German firms plan renewable friendly power-to-gas storage

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:FRANKFURT—Major German power and gas grid firms Amprion and Open Grid Europe (OGE) unveiled plans on Wednesday to jointly build large power-to-gas (ptg) plants next decade, seeking to harness a new technology to help store and transport renewable energy.The two said they had presented the proposals to Germany’s energy regulator, the Federal Network Agency, with a view to securing permission for plans that stretch to 2030, a period when Germany is phasing in tougher climate protection goals.“We are looking at 50 to 100 megawatt (MW) size ptg plants, potentially in Lower Saxony or northern North-Rhine Westphalia state,” Amprion board member Hans-Juergen Brick said by phone after a press conference in Berlin. “A first plant could go up in 2022 or early 2023,” he added.Ptg technology offers a way to solve the storage problem of volatile electricity output from wind and sunshine by running it through water to split it into oxygen and hydrogen, which can be used as a transport fuel or fed into gas grids.So far, ptg plants have only been up to 6 MW in size, at non-commercial test locations. “While government plans say they want 2,000-3,000 MW of power storage by 2030, we won’t get far with a maximum 6 MW per plant,” Brick said.Amprion’s annual report showed that of Germany’s targeted 153 gigawatts (GW) of installed renewable capacity by 2030, 60 percent has already been put in. But only 11 percent of a total 7,900 km of new power lines designated to accompany the new capacity has been built. This has resulted in northern Germany often wasting excess wind power, while the industrial south risks shortfalls.More: German power, gas grids cooperate on storage plans up to 2030 German firms plan renewable friendly power-to-gas storagelast_img read more

Study finds solar much more manageable than critics contend

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Modern solar power plants can be operated flexibly to respond to dispatch instructions, and they should be used to provide essential grid reliability services so less conventional fossil-fueled generation is needed for that purpose, according to a new study.The Energy and Environmental Economics Inc., or E3, study, which was sponsored by First Solar Inc. and released Oct. 24, found that solar resources can be incorporated into a utility’s real-time dispatch decisions. Incorporating solar in such a way reduces fuel and maintenance costs for conventional generators and cuts air emissions, and those advantages grow as the level of solar penetration increases, the study, entitled “Investigating the Economic Value of Flexible Solar Power Plant Operation,” said.Utility-scale solar facilities typically are designed and operated to deliver the maximum amount of electricity in real-time as “must take” resources, which means all the energy they produce is used as it becomes available. When operated in that way, solar must be balanced with other resources, notably gas-fired plants, from which energy output is dispatched or curtailed as needed to meet load requirements.“The study confirms our intuition that solar can provide the most value to the system if grid operators fully utilize the flexible dispatch capabilities of solar power plants, especially under increased solar penetration levels,” E3 Senior Partner Arne Olson said in a news release announcing the study’s conclusions. “Utilities and grid operators should stop thinking of solar as a problem to be managed, and start thinking of it as an asset to be maximized.”E3 used an energy model to simulate generator unit commitment and dispatch on Emera Inc. subsidiary Tampa Electric Co.’s system in Florida. TECO was an active participant in the study and provided data on its system, which has a generation portfolio that is 86% gas-fired.Traditionally, control of solar output is not considered in generator scheduling and economic dispatch. However, many modern solar power plants have the technical capabilities to precisely control their output. Such plants, referred to as flexible or dispatchable solar, can be called upon by a grid operator to meet system requirements.More ($): Solar can be flexibly dispatched with other plants, research concludes Study finds solar much more manageable than critics contendlast_img read more

EIA: Renewables likely to top coal generation in U.S. this year

first_imgEIA: Renewables likely to top coal generation in U.S. this year FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The New York Times:The United States is on track to produce more electricity this year from renewable power than from coal for the first time on record, new government projections show, a transformation partly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, with profound implications in the fight against climate change.It is a milestone that seemed all but unthinkable a decade ago, when coal was so dominant that it provided nearly half the nation’s electricity. And it comes despite the Trump administration’s three-year push to try to revive the ailing industry by weakening pollution rules on coal-burning power plants.Those efforts, however, failed to halt the powerful economic forces that have led electric utilities to retire hundreds of aging coal plants since 2010 and run their remaining plants less frequently. The cost of building large wind farms has declined more than 40 percent in that time, while solar costs have dropped more than 80 percent. And the price of natural gas, a cleaner-burning alternative to coal, has fallen to historic lows as a result of the fracking boom.Now the coronavirus outbreak is pushing coal producers into their deepest crisis yet. As factories, retailers, restaurants and office buildings have shut down nationwide to slow the spread of the coronavirus, demand for electricity has fallen sharply. And, because coal plants often cost more to operate than gas plants or renewables, many utilities are cutting back on coal power first in response.In just the first four and a half months of this year, America’s fleet of wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams have produced more electricity than coal on 90 separate days — shattering last year’s record of 38 days for the entire year. On May 1 in Texas, wind power alone supplied nearly three times as much electricity as coal did.The latest report from the Energy Information Administration estimates that America’s total coal consumption will fall by nearly one-quarter this year, and coal plants are expected to provide just 19 percent of the nation’s electricity, dropping for the first time below both nuclear power and renewable power, a category that includes wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal and biomass. Natural gas plants, which supply 38 percent of the nation’s power, are expected to hold their output steady thanks to low fuel prices.[Brad Plumer]More: In a first, renewable energy is poised to eclipse coal in U.S.last_img read more

Greek utility PPC to invest $4.1 billion in renewable energy, grid modernization through 2023

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Greece’s biggest power utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) will spend 3.4 billion euros ($4.11 billion) to expand its footprint in renewables and modernise the country’s distribution grid, it said on Wednesday.The coal-reliant utility, which is 51% owned by the state, has pledged to shut down all but one of its coal-fired plants by 2023 to help Greece reduce carbon emissions in line with climate targets set by the European Union.In a presentation to investors released on Wednesday, PPC said that about 42% of the 3.4 billion euro spending will be siphoned into upgrading power distribution via its 242-kilometre-long grid, which it fully owns now but plans to partially privatise next year.PPC will also use a big chunk of that sum to build solar and wind plants and boost its capacity from green energy to 1.5 gigawatt by 2023 from just 0.17 gigawatt now, it said.PPC said that coal-fired plants with a 3.4 gigawatt capacity will be decommissioned and repurposed to include co-generation, energy storage, biomass and hydrogen.[Angeliki Koutantou]More: Greece’s PPC to spend 3.4 bln euro on power grid, renewables by 2023 Greek utility PPC to invest $4.1 billion in renewable energy, grid modernization through 2023last_img read more

Weekend Pick: Collegiate Mountain Biking Nationals, Beech Mountain, Oct. 24-26

first_imgCollegiates, now is the time to strap on your shoes and show the older crowd how it’s done. Meet with the nation’s young mountain biking champions on Beech Mountain October 24-26 for USA Cycling’s Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships.This is the second straight year Beech Mountain has hosted the championships, which feature more than 70 schools and 300 riders battling for national titles in six disciplines.Fort Lewis College of Colorado returns as defending team champion in Division I and Brevard College returns as defending champion in Division II. Local teams expected to contend in Division I are Lees-McRae College and Appalachian State.Photo courtesy of Kristian JacksonPhoto courtesy of Kristian Jackson“It’s a great opportunity for fans who enjoy competition, who enjoy cycling, to watch some of the best riders compete in mountain biking,” said Lees-McRae head coach Tim Hall, whose team finished third a year ago. “It’s not like any other race during the year. You’ve got the best riders and the best teams going for the most coveted prize.”Holding the championships two straight years is quite an honor for Beech Mountain. The town and the ski resort have invested significantly in their mountain biking trail systems in recent years, giving the area two quality mountain bike parks.“It’s our intention to be among the best mountain biking destination on the East Coast, and getting selected to host the collegiate national championships is a good indication of how far we’ve come,” said Talia Freeman, event coordinator for Beech Mountain Resort. “It allows us to showcase the beauty and incredible terrain Beech Mountain has to offer.”Reams will begin arriving in Beech Mountain during the week, with open practices and a riders meeting on Thursday, Oct. 23.The first races will be held between 8:00-11:00 a.m. Friday morning. Saturday’s races take place between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., while Sunday’s races begin at 11:00 a.m. and last until early afternoon. All races are free and open to the public.“This is a very exciting event to watch, and one of the most fun events I’ve ever produced,” Freeman said. “ It is family-friendly and spectator-friendly.”For details and race schedules, visit usacycling.org.Lodging and other visitor info is available by calling (800) 468-5506.last_img read more

Lily: Selfie Drone or Camera Man in the Sky?

first_imgSelfie stick, eat your heart out. The next generation of selfie images is about to flood the market. Lily Camera is a self-flying drone that follows you and keeps you in frame via a tracking controller pod about the size of a small hockey puck.“Point-and-shoot devices, action cameras, camcorders, and DSLRs have served us well on the ground and attached to drones, but we’ve always wanted a richer, more contextual point-of-view,” said Antoine Balaresque, CEO and co-founder of Lily in a press release. “Lily automatically creates exciting close range photos and wide, cinematic shots previously reserved for professional filmmakers.”Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 1.46.08 PMThe team at Lily Camera seem to have thought of everything. From managing the 20 minute battery life without loosing your toy to being waterproof and rugged. The only thing missing is obstacle avoidance. While the Lily Camera takes care of getting in the air and following you, you are still the pilot by virtue of your actions. If you run into the woods, Lily will follow and not know better to dodge branches, buildings, power lines or other flying objects.There are a number of shooting modes available. For shots of you standing still or getting ready in one place, you can set Lily to loop around you. There’s also an approach or “fly up” mode. When you get going, switch Lily to follow, lead or slide mode and you’re good to go. Launching Lily was made simple by just tossing it into the air. Landing is controlled by two long clicks of the tracking puck. The first long click brings Lily to a hover a few feet over the tracker. The second long click tells Lily to slowly descend so you can catch it in the palm of your hand.Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 1.32.31 PMAnother sweet feature is the audio. To avoid that drone whine (or at least to minimize it), audio is recorded on the tracking puck then synchronized with the video when the two are downloaded. While you might still hear the buzzing in the distance, the sounds immediately around the tracker are what will be most prominent.All this description is fine and dandy, but the real teller is the video below. Specs from the press release are also below and Lily Camera is currently taking pre-orders to get this gadget for $499. Expected delivery is early 2016 and by then the price for the naysayers who declined the pre-order will bump to a cool grand. Are you going to get yours? www.lily.cameraQUICK FACTSThrow it in air to start shootingFlies itself, no controller requiredWaterproofSleek design, fits in backpack, 2.8 lbsPhotos: 12 MP, Video: 1080p/60fps & 720p/120fpsSony IMX117 1/2.3’’ image sensorProgrammable flight paths via mobile app20 minutes flight timeOptimal flying: Outdoors 10-30 ft, up to 25 mphAudio recording from tracking deviceComplies with FAA guidelineslast_img read more

5 Adventure Rigs and the People Behind Them

first_imgWanderers, nomads, vagabonds, van dwellers; the names for the lifestyle are as diverse as the means by which it is accomplished. However, there is only one qualifying factor: your home has wheels and it follows you wherever the road may lead. For this growing group of travelers, home is where you park it. Take a cost cutting lifestyle, mix in a little creativity, ingenuity and a need for adventure – and you get the modern day nomad, living perhaps the most epic road trip. The kind that never seems to end. But exactly how is it done? Here are the stories of five adventure rigs and the folks behind them, each with a different answer to the question.Vantastic VibesScreen Shot 2016-07-28 at 3.07.34 PMChelsea and Ryan of @Vantasticvibes, a van-life couple rambling their way up the U.S East Coast, are living and traveling in their Mercedes Sprinter Van along with their pup, Luna. After getting their feet wet with short road trips spent sleeping out of their ’95 Ford Aerostar (complete with a wood framed bed in the trunk), they decided to dive fully into van-life.  A short peruse of Craigslist landed them their stealthy diesel Sprinter Van. From the outside, this mobile home appears to be a simple cargo van – perfect for blending in when your campsite looks more like a city street. But slide open its side doors and you’ll be met with the homey smell of wood paneling that fills their self-customized home on wheels. Their Sprinter Van is built-out for their life on wheels and their love of the outdoors.  Everything they own is within the metal frames of their mobile home. And though their travels are currently fueled by their savings account, they intend to indefinitely call this Sprinter Van home. Chelsea, Ryan and Luna have spent the past few months in the company of good friends and great mountain biking trails along the Blue Ridge Region.Our Streamlined LifeScreen Shot 2016-07-28 at 3.07.59 PMOne common story seems to rise from the community of modern day nomads. Each individual, in their own way seemed to notice a rhythm in life that they found unsatisfactory. From that realization sparked a need for change. Instead of racking up the score on their personal collection of materialistic things, they wanted a lifestyle rich in time and experience. How do you spend more time enjoying life and less time working just to pay the bills? You cut the costs.This was the story for Rebecca and Ryan of Our Streamlined Life. In July, 2015 they purchased their 26’ Holiday Rambler and became full-time travelers. When they moved into their house on wheels, their trip had an unclear expiration date.  How long would this lifestyle be sustainable or even enjoyable? Now a year in, this dynamic duo has no intention of turning back. They have found freedom on the road and are now blurring the lines between hobbies and work. Rather than planning trips around work, they plan work around their trips. Rebecca uses her talent and passion for writing to work on the road. While Ryan finds jobs doing what he loves when they decide to park their home in a new place. Currently, Rebecca and Ryan are camping out in Northern Virginia while Ryan works as a whitewater rafting guide. Come mid-August they will be traveling from Maine to Tennessee. Their trip through the Appalachian Mountains will be timed perfectly with the dam release season on the Gauley River – a whitewater rafter’s dream. Ira WolfScreen Shot 2016-07-28 at 3.08.11 PMIra Wolf is a solo traveler, roaming around as she pursues her passion for music. As a free spirit with a beautiful voice, Ira shares her journeys through folk-filled melodies. Based in Nashville, Tennessee; Ira tours the country in her burgundy red VolksWagon van – “Ruby.” Currently, the release of her latest album, “Honest,” has her touring the states as she hops from show to show. She rides in one of the most iconic vans of van-life, a 1988 Vanagon Camper, with GoWesty helping sponsor her travels.  For Ira, the last five months have been filled with a seemingly endless outreach of people welcoming her with open arms, meals, and places to sleep. She deemed them her “wolf pack.”Currently WanderingScreen Shot 2016-07-28 at 3.08.21 PMThe adventurous family of five behind Currently Wandering has been on the road since 2013. Their journey began when the family uprooted themselves from Utah for a house-swap opportunity in Virginia. A short time later, they were on a six-month road trip through the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and around the countries perimeter landing back in Utah. Now, a few years down the road, their trip has yet to end. For Sam, Jess, Rachel, Andrew and Cara; home is their decked-out 2008 International CCD 27FB Airstream. This dream machine is rigged with solar panels, a full kitchen, wifi and lots of creatively used spacing for a family of five. How do they make it work? – Creative budgeting, remote jobs, homeschooling, acceptance of simplicity and a passion for the outdoors.  The Van With No PlanScreen Shot 2016-07-28 at 4.35.53 PMBig dreams, board sports and brotherhood are what fuel this fifth road dwelling crew. Matt and Josh, two van-life brothers, began their journey on a whim. After a spontaneous camping trip spent sleeping in their company van, the brothers decided “why not?” and headed off on a road trip. Unsure of how long they would be gone or where they would travel, Matt and Josh truly were “The Van With No Plan.” Now three years later and counting, the pair has been to 44+ states. Today, with a growing crew, each brother has an Astro Van home of his own. Matt – a 1990 Tiger Provan and Josh – a 1987 Allegro Adventure-Mobile. These Astro Vans can be found roaming down the road in search of odd jobs and skate parks.   Both brothers make a point to work hard for their traveling lifestyle. Funding for their trip comes from work they find along the way through Facebook or job listings. Though they don’t often stop in one place for more than a month, they have spent their last eight weeks working on a dam in New York.—Words by Grace [email protected]_blast_img read more

And the Winner of the 2017 Top Adventure College Contest is…

first_imgBack in March we launched our Top Adventure College Contest presented by ENO, where 32 colleges from all over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic battled it out in a bracket-style competition for the honor of being named the top outdoor adventure college in the region.Once again, the votes poured in—this year to the tune of 150,000 plus—as many worthy adversaries went head-to-head over the course of five round. But at the end of the day only one school could reign supreme.For the fourth year in a row, that school was Western Carolina University, a university with an enrollment just under 11,000 and a campus that sits at the edge of North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains.For the fourth year in a row,  Western Carolina University has won the Blue Ridge Outdoors Top Adventure College Contest.Whether it be mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, fly fishing or nature photography, outdoor recreation is all the rage at WCU, and their fourth year at the top of our adventure college contest heap is strong evidence of that fact.“Winning the top award for four straight years is confirmation that Western Carolina University’s location as the closest four year college to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway provide exceptional opportunities for living and learning in this beautiful area,” says Steve Morse, director of WCU’s Hospitality and Tourism Program.“Because of the exceptional location and natural resources available in the area, WCU’s academic programs have outdoor laboratories where professors and students can connect theory with real-world applications that are unmatched.  Outdoor-minded students have the opportunity to become engaged with our sustainable natural resources in the area while studying a wide variety of subjects.”While we’re excited to recognize WCU’s fourth straight win, we also wanted to shine a light on the runner-up of this year’s Top Adventure College Contest, Sweet Briar College.A university that boasts a 3,250-acre campus in the foothills of the Virginia Blue Ridge, Sweet Briar swept through the small school portion of the bracket and made an impressive showing against WCU in the finals days of the contest.Sweet Briar director of outdoor programs Kate Macklin ’13 and Koda form the rear guard at Cole Mountain, a popular day hike in Amherst County.“It means a lot to win the Top Adventure College Contest in our category because it is recognition of the quality programming that we’ve developed over the years,” says Director of Media Relations Jennifer McManamay.“Even though we’re smaller than probably any other school in the competition, the Sweet Briar Outdoor Program offers students every kind of activity you could want, from hiking, backpacking, climbing, white water kayaking and canoeing to skiing, mountain biking, and caving. Outdoor programming is driven by student interest, and student instructors organize and lead most trips. We offer Wednesday evening trips almost every week and at least one trip per weekend.”During the month of May we will profile both of these outdoor-loving colleges individually, highlighting a few outdoor-obsessed students at both Sweet Briar and Western and the outdoor opportunities that those students enjoy at their perspective campuses. Stay tuned!last_img read more

The Comeback: How Running Saved Keith Connolly’s Life

first_imgHe sits slumped in his seat, delirious, slurring words before passing out. The speeding car, driven by his frantic wife, rushes to a hospital in Laramie, Wyoming. It’s a heart attack, and doctors soon find 94% blockage in an artery nicknamed the “Widow Maker.” In goes an 18mm stent followed by a list of medications the doctors say he will be on for the rest of his life. He will prove them wrong.Keith Connolly was just thirty-six when Kendra drove him to the emergency room that day. And, as his somewhat puzzled doctors described him, “a poster child for the American Heart Association.” He appeared fit, a muscular, six-foot-two, 195-pound man who didn’t smoke and who ate a mostly healthy diet, but with a few burgers and fries and sodas tossed in. Nor was there any history of heart disease in the family, his nearest relatives having lived into their nineties. Perplexed, five cardiologists ascribed Keith’s heart attack to a less-than-scientific explanation when a more formal etiology eludes them – “bad luck.”Keith and KendraKeith and KendraBut Keith decided to turn his luck around. He and Kendra moved to Minnesota, and it was there that he discovered trail running. “One day I decided to go for a hike, having heard about a trail that was fourteen miles. I was wearing a pair of old army fatigues. About a mile in, I just started to run, not stopping until I logged the whole trail. I remember feeling so alive and not wanting to stop. I was hooked.”‘Hooked’ is a good word for it. Keith and Kendra began training for and competing in Spartan races, even seeking the perfect place to develop a lifestyle based on running, yoga, calisthenics, strict veganism, and a deep faith in God. They settled on Black Mountain, North Carolina and, as Keith puts it, “I fell in love with the trails, and knew I had to live here.”Well over three years have passed since the heart attack and Keith, now forty, is living proof of the positive benefits of healthy living. Gone are the drugs that the doctors once said he would have to take forever. In their place is a daily regime of diet and exercise that both he and Kendra do together. “We both went fully plant-based,” Kendra comments. “Our bodies feel clear of fog and crud. Our exercising and running have gotten stronger and we recover faster. We love it!”Keith agrees. “My cardiologist in Asheville told me my blood work came back absolutely perfect and is evidence of the impact of exercise and a plant-based diet.”The Sandbag CarryKeith’s race results are impressive, too. In the Asheville Spartan Sprint of July 2017, Keith finished 20th overall out of 2,028 runners, and – a month later in West Virginia – took 1st overall in another Spartan Race. Last October, before having to bow out with knee issues, Keith bagged fifty miles of the formidable Pitchell Challenge, the nearly 70-mile mountain trail running challenge from the summit of Pisgah to the summit of Mitchell. “I plan on taking the Pitchell Challenge again this spring,” Keith says, “to get my redemption.”But man shall not live by trail running alone, and Keith is set to make his living as a vegan chef, graduating in February 2018 from culinary school. “My plan is to open a restaurant that teaches people how to cook and eat a delicious, plant-based diet!”The heart attack nearly killed him, but Keith is thankful for the experience. “It caused us to completely rethink our lives,” he recalls. “It was a trying season in our relationship, but one that brought us closer together and made us best friends and lovers. I thank God every day. If the series of events had not happened, we wouldn’t have such an amazing life together.”last_img read more