On the Blogs: U.S. Energy Transition on Display in Iowa FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Jeff Turrentine for the Natural Resources Defense Council:Whenever you encounter someone yammering on and on about the mechanical infeasibility or economic unviability of transitioning to a renewable energy economy, it’s fun to tell him about what’s happening in the Hawkeye State. Because without a doubt, Iowa is giving the lie to the cynic’s take on renewables—by showing the country that investing in wind yields multiple dividends: new jobs, cheaper energy prices, and stimulated economies, not to mention cleaner air and a smaller carbon footprint.As the longest-serving governor in American history, Republican Terry Branstad—who has been Iowa’s governor for nearly 20 years, though not consecutively—has been one of wind’s fiercest proponents since the early 1980s. In fact, it was none other than Branstad himself who signed the state’s pioneering RPS back in 1983, during the very first of his six terms. That standard directed Iowa utilities to incorporate renewables into the state’s energy mix to the tune of at least 105 megawatts of capacity.It was, at the time, an appropriately modest goal. But it would become the sturdy foundation for a long-term commitment to wind energy, one that now serves as a model for others. While no state in the country even comes close, at the moment, to matching Iowa’s wind-power yields, a number of its windswept neighbors—including Kansas, Oklahoma, and North and South Dakota—have taken inspiration from Iowa. Each of them now generates more than 10 percent of its electricity from wind.What’s so significant about that particular list of states? Lots. For one thing, all of them are dominated politically by Republicans—and conservative Republicans, at that. A number of them also have entrenched oil and gas industries that wield disproportionate power within their business and government sectors. None of them, at first glance, would seem to be the kind of state where you’d find the political establishment trumpeting the virtues of clean, renewable wind energy, and drawing attention—intentionally or not—to the many advantages it holds over coal, oil, and even natural gas.Nevertheless, that’s exactly what’s happening. In Iowa, the state’s massive investment in wind has led directly to lower energy prices; one recent report estimates that it will end up saving Iowans $3.68 billion on their electricity bills by the middle of this century. On top of that, more than 7,000 people in the state are currently employed in the manufacture and maintenance of wind infrastructure. And what’s more, most of these turbine farms are located on privately owned farmland, the long-term leases on which provide a steady extra income for farmers in this agriculture-heavy state.Most auspicious of all, Iowa provides ample evidence that large-scale investment in renewables actually attracts outside investment in those states that take it seriously—and do it right. Recently, companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have injected more than $12 billion into Iowa’s economy, mainly through the massive expansion of their data centers there. Why would the tech titans of Seattle and Silicon Valley be drawn to a place best known for its rolling fields of corn and soy? Because renewable energy, in addition to being clean energy, is cheap energy—and the computer servers at the heart of our digital culture require an insane amount of it just to keep the modern world running.When the governors and legislators of neighboring states look at Iowa, they can’t help but think to themselves: Hey, the same wind that blows so hard and steadily across Iowa’s wide-open plains blows across my wide-open plains, too. How do we get in on that action?The answer, of course, is investment. Because Iowa was such an early adopter, it’s reaping the lion’s share of wind’s significant rewards at the moment. But the great thing about wind—and the great thing about all renewables, for that matter—is that it’s never too late to get on board. Terry Branstad, conservative Republican and vocal champion of wind energy, would be among the the very first to tell you that.Full item: Guess Which State Towers Over All the Others on Wind Energy?
Vietnam, Over-Reliant on Imported Coal, Is Being Hammered by High Prices FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享VietnamBreakingNews.com:Steep increases in global coal prices are forcing Vietnam’s coal-fired power plants deeper and deeper into the red as they struggle to minimize losses caused by cost overruns worth billions of U.S. dollars.Coal prices have steadily risen since early 2016, adding an addition US$1.27 billion in costs for importing coal to Vietnam, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.Australian Newcastle coal, an important source for Vietnam’s coal needs, has more than doubled to reach an average of $100 per metric ton since the beginning of 2016.Prices for Newcastle coal hit a 2017-high of $103.5 per ton this year, driven primarily by Asian demand, according to Reuters.The sharp increases are having a crippling effect on Vietnam’s power industry, whose demand for imported coal continues to increase at gradual rates.Last year the Southeast Asian country imported 12 million metric tons of coal, an enormous 131 percent increase from 5.2 million metric tons the year before.In 2017 Vietnam spent nearly $1.2 billion importing 12 million metric tons of coal from Jan-Oct, according to customs data. In October alone, coal imports hit 1.2 million tons, worth $161 million, a 68 percent increase from October 2016.The International Energy Agency expects that Vietnam will be importing 35 million metric tons of coal annually by 2021. If the current prices remain steady, the country is looking at a $3.5 billion annual price tag for coal.Tim Buckley, IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies, says high coal prices result in price risks and trade deficits for Vietnam.Vietnam should use the current situation as a warning signal to prioritize diversifying the resources it uses for power generation and begin to place a heavier emphasis on renewable energy.Buckley recommended that Vietnam take caution in investments and development projects involving coal-fired power plants.IEEFA attributed the skyrocketing coal prices to a policy shift in China, which seeks to support its domestic coal mining coal companies. China is also switching to clean energy and expects to increase its solar power supply by 50 gigawatts this year alone.More: Rising coal prices cost Vietnam billions
Red State City Makes 100% Renewables Pledge FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:A city in central Oklahoma has made an environmental resolution to transition to 100 percent renewable energy in its buildings by 2035. The Tuesday resolution makes Norman the first city in Oklahoma to make such a commitment to renewables, the Norman Transcript reported.The city will tap into sources like wind and solar for electricity. The resolution also calls for 100 percent clean energy commitment across the board by 2050, including heating and transportation.“We’ve already been taking baby steps toward this, and I think this is the public commitment to take us the rest of the way,” said Councilwoman Breea Clark. “We’re getting noticed for our efforts; now it’s time to follow through.”Norman officials are still determining how the city will reach its energy goals. The city is still negotiating a long-term franchise agreement with Oklahoma Gas and Electric, but the resolution has received broad community support.More: City in Oklahoma Commits to Clean 100 Percent Energy
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Scottish renewable electricity generation reached record levels in the country’s first quarter, with 8,877GWh of electricity being generated, enough to power approximately 88 per cent of the country’s households for a year. The UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released this week showed that renewable generation in Scotland for the first quarter was up 17 per cent on the same quarter of 2018.Similarly, Scotland’s renewable electricity capacity continues to grow, rising from 10.4GW in March of 2018 to 11.3GW in March of 2019. Further, Scotland’s net electricity exports are at their highest levels since the fourth quarter of 2017, with a net 4,543 GWh exported – equivalent to the electricity needed to power over 1.1 million households for a year.“These figures show Scotland’s renewable energy sector continues to go from strength to strength,” said Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse. “Last year, we were able to meet the equivalent of almost 74% of our electricity demand from renewable sources, and the first quarter in 2019 shows that positive trend continues,” he said.“We are seeing the growing importance of offshore wind, with capacity and generation both continuing to rise – with further projects under construction. I am delighted that installed capacity grew by 9.1% to reach a record 11.3 GW by March this year.More: Scottish renewable electricity hits record levels Scottish renewable energy generation hits record high in 1st quarter of 2019
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New Straits Times:Tesco Stores (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and NE Suria Satu Sdn Bhd (NESS) have entered into the largest long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for solar energy in Malaysia.NESS is a collaboration between Petronas through its New Energy business unit and NEFIN Group, a regional bespoke solar developer and asset management group.In a joint statement today, Tesco Malaysia and NESS said the first phase of the PPA would see the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the rooftop spaces of 15 Tesco stores nationwide.The PPA will run for 20 years until 2040.“Once the installation is completed in October 2020, the solar PV panels will collectively generate about 18 gigawatt hours (GWh) of clean energy per year, thus reducing approximately 13,624 tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The power generated from the solar PV panels can also light up as many as 104 Olympic-sized stadiums simultaneously or 804,905 three-bedroom homes for an entire year,” they said.Tesco Malaysia chief executive officer Paul Ritchie said the installation of the solar PV panels in 15 out of 62 of its stores was the first phase in Tesco’s renewable energy push. Eventually, Ritchie said it would be able to generate clean, renewable energy at most of its stores and in the process, reduce carbon emissions.[Azanis Shahila Aman]More: Tesco seals largest solar power deal in Malaysia Tesco signs largest solar power purchase agreement in Malaysia
Photo: Luke Hopkins Surf’s up at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in N.C. Wet at the Dries: Bryan Kirk gets creative on the put-in waves of the New River Dries, WV. Photo: Shane Groves Wet at the Dries: Bryan Kirk gets creative on the put-in waves of the New River Dries, WV. Photo: Shane GrovesEd Montgomery has paddled all over the country, but the Tennessee native says boating in the Southern Appalachians is as good as it gets.“The water is just so condensed here in the Southern Appalachians. There are a lot more options for boaters in a relatively small region,” says Montgomery, who’s been a member of the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoe Club for 28 years.Choosing a favorite among those rivers can be tough. But that’s exactly what we asked them to do. We polled some of the South’s most experienced boaters, from world-class pros to local gurus, to pick their personal favorite rivers. Here are their selections.Favorite Beginner WhitewaterPotomac River, MD —Tom McEwan, long-time boater credited with the first descent of the Great Falls on the Potomac and founder of Liquid Adventures Kayak SchoolThe Potomac is a river with many different reputations. It’s a hair-boater’s delight with the massive Great Falls, an intermediate boater’s in-town blast with stretches of class III water, and a beginner boater’s dream, with a progression of water ideal for learning the ins and outs of river running. The diverse nature of water on this single river in a relatively short expanse is exactly why Tom McEwan based his kayak school on its banks.“You get the whole spectrum of boating on this one river. There’s something for every level of boater, particularly beginners looking to progress from their first time sitting in a boat to running class I-II comfortably.”If it’s your first time in a boat, you can paddle the flat C&O Canal next to the Potomac, then move to the 3.5-miles of class I riffles that occupy the water between Lock 10 and Sycamore Island. When you’re ready for your first taste of real whitewater, the Violet’s Lock run is waiting.Beginner River Cred: The Potomac could be the most popular place to learn how to kayak in the South, period. The myriad of canoe clubs and pay-to-learn kayak schools that occupy the greater D.C. area lean on this stretch of the river to teach a boater their first strokes. On any given weekend, dozens of newbie boaters flock to the gentle waters around Anglers Inn. While the “crowded” water can be frustrating for experienced boaters, it’s reassuring for beginners to know they’re not in it alone.Rapids: From Violet’s Lock downriver, expect Class I-II rock gardens and ledges, ideal for practicing key river running moves like catching eddies. The most notable rapid is the class II Surfer’s Hole, a fun hydraulic that invites surfing from all boaters, regardless of skill level. You’re actually paddling a portion of the failed George Washington Canal through this stretch, which has been reclaimed by the river.Logistics: For solid beginner whitewater, put in at the picnic area for Violet’s Lock, a low-water dam you can paddle across and play on, and head downstream for 1.5 miles of class I-II rock gardens and rapids. You can combine this run with a flatwater paddle on the adjacent C&O Canal in the opposite direction for a 4-mile loop paddle with no shuttle.Tuckasegee Gorge, NC —Anna Levesque, former freestyle world champ and founder of Girls at Play, an organization that provides instruction and guided trips for womenIt’s easy to overlook the Tuckasegee River as a paddling destination. Just pass through this section of Western North Carolina and you’d see a river banked by flea markets and gas stations along a four lane highway, but just upstream of this well-traveled stretch of water is the Tuckasegee Gorge, a five-mile run of mellow class I-II water that’s ideal for boaters just getting their sea legs.“The gorge is perfect for true beginners, but it’s completely underrated,” says Anna Levesque, the founder of Girls at Play who uses the Tuck as a teaching destination for her clients. “There are tons of spots for eddy turns, peel outs, ferries—the kinds of river-running skills beginners need to work on in a slower moving river.” Even better? The water is warm, typically in the high 60s, which can make all the difference in the world for a first-time boater.Beginner River Cred: The Tuck Gorge was made for learning how to kayak. The section between access points is relatively short (five miles) so you don’t have to constantly worry about moving downriver to make the take out. You can take your time and work on the quintessential skills at your own pace. There are beaches where you can pull over and practice rolling. Wave trains are common and the safest lines through rough water are usually easy to discern. Between any notable rapids, you’ll have the opportunity to catch eddies and gather your senses.Rapids: The five-mile run between Dillsboro and Tuck Outfitters is full of mellow class I and a handful of named class II rapids, but forget the names. “People get freaked out when they hear the names of some rapids,” Levesque says. “If you don’t tell them the rapid is named ‘Hell Hole’ or ‘Frankenstein,’ they tend to focus more on what they have to do to navigate the water.”Logistics: Put in at the public access point in Dillsboro near the train station and arrange for a shuttle, gear, or guide with the Dillsboro River Company, across the street from the put in.Girls at Play: Watch video of Anna Levesque discuss kayaking for women and beginners. 1 2 3 4 5 6 North and South: Rick Koller paddles an open canoe near the North River, a tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah.
Mile 60 of the Freedom Park 24 Hour Race.It happens in every race – sometimes even in training runs. The point of reckoning, that moment when energy and motivation wane and I begin to question my reasons for continuing. Sometimes it occurs three hours into a twenty-four hour event, and sometimes at mile two in a 5km. It doesn’t seem to matter how far I’ve run or how many miles I have yet to travel – whatever the distance I have to cover, it just feels too far.I’ve been running and racing for over three quarters of my life, and until recently, I was surprised every time this feeling struck. I’d be running along, feeling pretty confident and psyched to test my fitness level, when all of a sudden the bottom would fall out. Maybe it would occur at the base of a huge hill, or possibly as I was being passed by a competitor. Suddenly, my legs would fill with lactic acid and my mind with self-doubt.It’s at that point that the reckoning begins. In the accounting world, this is when the figures are totaled — the income and the outgo are stated in dollars and at the bottom line we see the result, the profit or loss. In biblical terms, this is the day the fates of individuals are determined according to the good and evil acts of their lives.In the runner’s mind, the point of reckoning occurs at that moment when we begin to total up all of the work we have put into our training and add it to the feeling of accomplishment we will have once the race is over. On the other side of the balance sheet are our immediate discomfort – sometimes even pain – and the mental and physical strength that it will take to continue. Our minds go back and forth between the two options – call it a day or stick it out – while every fiber of our being screams to STOP NOW! Pain is the feeling of weakness leaving your body? I’m not sure…sometimes pain is just pain.I try to live my life by the directive to “be here now”, but sometimes in a race this can be a challenge. The only way I can find the fortitude to continue is by focusing on the past – how much work I’ve put into this, how much this goal means to me – and the future – how great it will feel when I finish, how disappointed I’ll be if I allow myself to quit. Usually this works and I’m able to push myself to persevere, and I’m always glad afterwards. The other thing that I’ve only recently learned is to expect this point of reckoning to arrive at some point in every event. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not unique to me, or a sign of a bad race. In fact, sometimes it can be an opportunity for learning how deep I can dig when I need to. I haven’t quite come to the point of embracing the reckoning, but at least I’m not afraid of it any more.
After being sidelined by injury, I finally rode my bike for the first time in months. As expected, there was a bit of chafing after my first ride, and I began searching for the best chamois cream for my saddle-sore thighs. I did some deeper digging into these creams and realized that a lot of them had all sorts of scary ingredients—parabens and preservatives and silicone that I didn’t necessarily want to be smearing all over my crotch.Then I stumbled upon a small regional company—Oasis Sport—out of the Western North Carolina Mountains who makes all-natural chamois bars. Their chamois butter bars provide better glide and protection than any other rub I’ve used. It’s a mix of bees wax, shea butter, coconut oil—along with tea tree oil and neem oil for their antibacterial and antifungal properties. Road Warrior worked best for me, but it contains menthol, so it’s a product for men only (menthol should not be used near mucus membranes). But their Ridge Ride chamois butter glide is an option for the ladies.Both worked well on hikes, too. It glides on like deodorant and protects any place where friction occurs—where the pack sits on hips or shoulders, or even between your legs or under your arms on long treks.I was able to go farther and faster. For $20, it’s worth every penny, providing rides, runs, and hikes that were silky smooth. It also felt good to be supporting an all-natural product made right here in the Blue Ridge.Find out more at oasissport.net.–Jeremy McNamara
If you’re like me, you are constantly bombarded with e-petitions and other advocacy requests. Often, they seem far away or futile, and I rarely see their results.I’ve attended my share of boring forest planning meetings, too, and rarely leave with much optimism.But a new proposal could protect the forests in your backyard forever. It’s a game-changer, and your support could truly make a lasting impact.A coalition of over 30 outdoor recreation and environmental groups have united behind a plan to recommend two national recreation areas in Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest: the 115,000-acre Pisgah National Recreation Area and the 57,000-acre Grandfather National Recreation Area. These areas would permanently protect the recreation opportunities in these forests and prohibit commercial logging, fracking, mining, and other extractive uses (some logging for wildlife habitat and restoration may still be permitted in these areas). The proposal would also encourage the Forest Service to recommend over 109,000 additional acres for wilderness across the Pisgah-Nantahala Forest.Mountain bikers, equestrians, wilderness advocates, hikers, anglers, climbers, paddlers, and environmental groups have all endorsed the plan. Often these groups are at odds over forest management, but they all have worked together to craft this plan. Supporters include IMBA, Pisgah Area SORBA, Nantahala Area SORBA, The Wilderness Society, Carolina Climbers Coalition, Trout Unlimited, American Alpine Club, Northwest NC Mountain Bike Alliance, American Whitewater, Wild South, Friends of Big Ivy, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, MountainTrue, Access Fund, Outdoor Alliance, and the Nantahala Hiking Club. Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine proudly supports the plan, too.It’s the most ambitious, far-reaching, and widely supported plan ever developed for the Pisgah-Nantahala, and it comes at just the right time. The Forest Service has recently included over 364,000 acres of the forest in its wilderness inventory and will consider 53 waterways for Wild and Scenic River status, which would forever protect water quality and habitat along our most beloved trout streams and whitewater creeks.This is our best chance—and probably our only chance—to permanently protect our forests.SHOW YOUR SUPPORT for the National Recreation Areas proposal. Email comments to the Forest Service by December 15 to NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us. View maps and learn more about the national recreation area plans at ncmountaintreasures.org
One of the easiest and most effective ways of enhancing the performance of your bike and prolonging its life on the road or trail is a regular, thorough cleaning. Failing to do so can result in poor shifting, a rusty chain, mud caked cassettes, and a whole host of other issues.But it’s a little more difficult than simply pulling out the garden and hose and giving the old steed a good spray. Whether it’s making sure that your chain is thoroughly degreased and subsequently re-lubricated or simply dropping the back wheel in order to achieve complete cleanliness of your entire drivetrain, there’s a little bit of technical know-how involved in a successful bike cleaning.Luckily, the good folks are Park Tool are here to help. As a matter of fact, I recently stumbled upon loads of great video content on bike maintenance on the Park Tool website that I would highly recommend checking out. But before you do that, check out this short video on bike cleaning and never let your ride become a mud receptacle again.A Few Essential Tools for a Basic Bike Cleaning Related: