Editorial: Wall Street’s Retreat From King Coal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the New York Times:The grave environmental damage from coal-fired power plants has done nothing to deter the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, from decrying a “war on coal” and orchestrating his own war against the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. But he and other coal-state Republicans would be foolish to ignore the growing consensus on Wall Street that King Coal, for all its legendary political power, has turned into a decidedly bad investment.JPMorgan Chase announced this month that it would no longer finance new coal-fired power plants in the United States or other advanced nations, joining Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley in retreating from a fuel that provides about one-third of the nation’s electricity and accounts for about one-quarter of the carbon emissions that feed global warming.Cleaner and cheaper natural gas is fast becoming the preferred investment, a blunt marketplace reality that is sure to weaken coal’s grip on the planet as much as moral and environmental concerns. Last week’s announcement by Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, that it may have to seek bankruptcy protection, just as three other major coal producers have done recently, provided a dramatic confirmation of this trend.Main Street also seems to be getting the message. Two weeks ago, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon signed ambitious legislation — agreed to by environmentalists, consumer groups and power producers — that requires the state’s two largest utilities to stop importing out-of-state coal-generated power by 2030 and to use renewable energy to meet half of the demand of their customers by 2040. Oregon’s only in-state coal-fired plant will close by 2020.Even so, Mr. McConnell persists in his campaign to block the administration’s clean power rule, the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by steering power producers away from dirty coal-fired plants to cleaner sources of energy. Ever ready with new and more mischievous strategies, Mr. McConnell has encouraged court challenges to the rule and has gone so far as to tell Republican-led states to ignore it, further deepening his party’s sorry retreat into science denial.Though reeling now, the coal industry insists it will rebound by selling more to markets like China. But this is little comfort to workers who can read the markets better than Mr. McConnell can. Rather than encouraging obstruction, the senator, who received $273,850 in campaign contributions from the coal industry for his 2014 re-election, should be taking the lead in crafting government programs to help the industry, miners and communities as they face a hard period of inevitable transition.Even as the administration cracks down on coal — in recent weeks it has also suspended new coal leasing on federal lands — it has called for job training and other assistance to ease the pain. These are the types of creative adjustments that Mr. McConnell and his colleagues should be tackling, instead of clinging to King Coal’s fading past.Wall Street’s Retreat From King Coal Editorial: Wall Street’s Retreat From King Coallast_img read more

As U.S. Government Moves to Shore Up Coal, Market Trends Move the Other Way

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享SNL:The number of scheduled or completed coal capacity retirements is increasing through 2021 at the same time the U.S. Department of Energy is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to adopt a new rule that would bolster coal generation.According to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence, about 49.5 GW of coal capacity is or was scheduled for retirement between 2013 and 2021, an increase from the 44.1 GW scheduled as of March 27 for that period. Forty-five coal units are slated to retire from 2017 to 2021 while 395 units have been retired since 2012, though certain planned retirements without firm dates are not reported in the data.Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. is in the process of replacing the capacity from its Bridgeport Harbor 3, Hudson 2 and Mercer plants with new natural gas-fired combined-cycle plants, due strictly to cheaper natural gas.A spokesman for Dynegy Inc., scheduled to retire 2,181 MW of capacity over the next five years, also blamed low-priced natural gas and high maintenance costs for the closing of the Brayton Point 1-3 plant.Tennessee Valley Authority is scheduled to retire 2,494 MW of coal capacity. The utility’s head of coal procurement said recently that Tennessee Valley Authority expects its annual coal burn will remain flat for a period before dropping by as much as a quarter in the coming years.JEA’s and Florida Power & Light Co.’s 1,276-MW St Johns River Power coal-fired facility could retire as early as Jan. 5, 2018. The utility filed a petition in May with the Florida Public Service Commission to close the coal-fired facility as a way to lower expenses for customers and prevent carbon dioxide emissions.More: ($) Coal retirement plans increasing despite federal focus on grid reliability As U.S. Government Moves to Shore Up Coal, Market Trends Move the Other Waylast_img read more

Idaho Company Seeks Federal Intervention in State’s Refusal to Give Battery-Storage Project 20-Year Contract

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:An Idaho-based energy development company is asking federal authorities to declare state regulators in violation of a law intended to promote alternative energy in a case that could have far-reaching ramifications for emerging battery-storage technologies.Franklin Energy is seeking to build a $200 million lithium-ion battery storage facility in Twin Falls County. It contends the project, under federal law, qualifies for a 20-year contract with Idaho Power, which has more than 500,000 customers in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. But Idaho regulators twice rejected the company’s request, saying the project is allowed only a two-year contract because the batteries would be charged with solar power.Franklin Energy says the shorter contract doesn’t offer the stability needed to make the proposed project — which includes four 25 megawatt battery storage facilities — financially viable. The company took its case to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month after the Idaho Public Utilities Commission sided with the state-regulated Idaho Power Co.The disagreement involves the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA. Created in 1978, it’s intended to promote alternative resources. It requires power companies to buy electricity at a state commission-approved rate from qualifying small power-production facilities.Franklin Energy argues Idaho’s Public Utilities Commission isn’t abiding by that law. It also contends that, rather than protecting customers from Idaho Power’s leverage as a state-regulated monopoly, the commission is protecting the utility at customers’ expense.Battery storage on a commercial scale is so new that the 1978 PURPA law doesn’t address it. In September, Idaho Public Utilities Commission member Kristine Raper told a U.S. House energy subcommittee that needs to be examined. “Serious consideration should be given to whether battery storage qualifies as a renewable resource under the provisions of PURPA,” she testified.More: Company, Idaho regulators at odds over battery storage plan Idaho Company Seeks Federal Intervention in State’s Refusal to Give Battery-Storage Project 20-Year Contractlast_img read more

Wood Mackenzie predicts 43GW of Asia offshore wind by 2027

first_imgWood Mackenzie predicts 43GW of Asia offshore wind by 2027 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ET Energy World:The Asia-Pacific region’s offshore wind power capacity would rise 20-fold to 43 Gigawatt (GW) through 2027, according to a recent report by global natural resources consultancy Wood Mackenzie.It said that China, leading in the race, is expected to see offshore wind capacity grow from 2 GW last year to 31 GW in the next decade.Taiwan, which comes next, would account for 20 per cent or 8.7 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2027. This would make it the largest offshore wind market in Asia-Pacific excluding China (APeC) by 2020. “Taiwan presents the biggest offshore market in APeC due to a relatively stable regulatory regime, a supportive government, and openness to foreign investment,” said Robert Liew, senior analyst, Wood Mackenzie.At present, Taiwan relies heavily on coal, gas and nuclear for power. “However, the government has pledged to shut down nuclear plants by 2025, thereby leaving a void of 5 GW of power capacity to be filled. Offshore wind is poised to fill this gap as more than 5.7 GW of projects have been approved and planned for commissioning by 2025,” the research firm said in a report.[Liew] added that prices are coming down and thus future offshore wind prices were projected to be competitive with traditional thermal prices by 2025.More: Asia-Pacific offshore wind energy capacity to rise 20-fold in next decade: Wood Mackenzielast_img read more

Study sees room for major growth in Australian rooftop solar

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:A new study by solar experts at three leading Australian institutions has concluded that Australia could host as much as 179 gigawatts of rooftop solar, more than 20 times its current capacity of just over 8 gigawatts.The joint study by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and the Australian Photovoltaic Institute, says the combined annual output from rooftop solar could be as high as 245 terawatt-hours, more than the current total grid consumption of around 220TWh.The report, How much Rooftop Solar can be Installed in Australia?, was prepared for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Property Council of Australia, and says that around half of the unused potential for rooftop solar is in residential zones, with primary and rural production zones and commercial and industrial zones making up the rest.“Australia is currently using less than 5 per cent of the potential capacity for rooftop solar,” the authors say in the report. “Our study does not suggest Australia could or should source all its power from rooftop solar. But noting these caveats (potential for shading and structural integrity issues), our study does indicate that even with the strong recent growth, Australia has only just scratched the surface of the potential.”The head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman, also told the conference that the uptake of rooftop solar – currently being installed at record rates of around 2GW per year – was likely to accelerate. AEMO has canvassed potential installations of up to 56GW as part of its 20-year planning blueprint.More: New study says Australia could host up to 179 gigawatts of rooftop solar Study sees room for major growth in Australian rooftop solarlast_img read more

Analysis shows Trans Mountain Pipeline losing money

first_imgAnalysis shows Trans Mountain Pipeline losing money FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Business in Vancouver:The Trans Mountain pipeline generated a massive loss in the first four months that it was owned by the Canadian public – or a small profit, depending on which economist or accountant you talk to, and which financial report you read.Annual financial statements by the Canada Development Investment Corp. (CDEV), the Crown corporation now responsible for Trans Mountain Corp., report that in the first four months that the pipeline was owned by the Canadian government (September to December 2018), it generated $129 million in revenue and $48 million in earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation.When interest on debt is deducted, the pipeline had a net loss of $26 million in that time period, according to CDEV financials.Robyn Allan, an independent economist who has questioned the economics of an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline, says CDEV’s financial statements show the existing pipeline suffered a $58 million loss in the first four months that the government owned it.That’s based on her calculation that Trans Mountain’s interest payments over four months would amount to $83 million, which, if extrapolated, would total $249 million for a full year. “Trans Mountain is on track to book a loss of $175 million in 2019,” she wrote in an email to Business in Vancouver.Analysts for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) agree with Allan that the pipeline is losing money. “The amount payable on the loan during the period covered by the audit is $82.4 million,” said IEEFA analyst Tom Sanzillo. “I would conclude that the operating income did not cover the interest payable on the loan.”More: Multibillion-dollar questions cloud Trans Mountain’s futurelast_img read more

First electricity from 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm begins flowing into Australian grid

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Goldwind Australia’s 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm has begun sending power to the grid, after the first of what will be a total of 149 wind turbines was connected to the Victorian transmission network on Tuesday.The milestone event marked the start of the massive project’s commissioning process, which once complete will make it Australia’s largest wind farm, taking the mantle from the 453MW Coopers Gap project in Queensland.So far, a total of 90 Goldwind 3S turbines have been installed at the site in Western Victoria. Goldwind said the first of the project’s three substations had been energised, enabling the first turbine to be commissioned and deliver electricity into the national electricity market. The remaining two substations are expected to be fully commissioned and energised in June.The milestone is the latest for a project that in 2017 stunned the clean energy industry by setting what was a new benchmark for renewables off-take deals in Australia, after Origin Energy signed a long-term power purchase agreement of below $55/MWh, including the renewable energy certificates. Ultimately it will generate enough renewable electricity to power 425,000 homes.The Australian Wind Alliance said in a statement said that the huge project would drive economic activity in Victoria’s Grampians region for the next 25 years, providing jobs, lease payments to farmers and $300,000 a year through a local community fund.[Sophie Vorrath]More: Australia’s biggest wind farm starts sending power to the grid First electricity from 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm begins flowing into Australian gridlast_img read more

Santos takes A$1.13 billion writedown as pandemic oil and gas crisis hits

first_imgSantos takes A$1.13 billion writedown as pandemic oil and gas crisis hits FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Australian Financial Review:Write-downs by Santos of up to $US800 million (A$1.13 billion) have axed $US7 billion of asset value from ASX-listed oil and gas producers in nine days, underlining the heavy toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on one of the country’s biggest export industries.The damage includes a fourth impairment on the value of Santos’ 30 per cent stake in the Gladstone LNG project in Queensland, which has never produced at full capacity.The hefty reductions in book values of LNG assets on both sides of the country come on top of billions of dollars of write-downs also announced by multinationals such as Shell on their Australian portfolios.They are being driven by moves by producers to slash assumptions for future oil and gas prices as the shock of the coronavirus crisis forces not just a rethink of the immediate softer market but of the longer-term prospects for energy demand.Woodside Petroleum last week cut the carrying value of its producing LNG plants in Western Australia and its oil assets by more than $US5 billion before tax, and Origin Energy wrote down the value of its Queensland LNG project interest last week, by up to $770 million.The impairments come as Santos is fighting to get planning approval for its $3.6 billion Narrabri coal seam gas project in northern NSW in the face of multiple interest groups worried about potential environmental harm and highlighting the risk of “stranded” investments if the world moves more rapidly away from fossil fuels.[Angela Macdonald-Smith]More: Santos takes $1.1b pandemic oil crisis hitlast_img read more

Czech utility EPH to close 600MW coal plant in France two years early

first_imgCzech utility EPH to close 600MW coal plant in France two years early FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy Live News:Czech utility EPH is to shut down its 600MW Provence coal power plant in France only a year after buying it.The firm has announced it will close the facility at the end of 2020, two years earlier than initially planned.The announcement of its early closure follows Vattenfall recently revealing it would be shutting down its five-year-old Moorburg coal power plant early.EPH says it plans to “extend industrial activity at the site”, with one option being to convert the facility to biomass.France has set a 2022 coal phase-out legislated through the country’s energy and climate laws.More: Czech utility EPH closes French coal plant only a year after buying itlast_img read more

500 Mile Trail Run

first_imgAnne Lundblad, Troy Shellhamer, and Eric Grossman stop at McAfee Knob on their way from Damascus, Va., to Harpers Ferry, W.Va.   Surviving the Roller Coaster, Trail runners trek 500 miles across Virginia.I paused at the base of the roller coaster. Troy was reading, with relish, the warning sign posted there. It concludes with “we’ll see you at the end, if you survive.” The sign didn’t refer to an amusement park ride, but to a section of hiking trail with several large and unrelenting climbs and descents. I bounded jauntily past.We had survived to reach the fourteenth and final stage of the Tour of Virginia—a 550-mile run across the commonwealth on the Appalachian Trail. We had started near Damascus and headed northward through Virginia, and now we were making our final push to Harper’s Ferry, W.Va. When I awoke that morning I wasn’t sure that my ankle would take any weight, but with the benefit of a roll of tape and several hundred milligrams of ibuprofen, I knew now that no roller coaster could stop me from reaching our final goal. I ran that and the next three big climbs. Despite averaging forty miles per day on difficult terrain made more treacherous by the heat and storms of summer, I was racing the last 50 kilometers like a stand-alone event.Many variables intervene during any one 40-mile day of trekking in the mountains. I proposed to stack 14 such days in a row. Although I have thru-hiked the A.T. and completed about 60 ultramarathons, I put my own chances of getting a tour-ending injury at 20 percent. It would not have been too surprising if no one was able to completethe tour.We were all challenged early and often. Oppressive heat and humidity struck just as the tour began. Even in the middle of the night, lying still and bare-skinned outside, I’d wake up uncomfortably hot. Within each stage we were all expected to be self-sufficient. That meant that, along with safety gear, we had to carry a minimum of 1500 calories and a means of collecting, treating, and transporting three liters of water. In the heat of the day, each of us went through about a liter an hour, so that meant several stops at springs or streams, many of those at some distance from the trail. Anne Lundblad, Troy Shellhamer, and I scooped water into our hydration bladders, threw in a dash of Miox-blasted purification, and headed down the trail while any critters in the water were killed before drinking again.The storms generated by all that heat took out many trees that seemed disproportionately spread across the A.T. We did a lot of scrambling through recent blowdowns. Several times we had difficulty picking the trail back up on the far side of the downed trees. Managing the terrain proved more difficult than I expected. With the fatigue, long days in the heat, rocks, roots, and limbs, I must have lost some equilibrium. I fell five times—hard, bruise-inducing falls. At 6’2” I know better, and so I exercise caution and generally fall no more than once a year.Troy is not as tall, and not as old as me, and although he only fell one time, it was harder and more destructive than all my falls combined. Early in stage eight, he tore a long gash across one hand and severely bruised the other. In one of many strokes of good fortune, a scant 200 meters after falling, Troy crossed a road at which six nurses were taking a break from their own hike. They treated him and sent him on his way in short order. The gash would certainly have warranted stitches, but Troy was determined to continue the tour uninterrupted. He would superglue the wound himself that night. Needless to say, he had to get along without his trekking poles for the remainder of the tour and somehow manage not to fall again.Anne suffered the most. She developed severe blisters during stage one and then added other blisters throughout. She fell thirteen times on swollen and battered knees. She started her days earlier and ended them later than Troy and me – and still got herself packed for the next day before we did. She was exceptionally methodical in preparing for and managing each stage. I finished many stages grumbling and ill-tempered, while Anne remained consistently pleasant and optimistic. I know she had low points during the day, but when I saw her in the evenings, she was always smiling.The tour was ultimately a test of survival. The A.T. is about as wild as we can readily get: each of us spent most of our days completely immersed in the lushness of blossoming azaleas and the musk of large mammals.We gathered at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters in Harper’s Ferry as we finished that final stage. Our communal sense of accomplishment was quiet and deep. We lingered in town for the rest of the evening and overnight before sharing a small ceremony the next morning, silently relishing the raw beauty that had sustained us. •last_img read more