FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Katherine Tweed for GreenTech Media:Solar customers in Texas were offered the lowest average cost on a per-watt basis compared to other regions in the U.S., according to new data from EnergySage, a comparison-shopping website for solar systems.The average gross cost of a solar energy system was $3.21 per watt, significantly lower than the national average of $3.69 per watt, according to EnergySage’s second Solar Marketplace Intel Report . In the Southwest region, including Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, three-quarters of the quotes were below $3.50 per watt.Despite the low cost of solar in the state, the nine-year payback period in Texas is still slightly higher than the national average of just over eight years, according to EnergySage.On the utility-scale side of the solar market, Texas has seen the cheapest solar bid solicitations to date, yet the distributed solar market in Texas remains stunted due to low natural-gas prices and the lack of net metering in the deregulated market structure.Many of the other trends in the report, which covers all of 2015, were similar to those documented in the previous edition of the biannual report. Solar prices continue to decline, and there is a shift toward owning systems rather than leasing.The trend of owning systems is more pronounced with EnergySage shoppers than it is with customers who choose SolarCity, the leading residential solar installer, which is not a participant in the EnergySage platform.More than 90 percent of EnergySage customers choose to own their own systems, though customer-owned systems constitute less than 40 percent of the national market when all installers are included. SolarCity, however, is in the midst of designing a new,simplified loan product that should push the national average of customer-owned systems higher.Full article: Texas Solar Shoppers Seeing Lowest Prices in the US Where are the Nation’s Lowest Solar Prices? The Lone Star State
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:With the administration of President Donald Trump moving to bail out coal plants and slap tariffs on solar imports, the renewable-energy industry is turning to a secret weapon for help: conservatives who actually support clean energy.The wind and solar industry sponsored a conservative conference on clean energy in Washington, hoping to tailor their message for the Trump administration. Job creation, traditional values and American energy independence replaced worries about climate change and global warming. “This is an a classic example of being able to take the the abundance that God has blessed my state and our country with and using it more efficiently,” Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman told the Conservative Clean Energy Summit Thursday. “The Bible tells us that part of our responsibility is and continues to be good stewards of the great, green Earth.”He was addressing the crowd of roughly 300 who stood and placed their hands on their hearts as the Star Spangled Banner was sung, which was followed by a live rendition of “Proud to be an American.” Among the conference organizers was the Christian Coalition, the grass roots group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson in 1989.“When I think about energy or when I think about anything, I’m a conservative Republican and I want to make sure that it’s pro-life, that it’s pro family and that it’s pro-America,” said Tyler Duvelius, the Ohio state director of the Christian Coalition.The conference was sponsored in part by the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association, two groups that worked closely with the Obama administration to advance climate regulations. Trump has moved to end those rules.And that’s not all. The Department of Energy has proposed reworking electricity markets, giving coal and nuclear plants a premium at the expense of solar, wind and gas plants. And the International Trade Commission is slated to hand Trump an opportunity to slap trade tariffs on imported solar panels, which the industry warns could cripple the domestic installation and component manufacturing industry.“They want tariffs, they want to double the price of solar panels, they want to take away choice for consumers across this country,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, the chief executive officer of the solar industry group.Tom Kiernan, the head of the wind group, noted in his remarks that the industry is asking Congress not to end its key tax credit early as lawmakers work on a broad rewrite of the nation’s tax code.“The wind industry is revitalizing farming and ranching communities,” Kiernan said, adding that it is also hiring veterans and helping improve national security. “The whole concept of ‘Made in America,’ that is very much in alignment with the wind industry.”More: Embattled Solar, Wind Industries Turn to Conservatives for Help Renewable-Energy Industry Sees Support on Both Sides of Partisan Divide
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Microgrid Knowledge:Boston-based NEC Energy Solutions (NEC) has completed installation of Europe’s largest battery system, 48-MW of energy storage that will provide reactive power in Germany to stabilize the transmission grid.NEC developed the project in Jardelund for German company EnspireME, a joint venture between Japan’s Mitsubishi and Eneco, a Netherlands-based renewable energy company. With 50 MWh of capacity, the system uses 10,000 lithium-ion battery modules, enough to store power for about 5,300 German households for 24 hours.The battery system can play multiple roles to strengthen the grid. It will earn revenue by serving the primary reserve market. This opportunity exists because Europe’s transmission system operators must secure a certain number of capacity reserves to prepare for sudden power loss or an extensive blackout.EnspireME will sell storage capacity to the German electricity market through weekly common auctions where European grid operators purchase reserve capacity to guarantee a 50 hertz frequency on the grid.The energy storage system can also take over the role of primary reserve provider and become a more sustainable alternative to coal and gas-fired plants. In addition, the project can serve local wind farms by allowing them to store excess electricity generated during periods when they cannot sell their output into markets because of excess supply.More: NEC installs Europe’s largest battery system NEC Energy installs Europe’s largest battery storage system
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):As part of NextEra Energy Inc.’s continued embrace of disruption in the utility sector, executives during the company’s investor day laid out a bullish view on pricing and demand for renewable power paired with storage through 2022.The Florida-headquartered company estimates it will install between 20,000MW and 23,000MW of wind capacity and 9,000MW and 13,000MW of solar capacity by 2022, including assets owned and operated by competitive generation division NextEra Energy Resources LLC. Executives expect NextEra will have up to 2,000MW of storage deployed by then as well.“There is enormous change coming in this industry. I don’t think the industry really has come to grips with it,” NextEra Energy Chairman, President and CEO Jim Robo said June 20. “And we’re at the leading edge, and it is going to help drive tremendous growth to this company over the next decade.”According to Robo, the rapid growth of wind and solar in the market has been among the industry’s biggest game-changers, and one that almost everyone failed to recognize early on. While renewable tax credits might be extended, NextEra executives are betting wind and solar plus storage will be cheaper than existing coal and most existing nuclear after the early 2020s, when current federal subsidies are gone.NextEra’s decarbonization strategy includes natural gas pipelines and gas-fired plants, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC in which the company owns a stake, and Florida Power & Light Co.’s FPL Dania Beach Clean Energy Center. NextEra plans to deploy between $6.3 billion and $6.9 billion for gas pipelines by 2022. Robo said the opposition to gas is surprising, because gas pipelines have enabled coal plant shutdowns and large emission reductions.However, the company takes a more bearish view on gas-fired peakers; NextEra Energy Resources President and CFO John Ketchum said management sees peakers being “cannibalized” by renewables, especially as battery storage’s manufacturing becomes more efficient and costs decline.More ($): NextEra sees batteries displacing gas-fired peakers, otherwise bullish on gas NextEra: Gas-fired peaker plants cannot compete with new battery storage resources
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNBC:Energy powerhouse Equinor has formed a consortium with the Korea National Oil Corporation and Korea East-West Power to develop a floating offshore wind project.In an announcement Thursday, Equinor said the consortium would undertake a feasibility study for the 200-megawatt project, which would be located off the coast of Ulsan, South Korea. Pending the results of that study, construction of a floating offshore wind farm will commence in 2022, with the possibility of “power production start-up” taking place in 2024.Stephen Bull, senior vice president for the wind and low carbon cluster of New Energy Solutions at Equinor, said the company was “very pleased to be member of the partnership involved in realizing the first floating offshore wind farm in Asia.”Bull added that if the project was successfully realized, it would be the world’s biggest floating wind farm.Equinor already operates Hywind Scotland, the world’s “first full-scale commercial floating offshore wind farm.” Located off the coast of Scotland, the facility has a capacity of 30-megawatts and started production in 2017.More: South Korea could soon be home to the world’s biggest floating offshore wind farm Equinor may build the world’s largest floating offshore wind project in South Korea
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Devex:The board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation has a stark decision to make at its final meeting before officially transitioning to the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. Two major fracking projects in Argentina, totalling $450 million in U.S. taxpayer financing, will be up for consideration.OPIC’s board could reject these proposals and ride off into the sunset as a global leader in clean energy. Or, it could recklessly close its eyes to the climate crisis and approve the projects, leaving the agency with a tarnished environmental legacy and a long shadow cast over DFC.It is not surprising that the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has urged Argentina to reconsider the exploitation of Vaca Muerta because of its social and environmental impacts.Moreover, plans to frack Vaca Muerta are on very shaky financial ground. Because of the high risk, global oil and gas companies are relying on unsustainable government subsidies to exploit fossil fuels in a country plagued by macroeconomic instability and incredible debt.According to Tom Sanzillo, finance director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and co-author of a highly critical 2019 report, “The Vaca Muerta extraction plan promises subsidies that are unaffordable, and that relies on a financially weak Argentine business team…Over the last six years, foreign investors have signed agreements with the biggest names in the oil and gas business, but progress is slow, commitments are thin and future plans unrealistic.”More: Opinion: The US government should steer clear of Argentina’s ‘Dead Cow’ Commentary: Don’t finance Argentina’s ‘Dead Cow’ fracking
Image courtesy of Triple Crown Bouldering SeriesChase the sun during this cold snap and head down South to Steele, Alabama for the Horse Pens 40 Bouldering Competition, the third installment in the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. Saturday, November 22, will feature one of the most popular bouldering competitions nationwide at Horse Pens 40, the area’s top bouldering field and a favorite of Southeastern climbers.The annual Triple Crown Bouldering Series typically occurs in three parts – first at Hound Ears in Boone, North Carolina; and second at Little Rock City, or Stone Fort, in Chattanooga, Tennessee; before hitting Steele for the final leg of the competition. This year, the event has tacked on a fourth segment at Rumbling Bald in North Carolina to finish out the series.Horse Pens 40, now the penultimate piece of the Triple (Quadruple) Crown, begins at 9 AM Saturday morning with pre-registration and last-minute sign ups available on both the evening before and the morning of. Registered participants and spectators will meet at the Horse Pens 40 Campsite, just seconds from the boulders! Climbers have until 4 PM to climb and document their ten best problems, each assigned a particular point value based on difficulty. Finally, end the day surrounded by your fellow climbers with warm food, free beer, and tons of swag at the evening Awards Ceremony.Image courtesy of Triple Crown Bouldering SeriesAll boulder problems in the area are graded on the V scale, which on a worldwide scale currently ranges from V0 to V16. Climbers fall into categories based on gender and climbing grade: “Novice” includes men and women climbing V0 to V2, “Intermediate” looks to men from V3 to V5 and women from V3 to V4, “Advanced” holds men from V6 to V8 and women from V5 to V6, and the elite “Open” category applies to men on V9 or higher and women on V7 or higher. The top three climbers in each category win some seriously cool prizes, and all other competitors can walk away with plenty of equally solid door prizes, raffle items, and giveaways.Climbers can compete at Horse Pens 40 for $50, and spectators can attend for $20. Registration remains open until the event is full, up to the very morning of the competition! Each leg of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series serves to bring top-notch climbing opportunities and a healthy competitive atmosphere to boulderers of all levels, pure beginners and hard experts alike. The day may leave your muscles tired, your fingertips raw, and your stomach growling… but all these things will make your time on the rock even more fulfilling! Get psyched on climbing, for the first time or the millionth, at the Horse Pens 40 Bouldering Competition.
Vintage soul is on the rebound. Of that, there can be no denying.St. Paul & The Broken Bones. Anderson East. Leon Bridges. All of these gents are making waves and turning heads with songs and sounds that originated in the 1950s and 1960s, inspired by the likes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Sam Cooke.Not to be outdone, singer/songwriter Charlie Faye, of Austin, Texas, is elbowing her way up to the table, offering up a most pleasant reminder that girl groups won’t be denied a seat at the vintage soul revival.Charlie Faye & The Fayettes – Charlie, joined by fellow singers BettySoo and Akina Adderly – draw inspiration from groups like The Shirelles, The Ronettes, and The Supremes, female powerhouse groups all that topped the charts throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s and achieved worldwide acclaim.Earlier this month, Charlie Faye & The Fayettes released their eponymous debut record, a collection of songs that could easily serve as your singalong dance party soundtrack of the summer.I recently caught up with Charlie Faye while she was on her way to New York to chat vintage soul, singing with the girls in her band, and vintage fashion.BRO – Vintage soul is in the midst of a comeback. What drew you to this particular sound?CF – I’ve always loved 60s soul and the girl groups of the 60s. I’ve been listening to that stuff since I was a kid. And in the past few years, I’ve just gotten deeper into the Stax catalog. After my last solo record, it seemed like everything I was writing sounded kind of like those simple old soul songs. So I made a conscious decision to make a whole record that felt like that.BRO – Can you describe that moment when you first sang with BettySoo and Akina and you knew you were on to something good?CF – Yes! BettySoo and I have been singing together for years, so as soon as I had the idea to do a girl group, she was on board. Then, just as we were looking for a third girl for the band, Akina sent me a message on Facebook, so we invited her over to the house for the three of us to try singing together. And she was just amazing. Also, BettySoo and Akina have a really similar way of working out parts. They’re both super pro. I think the three of us together have something pretty special. Plus, we’re all the same height, which is hard to come by when you’re 5’1″.BRO – We are featuring “Eastside” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?CF – “Eastside” is a song I had been wanting to write for a long time. I got the idea for the song when I realized, for some reason, that it’s always the east side of town that starts off as the more run down side of town, and then it becomes the super hip side of town. Why is that? East Austin. East Nashville. The east side of L.A., the East Village and Lower East Side of NYC. So I was carrying this idea around for a few years. I brought it into a writing session with Eric Holden and Dave Raven and they came up with the rhythmic and melodic backbone for the song, which in turn inspired me to finish the lyrics.BRO – One record you would recommend that I snag that really defines your love of this sound?CF – Oh, that’s tough. I would recommend getting the Stax box set – The Complete Stax/Volt Singles. You could dive into that thing and not come out for a year.BRO – 60s fashion . . . “Oh, yes!” or “Goodness, no!!”CF – Well, if you’ve seen our photos you already know my answer to this one. Hell yes!!The tour schedule for Charlie Faye & The Fayettes is a bit quiet right now, but that should be changing soon once this new record catches fire. For more information on the band, when they might be hitting the road and a stage near you, or how you can get your hands on the new record, please direct your browser to their website.Also, be sure to check out “Eastside” from Charlie Faye & The Fayettes on this month’s Trail Mix.
Paddlers hailing from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic represented the USA in a big way at this year’s International Canoe Freestyle World Championship in San Juan, Argentina.In all, 13 members of Team USA, over half the team, came from states within the Blue Ridge Outdoors coverage area, and with so many top notch white water destinations at our finger tips, it’s easy to see why.That includes Tennessee native Eric Jackson, founder of event sponsor Jackson Kayak, and his children Dane and Emily, Bennet Smith and Hunter Katich of Alabama, Western Carolina University grad Matt Anger, Anna Bruno (originally fromm Pennsylvania), Rowan Stuart of North Carolina, Olivia McGinnis and Tad Dennis of Georgia, Jordan Poffenberger of Virginia, Clay Wright of Tennessee, and Seth Chapelle of Maryland.The event, which wrapped up on Saturday December 2, saw Team USA place second overall with a total of six metals: 2 gold, 2 silver and two bronze. Great Britain took the overall title with seven metals, while France took third with a total of four.23-year-old Dane Jackson took first in the canoe men’s finals, breaking the record for the highest score in a single run in process, while Seth Chapelle and Jordan Poffenberger took third and fourth respectively.Olivia McGinnis of Georgia took third overall in the women’s junior kayak finals.Dane Jackson also earned a second place in the men’s kayak finals, while 50-year-old Clay Wright of Tennessee took first place in in the men’s squirt finals.Anna Bruno came away with third overall in the women’s squirt finals.All in all, it was a terrific showing for Team USA and the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions in particular. For a complete list of results, click here!
By Dialogo January 01, 2012 Source: Strategic Forecasting Inc. (STRATFOR) Counterfeit passport created by a vendor Passport with altered photo (photo-subbed passport) Blank passport stolen and filled in Genuine passport intentionally issued in a false identity by a government Genuine passport issued based on fraudulent identification documents (birth certificate, driver’s license, etc.) In addition to making counterfeiting tougher, the passport also speeds up the process of verification for international arrivals and departures at airports. Paraguay Paraguay has increased its measures to strengthen the national identification systems and overcome instances of corruption. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign aid agency, contributed to the country’s efforts in 2009 by funding the New Identification System (NIS), which added biometric information to national ID cards. Having secure national IDs is important because they are not only used in issuing passports; they are also valid documents for travel to other Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay). Paraguay also redesigned its IDs and passports according to International Civil Aviation Organization requirements, which the government described as tamper-proof documents. Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office Types of Passport Fraud Maps of Brazil on the back cover of the document that only appear when exposed to ultraviolet light. The RFID chip, which stores a photo, two fingerprints and a signature. A digital authentication certificate that allows officials to confirm that the information on the chip was recorded by an authorized government authority. Extended Access Control, which protects biometric information by only allowing those with knowledge of a special digital certificate to access the data on the RFID chip. Before the ID card system was brought up to international standards, the Paraguayan National Police was unable to file fingerprints electronically. The Millennium Challenge Corporation reported that the reform required an overhaul of the information technology infrastructure as well as comprehensive staff training in the collection of biometric data. Entries in the NIS database are now linked to biometric identifiers — fingerprint images — that are captured through live-scan technology; photographs and signatures are captured with digital cameras and electronic pads, and are automatically verified as they become part of the database, according to the foreign aid agency. The system reduces the risk of fraud by tracking all entries, so each transaction can be traced back to the staff member who logged in using a fingerprint scanner. The result is a reliable ID and passport system that reduces the threat of identity theft and improves document verification. Mexico Fraudulent travel documents are as important as weapons to a terrorist, and Interpol has described their use as “the biggest threat facing the world.” But through international cooperation, countries in the Americas are improving detection of fraudulent passports and other identification documents (IDs). Nations are sharing information through Interpol’s lost and stolen passport database and through databases pinpointing terror suspects. Countries such as Brazil are upgrading their travel documents with biometric indicators, making forgeries a thing of the past. A few countries have even begun to tackle government corruption – an important step, considering that the officials inspecting documents at ports of entry are the first line of defense in denying terrorists the freedom to travel and preventing the smuggling of humans, drugs, illicit cash and weapons. Brazil As a country that has traditionally played an important role in collective security efforts in the hemisphere, Brazil began issuing passports with biometric data stored on a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip in November 2010. The new passport meets the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard for machine-readable travel documents, as well as the guidelines of the trading bloc Mercosur. The country also added layers of security to its civil identity cards and birth, marriage and death certificates, making it harder to forge documents that can be used to obtain a passport. According to the Brazilian Federal Police, the new passport’s security features include: In January 2011, President Felipe Calderón signed an order requiring all Mexican citizens age 17 and younger to get a national identity card with biometric information embedded, including an iris scan. “It is a constitutional obligation to offer this identification card,” Interior Minister José Francisco Blake Mora said during the launch of the program in Tijuana. Once all children have been included in the database, a second phase will issue the new ID cards to Mexican adults, the minister of the interior said. A third phase will cover foreigners residing in Mexico. The new ID cards include a photo, a unique ID number, a hologram, iris scan data embedded in a bar code and fingerprint data. The government described the biometric IDs as a big step forward in preventing identity fraud, and the data collected is expected to help in cases of missing children. The idea of the database and accompanied information sharing is to make it difficult for criminals to operate within the country. In addition, Mexico has improved its Migratory Operation System, which keeps records on travelers who arrive at airports, with funding from the Merida Initiative security cooperation agreement with the U.S. Merida Initiative funding has also improved security along Mexico’s southern border, where document verification software and biometric equipment have been delivered to Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INAMI), according to the U.S. State Department. INAMI and the Office for the National Registration of the Populace have also worked alongside U.S. officials to integrate biometrics at border checkpoints. The Narcotics Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico has developed standard operating procedures for immigration officers enrolling and verifying biometric data. That has been the basis for a Central Biometric Database that aims to identify and match traveler biometric data to international databases of known and suspected terrorists and fugitives. United States Since the 9/11 Commission identified it as one of the most effective tools for fighting terrorism in 2004, curbing terrorist travel has become part of the U.S. national security strategy. To keep terrorists from entering the United States, the country provides security assistance to nations to modernize passport systems and improve detection of document fraud. For example, the State Department’s Terrorist Interdiction Program gives countries the tools to develop and use terrorist screening information. About 150 foreign ports of entry used this program in 2010, according to government statistics. However, a July 2011 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office said these programs don’t go far enough. “Some countries do not have their own database systems with terrorist screening information or access to other countries’ terrorist screening information to keep track of biographical and biometric information about individuals who are known or suspected terrorists,” the report reads. “Even when countries have terrorist screening information, they may not have reciprocal relationships to share such information or other travel-related information such as airline passenger lists with other countries, thereby limiting their ability to identify and prevent travel of known or suspected terrorists.” A Serious Problem Terrorists rely on forged travel documents to move around the world with ease to conduct surveillance, train for a mission or carry out an attack. That is why measures to prevent passport fraud are so critical, according to Ron Noble, the secretary-general of Interpol. “The No. 1 risk confronting airlines and countries around the world is the risk terrorists or other dangerous persons will carry a fraudulent identity document and move from one country to another.” Sources: L-1 Identity Solutions, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, infosurhoy.com, San Diego Union Tribune, Mexico’s El Universal Key Steps in Building Capacity to Prevent Terrorist Travel Share information about known and suspected terrorists through international databases. Address the use of fraudulent travel documents by increasing penalties and improving detection. Upgrade passport security by replacing easily counterfeited documents with ones that meet international standards and include biometric information. Combat corruption in passport issuance and immigration agencies.