Monthly Archives: December 2020

Archive of posts published in the specified Month

Dec
31

Questions Around World Bank, U.S. Support for Regressive Electricity Project in Kosovo

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Keith Johnson for Foreign Policy:Almost everyone agrees that Kosovo, home to 1.8 million people and one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, desperately needs more energy. The question is how to generate it without doing more damage to a country already battling terrifying levels of pollution — and facing a tough choice between using the energy sources of the past or betting on those of the future.At issue is a $1 billion coal-fired plant that Kosovo, backed by the World Bank, has spent more than a decade trying to build. The project is meant to bring two things the country doesn’t have and desperately needs: energy and economic development. For just as long, environmental campaigners and many energy experts have been fighting to block the plant’s construction, arguing that cleaner energy has gotten so much cheaper in recent years that it would be better for the impoverished nation already battling dire levels of pollution to build wind farms and solar panels to meet the energy shortfall.The World Bank is expected to decide this year whether to help finance the very last coal-fired power plant in its global pipeline or to jettison the notion and embrace a swath of cleaner, alternative energy options. The World Bank’s support is crucial because it would underwrite the majority of the financing for the project. A World Bank spokesperson declined to give a timeline or say which way the bank was leaning.First, though, it has to figure out how to get the energy in the first place. The country has less electricity generation capacity than Albania or Zambia, so it doesn’t have enough energy to power the economy, avoid blackouts, or attract foreign investment. It’s going to get worse next year: The country’s oldest power plant, known as Kosovo A, must be decommissioned because it is one of the dirtiest in all of Europe.To replace it, the government of Kosovo, the World Bank, and a U.S. company, ContourGlobal, are eyeing a new, $1 billion-plus coal-fired power plant, plus a suite of measures to help Kosovo use what energy it has more efficiently. Kosovo’s prime minister, Isa Mustafa, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry both talked up the prospects for the new coal plant late last year, with Kerry calling the facility an “important example of what we can do together.”International support for a new coal plant, especially from the United States, contrasts with the Obama administration’s increasingly vocal advocacy of clean-energy solutions. On Tuesday at a clean-energy conference in New York, Kerry bemoaned continued reliance on old-school energy solutions like coal and called for the world to “harness the power of clean, renewable sources like the sun and the wind and the ocean.”Like its predecessors, the new plant, creatively named Kosovo C, would burn lignite, coal’s crumbly brown, toxic, poor cousin. Among the few things Kosovo has in spades are billions of tons of lignite buried underground.But much of the rest of Europe, with a few notable exceptions, is moving away from coal and toward cleaner energy options. Belgium just became the seventh E.U. state to get off coal altogether. That has critics of the World Bank plan for Kosovo shaking their heads because lignite offers less energy and is even more damaging to the environment than hard coal.“They are effectively condemning poor, overpolluted, undersupplied people to an energy system that is already out of date in a European Union that they want to join,” said Dan Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a founder of its Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. “It’s clear that this is not wise from the point of view of energy, or carbon emissions, or European Union integration.”His analysis of Kosovo’s energy options concluded that a coal-fired power plant would be both costlier and worse for the environment than relying on renewable energy sources like hydroelectricity, wind power, and solar power, as well as making big improvements in mundane things like energy efficiency.Other outside analyses have reached similar conclusions. Tom Sanzillo, an expert in energy finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a think tank launched to promote sustainable energy, questions the wisdom of assuming huge debt loads and higher electricity prices to double down on precisely the fuel source that has driven the bulk of Kosovo’s environmental degradation. And if the new power plant is meant to jump-start economic growth, he said, Kosovo and the World Bank should reach for a more modern playbook.“If the country wants to enter the modern era of economic competitiveness, it’s not by announcing another coal plant,” he said. “It’s by announcing upgrades to the electricity grid. It’s about wind and solar. It’s about, you know, a modern future.”Tiny Kosovo Faces a Big Energy Dilemma: The energy-starved Balkan nation needs a new power plant. But is dirty brown coal the best way to build the economy? Questions Around World Bank, U.S. Support for Regressive Electricity Project in Kosovolast_img read more

Dec
31

Delhi approves state subsidies for rooftop solar

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:The Delhi state government has approved the Mukhyamantri Solar Power Scheme, which offers five-year subsidies on electricity bills for group housing societies and individual consumers installing rooftop solar panels. Under the scheme, the Delhi government will provide a generation-based incentive (GBI) of Rs 2 (US$0.027) per unit against the initial solar power generation cost of Rs 3 ($0.041) per unit. In effect, the consumer will pay just Rs 1 ($0.014) per unit for five years.This is not the first time the state government has offered electricity subsidies. Under the Delhi Solar Policy 2016, the Rs 2 per unit subsidy was valid for just three years. As the scheme did not find many takers, the government has now extended it from three to five years. Chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Cabinet also approved half-yearly, instead of annual, disbursal of GBI by [distribution companies].Addressing a press conference, Power Minister Satyendar Jain said that group housing societies that wish to participate in the scheme will not have to pay the installation costs, which will instead be borne by the company. “The cost of solar power will also depend on the space provided by the society for the installation of solar panels. In case the society provides more space for solar panels than its requirement, they will get the benefit in return in terms of further reduction in the price of solar power,” Jain said.The Delhi government is also planning a Solar Rooftop Demand Aggregation Program, which will benefit consumers, including residential, schools, hospitals, and municipal segments with an expected aggregated demand of 40 MW using the Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) model.Delhi has an installed solar capacity of 100 MW, of which 5 MW is in the domestic sector. The state aims to generate 1 GW by 2020 and 2 GW by 2025 through rooftop solar installations.More: Delhi cabinet approves rooftop solar scheme Delhi approves state subsidies for rooftop solarlast_img read more

Dec
31

South Korea adopts energy policy pushing renewables, reducing coal and nuclear

first_imgSouth Korea adopts energy policy pushing renewables, reducing coal and nuclear FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Korea Bizwire:South Korea on Tuesday reaffirmed its strong commitment toward reduced dependency on conventional energy sources, such as coal, and more environment-friendly sources.The country’s new energy policy roadmap, proposed in April, was approved at the Cabinet meeting, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. South Korea’s energy guidelines are renewed every five years with a 20-year goal.The proposal is in line with the Moon Jae-in government’s push to phase out coal and nuclear plants and instead move toward clean and safe energy sources to meet the country’s demand for electricity.“The government plans to gradually decrease the number of nuclear and coal plants to have a clean and safe portfolio of energy,” the ministry said in a statement.Under the proposal, renewable energy sources, such as sunlight and wind, will account for up to 35 percent of the country’s electricity output in 2040, sharply up from around 6 percent of the country’s energy portfolio in 2017.The country will refrain from building new energy plants running on conventional sources. Some existing coal plants will be renovated to run on more clean resources, such as LNG, according to the energy plan.More: Clean, fossil-free energy plan approvedlast_img read more

Dec
31

Los Angeles moves forward with record-setting solar and battery storage project

first_imgLos Angeles moves forward with record-setting solar and battery storage project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Los Angeles Times:For a long time, there were two big knocks against solar power: It’s expensive, and it can’t keep the lights on after sundown. A contract approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power shows how much that reality has changed.Under the 25-year deal with developer 8minute Solar Energy, the city would buy electricity from a sprawling complex of solar panels and lithium-ion batteries in the Mojave Desert of eastern Kern County, about two hours north of Los Angeles. The Eland project would meet 6% to 7% of L.A.’s annual electricity needs and would be capable of pumping clean energy into the grid for four hours each night.The combined solar power and energy storage is priced at 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour — a record low for this type of contract, city officials and independent experts say, and cheaper than electricity from natural gas.The Eland deal’s approval was delayed last month after DWP staff said concerns had been raised by the union representing employees of the city-run utility. At the department’s Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, DWP staff members said they were satisfied they had met their formal obligation to inform the union about renewable energy projects.Los Angeles already gets about one-third of its electricity from renewable sources. But California law requires 100% climate-friendly energy by 2045, a target that will force utilities and local governments to do more than keep buying low-cost solar and wind power.California frequently produces more solar energy than it can use during the middle of the day, then fires up gas plants in the evening to meet electricity demand after sundown. DWP officials say they’re shifting their attention to banking clean energy for nighttime use, with projects such as Eland. “Any renewable energy project with solar, we’re looking to pair it with storage. We’re not looking for any solar by itself,” Reiko Kerr, the DWP’s senior assistant general manager for power system engineering, said in an interview this year.More: Los Angeles OKs a deal for record-cheap solar power and battery storagelast_img read more

Dec
30

Spandex: Cool or Not Cool?

first_imgPost a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a camping setup from Blue Ridge Mountain Sports!last_img

Dec
30

Worth Driving To

first_imgA road trip is not a trivial thing, even if the destination is trivial.Boiled peanuts. Is there anything that signifies the essence of a road trip better than a bag of boiled peanuts, purchased with cash from a shack on the side of the road? In my mind, there is no better road trip food, which is ironic considering the boiled peanut is one of the toughest foods to eat in a car, logistically speaking. They take two hands to eat, they’re juicy as hell, and you’ve got those shells to discard somewhere. And yet, I can’t imagine a proper road trip without a bag of damn-salty boiled peanuts. Of course, you have to be on a road trip to enjoy boiled peanuts. For whatever reason, they don’t sell that particular snack in metropolitan cities. Even if there was a boiled peanut stand on the street, it wouldn’t taste the same. You’ve got to drive for these Southern delicacies. There needs to be at least 100 miles on your trip odometer before you can truly enjoy the mushy goodness of a boiled peanut.Now, is a $2.99 bag of overcooked nuts reason enough to drive several hours, possibly crossing state lines? In a word, yes. A bag of boiled peanuts is a perfectly valid reason to hit the road.I can track my own personal evolution through a series of road trips. I went to my first strip bar on a road trip. I started my first accidental fire with a misguided pyrotechnics show on a road trip. I discovered craft beer on a road trip. I climbed my first rock wall on a road trip. I saw my first Allman Brothers show on a road trip. You could say I owe everything that is good in my life to a road trip: It was on a road trip that I first met my wife. And it was through several subsequent road trips that I finally wore her down into the submission that society calls “marriage.”So believe me, the road trip is an important thing. But that doesn’t mean you need an important destination for your road trip. You don’t always have to set your sights on some place epic like Las Vegas. In fact, I’d argue that the more trivial the final destination of a given road trip, the better that trip will be.To prove my point, here are five seemingly trivial things worth driving a very long way to experience.Chesapeake Bay OystersTrivial DestinationChesapeake Bay OystersWhy It’s Worth the Gas: The Chesapeake Bay oyster has long been a delicacy, but over-harvesting and pollution have put a strain on this wonderful natural resource. Oystermen used to pull more than a million bushels of oysters a year out of the Chesapeake Bay. Now, they’re harvesting less than one percent of that level. The Chesapeake oyster is salty, succulent, and only in season during winter months. Check out the Urbanna Oyster Festival, in November, for true oyster culture and an all-you-can-shuck competition. urbannaoysterfestival.comTrivial DestinationHowling Moon Moonshine Why It’s Worth the Gas: In a word, “process.” There are bigger moonshine makers in the South, but there might not be a more purposeful legal moonshine distillery in our parts. The folks at Howling Moon create small batch hooch made from local corn, using a family recipe, in a hand-crafted still with pipes held together with rye paste. Now that’s old school. Howling Moon can only produce 80 cases a month, and you can only find it in a dozen places in Western North Carolina. howlingmoonshine.comTrivial DestinationOconee Bell WildflowerWhy It’s Worth the Gas: This tiny white bloom is one of the rarest wildflowers in the U.S.  For nearly a century, scientists thought it was completely extinct until a teenager found one while hanging out in the woods. Today, you can find the flower in only seven counties, all lying in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The flower blooms in early spring. The best place to see the Oconee Bell en masse is along the Oconee Bell Nature Trail inside South Carolina’s Devil’s Fork State Park. southcarolinaparks.com Trivial DestinationSoft Shell Crab Why It’s Worth the Gas: Enjoying a good soft shell crab is all about being at the right place at the right time. Every spring, blue crabs molt out of their hard casings, allowing crabbers to catch them in their more delicate “underpants” so to speak. Soft shell season typically starts with the first full moon in May, and the crab are considered the tastiest before the next full moon in June. The window is short. You can get them frozen, but that is just a “shell” of the soft shell experience. Like seeing a picture of the Mona Lisa, instead of the actual painting hanging in the Louvre. Check out the Kayak and Crab tour in the Outer Banks, where you kayak to catch your own crabs, then learn how to cook them. outerbanksepicurean.comTrivial DestinationDark SkyWhy It’s Worth the Gas: A truly dark sky is an increasingly rare thing these days. In fact, I’d be willing to argue that few of us have ever truly experienced a dark sky full of stars. Spruce Knob, at 4,863 feet, is the highest mountain in West Virginia and is surrounded by mostly forest and tiny towns that don’t emit much light pollution. Thanks to the sheer volume of people in the Southeast, Spruce Knob is one of the last truly dark places in the Southern Appalachians. Go there for vertigo-inducing darkness and more stars than you can count. darksky.orglast_img read more

Dec
30

Sturgeon City: A Band of Nice Pickers

first_imgAs my blog entry from last week pointed out, last Wednesday was my birthday. Throughout the day, and over the next couple days, I was, of course, asked that ubiquitous birthday question, “So, you feel any different?”My answer was always, “Nope.  Feeling great!” I have two small kids and a teenager. I don’t have time to feel old. I have to have a little pep in my step to keep up with everything I have going on in my family’s life and don’t have time to slow down. So, generally, I feel pretty good and don’t spend much time thinking about being over 40.But then I heard about a band called Sturgeon City. And I felt old. Or, at least, older.I was turned on to this band – a bluegrassy quintet from Richmond – when I became reacquainted with John Michael Nobile, an old friend from my days living in Poquoson, Virginia. I was starting college at Old Dominion University and J.M. was about the same age as my younger brother. He might have been in middle school. Over the next couple years, I coached J.M.’s soccer team and was often the all time quarterback in some hardcore touch football games on Evans Grove Road.Other than a chance encounter at the Blue Ridge Mountain Sports store in Charlottesville a few years back, J.M. and I haven’t been much in contact since I left Poquoson in 1994. But I was stoked to hear from him again, as I knew that he and his younger brother, Brett, were both into music, and I was especially excited to hear that J.M. was in a band. A band, as it turns out, that is damned good.And then I realized it was over 20 years ago that we met. He was a young kid. I was a slightly older kid.For a moment, I felt old.Sturgeon City recently shared the stage with another one of my favorite Virginia bands, James Justin & Co., in Richmond. Bailey Horsley, banjo player for JJ&Co., reached out to me after the show, telling me that the guys were awful nice and awesome pickers, too. That bodes well for Sturgeon City; it’s tough to root against a band of nice pickers.Sturgeon City will be part of another sweet bluegrass bill this weekend when they join Larry Keel & Natural Bridge at The Southern Café & Music Hall in Charlottesville. Keel has long been one of my favorite guitar players. A flatpicking master, Keel has worked, since his days in Magraw Gap, to push the boundaries of bluegrass and acoustic music. Keel’s willingness to bend and warp what the masses see as bluegrass is something I appreciate; Keel has taken the genre, turned it on its head, shaken it just a bit, and then turned it right side up.And I really like what Keel does when he is done shaking things up.You can catch Larry Keel & Natural Bridge and Sturgeon City this Saturday, December 7th, at the Southern Café & Music Hall. I’d like to give you the chance to score a couple tickets for free by answering the trivia question down below. You know how it goes – email the answer to dave@blueridgeoutdoors.com. A winner will be chosen from all correct responses received by noon tomorrow, December 5th.Question – Larry won the prestigious guitar competition at what Colorado bluegrass festival?last_img read more

Dec
30

Shorts: Blue Ridge Briefs

first_imgBy Jedd Farris and Travis HallTroubled Waters in the SouthDirty rivers are running throughout the Southeast. Three regional waterways recently made a list of the country’s top 10 endangered rivers, as named annually by watchdog nonprofit American Rivers. Coming in at number three, Tennessee’s Holston River is reportedly being polluted by toxic chemicals coming from the nearby Holston Army Ammunitions Plant. According to American Rivers the plant is discharging RDX (Research Development Explosive), recognized by the EPA as a possible carcinogen and known to cause seizures if inhaled or ingested. Last fall the Tennessee Clean Water Network filed a lawsuit in an effort to get the Army to clean up the Holston, which provides drinking water to 56,000 people in Tennessee and Virginia.For the second straight year South Carolina’s Edisto River has been named the fifth most endangered river, threatened by excessive agriculture withdrawls. South Carolina state law doesn’t require permits for agricultural water users, and American Rivers says industrial-scale farmers are taking advantage of the exemption and therefore threatening water quality and habitat. As the longest free-flowing blackwater river in the country, the Edisto runs for more than 250 miles from its headwaters between Columbia and Aiken to the Atlantic Coast, along the way serving as a popular waterway for both paddling and fishing.Back in Tennessee, the 125-mile Harpeth River also made the list as the ninth most endangered. The river, which flows through the Nashville metro area and rapidly growing city of Franklin, is being threatened by excessive sewage and water withdrawls as more people move to this part of the state.Carolina Rivers Expedition LaunchesRoyal Geographic Society fellow and explorer Julian Monroe has summited Kilimanjaro and trekked across Africa. Now he has set out to paddle the length of 32 Carolina rivers in a matter of two years. The Carolina Rivers project aims to help protect 32 beloved Southern waterways through exploration and education. “The purpose of this project is to let people know that they don’t have to travel to far off exotic places like Africa in order to be an explorer,” Fisher told me. “All you really have to do is turn a curious eye to your immediate surroundings. I can’t imagine a better place to do that than on a Carolina river.”15 Alabama State Parks Could Close by FallA budget crisis could close 15 Alabama state parks by the fall. In mid April state officials announced that $11.4 million would be cut from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ 2016 budget, and the majority of it would be pulled from state parks. As a result, many favorites like Lake Lurleen and Cheaha, which holds the state’s tallest mountain, are on the chopping block.According to reporting by the Huntsville Times, four closures were set to happen this spring, and on June 1 another five are supposed to begin reduced hours with smaller staffs. If the crisis isn’t resolved by October 1, the remaining 11 parks on the list will close.Man Rescued Off North Carolina Coast After 66 Days at SeaIn January, 37-year-old Louis Jordan decided to go fishing, leaving Conway, S.C., in his sailboat. Sixty-six days later he was rescued by a German ship, approximately 200 miles off the North Carolina coast. So what happened to Jordan that left him stranded at sea for more than two months? According to a report by CNN, his 35-foot sailboat capsized in the Gulf Stream, leaving Jordan with a broken shoulder and his boat with a broken mast. His drenched GPS and other electronics no longer worked.As he drifted in the ocean, Jordan at first rationed his remaining food and rigged a smaller mast and sail that offered little movement. He was eventually forced to drink rainwater and eat fish lured by the scent of his laundry. He amazingly survived and was spotted on Thursday, April 2, by the Houston express cargo ship. That evening Jordan was able to walk on his own into a hospital in Norfolk, Va. He told the cable news station: “I was utterly thankful and grateful to the people who rescued me, and I was grateful to God that my parents were not going to be worried about me.”last_img read more

Dec
30

Cycle Blount County, TN

first_imgCycle through the memories in Townsend, TN and the Dancing Bear Bike Bash.12032247_10152981117591213_5333454283990916745_nYou can never experience a better bike event than the Dancing Bear Bike Bash. Cycle through some of the most beautiful scenery and backroads that can only be found in the Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains.12004832_10152981105661213_2272902664517437142_nLocated right outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend offers great cycling experience. “We count miles in moments”.   Come join us and enjoy the rides of your life.Register for the ride at https://www.bikereg.com/27264www.dancingbearlodge.comwww.smokymountains.orgdancing Bear Bike Bashlast_img read more

Dec
30

MerleFest is Turning 30!

first_imgMerleFest – the 30th Celebration – features one of the festival’s most diverse lineups in its history.“We designed this year’s lineup to feature artists who have graced the stages at MerleFest over the past 29 festivals. We felt the 30th festival gave us an opportunity to put a spotlight on many of the artists who have made MerleFest one of the most esteemed festivals in the world,” said Ted Hagaman, festival director. “However, as in years past, the lineup introduces some outstanding talent that Steve Johnson, artist relations manager, has discovered during his travels to other festivals in the U.S. and abroad. We want to celebrate the festival’s past and also look toward the future.”MerleFest, presented by Window World and scheduled for April 27-30, includes a who’s who of roots music’s greatest performers, many with impressive collections of awards from The Recording Academy (Grammy Award), International Bluegrass Music Association, Americana Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, and more.The 2017 lineup includes Zac Brown Band, The Transatlantic Sessions Tour with Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain featuring James Taylor, The Avett Brothers, Béla Fleck, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Steep Canyon Rangers, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, The Kruger Brothers, Jorma Kaukonen, Mandolin Orange, John Driskell Hopkins Band, Sarah Jarosz, Tift Merritt, The Steel Wheels, Mipso, Scythian, Chatham County Line, Sierra Hull, I Draw Slow, Jim Lauderdale, and many others.“A MerleFest tradition is to honor the late folk legend Doc Watson and his son Eddy Merle Watson, for whom the festival is named. Doc helped start MerleFest in memory of his son who passed away in a tragic tractor accident, and he had a musical influence on most, if not all, artists who perform at the festival,” said Hagaman. “Sets planned to do that include the Docabilly Blues Blowout, Memories of The Watson Family, Gospel Songs of Doc Watson, and Stories and Songs of Doc Watson with The Kruger Brothers. In addition, Jack Lawrence will host the MerleFest Veterans Jam, which will include musicians who were close personal friends and performing partners with Doc and Merle and who Doc chose to perform at the first MerleFest in 1988.”Workshops planned about Doc include “History of MerleFest” by B. Townes, “On The Road with Doc – Songs and Memories” by Jack Lawrence, and “Guitar Stylings of Doc Watson” by Bryan Sutton.MerleFest is known for its unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented music from the Appalachian region, including bluegrass, old-time, Americana, blues, country, Celtic, Cajun, cowboy, zydeco, rock, and many other styles that the late Doc Watson referred to as “traditional plus.” Guests of the festival have come to expect the unexpected – celebrated “MerleFest Moments” of special collaborations and impromptu stage jams that are a frequent result of the artistic, collective spirit of this annual homecoming of musicians and music fans.Special features at the 30th celebration will include the MerleFest Museum, which will be open during the festival for fans to visit. It includes old festival photos, videos, a montage of all the artists who have performed at the festival, and collections from and about Doc and Merle Watson. Additionally, the festival will sell a limited number of tickets to tour the backstage of Watson Stage, including the late Doc Watson’s dressing room. Tickets went on sale March 1 and must be purchased in advance of the festival.Visit MerleFest.org for more information about the festival and to see the complete lineup. Tickets for MerleFest 2017 are on sale now and may be purchased at MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. An advance ticket discount runs through April 26, 2017. Gate pricing begins on the first day of the festival.last_img read more