Once Bullish, Now a Bear

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Lynda V. Mapes and Hal Bernton for the Seattle Times:Asian coal markets are so weak that two export terminals proposed for Washington once considered vital are now irrelevant, according to an industry analyst who typically has offered some of the industry’s most bullish forecasts.The Feb. 10 report was written by Andy Roberts, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, who less than three years ago was boosting the long-term prospects of the Gateway Project proposed at Cherry Point in Whatcom County and the Millennium bulk terminal in Longview, Cowlitz County.But rapid changes in coal’s fortunes show what a miscalculation the investment in the ports was, Roberts wrote.In addition to stiff opposition from tribal nations and community and conservation groups, the economic wind has fallen out of the projects’ sails. Asian demand has weakened to the point that coal from the Powder River Basin won’t be competitive in the market until well after 2020, Roberts wrote.Railroad carload traffic in coal is also through the floor, with no pickup in sight, according to statistics from the Association of American Railroads, in more evidence of the big coal fade.Meanwhile as Roberts reports, non-coal alternatives are gaining traction, supported by policy and regulation. “Building new Pacific Northwest coal ports, once seen as essential, is now viewed as nothing more than a risky long term bet,” Roberts wrote.For some, it’s a surprise to hear one of coal’s biggest bulls turned bear.“This is to me a shocking reversal,” said Clark Williams-Derry, senior researcher at the Sightline Institute, a Seattle think tank. “They have consistently been the coal industry’s darlings precisely because they are always so optimistic and so bullish on coal prices.”Cloud Peak, a western coal producer that has a stake in the Cherry Point project, has been cutting back shipments to Asia through an export terminal in British Columbia.The export markets have been so poor that Cloud Peak announced in October it would make undisclosed payments to get released for three years from contractual obligations to ship specified volumes of coal through the Canadian terminal.Markets in the U.S. also are receding amid new regulations in development on coal-fired power plant emissions, and the recent announcement by U.S. Dept. of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell of a moratorium on new federal coal-mining leases on public lands.Full article: With coal prices in steep slide, even once bullish analyst sees risky investment Once Bullish, Now a Bear
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Owner of Montana Coal Mine Says It’s Worth Nothing

first_imgOwner of Montana Coal Mine Says It’s Worth Nothing FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Matthew Brown for the Associated Press:A central Montana coal mine that’s seen layoffs, production cuts and permitting troubles faces more uncertainty after one of its co-owners reported taking a $362 million writedown on the 240-worker operation.Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy in 2015 reduced to zero the value of its stake in Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain Mine, according to a transcript of a company conference call with analysts.FirstEnergy cited depressed coal markets, which have curbed domestic and international demand for the fuel. The company has a one-third share in the underground mine south of Roundup.Signal Peak spokesman Mike Dawson said Wednesday that FirstEnergy’s accounting move would not impact future mining operations. No additional layoffs or production cuts are planned, Dawson said.Yet it comes amid mounting troubles for the mine — a major economic force in Musselshell and Yellowstone counties — and the coal industry more broadly.More than 20 percent of Bull Mountain’s workers were laid off in December, when the company said it was scaling back production from about 8 million tons annually to 5.5 million tons.When the mine was developed in 2008, FirstEnergy had an agreement to buy 7.5 million tons of coal from Signal Peak annually. That was scaled back to 2 million tons in 2011, and eliminated outright last year, according to company filings with federal securities regulators.The mine has also seen a decline in shipments of coal to Asia, a once-promising export market.Despite the write-down reported by FirstEnergy, the company made money on the Montana mine since buying into the project at its inception for $150 million, said analyst Charles Fishman with Morningstar, a Chicago-based investment research firm. FirstEnergy sold just a portion of its stake in 2011, for $234 million.The write-down of its remaining share of the mine was primarily an accounting matter, not a change in direction for the mine or the company, Fishman said.“They’ve wanted to sell off their remaining interest (in Signal Peak) for some time,” he said. “I think the mistake they made was waiting for the market to get better and it didn’t. It got worse.”The drop-off in exports could force Signal Peak into trying to market more of the fuel in the U.S. But domestic markets also are in decline, said Tom Sanzillo with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an Ohio group that promotes sustainable energy.Whether and how long the mine remains open “depends on what they think they can eke out,” he said.Full article: Owner of Central Montana coal mine says it’s worth nothinglast_img read more

Funds in U.S. and China in $3.7 Billion Renewable Energy Deal, Biggest to Date

first_imgBloomberg News:Renewable-power is attracting more investor interest as governments throughout Asia seek alternatives to fossil fuels to meet rising energy demand and combat pollution. Equis Energy, which is developing one of the largest solar plants in Australia, has over 180 assets in operation, construction and development with capacity of more than 11 gigawatts, according to the statement.The size of the deal “may be a signal that scale is also important in the renewable-energy industry as traditional tariff structures and incentives are dismantled and costs need to be reduced to improve investment returns,” Tom O’Sullivan, founder of Tokyo-based energy consultant Mathyos, said by email.The acquisition is the biggest ever for the renewables industry, according to the companies and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Equis Energy “is a strong fit with GIP’s global renewable-investment strategy,” Adebayo Ogunlesi, GIP’s chairman and managing partner, said in the statement. Equis Energy is the largest independent renewable-energy power producer in the Asia Pacific, according to the statement.Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were financial advisers for Equis Energy, with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP acting as legal adviser. Clifford Chance LLP advised GIP, the companies said.Global Infrastructure Partners III fund is buying Equis Energy with investors including Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and CIC Capital Corp., it said in a separate statement.Equis Energy assets include:Solar: 2.4 GW of generation capacity; 4.3 GW under development.Wind: 2.3 GW of generation capacity; 2 GW under development.Hydroelectric: 0.3 GW of generation capacity.More: GIP to Buy Equis Energy in Record $5 Billion Renewable Deal Reuters:U.S. fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) has agreed to buy Equis Energy, Asia’s largest independent renewable energy firm, for $3.7 billion with partners including sovereign fund China Investment Corp, underscoring growing global interest in renewables investment.Singapore-headquartered Equis is the largest renewable energy independent power producer in Asia‐Pacific, with over 180 assets comprising solar, wind and hydro generation spread across countries including Australia, Japan, India and the Philippines.Equis’ assets have installed capacity of more than 11 gigawatts. A big chunk of the assets are based in Japan.“The transaction is the largest renewable energy generation acquisition in history and positions GIP as a dominant renewable energy developer in the key OECD growth markets of Australia and Japan, as well as across India and South-East Asia,” Equis Pte Ltd and GIP said in a statement on Wednesday.Moody’s Investors Service said in September that renewables would become a central focus of national energy policies as more countries shift to renewable procurement through competitive auctions.Reuters reported in July that Japanese trading firms, global pension funds, several companies and buyout firms were competing to buy Equis, at a time when many Asian governments are expanding the use of renewable power and its costs are falling.“Government policies are supportive and encouraging of renewables. But just as important and if not more so, is that the cost curve of both wind and solar has come down massively,” one person familiar with the Equis deal said on Wednesday.More: U.S. fund, CIC snap up Equis Energy for $3.7 billion in bet on renewables Funds in U.S. and China in $3.7 Billion Renewable Energy Deal, Biggest to Datecenter_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal:A group including a U.S.-based private-equity firm and China’s sovereign-wealth fund has agreed to acquire Equis Energy, which oversees one of Asia’s largest collections of independent renewable-energy assets, for $3.7 billion.Global Infrastructure Partners, or GIP, leads the consortium, whose members include China Investment Corp. unit CIC Capital Corp. and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, GIP said Wednesday.The planned acquisition will provide the group with access to many of the largest and fastest-growing renewable markets in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Thailand.Equis said that including assumed liabilities of $1.3 billion, the deal is valued at $5 billion.The deal is the largest to date in the global renewable-energy-generation sector, according to a joint statement by Equis and GIP.Equis takes investments from various global public and private pension funds and financial institutions to develop and manage its renewable-energy portfolio. It has more than 180 such assets, comprising capacity of 11,135 megawatts, across the Asia-Pacific region.More ($): U.S., China Funds Land Asian Renewable-Energy Giant Equislast_img read more

India Scraps Import Duty on Solar Modules

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:India has scrapped a duty on solar modules, making it easier to import the products after a sudden change in customs policy last year led to a logjam of shipments at Indian ports.Several consignments of solar modules, worth more than $150 million in total, were held up for more than three months at ports after Indian customs’ officials in August demanded that some of them be classified as “electric motors and generators” carrying a 7.5 percent import duty. Previously they were subject to no duty.The finance ministry reversed the policy last month, stating in a notice seen by Reuters that most solar modules should revert to their original classification and that no tax should be levied on them.Indian component makers have struggled to compete with Chinese companies such as Trina Solar and Yingli and have sought anti-dumping duties as well as long-term safeguards.But the logjam of shipments at ports posed a headache for solar power producers and threatened to delay Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan of nearly tripling the country’s total renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatt (GW) by 2022.The plan has spurred foreign investment in the sector, with Japan’s SoftBank and Goldman Sachs among others investing in solar projects in India.More: Relief For Indian Solar Producers As Government Reneges On Import Duty India Scraps Import Duty on Solar Moduleslast_img read more

Blockchain Pilot Seeks to Reduce Renewable Energy Curtailment Problems

first_imgBlockchain Pilot Seeks to Reduce Renewable Energy Curtailment Problems FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Centrica is hoping the blockchain could help rein in renewable energy curtailment that affects up to 10 percent of production in the U.K. It is planning a pilot to help prosumers buy and sell locally produced energy in a county where significant amounts go to waste.The British multinational utility last month announced a partnership with LO3 Energy “to explore how blockchain technology could revolutionize the way consumers buy and sell energy,” according to a press release. New York-based LO3, which received undisclosed funding from Centrica Innovations last October, will roll out its Exergy blockchain peer-to-peer energy trading platform, first tested in Brooklyn, across 100 homes and 100 businesses in Cornwall, Southwest England.The pilot is thought to be the largest blockchain energy trading initiative in the U.K. It is one of four projects that is part of a £19 million ($26 million) program called Local Energy Market. The program aims to see how flexible demand, generation and storage assets might help relieve grid congestion.Centrica is planning to invest £700 million into its distributed energy and power business between now and 2020. Mark Futyan, distributed power systems director at Centrica, said the business is interested in investigating decentralized generation and digital technologies that might help cut the cost of operations, for example through grid upgrade deferrals.On a national level, up to around 10 percent of renewable energy production is curtailed at a cost of £20 million a month, said Futyan. Recent research, meanwhile, indicates congestion management costs have risen 74 percent in the U.K. since 2010 and onshore wind curtailment is as high as 16 percent in Scotland.More: Centrica Looks To Blockchain To Help Cut Renewable Energy Curtailmentlast_img read more

China can significantly increase solar generation by cutting local air pollution—study

first_imgChina can significantly increase solar generation by cutting local air pollution—study FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:China’s efforts to reduce chronic air pollution could increase its ability to generate solar power by up to 13% by allowing more sunlight to reach the earth, according to a new study published on Tuesday.China’s so-called photovoltaic potential fell by an average of up to 15% between 1960 and 2015 as a result of pollution, climate researchers from Switzerland, the Netherlands and China said in a report published by the Nature Energy journal. Reverting back to 1960s radiation levels could increase power generation by 12% to 13%, the researchers said, boosting Beijing’s efforts to increase solar’s contribution to the national grid and bring down costs.China has been working to curb choking levels of pollution by cutting coal use, improving fuel standards and encouraging cleaner forms of industry and energy. Hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 fell by 42% in 74 major cities from 2013 to 2018.The country’s total installed solar capacity stood at 170 gigawatts at the end of 2018, about 9% of total generating capacity. Solar last year produced 177.5 terawatt-hours of electricity, about 2.5% of the total.China is keen to boost the profitability of solar firms in order to reduce the subsidies paid to renewable energy providers, with the rapid rise in new capacity creating a payment backlog expected to reach 60 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) by next year.The average price paid to solar producers has already been cut from more than 1 yuan/kWh in 2011 to around 0.3 yuan/kWh this year. Regulators said earlier this year that subsidies would be cut to zero by 2021 for onshore wind power generators, meaning they would sell power at the same price as traditional energy sources. Experts say solar could also reach “grid price parity” very soon.More: China’s war on pollution could boost solar power – studylast_img read more

Oregon utility picks renewables over new natural gas-fired generation

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:Portland General Electric wants to add an average 150 MW of renewables by 2023 along with energy efficiency and 4 MW energy storage.The utility on July 19 filed its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Oregon Public Utility Commission, noting that it has approximately 350 MW of capacity contracts that expire in the mid-2020s and that it will also be shutting down the coal-fired Boardman plant next year.PGE is looking to issue a request for proposals in 2020, and says that wind resources may provide the lowest-cost energy compared to other resources, including natural gas. It also plans to increasingly turn to demand response in order to deliver reliable electricity for the next six years.PGE told regulators it examined more than 40 different resource portfolios in developing its plan, determining that it could meet system needs and continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions without the addition of any new gas-fired resources.“In addition to meeting our near-term needs, this action plan will help us continue on the course to meeting our goal of reducing [greenhouse gases] by more than 80% by 2050,” the utility said in its IRP. “We estimate that the proposed renewable action would avoid approximately 16 million metric tons of GHGs between 2023 and 2050, and would represent 5% to 12% of the total additional clean and renewable resources that we need between now and 2050 to hit our goal.Along with the new renewables and 157 MW of efficiency, PGE’s plan calls for includes 141 MW of demand response during winter months and 211 MW during summer months. To meet other resource needs, PGE said it plans to conduct a “staged process to secure capacity in the 2024 to 2025 timeframe.” The utility said it will pursue cost-competitive agreements for existing capacity in the region and conduct a request for proposals (RFP) for non-emitting resources.More: PGE plans 150 MW renewables, 4 MW storage, finds wind cheaper than gas to meet future capacity Oregon utility picks renewables over new natural gas-fired generationlast_img read more

UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, to stop thermal coal lending activity by 2023

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Italian bank UniCredit has pledged to halt all lending for thermal coal projects by 2023, joining a growing band of financial companies striving to improve their green credentials.Presenting its sustainability targets a week before the unveiling of a new four-year plan, UniCredit also said it would raise its exposure to the renewable energy sector by a quarter to more than 9 billion euros ($10 billion) by 2023.Banks with assets equivalent to a third of the global industry in September adopted new U.N.-backed “responsible banking” principles to fight climate change by shifting their loan books away from fossil fuels. UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank by assets, was not among that group at the time but is now close to joining.France’s BNP Paribas last week announced it would completely exit financing related to thermal coal by 2030 in the European Union and by 2040 worldwide.UniCredit said new projects in thermal coal mining and coal-fired power generation would be off-limits, setting strict commitments to reduce reliance on coal for customers of its corporate financing business. The measures take effect immediately, but some existing financing deals will take until 2023 to run off, the bank said.The bank’s new oil and gas (O&G) policy, meanwhile, bans the financing of new projects in Arctic oil and offshore Arctic gas, in shale oil and gas as well as related fracking, tar sands oil and deep-sea oil and gas. It also limits the financing for clients active in these areas.More: Italy’s UniCredit to exit thermal coal financing by 2023 UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, to stop thermal coal lending activity by 2023last_img read more

Weekend Pick: The Festy Experience

first_imgThis weekend, October 10th-13th, is the 4th Annual Festy Experience. Hosted by The Infamous Stringdusters and set at Devils Backbone, this event features excellent camping, interactive workshops, and incredible roots music from around the country. With the Blue Ridge Mountains serving as the backdrop, you really can’t go wrong.There are many ticket options for those wanting to camp, park, or simply attend one day. If you’d like to wait until the lats minute, you can purchase passes at the gate.Live performances start Friday at noon. There will be two music stages at the venue – the Main and the Southern. Get excited for acts such as Railroad Earth, J.J. Grey & Mofro, Chris Thile & Michael Daves, Joy Kills Sorrow, and the weekend’s host, The Infamous Stringdusters. Check the Festy’s website for a full artist schedule and lineup.There is also a stage for the many workshops being held over the weekend. Common Ground will be leading guided meditation and yoga classes each morning. The folks from Mountain Hardware and Blue Ridge Mountain Sports will host hiking and backpacking talks. There will even be a coffee brewing demonstration from Charlottesville’s own, Mudhouse.Be sure to take advantage of the locally sourced food and beverages. Relay Foods is partnering with The Festy to help make this possible. All ciders and beers are actually produced right along the Route 151 corridor where The Festy grounds are!And to physically prepare for all that beer drinking, you can participate in the Blue Ridge Burn, a 5K or 10K fun trail run. This year, it will take place on site Saturday October 12th. Sign up is $20, which also gets you a 2013 race tee. You can register day of at 8am. The fee will be $25. And don’t forget to swing by the BRO Roadshow tent to chat up the gang, demos some gear, and sign up for our raffle.This is a family friendly event and all kids under 12 get in for free. If you’re interested in bringing the crew to camp, there is even a designated family zone. Activities such as face painting, clay sculpting, and hula hooping will take place throughout the weekend.View Larger Maplast_img read more

BATTLE TESTED: Hiking With the Warrior Pack of Sean Gobin

first_imgSean Gobin was on his third tour in Afghanistan when he embarked on a plan of hiking the Appalachian Trail. The plan was to hike the A.T. between completing his active duty service in the Marine Corps and his enrollment in graduate school at the University of Colorado, and use the hike as a fundraiser for wounded veterans in need of adaptive vehicles.“But the hike became so much more than that,” Gobin says. “It was a really transformational experience for me personally, and I decided right away that I wanted to help other veterans experience the same thing.”After completing his thru-hike in 2012, Gobin founded Warrior Hike, a non-profit that sponsors military vets back from active duty who want to tackle a long trail. Gobin sets them up with gear, money and support in hopes they’ll have the same positive experience that he had on the A.T.“Active duty soldiers are either training for deployment or on deployment. We never have time to decompress or process the experiences we have,” Gobin says. “All this trauma makes its way to the surface when we come back home, which is why you see an epidemic of PTSD. Hiking eight hours a day gives your brain time and space to process all of your experiences. That active thinking and processing helps come to terms with any trauma you faced.”Gobin and Warrior Hike helped 14 veterans hike the A.T. in 2013, and expanded the program last year to include the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. This year, Warrior Hike will support 30 vets hiking six different long trails across the U.S.Veterans are able to develop strong bonds with other soldiers during the course of the thru-hike, while also slowly re-socializing back into “normal society,” says Gobin. “Some of these veterans saw the worst of people overseas. To have this exposure to all these wonderful, helpful people who support thru-hikers rekindles a basic respect for humanity.”During Gobin’s hike with each soldier, he teaches them the lessons he learned the hard way on his own thru-hike.“I had no experience in long distance hikes, other than forced marches,” Gobin says. “I started the A.T. with a 47 pound pack, which I thought was ultra-light and took off like a bat out of hell. I forced marched myself for three days, then couldn’t get out of the tent.”Here are five of Gobin’s favorite pieces of gear, in his own words.last_img read more