out, a new report found.“The deterioration of the situation is accelerating,” warned Paris-based nuclear consultant Mycle Schneider at the U.S. launch of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.The 10th annual edition of the report provides a grim assessment of the worldwide nuclear industry. According to the report’s 2017 edition, the mean age of the world’s 403 reactors in operation as of July 1 is approximately 29 years while the mean age at retirement of the 169 reactors that have shut down was roughly 25 years.In addition to perceived safety risks, he said aging fleets are incurring increased production costs as utilities see declining consumption rates and shrinking customer bases. Nonetheless, global nuclear generation increased by 1.4% in 2016, thanks to a 23% increase in China, but nuclear power’s share in the global generation mix fell to 10.5%, the report said.The report shows that the number of units under construction declined for the fourth year in a row, from 68 reactors at the end of 2013 to 53 by mid-2017 before V.C. Summer’s two additional units were scrapped in South Carolina and a third unit came online in China. Thirty-seven of these reactors under construction were behind schedule, with 19 of them reporting further delays over the past year, the report said.More: ($) Report: Nuclear industry in terminal decline as China is set to miss 58-GW goal
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sydney Morning Herald:Big Oil is under pressure, unloved and on sale.Energy giants from Exxon Mobil to Royal Dutch Shell are struggling back to their feet after a three-year oil slump, while also fighting to prove they can survive for decades to come amid an accelerating shift to clean energy.So getting dumped by the world’s biggest investment fund wouldn’t be welcome news.Norway’s $US1 trillion ($1.25 trillion) sovereign wealth fund said on Thursday that it wants to sell about $US35 billion of shares in oil and gas companies to make the nation “less vulnerable” to a drop in crude prices.Norges Bank Investment Management has nearly 380 investments oil and gas investments worldwide, the majority of which are in the US. If the strategy is implemented it will have an enormous impact on the market as the fund is amongst the top ten largest institutional investors in some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. It holds stakes worth more than US$5 billion in Shell, US$3 billion in ExxonMobil, and US$2 billion in Chevron, BP and Total.Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis director of finance, Tom Sanzillo, said the move as a reminder that ongoing low oil prices were a continued risk.“The Norges Bank recommendation that the Norwegian Fund remove oil and gas stocks from its benchmark indexes reflects the long-term deterioration of these stocks,” Mr Sanzillo said.“Oil and gas stocks are no longer stable providers of cash or value added contributors to institutional investment funds. The bank’s decision now incorporates the risks from these increasingly speculative investments.More: For sale: $25 billion oil shares dumped by world’s biggest fund seek new owner Big Oil, ‘Unloved and On Sale’
Chevron CEO says low-cost shale has forced capital discipline on oil industry FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:For Mike Wirth, the future of Big Oil lies at home, under the dusty fields of West Texas. As he celebrates his first year as chief executive of Chevron Corp., Wirth sees the Permian Basin as a plentiful source of high-quality crude for years to come, but that’s not all. The low break-even costs to pump in the Permian are forcing Chevron to be more efficient everywhere, Wirth said, from the deepwater platforms in the Gulf of Mexico to its liquefied natural gas plants.In a time of transition, where everyone from politicians to shareholder activists is bashing Big Oil, shale’s success is forging a new reality, Wirth said: Lower your costs, or die. Shale “has forced us to get smarter about how we do everything else,” Wirth said in an interview in Houston. The cost of Gulf of Mexico projects is at “levels we would never have imagined a decade ago,” he added. Chevron isn’t becoming more efficient “because we were dumb then and we’re smart now. We’re doing it because we have to.”As Wirth prepares to present his new strategy to investors in early March, his message is one of never-ending belt-tightening, always preparing for even lower energy prices and strong competition. It’s a lesson that came from his days rising through the oil refining ranks at Chevron: bad margins one year could turn even worse the next.“Let’s not bet on high prices,” Wirth said, sitting in a conference room in the company’s Houston offices, with pictures of old Chevron retail logos on the wood-paneled wall behind him. It is a popular theme with shareholders in the energy industry who saw many companies spending billions in mega-projects that never delivered the expected returns. In Chevron’s case, investors endured half-a-decade of intense capital spending on developments in the Gulf of Mexico and enormous LNG projects in Australia, only for the oil price to crater in 2014. Famously, at one Australian venture, Gorgon, costs swelled by almost half to $54 billion.“Everybody was investing in these kinds of things,” Wirth said. But “it’s unlikely we’d see that confluence of events come together again. I certainly don’t see that in the foreseeable future.”More: Texas shale forces Big Oil cost revolution, Chevron CEO says
Slovakia to convert coal plant to combined heat and power unit using natural gas FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Power Engineering International:A coal-fired district heating plant in Slovakia is to be upgraded to a CHP facility running on gas engines.Rolls-Royce has signed a contract with EPC contractor TTS Martin to supply the engines to the plant, which is operated by state-owned utility Martinska teplarenska. The plant will be equipped with three Rolls-Royce Bergen natural gas engines and four hot water boilers, replacing the entire existing coal operation.As well as electricity, the engines and boilers will supply over 28 MW of heat to most of the 60,000 population of the cities of Martin and Vrutky.The upgrade of the district heating plant is part of Martinska teplarenska’s strategy towards sustainable power supplies instead of coal operations. The company made a strategic decision to replace its coal plants with gas-fueled reciprocating engines and gas boilers.The Martinska teplarenska plant is due to be operational in 2020 and will be Rolls-Royce’s second plant using B35:40 Bergen gas engines in Slovakia. The first – for district heating company Teplaren Kosice – will be commissioned later this month, generating a total of 37 MWe of heat and power.More: Slovakia coal plant refitted with gas engines for CHP
Vattenfall wants to close 1.6GW Moorburg coal plant in Germany FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Energy Wire:Swedish utility Vattenfall wants to shut down its youngest and most efficient coal-fired power plant in Germany because it is unprofitable. After participating in the first hard coal phase-out tender, CEO Magnus Hall said that if his company’s bid is successful, the 1.6 gigawatt Moorburg plant in the city of Hamburg would either partially or entirely cease operations by the middle of next year.Energy company Vattenfall may close down its newest and largest coal-fired power station in Germany, CEO Magnus Hall has told Süddeutsche Zeitung. The coal plant Moorburg in Hamburg, with a capacity of 1.6 gigawatt, only started operations in 2015 after years of struggle with local environmental groups. Hall said that the Moorburg plant had – with parts or its entire capacity – participated in the first tender for a shut-down premium for hard coal-fired power stations, which is part of Germany’s coal exit plan, and would close down operations in the middle of 2021 if its bid is successful.“This was a difficult decision because it is a young and highly efficient power plant,” Hall told Süddeutsche Zeitung. “But if you are losing money with it, you have to do something.”According to Vattenfall, the plant emitted 4.7 million tonnes of CO2 last year and could continue to operate until 2038. But the company’s own target is to stop the use of fossil fuels, including coal, by 2030.This first round of Germany’s hard-coal phase-out tenders is designed to take some 4 gigawatts of capacity off the grid. The results will be announced in December. Under the shut-down scheme, utilities offer a bid for how much money they are willing to stop operations of their plants, taking into account their projected future earnings.The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) organises the auctions. A spokesperson told Clean Energy Wire that successful bidders in this first round of auction will be prohibited from selling power on the market from January 2021. They will then be prohibited from burning coal from July – the date mentioned by Vattenfall’s Hall.[Kerstine Appunn]More: Vattenfall wants to shut down its largest coal power station in Germany
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of a multi-day rafting trip on wild Western rivers, learning to SUP, or whitewater kayaking free-flowing drainages, take a look at this video from EOTV.
Summer nostalgia is closer than you think in West Virginia. Treat your family. Go outside and relive those carefree days with old fashioned explorations. Your ticket to bliss starts here:1. Camp Under the StarsEver heard someone reminisce about seeing the Milky Way? Turns out, the clearest night skies on the East Coastare right here!Here’s where you can find the brightest constellations:Spruce Knob:Spend the night on West Virginia’s highest peak, where stars seem close enough to scoop into a jar. Sleep at Spruce Knob Lake Campground!Calhoun County Park: During summer, an astronomer can introduce you to countless planets and stars.2. Tube the RiverIt’s easy to combine good ol’ relaxation with adventure in West Virginia. How? Tubing!Harpers Ferry:Take it easy on the Shenandoah or spice things up on the Potomac, drifting past wild landscapes dotted with Civil Warera houses.GreenbrierRiver:Float through miles of nothing but forested banks and mountains.3. Dance with FirefliesNothing greets summer with more joy than a firefly. Pack a camp chair and catch the show!Lost River State Park: This resort is rife with nostalgic ambience: 1930s cabins, woods and, of course, plenty of those twinkling fireflies!NewRiverGorge:These forests, rivers and waterfalls attract hundreds of animals and plants— including fireflies. Count ‘em from a cabin porch!4. Skip RocksHow many times can you make a rock bounce over the water? Try your luck here:Pipestem Resort State Park: Take an aerial tram down into the canyon and settle bythe Bluestone River. Stay at Mountain Creek Lodge on the banks and skip rocks — justlike old times.Pinnacle Rock State Park: Broad, flat Jimmy Lewis Lake is made for rock skippin’.Pack a picnic, too!5.Pick BerriesExplore acres of mountain farms and bag your own fruit:Blueberry Hill: West Virginia’s largest pickyourown berry farm in Flat Top has more than 15 acres for you to roam.Orr’s Farm Market: Pluck ripe produce all season long! Cherries, grapes, blackberries and raspberries are perfect for salads or snacking on the porch.6. Hike & Wish on a WeedLocal lore says dandelions grant wishes if you completely blow ‘em out. Here’s where you can find some luck while you’re out hiking:Sandstone Falls:Besides having the New River’s widest waterfall, Sandstone boasts miles of pristine wilderness and dandelions by the dozens!LaurelLake: Hike12,500+acres of groves and rippling mountains. The humble dandelion is bound to be hiding there somewhere!7. Ride a HorseWhen you saddle up, it’s easy to leave your cares on the ground.Wheeling: Amble through miles of hushed hardwood forests or ride along Oglebay Resort’s groomed trails.Canaan Valley: Take a leisurely ride up the slopes for endless mountain views.Discover more at gotowv.com/summer.
A North Carolina fugitive named Phillip Stroupe II, who was accused of stealing a mountain bike at gunpoint before leading authorities on a 6-day manhunt that closed parts of Pisgah National Forest in Western North Carolina, has finally been apprehended.The search ended around 1:30 A.M. this morning when Stroupe was picked up by a joint task force that included the FBI and the U.S. Marshals along with local law enforcement about an hour and fifteen minutes northeast of where the search began.When Stroupe was spotted by police in the Marion area, he was driving a silver Honda Ridgeline belonging to 68-year-old Thomas Bryson. Bryson, who lives in the South Mills River area where Stroupe was reportedly seen during the manhunt, was reported missing yesterday morning around 8:30 A.M. According to WLOS, Bryson is still missing and his disappearance is being investigated as a possible kidnapping by Stroupe.Learn more about the manhunt here.
This year, the Carolina Climbers Coalition is celebrating more than 50 years of rock climbing on Stone Mountain in North Carolina. Over the past few months, we’ve been digging through interview footage with some of Stone’s earliest climbers who were scaling that behemoth granite dome back in the 1960s and ’70s. Check out part one of this mini documentary series on Stone, and if you’re interested in seeing more North Carolina climbing history, be sure to watch our piece on the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Looking Glass Rock’s most iconic route, the Nose. Stone Mountain climbing images circa 1970s, courtesy of Mike Fischesser.