Unit of Japan’s NEC Corp. to install 100MW of battery storage capacity in Northern Ireland

first_imgUnit of Japan’s NEC Corp. to install 100MW of battery storage capacity in Northern Ireland FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:NEC Energy Solutions has revealed plans to install 100 MW of energy storage capacity at two sites in Northern Ireland, backed by engineering, procurement and construction services. Under the terms of the deal, NEC will also provide its GSS end-to-end grid storage solution, as well as AEROS, its proprietary energy storage control software.The battery storage company, part of Japanese tech giant NEC Corp, claims the two 50 MW projects will be the biggest energy storage systems in Northern Ireland upon completion. NEC did not disclose the financial terms of the deal or reveal additional details about the technologies planned for use.The energy storage company is building the two systems on behalf of London-based project developer Low Carbon and investor the Gore Street Energy Storage Fund (GSF). The deal is the second round of projects NEC has secured from GSF and Low Carbon.Steve Fludder, chief executive of NEC Energy Solutions, said the storage projects mark the latest step in Northern Ireland’s “tremendous progress” in the deployment of clean energy, noting 44% of the province’s electricity consumption came from renewables last year. “This easily beats Northern Ireland’s renewable target of 40% and occurred one year ahead of its 2020 deadline,” Fludder said. “Energy storage, via the DS3 program, makes more of this possible.”Alex O’Cinneide, CEO of Gore Street Capital, said the storage projects will be critical to solar and wind deployment in Northern Ireland as the system operator has been struggling to manage the power system as more variable renewables such as solar come online.[Brian Publicover]More: NEC Energy Solutions to build 100 MW of storage capacity in Northern Irelandlast_img read more

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Kenyan regulators approve Solair Africa’s plan for 40MW PV project

first_imgKenyan regulators approve Solair Africa’s plan for 40MW PV project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Solar developer Ergon Solair Africa Ltd has won regulatory consent to build a 40-MW photovoltaic (PV) park in Kenya that will be backed with a USD 0.075 (EUR 0.064) per kWh feed-in tariff (FiT).The approval was awarded by the Energy Regulatory Commission of Kenya (EPRA), the affiliate of US-based Ergon Solair PBC said last week. It covers the so-called Kisumu Solar One project that will be installed in western Kenya’s Kisumu County and is planned to go live in December 2023.While the FiT for the scheme was granted in 2019, a power purchase agreement (PPA) is yet to be negotiated. According to a news service Afrik21, state-owned Kenya Power (KPLC) will be the power off-taker.Ergon Solair Africa started developing the project in 2013 and received EOI approval a year later. It expects its Kisumu Solar One park to be capable of producing 105.3 MWh of electricity in the first year of operation.“It is very important for Kenya to have many such “solar hotspots,” it creates a solid foundation of prosperity and freedom for our country,” said Alberto Soprani, Ergon’s senior vice president for Africa.[Veselina Petrova]More: Ergon Solair gets nod for 40-MW FiT-backed solar project in Kenyalast_img read more

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Dam Dilemma

first_img Ash Hole: a photo of the dam breach by John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper Update 12.30:The EPA has released a report indicating that toxic substances have been found in the Emory River. The statement said,” Environmental data of the fly ash release so far indicates that several heavy metals are present in the water slightly above drinking water standards, but below concentrations the Agency knows to be harmful to humans.  The one exception may be arsenic.  One sample of river water out of many taken indicates concentrations that are very high and further investigations are in progress. Other than the arsenic concern in the river water, fly ash can be irritating to the skin and respiratory passages.”Video from KnoxNews.comUPDATE 12.30.08: New video footage of the spillUpdate: 12.30.08: A video collage and explanation of the severity of the TVA spill by United Mountain Defense.More from United Mountain Defense:Ash Hole: a photo of the dam breach by John Wathen, Hurricane CreekkeeperAsh Hole: a photo of the dam breach by John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeepercenter_img A 40-acre pond used by the Tennessee Valley Authority to hold coal slurry that’s generated by a coal-fired power plant burst through its earthen dam last week, leaving 12 houses damaged and turning the surrounding rural land of Harriman, Tenn., located just 50 miles from Knoxville, into a dangerously drenched sludge pool. Read more in the Associated Press.last_img read more

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Class V Canine

first_imgThis road is unlike any I have been on before. Colorfully modified buses overloaded with excited passengers snake they way down the mountain road, narrowly missing rocky outcrops that are within arms reach of the passengers inside. Wood decks, much like boat docks over water, cover the entire roof of the buses; rafts are stacked and secured three high. These buses would never pass under a bridge of any height which reveals the utilitarian nature of their existence and minimal distances they travel.There is a nervous excitement in the air. An excitement normally reserved for the line of a roller coaster in a suburban theme park. Its seems out of place in this wilderness of sorts. It’s commercialization in the outdoors like I have never seen. It’s a new day on US Highway 64. The business is adventure, the product is rafting trips on the Ocoee River and the customers are students packed onto buses on there way to have have promises of exhilaration and excitement fulfilled. As for us, today we are simply passing by; observers of this mayhem. But for the next three months, this river becomes our way of life.The summer of 2000 was to be a summer like none other. My wife Becki (fiancé at the time) and I made our way from Ontario, Canada to the Ocoee River in Tennessee to work for a whitewater rafting company based out of a nearby camp. For three months we had plans to enjoyed the people, culture and recreational opportunities of the area; spending time on the rivers and in the mountains, exploring the nearby towns and making new friends. This was going to be one final summer of travel and adventure before we were to be married upon returning home to Canada in September.The first half of the summer involved long hot days working in the sun; hauling rafts, belaying first time rock climbers and tending to the endless needs of the camp guests. The nights were equally long and tiring as heavy rain and dramatic thunderstorms rolled through the mountains just about every night. It was a phenomenon that we couldn’t understand. Beautiful blue skies by day and dark and stormy by night. Although the work was hard and sleep was minimal, we were happy. We were together in the mountains, doing the things we loved to do.Halfway through the summer, two small puppies appeared at the camp. One was black and the other golden brown. Rumor had it they were from a litter of eleven, these two being the smallest and last to find homes. They were “mountain mutts” the locals said, a term given to the lab and hound mix of dogs that seemed prevalent in the area. Their medium size and boisterous howl came from the hound side and their gentle, playful temperament came from the lab side. During our trips into the mountain towns of Ducktown, Copperhill and Blue Ridge we would see these mountain mutts hanging around town, playing with kids and searching for scraps of food.Shortly after their arrival, the black pup was tried to a tree with a handwritten “take me home” sign on it. It seemed someone felt it was time to work a little harder to get these pups a new home. The puppy sat there patiently for a couple hours, people oohing and awing at the astounding cuteness of the situation. Eventually it was freed, once again to enjoy the life around camp that it was starting to get use to. For a day or so it ran around the camp, enjoying the company of the daily groups of rafters that would come and go each day.  Endless pats on the head, scratches under the chin and belly rubs were enjoyed between playful jaunts through the nearby creeks and fields. When meal time came around, the puppies would head to the open air dining hall, where they would sit on the floor next to the river drenched Teva sandals of hungry adventurers, batting their eyes until scraps were tossed into their salivating mouths.I certainly enjoyed the company of these dogs around the camp. They added a special touch to the experience for our guests. Becki began to become a little too friendly with one of the pups. It happened quickly but subtly. She liked the black one with the little white spot on her chest. She made her a leash out of some old of some old yellow climbing rope. A collar was secretly purchase at the Dollar General in Copperhill while I waited for our laundry to be done at the nearby laundromat. A water bowl was found and filled with fresh water to the pups delight. Dog food we couldn’t afford was purchased with money we didn’t have, but it was neither needed or wanted because she was getting her fill three times a day at the dining hall.Eventually, the time came to have “the talk”. Becki really wanted to keep the dog. I on the hand, could not figure out how we could possibly keep the dog. Would the camp management be ok with another camp dog? How would we get it back to Canada and is it even legal to bring a dog into another country? I mean this wasn’t just a dog purchased from the pet shop. This was a true mountain mutt from the backwoods of Tennessee!The biggest question of all was whether or not we even want a dog to worry about as we return home to get married? There seemed to be enough to worry about already. But, eventually, with a lot convincing, I reluctantly agreed to take ownership of the dog. She was now ours. This would be first of many times Becki’s spontaneity would overshadow my attempts to bring logic and order into our relationship.The first thing you have to do when you get a new dog is name it. There were the usual suspects like Skippy, Buddy and Rex coming to mind, but we quickly agreed that we could do better. We loved the name Ocoee, the name of the nearby river that we had spent the summer rafting on, swimming in and hiking around. But unfortunately, a big German shepherd that was owned by one of the raft guides had that name. That was rather unfortunate, especially considering Ocoee was a very mean dog. I remember one time walking alone with that dog across a field after belaying some guests on the ropes course for an afternoon. The entire time I was fending it off as it was jumping up on me, seemly trying to bite my face. It was an exhausting walk and a disappointing reality that we could not name our new puppy Ocoee.At one point in the summer, a friend from the camp invited us to spend our day off floating down the Toccoa River in tubes. The Toccoa is actually the same river as the Ocoee, but the river changes name as it crosses the Georgia and Tennessee state lines in Copperhill.We had a great day on the Toccoa. We rented some old beat-up tubes for a couple dollars from an waterfront shack next to a bridge. A part of the rental agreement was a shuttle back up to our parked car when we were done downstream. We had a great time splashing through the rapids and meandering down the river to meet our awaiting shuttle. After about three hours on the river we saw on old rusty van with a trailer full of tubes. This was our ride. We climbed out the river, threw tubes in the trailer and held on tight for the return trip in a vehicle that should have been in a junkyard years ago.2247_001 (1)It was because that trip and our experiences on the river that lead us settle on the name Toccoa for our newly found friend. It wasn’t the name Ocoee, but maybe for good reason. As mentioned, the other dog named Ocoee was, at times, feisty and unpredictable just like the Ocoee River itself. On our first training run down the Ocoee with a group of other want-to-be river guides, we found ourselves stranded on “Whiteface Rock,” a large pale colored rock 100 yards past Ocoee Dam No. 2 where rafters have easy access the middle section of the Ocoee. Whiteface is a landmark on the middle Ocoee because it is legendary for reeking havoc on newbies just like us. In our case, the “guide” failed to steer far left of the rock as instructed and our raft was t-boned against Whiteface, dumping us into the river. Becki and I clung to Whiteface while our raft and raft-mates were sent 100 yards down the river. We sat clinging to each other as class three rapids surrounded us on both side. We waited for someone to toss us a throw rope and drag us to the shore. Curious tourist parked their cars and gathered to watch the spectacle from the nearby road. After reflecting on this experience, Toccoa was the perfect name for our dog, as she turned out to be far more peaceful and pleasant like the Toccoa River and nothing like the mighty Ocoee.After the naming was done, I declared that I would be the one to train Toccoa. I never had a dog before but I was confident that I could do it. So every evening after work I would grab the leash and head to a quiet place in the forest for our training sessions. The first thing she learned was how to sit. This came easy for her. After giving her the command to “sit” and forcing her rear-end to the ground several times, she caught on quickly to the routine. “That was easy” I thought to myself.Next, I would have her sit and then I would take a few steps back. At my command I would tell her to “come” with the hopes she would walk to me. This is when we started to have some problems. I would tell her to sit and she would comply with ease. I would then slowly take three or four steps back, working hard to maintain eye contact and control of the situation. But without fail, she would turn and run. She would run as fast as she could, always in the direction of the dining hall. It doesn’t matter where we were on the camp property, she always knew where that dining hall was. No matter how discrete and isolated I tried to make our training sessions, I would eventually find myself running through the camp, dodging excited rafters, hopping over piles of wet life jackets in pursuit of that hungry young pup. This would not be a habit we would break until we left the camp and returned to Canada.In spite of the training difficulties, the last month or so at camp with our dog were a lot of fun. Toccoa, spent our work days napping in the shady areas next to the ropes course and climbing wall. In the evenings, she would assist me in my duties around the camp, tending to the needs of our guests. If there was a toilet to be fixed, she was there. If help was needed at the horse stables, she would run around the giant hooves of those horses, narrowing dodging a kick to the her curious little face on numerous occasions.We spent days off with her exploring the Ocoee Olympic Whitewater Centre and swimming at nearby Blue Hole. When I had to leave camp for 5 days to lead a boy scout troop on Appalachian Mountain backpacking trip in the Nantahala National Forest, I was assured that Becki would would have a constant companion in Toccoa during my time away.As kids started to head back to school in late August, we were relieved on our duties and the three of us made the long trip home to Canada. Before leaving, to ensure we wouldn’t have any trouble getting through customs, we took Toccoa to a vet to get all her first set of shots. She was ready and so were we. We wound our way along the Ocoee River on US Highway 64 one last time, Toccoa sleeping blissfully on the car floor. The colorful buses, the excited rafters and the curious tourists were long gone. From the road we saw a river that was quiet and serene; nearly opposite of the amusement park atmosphere we experienced upon arrival almost three month earlier. Our summer adventures were over and new adventures awaited back in Canada.Back home, Toccoa quickly settled into life as a Canadian. She was there on our wedding day, posing for photos with Becki, her shiny black a striking contrast to Becki’s beautiful white dress. She was not impressed with our tiny one bedroom apartment in the middle of a busy city, proving the point by running into traffic and taking a bumper to the back side as I watched in disbelief. But she was fine and life got better for all of us. Shortly after the bumper incident, she once again got to enjoy the camp life as we spent the next 12 years at working at summer camps. She was a loyal dog, rarely leaving my side as I conducted my duties around camp. She meet thousands of kids over the years, patiently being chased around the camp by kids from inner-city Toronto, hopelessness trying to pronounce her name and in a state of disbelief that a dog could be left to roam freely without the need for a chain or leash.She curiously greeting our daughter and three sons as they were born over the years accepting each with the peace and tranquility of the Toccoa River. As each child was born, Toccoa slowly lost our more and more of our attention and affection, but she was never forgotten. She was always there, watching and following from a distance.Years of adventure and misadventure began to take a toll on the old mountain mutt. Sore old legs and dismissing sight and hearing made life difficult. The decision was made to let her go. But the memories live on. Memories of a new life begun on the shores of Ocoee and Toccoa Rivers.last_img read more

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The Benefits of Being a Bum

first_imgI use the term “bum” in the best way possible.Really, I prefer to think of myself as a resourceful minimalist.Granted, I usually feel very much like the stereotypical idea of a “bum”: couch surfing from time to time, doing laundry and showering at my friends’ houses, poaching Internet whenever my wireless hot spot doesn’t work, always searching for the cheapest (i.e. best) campground…Alright, yes. I am a bum. I admit it. But there are some benefits to being a bum that I feel are worthy of mentioning.1. Everyone thinks you’re starvingand offers to feed you.2. You usually smell ripe enoughthat people don’t just offer their showers to you; they insist.3. No one thinks you’re a vagrant.In fact, most people think your transient lifestyle is rad.4. When your kitchen is a Coleman stove,being cheap suddenly becomes more of an acceptable trait.5. You don’t have to dust or mow the lawn……or weed the garden or worry about crazy pubescent teenagers whacking your mailbox down.6. You always know what the temperature is.Hot.7. There is no disconnect between you and how much waste you produce.If you don’t throw it away, it ends up on the floor of your car, so you end up being hyper-sensitive to how much trash you create.8. You’re forced into becoming a morning person,whether you like it or not.9. Everything you’d ever need for anything is in the backseat of your car.Great for you, kinda weird for your passengers.10. You don’t notice when the power goes out,because you don’t have any to begin with.So, moral of the story, the next time you find yourself staring at your overgrown front yard, contemplating whether or not you should mow the lawn or take out the trash or build a fortress around your mailbox, consider saying “screw it” and just moving into your car.last_img read more

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The Fastest Bird In The World Soars Back From Near Extinction

first_imgPreviously placed on the endangered list, peregrine falcons, capable of reaching speeds up to 200 miles per hour, are becoming quite the success story in bird conservation.The smokestack that is home to the falcon pairing.Photo by Linda DavidsonJust 50 years back, peregrines were nearly wiped out entirely east of the Mississippi River from widespread pesticide usage. The rare species went from 25 pairs in Virginia to none and from 350 pairs to nearly gone in eastern North America according to Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at William & Mary and VCU.According to a report by The Washington Post, Watts has had his hands full with the monitoring and research of a specific pair of peregrines that have made a smokestack their home in Prince William County, VA. The pair has resided in the same smokestack for nine years inside of a nest box placed by researchers. Watts and his counterparts have had a nearly 12 year partnership with Dominion Energy that allows him to conduct research and travel up the smokestack to retrieve the babies in order to tag them.In his recent ascend to retrieve the two baby females and one baby male, he was able to grab both females while the male was startled and abandoned the nest to test out his wings. The females were successfully banded as there was a two day search for the male. Luckily, a power plant worker found the young male and was able to turn it over to the researcher who then took him to a wildlife center in Shenandoah National Park. He was taken there as an at-risk falcon to be put in a hack box where he will be fed and cared for until he is ready to take off and fly away on his own.The legs of each of the female peregrine falcon newborns was banded with a metal tag that is placed on their legs as they are examined and weighed. As explained by Watts: Banding the young birds helps to monitor their population, keep track of the number or pairs by area, and the amount of young the pairs reproduce.Bryan Watts and wife, Marian weigh one of the young peregrines on site in Virginia.Photo by Linda DavidsonFrom endeavors to keep track of such things, researchers know that from the pair in Virginia, the female came form the Betsy Ross Bridge in NJ and the male was born in Maryland at a power plant. As both birds traveled far before finding the other, they yielded a perfect example of how the breed received its name.Peregrine means traveling or wandering as the falcons’ history shows evidence of lengthy travels. From the tracking of the chicks of the Virginia pairing, researchers have found the grown up chicks in cities in the northeast like Boston and NYC while others have been found out west and even as far as Columbia and Panama when migrating for the winter. As mature falcons, the peregrines have a nearly four foot wingspan and they catch their prey in mid-air. Their numbers have drastically changed and there are now roughly 1,650 breeding pairs in the U.S. and Canada according to Defenders of Wildlife.In an effort to put the pieces together of how this resurgence has come to be, Watts explained that a big reason for their growing numbers is the birds’ ability to adapt to man-made structures. This helps explain why the pairing in Virginia is content on a smokestack rather than a tree somewhere.As you go about your adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains, keep an eye out for the peregrines because if you blink, you just might miss them.last_img read more

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The Secrets of Snowmaking

first_imgIt’s 10:30 pm when we arrive at Seven Springs Mountain Resort’s mountain operations headquarters. I’m one of a half-dozen group of visiting writers and bloggers, here to get a behind the scenes glimpse at what it takes to make snow. Together, we waddle into the shop like penguins, bracing against the violent wind.Kirk Russell, the Seven Springs Mountain Manager, is there to greet us. His broad build fills the doorframe. Dressed head to toe in Carhartt brown, his cheeks flushed from the constant freeze-thaw cycle of working outdoors, he gives our puffy-clad group a bemused smile.“What, is it cold outside?” he says in that endearing Pittsburghian way, where ‘out’ sounds more like ‘aht’ and the intonation suggests he already knows the answer. He laughs and ushers us inside.AFTER 37 YEARS OF MAKING SNOW AT SEVEN SPRINGS, KIRK RUSSELL IS READY FOR ANYTHING. COURTESY OF SEVEN SPRINGS MOUNTAIN RESORTThe shop floor is open and sparse in a utilitarian kind of way with large garage doors and ceilings tall enough to accommodate a couple of snowcats. There’s one parked there now, its engine purring, and we shuffle into the office as it backs out into the darkness of night.“We used to have a wood stove in the shop, but we got rid of it because everyone would sit by it and thaw out and not want to go back outside,” says Russell. “Your coats get frozen to where you can hardly move your arms, like that kid in The Christmas Story. The smart guys take their frozen coats and stand them up outside while they take a break. A frozen coat is warmer than a wet coat.”After 37 years of making snow at Seven Springs, Russell is full of other such anecdotal wisdom, which he dispenses to his crew like a grandfather would his grandchildren. In snowmaking expertise, Russell comes second only to the industry’s godfather, and his own mentor, Herman Dupré.The son of Adolph Dupré, a German immigrant who settled on Seven Springs Farm and opened his property to skiers in the late 1930s, Herman was a master tinkerer. In 1960, Seven Springs installed their own double chairlift and snowmaking system, both of which were Herman Dupré’s designs.Dupré later held 34 patents for his snowmaking systems, and that, in turn, evolved into HKD (for Herman Kress Dupré) Snowmakers, North America’s leading manufacturer of snowmaking technology. The company’s first product, the HKD Standard, was the first snowgun to be used ubiquitously in ski resorts. Now, the HKD SV10 is making its mark as one of the most energy-efficient guns available.Russell knows this because he’s built many of HKD’s guns from the ground up.“They needed someone who could weld, and that’s what got me in the shop,” Russell tells me later on the phone. “That was nice back then, because you weren’t outside freezing. Frostbite is no fun,” but, as Russell says, it comes with the territory. “If you get sprayed in the face with water at five degrees, it pretty much freezes instantly. It doesn’t take long walkin’ around with a frozen face for frostbite to get ya.”IN THE SOUTH, EVERY MINUTE COUNTS WHEN IT COMES TO SNOWMAKING. COURTESY OF CATALOOCHEE SKI AREAOur group trails behind Russell as he heads back outside. The thermometer reads a balmy 20 degrees, but with the wind, it feels well below that. He leads us to a snow gun and, with a few switch flips, brings it roaring to life. A wide jet of snow comes blasting out from the gun. He looks up at it, beaming.“Well don’t just stand there,” he says, turning abruptly back toward the group. “Get up in there and see for yourself.”Hesitantly, I step into the line of fire, er, snow. The force of the gun nearly knocks me down. Russell comes up and tugs at the hood of my jacket.“Don’t want this stuff falling down your neck,” he says, “although it does pack a better punch than coffee. Just look at how it brushes right off your jacket. This is the good stuff.”It’s light and fluffy and beautiful and I tell him as much, but my cheeks are starting to lose feeling. I step back out of the blast, but Russell stays put. Over the snow gun’s grumble, unfazed by its arctic squall, he launches into an impressively thorough summary of Seven Springs’ snowmaking operations: how the resort stores water in 40 collection ponds on the property including the main “stomach” Lake Tahoe; how the water is pumped from Lake Tahoe to the snow guns at a rate of almost 20,000 gallons of water per minute; that the resort’s 1,200 snow guns use less than 20 cubic feet of air per minute (cfm); that it takes 200,000 gallons of water to cover an acre of ground in one foot of snow; how over the course of the winter, the resort will use 350 million gallons of water and drain Lake Tahoe at least three times.Shivering, trying desperately to absorb the facts, I can’t help but fixate on Russell’s total nonchalance of the elements. Small mounds of snow have accumulated on his shoulders, his beard a literal ice cube. I’m cold just looking at him.“Aren’t you freezing?” I finally ask.“Oh, once you build a layer of ice on ya, it insulates you to the point where you do stay warm.” Still, he admits, it’s not easy being out on the mountain all hours of the night in the middle of winter. “It’s hard to get people who are willing to do this type of work.”[nextpage title=”Read on!”]Philip Fuchs, Assistant Mountain Manager at Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, N.C., knows the feeling. Fuchs has been at the resort for 18 years, and he says of all of the hurdles southern resorts face, finding reliable snowmaking employees is one of the biggest.“If I’m just pulling an application out of the file and doing interviews, I’ve brought plenty of people on like that, straight off the street, but they usually make it about two weeks,” says Fuchs.Between constant exposure to the cold and long 12-hour shifts, usually from 6pm to 6am when temperatures are coldest, making snow is hard, often thankless work. But as the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic continue to have record warm winters, snowmaking is more important now than ever before. Cataloochee depends on snowmaking to provide 90% of the mountain’s snow. Farther west, Tennessee’s Ober Gatlinburg, which sits between 2,700 and 3,300 feet in elevation, relies on snowmaking to provide over 95% of its snow base.“There’s no snow, there’s no skiing,” says Fuchs. “We need to have the most firepower on the hill to put as much snow on the ground as possible in the least amount of time,” and that, he says, takes one thing: money.SEVEN SPRINGS’ PORTABLE SNOW GUNS ALLOW KIRK RUSSELL AND HIS SNOWMAKING TEAM TO MOVE THE SNOW WHEN THEY NEED IT, WHERE THEY NEED IT. COURTESY OF SEVEN SPRINGS MOUNTAIN RESORTThe Economics of SnowIn 2015, RRC Associates, a research firm contracted by the National Ski Areas Association, released an economic impact study on North Carolina’s ski industry. Its report found that the 2014-2015 ski season brought $197.2 million to the state, a 35.1 percent increase compared to the 2009-2010 season ($145.9 million).The findings came as a welcome surprise. That same year, skiing nationwide was down by 5%. The Southeast ski scene, too, was down by 1.4%, but North Carolina’s was up a whopping 7.5%. There’s a two-fold answer as to why North Carolina’s skiing has seen such startling growth while other naturally snowier states are struggling. North Carolina resorts see a younger, more novice audience, largely due to the fact that the Southeast is the fastest growing region in the nation. But more importantly, North Carolina’s resorts have prioritized reinvesting profits back into the property, which means nicer facilities, better snow, and an increased likelihood that those beginner skiers will return again.Because North Carolina does not receive as much natural snowfall as other states, resorts have been forced out of necessity to upgrade their snowmaking equipment in order to stay competitive. Cataloochee’s President Chris Bates recognized this necessary evil early on in his tenure, and in 2005, the resort automated nearly all of the snow guns on the mountain.“When I first started here 18 years ago, our snowmaking system was probably about one-third of what it is today,” he says. “We only had two lifts at that time, where now we have three. We had about 10 trails and we ski on 18 now. We were only skiing 80 to 90 days a season, where now we’re averaging around 130 days of skiing every year.”That total overhaul, which involved purchasing 110 snowmaking machines and replacing many of the resort’s air and water lines, wasn’t cheap. Over the course of five years, Bates estimates that Cataloochee spent about $15 million in snowmaking upgrades alone. And it doesn’t stop there. Although most tower guns could last up to 30 years with minimum maintenance required, snowmaking technology is improving at such a rapid rate that those guns become antiquated well before then. Cataloochee’s snow guns are only 13 years old, and Bates says the resort is again in the process of updating that machinery.“In the last two years we’ve already replaced about one-third of that equipment and we’ll continue to do that because the new stuff is just a step better than what we had before,” he says. “Our investment in the equipment is 100% responsible for extending our season close to double what it was.”The Future of SnowmakingThe equipment that Cataloochee has so wisely invested in is proof alone that the snowmaking industry is continuing to evolve in response to the pressures of climate change. While water is certainly a heavily used resource in the snowmaking process, over 80% of that water is returned to the resort’s holding ponds once it melts off of the slopes. The water is pumped, filtered, and recycled again for snowmaking use. Unlike resorts in arid, drier states out west, most Southeastern resorts can rely on rain to account for that 20% lost to evaporation.It’s air, not water, which presents the biggest problem. Compressed air requires a lot of energy, which is why resorts are switching to automated snow guns that use substantially less compressed air than older models. Early snow guns used anywhere from 450 to 1,000cfm, where newer guns use anywhere from 20 to 140cfm. That means resorts can run more guns and make more snow with less energy.“The guns with automation really let you get your product out there a lot quicker,” says Ober Gatlinburg’s Nighttime Snowmaking Supervisor Charlie Godwin. “You can turn on 100 guns within minutes, whereas if you have guys out there on the mountain turning [the guns] on manually, it could take them anywhere from three to five hours. Here in the South, every minute counts.”Ober recently purchased a SnowMagic unit that can crank out 150 tons of snow in 24 hours, even when it’s 65 degrees and sunny. When I spoke to Godwin in October, he had already been running the 150-ton unit, plus three smaller 50-ton SnowMagic units that the resort is leasing, for two weeks.It’s not the most affordable or efficient route to go: the 150-ton unit costs upwards of $400,000, compared to the average $45,000 fully automated snow gun, and covering an entire ski run in snow would require an inordinate amount of energy—that one machine uses 400 kilowatts per hour and 32 gallons of water per minute. At the very least, the combined units do allow Ober to open up its tubing park before Thanksgiving, and as Godwin says, every minute counts.Back at Seven Springs, and in the warmth of the shop, I ask Kirk Russell what the next chapter holds for snowmaking. The industry has come a long way since the days of diesel air compressors chugging 15 gallons of fuel an hour. Still, as global warming continues to manifest itself in the form of droughts and above-average temperatures, can resorts keep up?The best snow guns on the market already have their own weather stations, which allow snowmakers to make the most out of optimal conditions, if only for a few hours. Though Ober, Cataloochee, and Seven Springs all depend on the grid, progressive-minded resorts like Mount Abram up in Maine are increasing sustainability measures by installing solar panels in parking lots to supplement energy usage. Ski resorts everywhere are looking to diversification (most notably in the form of downhill mountain biking) to relieve pressure on the ski season to provide.If resorts can achieve that optimum trifecta of maintaining reliable snowmaking staff, continuing to invest in energy saving equipment, and expanding off-season activities on the mountain, Russell thinks that, yes, resorts can keep up, “but it’s not going to happen overnight.”last_img read more

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Coffee on the Road: Putting 3 Methods to the Test

first_imgI never drank coffee in the morning. I would have a few sips, get super shaky and feel my heart beating in my ankles, and reach for green tea instead. Then I met Ben. When we met, Ben drank coffee every morning, and then some in the afternoon, and then talked about drinking it in the evening. It started with my stealing a few sips from his mug when he said it was an exceptionally good brew. Then slowly, after drinking enough sips, I was ordering mugs for myself. Today, I proudly announce, I am a full blown coffee snob. Living in a van and being a coffee snob CAN BE synonymous. There are plenty of ways to brew in the forest, but we have a few favorites. Below we put three methods to the test to see what is the ultimate off the grid coffee brewing champion.Method 1: French PressThe French press was invented by Paolini Ugo and patented by Italian designer Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. It has clearly stood the test of time, how does it stack up for brewing in the woods?Pros:Easy to use and straightforward. It’s hard to really mess up this method, although I do suggest using a timer to make sure you don’t over steep your grounds.Makes a LOT of coffee! Necessary for groups or for Ben to get enough coffee.Durable. Our stainless steel French Press has been on the road for two years, and I’ve only had to wood glue the handle once.Cons:Hard to clean. It leaves a lot of ground to deal with and they’re all clumped at the bottom.Takes up space, it’s the biggest of the three options.Must get coffee ground on “course” which doesn’t allow the flavor of your final product to be as complex. Trust this coffee snob.Final Score: 7/10Its convenience and ease of use keep the score high, but the lack of flavor and clean up time dock it a few points. Method 2: AeroPressThe AeroPress, the newest of the three options, was invented in 2005 by Aerobie president Alan Adler It uses a two plunger system, one with a filter at the bottom. Suction is used to create air pressure to push the water through the coffee grounds. Does the new science work?Pros:It’s small! This brew method takes up far less space than a french press.It’s a STRONG brew. It claims to make espresso strength coffee, but we just make two cups and drink it straight. That’s some serious flavor right there!It’s fast. No waiting around, no timing. Pour your water and drink your coffee. BONUS: It’s easy to clean up afterward.Cons:It’s all made of plastic, so if you’re weird about hot water and plastic (even though it says it’s safe), you’re going to have to come to terms before you brew.It’s a little complicated. There’s step by step directions, but you have to read them a few times to make sure all the parts are in the right places.You can only make one cup of coffee at a time.Final Score: 8/10The flavor is awesome, and the speed of waking up to coffee in hand in unbeatable. The plastic and amount of components bring the score down.Method 3: Pour OverPour Over coffee can range from a fine art to caveman coffee. This is the simplest method with the least moving parts, but it can turn into a masterpiece if you know what you’re doing.Pros:It’s simple, and there’s only one item you need to make it. Totally self-contained and small.Our Sea to Summit X-Brew is made of silicon and collapses into itself, making it a great option for backpacking.If you do it right, the coffee ends up flavorful and complex. A nice in-between of French press and Aeropress flavors.Cons:There is a method of pouring and waiting an exact amount of time and then pouring again that brews a delicious cup. It can get a little complicated and annoying.You’re only making a cup at a time, and then you have to go through the whole process again.Coffee can come out watery if you don’t do the method correctly.Final Score: 7/10The simplicity of the device is wonderful, but the ease of use can get complicated if you’re trying to follow proper “pour over” technique.Brewing Tips:DO use a hand grinder! Grinding your beans right before you use them will ensure freshness and flavor.DON’T use boiling water! It is far too hot and will burn your beans. Pour from high above so the water has some time to cool down before hitting your brew method.DON’T keep your coffee in the freezer. Moisture is the enemy of coffee beans and will dimish the flavor in a moist setting.DO warm your cup before pouring in the coffee. This may sound dumb– but it makes a difference! Just use the leftover boiling water.DO use high-quality water AND coffee beans. Spend a few extra dollars on the coffee and it will make an incredible difference! You’re saving a ton of money by not buying coffee out, so treat yo’self!We are not coffee experts by any means, but two years on the road has taught us a thing or two about making coffee off the grid. Comment with any suggestions or your favorite was to make your morning brew!There is one way for this tour to be a reality, our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to our title sponsor Nite Ize, and all of our other awesome sponsors that make this happen: Crazy Creek, National Geographic, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Old Town, Leki, HydraPak, UCO Gear and Wenzel. If you like the gear that keeps us groovin’ click here to enter for a chance to winlast_img read more

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Quick Hits: ‘Smoky Mountain Jedi’ passes away + fire destroys part of Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood

first_imgThe East Tennessee hiking community mourns ‘Smoky Mountain Jedi’ After a brief battle with brain cancer, Mike Maples passed away on March 5 at 66 years old. Maples obituary says he spent, “hours, days, weeks and years” hiking in the Smoky Mountains. Maples was also the author of several books about the history of the park and the people who called the land home. Over the years, Maples shared the trail with hundreds of other hikers, who shared memories and photos of the beloved hiker in a Facebook group dedicated to hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after his death. “Mike Maples was a Smoky Mountain hiking icon and he was loved by so many people,” friend and hiker Joe Guenther told 10News. His family will receive friends from 4-6pm on Saturday, March 9 at the Ball Camp Baptist Church in Knoxville. The funeral will follow. Donations can be made in Maples’ honor to Friends of the Smokies. Fire destroys part of Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woodcenter_img In late February, a fire ripped through the UK’s Ashdown Forest, the inspiration behind Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood. The forest was hit by two fires that started within an hour of each other, burning 90 acres of land. February 2019 was Britain’s warmest on record and firefighters say that the unusually warm weather meant that the ground was drier than usual, leading to a greater risk of wildfires. AA Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh, had a country home just north of Ashdown Forest. His son, Christopher Robin Milne, would often explore the forest. The stories in Winnie the Pooh reference specific areas of the forest.last_img read more

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Outdoor Updates: NC species are being considered for the Endangered Species Act

first_imgThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the Carolina madtom catfish and the Neuse River waterdog salamander for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Carolina madtom is described as a “small but feisty” catfish by the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a petition and lawsuits to have the animals protected. Both species are only found in North Carolina. The madtom lives in the Tar River basin and has already disappeared from 75 percent of its range. The Neuse River waterdog is found only in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins and has disappeared from 35 percent of its range. Both the Carolina madtom and the Neuse River waterdog are threatened by water pollution from development, logging and factory farms. Botswana, home to 1/3 of Africa’s elephants, lifts hunting ban A missing Missouri man and his dog that became separated from their group while hiking in Alaska has been found izn good condition, authorities say. Logan Holmer, 26, began hiking the Far Mountain Trail on May 7 but lost track of his group the next day. Holmer was carrying two days of food and finished it on his fourth day in the wilderness, supplementing his diet with plants. More than 40 rescuers, including Alaska State Troopers, air patrol, Wilderness Search and Rescue and search dog teams participate in the effort to locate Holmer. He was spotted after he flagged down a helicopter by waving his jacket. Holmer carried a compass but no map or GPS device. He was found nearly 30 miles from Chena Hot Springs Resort east of Fairbanks. A North Carolina species of fish and salamander are being considered for the Endangered Species Actcenter_img Missouri man and his dog lived off the land while lost in Alaska Botswana, home to the largest elephant population in the world, has reportedly lifted its ban on big game hunting. There are nearly 160,000 elephants that live in Botswana, a number that has tripled since 1991. The increased population has caused conflicts between farmers and the animal, which can destroy crops. Though the country has vowed to reinstate hunting in an orderly and ethical manner, the move is being criticized as a political effort to win the votes of the country’s rural regions. In 2018, despite a ban on hunting, Botswana was home to one of the worst elephant-slaughters on record, identified after a non-profit, Elephants Without Borders, discovered the tusks of 87 elephants during an aerial survey.last_img read more

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