Month: December 2020

BNP Paribas, Largest French Bank, to Reduce Its Exposure to Oil and Gas

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal:French lender BNP Paribas said Wednesday it will no longer finance shale and oil sands projects, in one of the clearest signs yet the banking industry is re-evaluating its relationship with the oil sector amid mounting pressure from investors and top financial institutions.France’s largest listed bank said it would stop working with companies whose main business is the exploration, production, distribution or marketing of oil and gas from shale or oil sands. BNP Paribas won’t finance oil or gas projects in the Arctic region either, the bank said.“These measures will lead us to stop financing a significant number of players that don’t further the transition toward an economy that emits less greenhouse gas,” BNP Paribas Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafé wrote in a post on LinkedIn published Wednesday.BNP Paribas is one of the first banks to eschew parts of the oil sector. Many governments are taking steps to curb emissions and investors have been increasing pressure on companies over their environmental footprints.“Shareholders want to invest in companies that have a sustainable business model and are resilient in the event of new climate laws and regulation,” said BNP Paribas’s global head of corporate social responsibility, Laurence Pessez.Earlier this year, a panel of top financial institutions and companies led by Michael Bloomberg published a series of guidelines pushing for companies to disclose more about the impact of climate change on their businesses.More: ($) BNP Paribas to Stop Financing Shale, Oil Sands Projects BNP Paribas, Largest French Bank, to Reduce Its Exposure to Oil and Gaslast_img read more

Coal Industry’s Actions Speak Louder Than Its Marketing

first_imgCoal Industry’s Actions Speak Louder Than Its Marketing FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Post:Moves to save this industry have actually exposed its weaknesses — and revealed a trend that coal companies and the Trump administration have not acknowledged publicly: The companies are scaling back, in some cases shedding workers and declining the opportunities the federal government now wants to give them. Despite Trump’s best efforts, the American coal industry remains on life support.In private, coal company executives are deeply skeptical about the administration’s ability to alter market conditions. In numerous letters to Bureau of Land Management state offices that I obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, the coal industry acknowledged the continuing decline in demand, and in several cases, companies withdrew pending lease applications. The letters were written after the BLM asked companies to update their lease applications since the moratorium had been lifted.In the six months since that announcement at the EPA, companies have withdrawn five of 44 pending lease applications, and at least eight are indefinitely on hold. In a number of cases, companies have explained that their decisions are based on persistently weak market conditions. According to the BLM’s figures as of this past week, only one new lease application has been filed, for a modest extension of a mine in Colorado that primarily feeds a nearby power plant whose fate is uncertain. (Two companies would expand mines in Utah by modifying existing applications.)In the letters to state BLM offices obtained through FOIA requests, coal companies admitted that the future is not as rosy as they might have hoped or would like to project. Arch Coal, the second-largest supplier in the United States, referred to the “continued downward pressure on the Powder River Basin and subsequent reduced output over the past seven years” in explaining why it was withdrawing a lease application for a major new mine in Wyoming. Rhino Energy, which has operations in Appalachia and the West , said that “current coal market conditions remain depressed” and that it wouldn’t move forward with a lease for a proposed 14,000-acre mine in Colorado until that outlook changed. Cloud Peak Energy, with operations confined to the Powder River Basin, asked the government to reconfigure a proposed lease because it was “simply too large for current market conditions.” And Kiewit , a Fortune 500 contractor and mining company based in Omaha, withdrew its applications for two new mines in Wyoming after waiting for years in the hope that market conditions would improve.What no one seemed to anticipate, however, was that coal companies would actually withdraw pending lease applications, suggesting that they have begun to lose faith in the long-term viability of the domestic market. One of Kiewit’s applications, dating originally from 2008, would have expanded the Buckskin mine in the Powder River Basin. But the company’s offer of 21 cents per ton in a bid four years ago was so low that the BLM turned it down ; forecasters saw it as an ominous sign for the future of coal.Since then, as Kiewit acknowledged in its May 26 letter to the BLM, the company had continued to “delay the reoffer in hopes that the coal market would improve.” Despite the favorable regulatory climate, Kiewit instead decided to walk away. A lease that had little value in 2013 is simply a liability today. “There were no outstanding environmental appeals or anything like that, so it was purely an economic decision by Kiewit,” said Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, which tracks coal leases in Wyoming. In an emailed statement, Kiewit said it does not publicly discuss “confidential business decisions.”More: Trump says he ended the ‘war’ on coal companies. But it’s too late to save them.last_img read more

Florida muni calls for cancellation of Vogtle reactor project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The Jacksonville, Fla., municipal utility is ramping up efforts to exit a power contract tied to the Vogtle nuclear plant expansion, with JEA’s interim CEO calling on the project’s owners to vote against continuing construction at the venture.JEA is in a power purchase agreement, or PPA, with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, one of Vogtle’s four owners known as MEAG, for 206 MW from two reactors being built at the Waynesboro, Ga., facility. Units 3 and 4 are years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, and one of Vogtle’s owners, Oglethorpe Power Corp., recently disclosed the project’s price tag is increasing by another $1.5 billion.A week after lead Vogtle owner Southern Co. announced the most recent cost increase, JEA Interim Managing Director and CEO Aaron Zahn wrote a letter on Aug. 17 to MEAG President and CEO Jim Fuller to express his “starkly different understanding of our joint business and legal relationship as well as the fundamental viability” of the project.“Regardless of our past differences of opinion about whether the project should be abandoned, it is now beyond reasonable debate that prudent utility practices and the interests of ratepayers require that MEAG and the other owners of the Additional Units vote no on continuing construction,” Zahn wrote.Vogtle is owned by Southern subsidiary Georgia Power Co., Oglethorpe, MEAG and Dalton Utilities. All but Dalton are slated to decide by the end of September whether to continue building the reactors after the cost increase. If just one votes no, Vogtle would be abandoned, leaving no active nuclear construction projects in the country.More ($): JEA calls Vogtle agreement ‘burden,’ wants owners to vote against construction Florida muni calls for cancellation of Vogtle reactor projectlast_img read more

Another big win for energy storage in Australia

first_imgAnother big win for energy storage in Australia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:There has been a huge amount of interest in, and a huge amount written about – particularly on this website – the success of the Tesla big battery in South Australia.But another big battery, the Newman battery storage project, installed just over a year ago in a private-only grid in the Pilbara serving mostly mining industry customers in Australia’s north-west, is having just as profound an impact on the way people think about the grid.The 35MW/11.4MWh Kokam lithium-ion battery was installed in September last year by Alinta, next to its 178MW Mt Newman gas-fired generator, which supplies mining operations such as Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill facility. But not much has been said about it until it applied for, and won, a major engineering award.The reason was simple. Like the Neoen/Tesla big battery, the Newman battery has shown that it is faster, smarter, cheaper, and more reliable than the fossil fuel generators around it.In this instance, the battery has done what most experts thought it could not do – provide sufficient inertia to the local grid in the absence of thermal generators. “There is no real difference when compared to mechanical (rotating mass) systems,” the compact says.And its speed of response has all but eliminated the supply interruptions that were relatively common in the small grid that relies on comparatively slow gas generators. And it has led to a significant saving on “back-up” gas generation.More: The “other” big battery that has quietly changed thinking about the gridlast_img read more

Florida municipal utility to consider closing C.D. McIntosh coal plant

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Ledger:The time may be here to retire Lakeland Electric’s coal-fired Unit 3 generator and invest in greener alternatives, the Lakeland Electric general manager told commissioners Tuesday.Joel Ivy said he expects to recommend that city commissioners move forward with decommissioning the coal-powered C.D. McIntosh Unit 3 at the May 6 utility commission meeting. Though Ivy offered no specific timeline, the process of closing Unit 3 and opening its replacement would take at minimum several years. Options to replace the power include a recommitment to solar energy, and likely the building of another natural gas-powered unit.Utility officials had previously suggested the city would be best served by keeping the 37-year-old generator running as long as its maintenance costs didn’t outweigh the benefits. Lakeland Electric has enjoyed having the choice of whether to serve its customers by Unit 3 or firing up its natural gas-powered Unit 5 based on difference in fossil fuel costs.Those tables might turn against the company in the next two to three years, according to Ivy, as Unit 3 reaches 40 years in service.“That’s in the sweet spot for retirement age,” he said. “You can run her longer but will spend more money to keep in that sweet spot. We are also facing increasing maintenance costs.”More: Utility may retire McIntosh Unit 3 in favor of natural gas, solar Florida municipal utility to consider closing C.D. McIntosh coal plantlast_img read more

French firm Akuo commissions 50MW solar project in Mali, largest in West Africa

first_imgFrench firm Akuo commissions 50MW solar project in Mali, largest in West Africa FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ESI Africa:A 50MW solar plant west of Bamako in Mali is now the largest operational plant in West Africa.A flagship Akuo Group project, the Kita solar plant in the Kayes Region injected its first kilowatt-hour into the Malian power grid in March 2020. The plant now covers the electricity needs of 120,000 Malian homes and will reduce CO2 emissions in the country by more than 52,000 metric tons a year.The Kita solar plant is not only actively increasing the country’s electrification rate, but is an essential component of economic and social development. The project also puts the country, a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol of 1995, a step closer to its 2030 national renewable energy targets. SE4All says Mali has set an 87% access to energy target for 2030, with 100% access to clean cooking solutions. The country is also targeting improving the share of renewable energy sources into the electricity mix to 37% by 2030.The plant’s financing was undertaken by the West African Development Bank, Banque National du Développement Agricole, Dutch development finance company FMO and Emerging African Infrastructure Fund, which is an investment fund managed by Ninety One.PASH Global is Akuo’s co-shareholder on the project. Kofi Owusu Bempah and Vine Mwense, founders of PASH, said: “We are delighted to have co-invested for a 49.9 percent share in this prestigious Project, the first of its kind in Mali.” Completed by a predominantly African construction staff, the Kita solar plant is now being run by an exclusively Malian team according to Akuo Group’s press release.Pierre-Antoine Berthold, managing director of Akuo Energy Africa: “Thanks to the Akuo Groups acknowledged expertise, which covers all production technologies and the numerous additional benefits provided to local populations through the types of projects we design, today we want to accelerate our development in Africa with a mid-term target of having plants generating a gigawatt of power from renewable energy sources.”More: Mali: New solar plant just the beginninglast_img read more

Breaks Interstate Park

first_imgKnown as the “Grand Canyon of the South,” the scenic centerpiece of Breaks Interstate Park is the steep gorge that’s cut by the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River. It’s not easy to reach the deepest gorge this side of the Mississippi River. There’s only one entrance, which is on the Virginia side of the 4,600-acre park off Route 80.History BreakThe park gets its name from the way the quarter-mile-deep, five-mile-long canyon literally provides a “break” in the sandstone of Pine Mountain. Daniel Boone is credited with discovering the area in the late 1700s, but apparently the rugged terrain and an abundance of copperheads was too much for the explorer, and he was eager to leave.Raft the Russell ForkDespite all of the attention that’s given to other regional rivers, the Russell Fork is actually considered the most difficult commercially rafted river on the East Coast. It’s a wild, class V+ ride of big drops, including the infamous El Horrendo, through tight chutes over vicious undercut rocks.Hit the TrailsBreaks has 15 miles of trails, including a number of short spur trails to the park’s many scenic overlooks. Catch some of the park’s diverse rock formations on the Geological Trail. If you’re looking to cover some distance, backpack the Pine Mountain Trail, a new long trail still in development that will eventually connect the park to the Cumberland Gap. Hikers can tackle a 44-mile completed stretch of the Pine Mountain Trail that connects the Birch Knob and Highland sections.last_img read more

Snowshoe Sweet Spot

first_imgMrs. Body knows exactly where she needs to be at 4:15pm.When I was a young body, my kin and I ventured to Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia almost every year for your typical family ski vacation. Snowshoe is just about the perfect place to take a family of five kids of the most awkward ages on a ski vacation. It has varied terrain, an abundance of accommodations and just enough room for the older kids to lose the parents and those embarrassing younger siblings “accidentally.” It also put out the vibe of quasi-intensity, in that you could ski hard all over the mountain, all day if you wanted or you could easy-style-it in the morning and fall into a post-lunch food coma without feeling too bad about yourself for only getting in two runs in the afternoon. Throw in a terrain park, hot tub and mass amounts of winter vacation food (i.e. tiny chocolates and huge sandwiches) and you had a recipe akin to grandma’s fruit cake.Good times.Much has changed at Snowshoe since I was scudding out on Powder Monkey and learning the falling leaf in a group lesson, but much has also stayed the same. Snowshoe has established itself as the largest ski resort in the Blue Ridge, with the most slopes, lifts, acreage and amenities available to the weekend warrior. It is the ski destination for anyone within driving distance, and probably beyond in the southern direction, and as such Snowshoe has developed its mountaintop retreat in the model of the premiere resorts west of the Mississippi. Along with slope-side condos and ski-in, ski-out hotels, there is a very quaint “village” complete with pizzerias, bars, lodging and pseudo-high Alpine architecture. These are the type of touches that can make or break a ski vacation and indeed are what people have come to expect when shelling out big dough for time on the slopes. I have no recollection of anything resembling the Swiss Alps when we vacationed there 10-15 years ago; in fact, quite the opposite if that’s possible. The skiing was always fun, but it was usually straight from Ballhooter to the condo and back with nothing in between. Of course, this could have been my parents just trying to keep expenses reasonable, but I faintly remember my undeveloped brow furrow when contemplating the atmosphere. Well, those days of juvenile speculation are gone my friends.Mrs. Body and I headed up on a recent Saturday and despite not having pristine weather, had high hopes for our first ski day of the season and were not disappointed. We crawled up the mountain going at an impossibly slow pace, our convoy lead by a Pontiac Gran Prix with a 17mph governor. This only proved to raise our anticipatory excitement from “Gee, this is going to be fun” level to “Road Rage” level. By the time we reached the parking lot (FREE PARKING – a testament to Snowshoe “keeping it real” while also “keeping it awesome”) I was ready to shred the mountain a new one. We hopped on the shuttle bus from the lot to the Village to secure our lift tickets, guided by directions from the very helpful shuttle driver – the shuttle drivers turned out to be very helpful the entire trip, coming through with crucial directions to the nearest gas station on the tail end of the trip. I payed it forward, however, by rescuing multiple ejected skies and rejected poles to dejected skiers who felt the middle of the run was a good place for a yard sale (HA!).Tickets to paradise in hand, we strapped in and got down to business, and business was good. After a few warm up laps on the front side, we headed for the Western Territories for a taste of the steeps. Patchy fog and soft snow made for a delightfully fun, nerve-wracking run down the 1,500 feet of vert. As luck would have it, the low clouds parted at just the right time to straight line through the flats which also provided a natural goggle squeegee if you carried enough speed and if I’ve learned one thing in this crazy snowboarding life it’s “Always carry enough speed to smash through any barrier or span any traverse at any time, ever.”Following a few laps, we broke for lunch at Arbuckle’s at the base of Cup. Sitting down to a bowl of chicken chili and a cold PBR in the warming cabin, we were joined by a Mark The Ski Patroller who had been working at the mountain in various positions for over 35 years, a remarkable feat. We exchanged mini life stories and spoke candidly about the kids these days and their videos. Mark is a photographer on the side, and is blown away by the production value and skills of riders in ski films that have come out in the last couple years. I had to agree. Movies like The Art of Flight, All.I.Can, and Solitaire are mind-blowing in their scope and are bringing art back into the ski porn industry.But I digress.This lunch chat and subsequent lift ride up with local ski patroller was one of the highlights of the trip. Too many times, lift rides become silent people movers with no acknowledgment of who is sitting next to you. One of the beauties of a place like Snowshoe is the diversity of the people. Because it draws skiers from all over the South and Mid-Atlantic, the range of characters hitting the slopes is huge and the best part about it is how stoked they are to be there shredding. A little fog? Whatever. Too cold? Not gonna keep anybody down. Just rip it up and have a good time. This infectious enthusiasm is definitely something I remember from my former trips to Snowshoe and I’m glad it’s still hanging around.We got in a few more runs before our legs gave out and we had to pack it in. Rolling down the mountain with sore ankles, tired legs and soggy gear reminded me that although the mountain may change, the feeling of a satisfying day on the slopes stays the same.For more about Snowshoe Mountain Resort, check out http://basecamp.blueridgeoutdoors.com/?p=2543last_img read more

Adventure in the Alleghenies Giveaway

first_imgThis Contest is Complete!Be sure to check out our other contests, and you can still stage your own adventure!last_img

See Rock City

first_imgLookout Mountain Overlooks the South’s Best Outdoor City.From battlefield to coal mine to tourist trap and the birthplace of mini-golf, the Lookout saga has more twists and turns than the Tennessee River it overlooks. These days, the greater Chattanooga, Tenn. area is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the best outdoor cities in the United States, and Lookout Mountain is a major factor in this standing.Lookout Mountain is actually a skinny plateau that runs 92 miles through Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Lookout towers almost 2,000 feet above the river valley below, the primary reason for its early development as a resort and retreat for the industrial magnates that inhabited Chattanooga in the early 1900s. For the past few decades, the region has taken great pains to shake its coal industry past, with its reputation for environmental destruction, and transform itself into a bastion for those seeking adventure in the outdoors.Mike Pollock is on the forefront of the effort. As a longtime resident on Lookout and trustee of the Lula Lake Land Trust, he has seen the area undergo an amazing metamorphosis from environmental scourge of the South to a model for dynamic reinvention.Although he moved to Lookout as a pre-teen, Pollock did not have an appreciation for all the mountain had to offer until a decade later, when he discovered mountain biking and began penning an outdoor column for a local paper.Pollock’s memories from those early days include some of the most well-known haunts on Lookout: learning to climb at Sunset Rock, teaching tykes to rappel at Eagles Nest, catching trout on Rock Creek, and getting kidnapped in high school by a couple of knife-wielding bikers who threatened to toss him off Insurance Bluff.“They drew some knives on us and forced my friend to drive. I was put in the back with another guy who was keeping watch over me,” he said. “As we started to drive back toward Chattanooga, they made us get out of the truck at Insurance Bluff and essentially wrap our toes around the edge. He said, ‘You know I could push you [preppies] off the edge right now and nobody would know about you until your bodies began to stink.’ I was kind of scared and I whispered to the guy, ‘Don’t do this man, don’t do this,’ and I was really pondering my next move. But fortunately he laughed and he pulled us back and told us to get back in the truck. Eventually, I was made to jump off the tailgate of the truck moving at about 30 miles per hour going down Lookout Mountain and rolled a couple times in the road.”Luckily, Pollock survived that incident and went on to create a consulting firm based out of Chattanooga concentrating on corporate team building through outdoor adventures like ropes courses and backcountry excursions. He also dove into the immerging conservation effort, becoming project manager for the development of Five Points Recreation Area, one of the best singletrack trail systems on the mountain.“I have a lot of personal equity in this area called Five Points,” he said. “This is really where I cut my teeth mountain biking, as did many of my contemporaries. We loved this area deeply and rode till it was closed around 1997.”The Lula Lake Land Trust bought much of the area and deeded it to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, where the master plan got stalled due to a lack of funds. Pollock got involved as project manager and pulled together people and money to build the trail network.Beginning with the development of the Tennessee Aquarium in 1992, and culminating in a $120 million downtown waterfront rehabilitation project finished in 2005, Chattanooga is leading the way into the 21st century.“It’s a massive transformation since the development of the aquarium,” Pollock said. “The aquarium just ushered in a whole new era of livability, sustainability, and attractiveness to this entire area with a focus on water and a lot greater focus on the conservation and preservation of land.”Perhaps no other area of the country needed this rehab more. The federal government declared that Chattanooga had the country’s dirtiest air in 1969, a result of decades of unregulated coal mining and buildup of pollutants in the Tennessee River. Now, Pollock sees people from all over the South moving to Chattanooga solely for the recreation opportunities that exist here.“I chose to live in a place where I practically don’t need to get in a car ever to go out and climb, road bike, mountain bike, swim in a lake, trail run,” he said. “I can do all my favorite activities out my back door. I’m getting to realize my outdoor dream right here.”pollock’s picksMike Pollock has been exploring Lookout Mountain since he was 12 years old. Here are his picks for getting down and dirty on Lookout.HikingThe hike from Point Park at the tip of the mountain to Sunset Rock is a classic, beautiful trek with outstanding views.PaddlingBear Creek and Rock Creek can’t be beat. There are a number of waterfalls on both sides that boaters love playing in.Mountain BikingFive Points is the highlight of Lookout Mountain.CyclingRoute 157 on Lookout Mountain goes all the way to Mentone, Ala. and you can connect another 50 miles to Gadsden. That’s 200 miles of road biking opportunities with nary a stop sign or traffic light.Hang GlidingHang-gliding is very popular in Chattanooga. Lookout Mountain Flight Park takes people on tandem rides as well as teaching lessons.Trail Running“Trail running is massive up here,” says Pollock. “Just on Lookout Mountain alone you could run 100 miles in a day on trails you could connect. There are a couple different Wild Trails races every year.”last_img read more