100 More Wind Turbines for Northern Illinois FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Pantagraph (Bloomington):Invenergy plans to construct about 100 turbines and related infrastructure across more than 100 parcels in Chenoa, Gridley, Lawndale, Lexington and Money Creek townships, according to county records.“The project will power approximately 69,000 homes (with a 250-megawatt capacity),” according to a permit application. “The project will likely commence construction in 2018 or 2019 with the goal of being operational in 2019 or 2020.”The project could create 35 long-term jobs and at least $2.3 million in new annual taxes in the county, according to a study by David Loomis, an Illinois State University economics professor who directs its renewable energy center.“The project location was selected due to the area’s strong wind resource, land use, and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure,” according to the permit application.The permit would allow “wind turbine generators that are up to 500 feet in height, as well as any access roads, transformers, power lines, communication lines, interconnection lines, substation, construction lay-down yards and other ancillary facilities or structures,” states a county notice.“The application also requests that the time period to apply for building permits for the (farm) be extended to three years, rather than two years as provided by the McLean County Zoning Ordinance,” according to the notice.Another company, EDP Renewables, has been competing to build a wind farm in the same area. Officials with that firm did not respond to requests for comment.Last year, county officials added more regulations for future wind development, including specific setbacks, turbine heights, decommissioning requirements and wildlife impact studies, in anticipation of permit applications from one or both companies.Wind farms currently operating in the county include Twin Groves Wind Farm, a pair of 198-megawatt farms near Ellsworth, and White Oak Energy Center, a 150-megawatt farm near Carlock.More: Jan. hearing on plan for wind farm in northern McLean County
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Quartz:After experimenting with solar-powered train coaches last year, India’s diesel-guzzling railways now have an entire station that runs on renewable energy. The Guwahati railway station in the capital city of Assam is the first railway station in the country to be fully solar-powered. A major railway thoroughfare in India’s northeastern region, the station handles around 20,000 passengers every day.The Guwahati railway station building has grid-connected rooftop solar panels totaling a capacity of 700 kilowatt (0.7 megawatt) that will cater to the electricity needs of the station, the coach depot, and the railway colony area, the Northeast Frontier Railway, an arm of the Indian Railways, said in a statement. This will help the railway network save around Rs67.7 lakhs (approximately $99,900) per year in electricity bills.State-run engineering company Central Electronics executed the Rs6.7 crore (around $1 million) project, which has been funded by the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways.The Indian Railways is currently the country’s largest consumer of electricity and diesel and spent around Rs31,000 crore, or 18% of its operational expenses, on fuel in the financial year 2016. In part to bring down this burgeoning fuel bill, the state-run transportation network has been taking steps to transition to renewable energy for a few years now.The solar-powered railway station initiative is part of the Indian Railways’ broader plans to put up 5,000 MW of solar power capacity to meet around 25% of its energy needs through renewable energy by 2025. In July last year, the Indian Railways rolled out the first set of train coaches with rooftop solar panels that powered the lights, fans, and information display systems inside. The coaches were used for suburban transit in New Delhi, and the railways estimate that each train with six solar-powered coaches could save around 21,000 litres of diesel every year, worth around Rs12 lakh.More: India Now Has A Railway Station That’s Fully Powered By Solar Energy Indian Railways Move Forward With Aggressive Solar Plans
Government Policy Thwarts Uptake of Renewables in Indonesia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Mongobay:Demand for energy in China and Indonesia continues to drive the resurgence of the latter’s coal industry, setting back efforts in both countries to shift to a greater share of renewable energy.Mining, freight and trade executives were largely upbeat at what was billed as the coal industry’s biggest event of the year, the 24th Coaltrans Asia, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali earlier this month. Analysts who attended the three-day conference said the outlook in China was still very strong, especially for coal from Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest exporters of the fossil fuel.A major factor behind this trend is the growing domestic demand. At present, Indonesia’s coal-fired power plants require about 80 to 90 MMT of coal per year, or roughly 80 percent of the locally mined coal that is allocated for the domestic market.“Slowly but sure, we’re starting to prioritize domestic needs,” said Bambang, the energy ministry’s coal chief. “Based on the national development plan, the domestic market [for coal] has increased 27 percent each year, and in 2019, we hope it’ll increase by 60 percent.”Elrika Hamdi, an energy finance analyst from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a Cleveland, Ohio-based think tank, noted that the 10-year business plan from state-owned power utility PLN indicated it was on a building spree: “there are going to be many new coal-fired plants operating in 2020 and 2021,” she said.Coal producers, she added, are “trying to dig as much coal as they can while it’s still possible. They’re capitalizing on the moment [when] the coal price is high, with the [Coaltrans Asia] conference saying the price will be stable or even have an upward trend.”The bullish outlook for coal, driven in large part by government policy, could spell trouble for the renewable energy market in Indonesia, which is already struggling to compete with the ubiquitous fossil fuel, analysts say.Indonesia will miss its target of generating 23 percent of its energy from new and renewable sources by 2025 unless it makes significant policy and regulatory changes, according to a report from the Geneva-based Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).“Many stakeholders we spoke to hold this view and have expressed concerns that the current policies do not provide enough incentive to grow renewables,” Richard Bridle, a senior policy adviser at GSI, said at the launch of the report in March. “More friendly regulations will be a critical first step to boosting renewable energy development in Indonesia and building a business case for investment.”But right now, the momentum and policy framework are not in favor of renewables — so much so that the coal industry players at the recent Bali conference said they didn’t see renewables as a competitive threat in the Indonesian market.“While speakers at the conference see renewables as a threat because prices for renewables have declined in the past 10 years, it’s not [considered] a threat for Indonesia,” Elrika said. “Even the government of Indonesia says it will still use coal as the base load power source.”More: In export- and domestic-driven coal boon, Indonesia neglects renewables
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Germanwatch.org:Not only is an energy transition technically possible, given the country’s great potentials in wind and solar, as well as excellent options for connections to Albanian hydropower. An energy transition even is a necessity in order to reduce CO2 emissions, improve air quality and open up economic and social opportunities for Europe’s youngest country.The study shows that there are solutions for all kinds of technical challenges connected to a phase-in of renewables. Economically, the key challenge will be to lower the high financing costs for renewables projects in Kosovo. Additionally, the legal basis has to be adjusted to ensure a long-term planning perspective for investors. All in all, the study shows that the greatest obstacle for the Kosovan energy transition will be the political mindset: Up till now, there is a political bias in favour of lignite as opposed to renewables. Yet renewables would pose a sustainable and promising solution for a well interconnected western Balkan, since the countries’ potentials complement each other well in terms of fluctuating wind and solar energy, as well as the controllable generation of power generation from hydro.Security of supply and resources at hand are the key arguments for an ongoing and intense use of coal and, basically, against a fast energy transition. But in times of decreasing costs for renewables generation and the massive pull-out of investors and insurance companies from fossil fuel projects, Kosovo will most likely be suspected to “stranded investments” if it keeps clinging to lignite. As the 2017 SEERMAP Study shows, conventional power plants will lose their ability to compete, once an effective CO2 price has been established. A scenario which is very likely during the investment cycle of a power plant.The study emphasizes an apparent challenge for the Balkans on the whole. The region’s energy sector is heavily reliant on coal – in 2017, 37 power plant blocs were active in five countries and 13 new plants are being planned throughout the region of south-eastern Europe, many of them with Chinese investment. Kosovo in particular is the “lignite champion” in the region, generating 97% of its electricity through lignite. At the same time, Kosovo faces diverse social, economic and political challenges, which are symptomatic for the region: Unemployment rates reach 30% and 56% amongst young citizens, respectively; energy efficiency is insufficient (30% in the energy transmission grid alone); and the country is not officially recognized by Serbia, one of its most important neighbors. Thus, a successful and regionally integrated Kosovo energy transition can serve as a best practice example for the entire region.More: Kosovo: Energy transition feasible despite 97% lignite fired-generation? On the blogs: German study sees viable transition to renewable power generation in Kosovo
Analysis finds ‘verdant’ MacArthur Foundation still invests in fossil fuels FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Nonprofit Chronicles:Eighteen months ago, the people who manage the endowment at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation got some bad news: Investments they had made in funds managed by EnerVest, a Houston-based private equity firm that operates more than 33,000 oil and gas wells across the US, had plummeted in value to almost nothing.The losses were small, relatively speaking — roughly $15 million, a fraction of the foundation’s $7 billion endowment — but they were unwelcome, if only because they called attention to the fact that MacArthur, whose mission is, famously, to build a “more just, verdant and peaceful world,” had taken a financial hit by investing in fossil fuels.Lesson learned? No.Despite its stature as a major funder of climate-change solutions, MacArthur continues to finance the fossil-fuel industry, a review of its most recent federal tax return shows. It does so deliberately–that is, by seeking out opportunities to invest in oil and gas, unlike investors who are inadvertently exposed to fossil-fuel companies because they own broad-based index funds that capture the entire stock market.The MacArthur endowment holds investments valued at well over $200m in at least a dozen private equity firms, including EnerVest, that finance the exploration, production and distribution of fossil fuels, according to MacArthur’s 2017 Form 990-PF. (The full scope of its fossil fuel holdings can’t be determined because many private equity and hedge funds do not disclose what they own.) Some of MacArthur’s funds are invested in western Canada’s oil sands, which have been called the largest–and most destructive–industrial project in human history. The Chicago-based foundation also invests in mining companies, including those that mine coal in the western US and in South Africa; in Dynegy, a coal-burning utility; and in an energy-related hedge fund, the Cayman Islands-based ZP Offshore Energy Fund.The fossil fuel investments persist even as grant-makers at MacArthur sound alarms about climate change. By investing in fossil fuels, MacArthur supports the industry that has done more than any other to oppose the climate solutions put forth by the environmental groups that it funds. Its grantees include the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Carbon Disclosure Project.To sum up: MacArthur pays its asset managers generously for generating average returns while investing in ways that make a planetary catastrophe more likely.More: The MacArthur Foundation invests in climate solutions—and in fossil fuels
New research shows potential of significantly increasing solar cell efficiency FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Researchers at MIT and Princeton Universities have successfully demonstrated a new method for silicon solar cell design that could push efficiencies not just to record highs, but beyond what were theoretically thought possible.Conventional silicon solar cells have a theoretical maximum efficiency of around 29 per cent, as there is a limit to how much sunlight can be converted into useful electricity within a silicon solar cell (dubbed the Shockley–Queisser limit).Many commercially available cells achieve efficiencies in the order of 20-25 per cent, with higher efficiencies being a trade-off against the overall cost of the cell. But in a finding that may allow solar cells to surge beyond efficiencies that were previously thought possible, researchers at MIT have discovered a way of extracting even more energy out of the light that hits a solar cell, believing they can take silicon solar cell efficiencies to as high as 35 per cent.Traditionally, photons have only been able to transfer their energy to a single “excited” electron as they pass through conventional silicon solar cells. However, some parts of the light spectrum, notably blue and green light, has enough energy to excite multiple electrons. Generally, this excess energy is converted into waste heat, and researchers have been searching for way to tap into this extra energy, seeing the potential to boost solar cell efficiencies.In new research published in the journal Nature this week, researchers at MIT and Princeton Universities have demonstrated a method of doing exactly that, using photons (the light particles) to “excite” multiple electrons. By “exciting” multiple electrons, solar cells could produce more electric current using the same amount of light, boosting the efficiency of silicon solar cells by as much as 20 per cent. The proof of concept could lead to dramatic increases in the efficiencies of silicon solar cells, pushing beyond the 29% theoretical efficiency limit of current cells, to as high as 35%.A wide range of research is currently underway for taking the efficiency of solar cells beyond 30%, with most techniques using a combination of silicon and organic solar cells “stacked” upon each other to maximise the amount of sunlight converted to electricity. But the MIT/Princeton research requires just a single silicon cell, which are most commonly used for commercially available solar cells.More: Solar cell efficiency could get a dramatic boost, MIT team finds
Green groups push debt forgiveness plan as means of moving U.S. co-ops away from coal generation 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
Column: Changes in LNG market could undercut plans for new Japanese coal plants FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:The collapse in the spot price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Asia is a short-term phenomenon that may well end up having a longer-term impact, especially on thermal coal.The spot price dropped to $2.95 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) for the week ended Feb. 7, the lowest price in records stretching back to 2010. It has lost 57% of its value since the pre-winter peak of $6.80 per mmBtu in mid-October, and is down 74% from the peak price in 2018 and 86% from the all-time high from February 2014.While it’s unlikely that spot LNG prices will stay at the current depressed levels indefinitely, the trend toward structurally lower prices appears sustainable. There is still no shortage of LNG projects being built, with 17 million tonnes of capacity due to be commissioned this year alone, and considerably more likely in the next five years, as projects from Russia to East Africa start to come online.This supply surge is likely to have two impacts on prices. Firstly, it will ensure that spot prices remain under downward pressure, and secondly, it will likely accelerate the shift away from long-term, oil-linked contracts to shorter-term, more flexibly priced deals.This change in the way LNG is priced should give pause for considerable thought to any would-be developers of thermal coal power projects based on imported fuel in Asia, especially Japan. As a country that relies on imports for virtually all its energy, Japan has long prioritized security of supply and diversity in its energy mix. But perhaps the sands have shifted enough to lead to a re-think.It would in all likelihood be possible to sign long-term or medium-term LNG supply pacts that are not linked to the price of crude oil, but rather to other instruments such as U.S. Henry Hub natural gas, or European gas prices, or even seaborne thermal coal costs. This could give Japan the security of supply it desires, but virtually eliminate the problem LNG has always had, its high cost relative to thermal coal.[Clyde Russell]More: Structurally cheaper LNG should displace coal from Japan, and broader Asia: Russell
Recycling and re-use have many environmental benefits, including reducing the amount of waste we bury in already overcrowded landfills and burn in polluting incinerators, like the one pictured here. Photo: iStock/ThinkstockDear EarthTalk: Recycling can be a somewhat time-consuming task; so can you please provide some benefits of taking the time to separate my trash?–– Joseph Jiminez, Houston, TXRecycling, which turns materials that would otherwise be incinerated or become landfill-clogging waste into valuable resources, has become second nature for many Americans. As many as four out of five U.S. households already take the time to separate recyclables from trash. Those hold-outs not yet willing to bother should consider the benefits to their household and society at large.First and foremost for consumers is saving money. Many municipalities across the U.S. today don’t charge customers for curb-side pickup of recyclables but continue to charge for garbage pick-up, so recycling is a way to reduce a household’s overall waste expense. Otherwise, consumers who collect large amounts of recyclables may be able to find a local company willing to buy them in bulk. Some municipalities operate drop-off centers where consumers can trade in aluminum cans and other scrap metal (copper, steel, etc.) for cash. Yet another way to recycle and make some cash is to sell your old stuff in a yard sale. Likewise, shopping at yard sales and second-hand stores will also prevent the manufacture of new items altogether.And there are many benefits to recycling beyond each household’s own bottom line. Recycling saves resources. By recycling paper we save oxygen-providing, carbon-sequestering trees from the axe. By recycling plastic, we save petroleum, contributing (however slightly) to national security. By recycling metals, we take a bite out of energy-intensive mining. And recycling anything saves large amounts of energy and water that would otherwise be expended in making new goods from virgin materials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adds that recycling “protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness.”Yet another benefit of recycling is reducing the amount of waste we send to overcrowded landfills and polluting incinerators. At the other end of the consumer loop, buying products made out of recycled rather than virgin materials is another way to save money, as they are often less costly and just as good quality.Beyond recycling, reducing our consumption of goods that are heavily packaged (often with materials not recyclable themselves) is another important part of any effort to spare bulging landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And the re-use of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills is yet another way to conserve resources. It’s not difficult to think of many ways that used boxes, packaging, paper and plastic bags can be re-purposed to extend their usefulness and spare the garbage (or recycling) man. Also, composting food scraps—either at home or as part of a community effort—helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.With world population still growing and developing countries now fully embracing an American-style consumer culture, recycling and other waste reduction techniques take on an increasingly important role in efforts to protect the environment. Indeed, there’s no time like the present to step up reducing, re-using, recycling and composting. To find out where to recycle just about anything near you, visit the Earth911 website, where you can search by entering your zip code along with the item you’re looking to unload.CONTACTS: EPA, www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/recycle.htm; Earth911, www.Earth911.com.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: [email protected] Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
My favorite part about riding bikes in Asheville is how it can be fun on any given moment – or maybe for me it’s just the soul-nurturing activity of pedaling through coolness.Although bombing down a tight, twisting rock garden in a tunnel of rhododendron can be quite blissful, there’s so much more to biking around Asheville. Some of my favorite rides have been climbing over Beaucatcher Mountain. When I first moved here I couldn’t believe how steep that hill was and chased some friends over it at the beginning of a pub crawl. All I could think about was that sweat-producing huff also being the last thing I would do that night on my way home. It’s probably what led me to drinking that high gravity beer.Then there was the cool spring morning with a thin fog hovering between the fifth floors of downtown, pinnacles poking through into sunlight. I coasted into town with a heavy bag of massage sheets strapped to my shoulder and maneuvered the empty streets to my favorite coffee bistro to get a bagel with smoked trout before starting my day of appointments in the Miles Building. The ride home was always the best, working the kinks out of my back and wrists.The Pumpkin Pedaler provides a great excuse for wearing a wig or costume while riding your bike around town in a stream of bicycles so long that cars pull over to watch. We weave through all of the new bicycle lanes and into the Montford Cemetery and back again to go down the last hill to The Wedge in the River Arts District. Climbing back out after a few beers and a short snooze can be a poor evening choice. At this point the evening will be enhanced by calling a friend with a pickup truck to come join you to ensure a ride home.Pulling my children in the trailer over Patton Mountain has put them to sleep amidst the bumpy gravel, providing me many hours of well-deserved, hard-earned peace. My second child slept so little that I was willing to drag 75 pounds of equipment around town and up and down mountains just to avoid pacing and bouncing the baby back and forth for a 20-minute nap or playing another game of hide-and-seek followed by tired fit-throwing. Cruising the Grove Park neighborhood is quiet and shady, opening up onto Patton Mountain where you pass by bed and breakfasts and catch glimpses of a phenomenal mountain range. Descending Town Mountain on the way home is a great way of teaching the children how to enjoy the thrill of speed. Plus, you can’t really hear them screaming when the wind blows at their faces.Teaching my kids how to ride a bike has been so easy at Carrier Park where they have wide, rolling paths surrounded by flat grass. I remember learning how to ride on the sidewalks of Chicago, but crashing into trees and park benches.Once the boys got used to pedaling, they were so excited to ride around the mellowdrome, pretending to race. I cried while laughing and chasing them across that park as they pedaled for the first time.There is always a group of people riding, commuting, or parading through this town via bicycle. It looks fun, but it looks even better when viewing it from the saddle.