Month: December 2020
Battery Firm Sonnen Gets Big Cash Infusion From Shell FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:FRANKFURT—German solar battery maker sonnen has secured 60 million euros ($71 million) in funds from Shell Ventures and existing shareholders to expand at home and abroad. Shell Ventures, a unit of the Anglo-Dutch oil major that has been boosting its investments in solar and other renewables, was a lead investor in the latest funding round, sonnen Chief executive Christoph Ostermann told Reuters. “With this money, we can get started on important investment plans, especially in the United States and Australia,” he said, adding that existing shareholders also contributed extra cash.“We also want to invest in broadening our sonnen community and our virtual power plant (VPP), and expand our offering of grid-related services,” the sonnen CEO said, adding that the firm aimed to turn a profit in Germany in two years.The company provides battery storage systems to households with rooftop solar panels and links up home-produced electricity to other solar users in Germany, Europe’s biggest solar market. The company — which also operates in Italy, France, Australia, Austria, Britain and the United States — provides hardware and software to customers seeking more independence from power markets dominated by big utilities generating most of their electricity from fossil fuels.So far, sonnen has sold 30,000 batteries worldwide with combined capacity for 210 megawatts. This only equates to a small fossil-fuel power plant but it has potential to expand as storage becomes cheaper and generation becomes less centralized.In 2016, sonnen received 76 million euros from investors, including China’s Envision. Other sonnen investors include Germany’s eCapital and MVP, Dutch firm SET Ventures, Czech company Inven Capital, and GE Ventures, a unit of U.S. firm General Electric.More: German Solar Battery Maker Sonnen Secures Shell Cash to Expand
Trump bailouts: Higher electricity costs ‘without any corresponding reliability, resilience, or cybersecurity benefits’
Trump bailouts: Higher electricity costs ‘without any corresponding reliability, resilience, or cybersecurity benefits’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New York Times:When Mr. Trump came into office, he vowed to revive America’s coal mining industry by rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations. But coal keeps getting edged out by cheaper and cleaner alternatives. At least 15.4 gigawatts of coal capacity is set to retire this year, one of the biggest years on record, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. And the coal units that are left now operate far less frequently than they used to, replaced by natural gas, wind and solar power.For many utilities, the decision to abandon coal comes down to simple economics. Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility, recently concluded that it could save $213 million by retiring two of its older coal-fired units a decade ahead of schedule and replacing them with a mix of wind, solar, battery storage and natural gas.“We built a lot of our coal fleet 40 years ago, and it’s costly to maintain,” said Joshua D. Rhodes, an energy expert at the University of Texas Austin. “Many utilities are now finding that there are plenty of lower-cost options.”If enacted, Mr. Trump’s order is widely expected to benefit companies like FirstEnergy, an Ohio-based utility whose subsidiary declared bankruptcy in April, putting three nuclear plants and two coal plants at risk of closing. FirstEnergy has urged the administration to pursue a rescue plan, as has Robert E. Murray, a major Trump donor and mining executive whose company sells coal to FirstEnergy.But the proposal has triggered fierce blowback from a broad alliance of other energy companies that would stand to lose market share. The oil and gas industry has joined with wind and solar groups in opposition, calling the idea “unprecedented and misguided” and threatening lawsuits if the proposal goes forward.The leaked Energy Department memo indicated that the White House may invoke national security and rely on emergency powers that are normally used for short-term crises like hurricanes. The administration has argued that the loss of coal and nuclear plants, which can run around the clock, would make America’s electric grid less reliable. But grid operators themselves have disputed this rationale, arguing that there is no pressing emergency.An attempt to prop up unprofitable plants could also mean higher prices for consumers. An earlier bailout proposal by Mr. Perry would have cost between $311 million and $11.8 billion per year, according to an estimate by the research firm Energy Innovation. That plan was ultimately rejected by federal regulators, who have been no less critical of the administration’s latest idea.“This intervention could potentially ‘blow up’ the markets and result in significant rate increases without any corresponding reliability, resilience, or cybersecurity benefits,” warned Robert F. More: Trump Wants to Bail Out Coal and Nuclear Power. Here’s Why That Will Be Hard.
Australia’s first dispatchable solar project nears completion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Design News:Despite its zeal for fossil fuels, Australia has also undertaken some of the world’s largest battery energy storage projects. The installation of a Tesla 129 megawatt (MW) Powerpack battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia has improved power grid reliability and has already saved the grid operator and local power customers a third of its purchase price in its first year in operation. At the same time, the South Australia government is rolling out a “virtual power plant”—a network of up to 50,000 home solar photovoltaic panels and battery systems that will work together to potentially produce 250 MW of electrical power, reducing the necessity to build a new coal-fired power plant.The latest project, located in Queensland and scheduled to begin operation in early 2019, is the Cape York Battery Power Plant. “The Cape York Battery Power Plant will be the first fully integrated, grid-connected large dispatchable solar peaker in Australia if not the world,” said Lyon Group chair David Green in a company news release. Lyon Group is the world’s leading independent developer of integrated utility-scale battery storage and renewable generation projects. It developed and sold Australia’s first grid-connected, large-scale solar PV and battery storage project.“Dispatchable” is a term that refers to generation that can be used on demand, dispatched upon request by power grid operators. Dispatchable power can be turned on or off to meet market needs. A “peaker” is a power plant that usually runs only when there is high or “peak” demand for electricity. Typically, peakers, such as gas turbines for example, can ramp up quickly to provide an extra boost of electric energy when it is needed. Peakers tend to create electricity at a premium price.The Cape York Battery Power Plant is adjacent to the Lakeland Solar and Storage project, which was constructed by Lyon as a 13 MW solar energy production and 1.4 MW battery storage pilot project. This was Australia’s first grid-connected project that combined large scale solar and battery storage.The Cape York Battery Power Plant is a $150 million commitment to new peaking generation and a stronger grid in north Queensland. “The 20 MW/80 MWh Fluence battery-based energy storage system plus 55 MW solar generation will dispatch firm, clean energy through a single connection point, using a single power plant controller,” according to Green. “Only a truly integrated large battery storage and solar plant can deliver dispatchable solar energy, avoiding grid destabilizing voltage and frequency fluctuations, and transitory impacts, by stabilizing the power output. This can only occur when a single power plant controller manages the project and power is dispatched through a single connection point,” he added.Cape York Battery Power Plant will include Australia’s first four-hour duration battery system, making it the country’s first solar peaker. “Solar peakers will quickly take the place of gas peakers because their speed of dispatch, lower and more predictable operating costs and, by extension, lower risk offers unparalleled flexibility,” said Green. “Solar peakers and other four-hour duration battery storage will service a big proportion of Australia’s daily peak demand period.”More: Australia’s first solar peaker
RWE expansions at existing U.K. offshore wind projects could add 3.1GW of capacity FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Germany utility RWE said on Monday it has secured lease agreements to develop four offshore wind farm extension projects in Britain.RWE Renewables and its project partners signed the agreements with Britain’s Crown Estate to extend existing offshore wind farms Gwynt y Môr, off the Welsh coast, Galloper and Greater Gabbard in the North Sea and Rampion off the Sussex coast in the English Channel.The extension projects have a combined potential installed capacity of around 1.8 gigawatts, with RWE’s share amounting to almost 900 megawatts.In addition, RWE has decided to seek to develop remaining seabed leases at the Rampion site, which would bring its share to 1.3 GW.All projects are in very early stages, and development and consenting permission will now go forward in line with UK government guidelines, the company said. These processes are expected to take three to five years with participation in auctions for a Contract for Difference (CfD) and construction thereafter.The wind farms could become fully operational towards the end of the decade, RWE added.[Nina Chestney]More: RWE signs agreements to extend four UK offshore wind farms
U.S. DOE report concludes carbon capture at Colstrip coal plant ‘not financially attractive’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享E&E News:High operating and capital costs could make carbon capture, utilization and storage “not financially attractive” at a large coal plant visited by Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette this month, according to a Department of Energy analysis recently made public.According to the report, which was conducted by DOE and Leonardo Technologies Inc., capturing and compressing 63% of carbon dioxide from each of the Colstrip units to support advanced oil recovery would cost more than $1.3 billion. Annual operating costs at Colstrip could come in at about $108 million, the report said.“The techno-economic assessment of CO2 capture for CO2-[enhanced oil recovery] found that due to significant capital, operating and infrastructure costs, this option may not be financially attractive,” the report said.Completed in May 2018 at the request of Gov. Steve Bullock (D), the analysis assessed strategies for reducing emissions and improving efficiencies at Colstrip, one of the largest and most polluting coal-fired power plants in the West.The Montana Environmental Information Center obtained the report this month through a Freedom of Information Act request, said Anne Hedges, deputy director of MEIC. Its findings were first reported last week by the Billings Gazette.Jointly owned by six utility and energy companies, Colstrip faces an uncertain future as some of its owners intend to exit the power plant and two of its four operating units shut down this year. Washington state and Oregon, which currently accept coal from Colstrip, have also passed laws to phase out coal use this decade.[Miranda Willson]More: DOE: Major CCS project ‘not financially attractive’
NO TIME TO,Soggy Bottom SUP Tour: Day 5,Easy does it,Soggy Bottom SUP Tour: Day 4,Soggy Bottom SUP Tour: Day 3,Used is the New Black for Patagonia,Soggy Bottom SUP Tour: Day 2,Dry as Dirt,Soggy Bottom Stand Up Paddleboard Tour
I am a list maker. If it doesn’t get written down on a legal pad, or a small piece of scratch paper, it is not worth doing. Or so my warped mind tells me.Yesterday’s list was pretty tame.1. Court (I had a long hearing of sorts in local state court)2. Run 3 miles (part of my half marathon training)3. Bank4. Email Sarah re: HomecomingIn between these seemingly easy and obvious activities I have listed work and personal items that have deadlines or artificial ones in my mind. I have written actions already complete just for the satisfaction of crossing them off. At work, an even larger list appears on my desk with lines and highlighted portions to reflect level of urgency and importance and a large black marker appears next to the list so I can powerfully cross out completed tasks.These lists do not contain any of the following:1. Thank husband for making a great dinner and taking care of dogs while in Court2. Write note to friend in NYC who just had a baby3. Call friend in Roanoke who just had a baby4. Hug, kiss and or spoon with large white dog Gracie5. Walk Dogs6. Sit outside and enjoy the cooler air7. Tell my family I love them8. Make office manager laugh despite the stress of filing deadlines and endless phone ringing9. Thank God for the upcoming blessings of fall 10. Plan Picnic to enjoy the upcoming blessings of fall11. Read – anything.12. Ignore laundry and read that great book you just startedNope. None of those items appeared in my list, which means upon reflection this morning, none of those things occurred. Time is not an excuse. Rather, my actions reflect my priorities and right now they are out of line. Not that the run or bank trip weren’t important, but they were easy. Rote exercises that require me to give nothing of myself and seek nothing in return.My favorite season is approaching and with luck, just as it does every year in Western Virginia, Fall will bring with it opportunities to relax – enjoy – marvel as green leaves turn orange and yellow. Reflect as the sky remains dark for addition 1 2
Photo by Luis EscobarMILLINOCKET, Maine —Ultra marathoner Scott Jurek accepted a plea deal yesterday that will require him to pay $500 for consuming champagne at the summit of Maine’s Mount Katahdin immediately after his record-setting Appalachian Trail thru-hike.Jurek, who was represented by attorney Walter McKee in a Millinocket District Court, was originally accused of bringing alcohol to the summit, littering, and bringing an oversized group—charges which carried a combined fine of some $3,000.Both the charges of littering and bringing an oversized group were deemed unsubstantiated, but Jurek admitted to the consumption of alcohol and was therefore fined $500—about $300 more than a typical public drinking summons in the state of Maine.“Today I resolved the infractions filed against me by Baxter State Park rangers,” Jurek wrote in his personal blog. “The littering charged was dismissed, and rightfully so. I did not litter, not for over 2,189 miles, not at the top of Mount Katahdin. The group size charge was also dismissed, no surprise there. I checked in at the base of Mount Katahdin with 12 people and that’s all my group ever had. The consumption of alcohol charge was accepted. I had a couple of sips of champagne. A friend brought the bottle without my knowledge to surprise me and two rangers at the bottom gave him a verbal okay.”Read more here.
Ben Gilmer sings of Southwest Virginia’s hard times and humble goodness on his new record.I’m a sucker for the sights, aromas, and sounds of a good county fair.Can anything top the smell of funnel cakes frying, the stunning collection of bad tattoos on proud display, or the adrenaline rush that comes from entrusting one’s life to a rickety thrill ride hastily constructed by a carny crew whose qualifications are dubious at best?Unlikely.Singer/songwriter Ben Gilmer must share my love of all things related to the midway, as the Virginia native titled his recently released record Russell County Fair.Gilmer, born and raised on a farm in Russell County, has since moved on to West Virginia after a stint in Seattle. Regardless of where he has called home, Gilmer has continued to write songs that echo with the musical traditions of his native Appalachian Mountains. Tales of hard times, bad luck, and the future of a region beset by the struggles of its past abound in his writing and on this new record.I recently caught up with Ben to chat about the future of Southwest Virginia, growing up in a musical family, and country fair fare.BRO – Did you come from one of those Southwest Virginia families where everyone played something with strings?BG – Pretty much. My Paw on my dad’s side played about everything with strings, his children played in a family band called Jenny & The Gentlemen, and a lot of us grandchildren play. My Aunt Ann on my mom’s side was one of my biggest musical influences. She has done a good bit of studio work through the years and is just an all around killer musician. Both sides of my family still have jam sessions at family gatherings at least a few times a year.BRO – How did growing up in Southwest Virginia influence you as a musician?BG – My childhood in Southwest Virginia was full of bluegrass, country, gospel, and Southern rock music. It’s probably not too hard to hear that background in the songs that I write. And I grew up around a lot of humble, hardworking, honest, and witty Southwest Virginians. I generally aspire to embody those qualities in my songwriting, even if I sometimes fall short.BRO – We are featuring “Tastes Like Hard Love” on this month’s Trail Mix. Should everyone, at some point, get a little taste of hard love?BG – I think everyone experiences hard love. I guess we need to know how it tastes in order to recognize and appreciate the sweet stuff when it shows up.BRO – Southwest Virginia has faced some tough times recently. Where do you think the region goes from here?BG – I believe it is really up to us to determine where we go from here. Even if it sucks, this means accepting no single person, policy, or industry is going to save or bury us. A good friend of mine likes to say that there isn’t going to be a silver bullet in Central Appalachia, but there sure could be a lot of silver BBs. I am hopeful that we can embrace and learn from our past, honor our traditions, build on our assets, and keep our eyes focused on the present and future.BRO – What’s your go to fair food?BG – No question – a big pork bbq sandwich from my Uncle David’s Cliffside Grille booth. This is the same uncle that dressed up as Elvis and painted his car pink for his demolition derby debut at the Russell County Fair. Don’t I have the coolest family ever?You can track down more information on Ben Gilmer by surfing over to his website. His touring schedule is a bit quiet right now, but shows will be picking up soon. In the meantime, be sure to peruse the tracks from Russell County Fair.Also, make sure you take a listen to “Tastes Like Hard Love” on this month’s Trail Mix.
Tis the season for bare feet and bonfires, cold beers and late nights. As spring gets underway, there’s one thing on our minds — music festivals. No summer is complete without one, yet for the majority of families and millennials alike, checking off a music festival from the bucket list is hard to justify. After all, a few hundred bucks can buy a lot of groceries, take a chunk out of student loans, replace those worn-out spheres of rubber you call tires.But with a little planning and preparation, going to a multiday music festival doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out these 13 money saving tips for first-time festivalgoers!#1 FIND A FREE FEST. DUH.Free festivals are more common than you might think, and the line-ups are surprisingly decent, too. Roots artist Woody Pines took the stage in 2011 at Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville, N.C. Big names like G. Love and Jason Isbell have rocked out at the U.S. Whitewater Center’s annual Tuck Fest in Charlotte, N.C. Roanoke’s Go Outside Festival regularly brings in groovin’ tunes from the likes of Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and The Primate Fiasco. Take advantage of freebies! You might just discover your next favorite band.#2 START SAVING NOWAs in, right now. Or whenever your next paycheck is scheduled. A $350 general admission ticket to Bonnaroo might seem like a lot all at once, but consider this—if you set aside $30 every month for one year, you’d have enough to foot the bill. Can’t bear to miss out on the lineup this year? Some festivals, like Bonnaroo, offer payment plans.#3 BUY EARLYThere’s a reason the saying, “early bird gets the worm,” exists.“Timing is a crucial factor when trying to attend a festival on a budget,” says Jeremiah Jenkins, managing partner for Black Bear Productions, which puts on Red Wing Roots in Mount Solon, Va. “Most festivals have tiered ticketing with prices often raised by 50 percent from the time the tickets go on sale to the price at the gate.”So when in doubt, buy early. In the event you decide not to go, you’ll more than likely be able to resell your ticket for equal, if not greater, value than what you purchased it for originally.#4 STAY CONNECTEDMore than ever, festivals are utilizing social media as a marketing and ticket sales tool. So how does this work in your favor?“A lot of times we put promo codes out there via Facebook,” says Mountain Music Festival Coordinator and ACE Adventure Resort Special Events Coordinator Chris Colin. “We also have Instagram contests and Facebook photo contests where we give away free tickets.”That’s right—give away. As in, free. If you don’t have Instagram yet, you do now.#5 DON’T BOTHER LOOKING THE PARTThere’s absolutely no reason to go out and drop an extra hundred bucks on a cropped tank, hippy skirt, and leather headband just to go to a music festival. Yes, there will be plenty of people putting on their best Woodstock get-up, but how well do you think those moccasins and flowy white cotton threads are going to hold up when the rain hits?#6 KNOW THE FORECASTIt’s the Southeast. You can pretty much guarantee that, at some point, it’s probably going to rain, and that means it’s probably going to be at least 10 degrees cooler. Festivals like The Festy Experience, which take place in the mountains, are especially likely to have unpredictable weather. You could buy an overpriced sweatshirt or rain jacket at the event, sure, but why not come prepared to begin with?#7 HAVE CASHAnd more importantly, set a daily budget for that cash. While many vendors accept credit cards, there are still a large majority of businesses that don’t have that option. Cash is also a friendly gesture to local businesses since it comes with no fees or additional costs. ATMs are usually available onsite, but you’ll have to pay a small fee for the transaction.#8 BRING YOUR OWN FOODThis seems like a no-brainer, but in the last-minute hustle to pack for the weekend, you may feel tempted to opt out of hassling with a cooler. Don’t. At the very least, come with breakfast and lunch covered. The vast majority of events don’t allow outside alcohol, but some may even prohibit outside food, so double-check the rules before you’re forced to sustain yourself on $10 cheeseburgers for three days.#9 SHARE THE LOADThis applies to food, to camping, to gas, heck even to ticket purchasing. The more people you have splitting the cost, the cheaper it is. According to Across-the-Way Productions, Inc., Director of Marketing Sam Calhoun, that logic is changing the way festivals like FloydFest view ticket sales.“We want to make it economical to get the festival,” Calhoun says, citing FloydFest’s HOV-EZ Pass, which includes 4 five-day general admission tickets, two kid tickets, two tent tags, and one onsite park-and-camp pass. “You save 25 to 30 percent of what you would pay for those same items for à la carte, so for four people, or two families, you can make it happen.”Even if you can’t rally enough friends to go in on a lump ticket purchase like the HOV-EZ pass, you can still save some green and go green by carpooling.#10 LEND A HANDThis is likely the easiest and simplest solution to avoiding financial ruin while still getting that quintessential summer festival experience. Most festivals require volunteers to work daily shifts (ranging from two to four hours) in exchange for a ticket, but FloydFest goes as far as to offer work weekends prior to the festival so volunteers can get their work out of the way before the event even kicks off.#11 REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLEMany festivals these days have done away with plastic cups altogether, so if you want to partake in adult beverages onsite, you might be required to purchase a Klean Kanteen or stainless steel pint cup equivalent. The charge is usually minimal, around $5, but every penny adds up. You can also use it at drinking water stations, which are available at most music festivals free of charge.#12 SHOP SOBERFriends don’t let friends drink and shop. There’s nothing like waking up the next morning to a carful of festival memorabilia and records from artists you only half-remember seeing. Stay strong, stick to your daily budget, and if anything, wait till the last day of the festival to make your rounds. Vendors will often hold sales at the end of an event, and are thus going to be more likely to make a deal with you. Especially if you’re sober.#13 DO YOUR RESEARCHFinally, if none of the above has you convinced you can afford to attend a music festival, take a look at the lineups. Even if you’re only familiar with four of the 100 artists performing over the course of the weekend, you’ll likely get a better deal seeing them play in the festival setting versus individually. Concert tickets nowadays are usually $30 or more, and that’s just to see one, maybe two bands. Plus, if those four bands you really like are playing on the same day, you could purchase a one- or two-day pass and save even more.
I love a preacher who cusses.Seriously padre. Don’t stand on ceremony, your holiness. Though a man of the cloth you may be, loosen up that clerical collar. Give in to temptation. Don’t be afraid of going R rated from time to time.Thus, my respect for Reverend Peyton. I am not sure to which denomination he belongs, but – as evidenced by the name of his band – it certainly isn’t one that prevents its clergy from using a little blue language.As the name suggests, and the music reaffirms, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is a band of the people. Hailing from Brown County, Indiana, and steeped in acoustic blues, it isn’t hard to feel the red dirt of Mississippi, the rolling hills of the North Carolina piedmont, or the dusty wind of the midwest in their songs. Each track is hard work and grit, honesty and busted knuckles, all songs to be sung by blue collar folks not afraid to get a little dirty and drop a curse word from time to time.I recently caught up with Reverend Peyton to chat about the new record, vinyl, and the great outdoors. This week’s blog post also offers up the premiere of “What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right,” a brand new track off of Front Porch Sessions, the band’s new record.BRO – When’s the last time you sat in on a really good front porch pickin’ party?RP – This happens all the time here in Brown County. There’s so many pickin’ parties around here. It’s so deeply ingrained in the culture of these hills. We have them weekly, bi-weekly . . . even more if we want!BRO – I am guessing you dig vinyl. Ever have an “Oh, shit!!” moment when you discover a record you have been searching for?RP – I have moments like that all the time. We are always going through bins of vinyl at record shops and antique malls. I spent hours over the weekend combing through vinyl and 78 records. Took home some cool 45s. I love finding interesting records to listen to. There is something special about listening to a spinning record. It’s why we always master our records for vinyl, to, so that vinyl experience is maximized.BRO – Who is the patron saint of the blues?RP – That would have to be Charley Patton, the first real star of blues music.BRO – Describe a good day in the outdoors.RP – I love the outdoors so much. Most of my perfect days outside begin or end with fishing. I just love the excitement of it. We also hunt mushrooms, camp, hike, you name it. Yesterday, we were following creek beds, deep in hollers, looking for arrowheads. Any day outside is a great day for sure.BRO – We are featuring “What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right” on this month’s Trail Mix. Was that boy ever you?RP – Hah! You aren’t the first person to ask! That boy is me, you, everybody. At least from time to time.Trail Mix is excited to be premiering “What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right” right here on this week’s blog. Sure, it’s been on the mix for a couple days, but consider that more of a soft opening. Right here is the real thing! Right off the brand new record, Front Porch Sessions, Trail Mix is happy to bring to you the premiere of “What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right”!Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band will be bringing tunes from the new record right to the people, for free, over the next week or so. Free in store performances at record shops throughout Indiana, Ohio, Missiouri, and Tennessee start this weekend. For more information on these stops, along with other cities and stages the band will be hitting, and how you can grab the new record, please check out the band’s website.Be sure to listen to “What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right,” along with brand new tunes from artists like Ha Ha Tonka, Natalie Cressman, Curse of Luno, Guy Clark, and many more on this month’s Trail Mix.