Tax breaks fuel Vermont’s solar gold rush

first_imgHow do community solar projects work?Company B builds a 150-kilowatt community solar array in 2014. The array costs $600,000. The state gives Company B a $37,500 net-metering grant, and the company gets a $180,000 federal tax break on those panels. Company B attracts 30 homeowners who are interested in investing in the project. Nineteen of those households have roofs that can’t structurally support solar racking systems, and 11 that can’t afford up-front costs for solar. All of the households get a 7 percent discount on electricity bills. The education property taxes on the structure, which sits on an acre of land, are $600, paid directly to the state. How much money can developers make on commercial solar?Company A builds a 2,200-kilowatt (2.2 megawatt) commercial solar project and sells the energy to a local utility through the grid. Company A’s project costs $6 million, and the energy sells for between 10 cents and 11 cents per kilowatt hour.The revenue from the energy, assuming the panels are 14 percent efficient, is between $270,000 and $297,000 a year for 20 years. The education property taxes for the structure, in addition to the 15 acres of land underneath, would be $8,800. The company could take a $2 million federal tax break or sell the project to an investor who wants to add clean energy to its asset portfolio. How big are home and community solar projects?Community solar arrays are usually 150 kilowatts but can be up to 500 kilowatts. The power is shared among households. A roof-mounted solar array on a home is usually around 6 kilowatts. How can net metering be used on solar farms?Net metering can also be used on larger solar farms, up to 500 kilowatts, provided there’s a specific entity using the energy produced. In that situation, the developer would act as a middle-man. A developer can plan a solar farm and then seek out a town or school to be the end-user of the energy. The town would benefit by building up energy credits at a 19-cent net-metered rate while paying the developer 18 cents under a contract. The developer gets most of the money.Since projects that are any bigger than 500 kilowatts can’t use net metering, there is an incentive for developers to build either under the 500 kilowatt cap or way above it. Above 500 kilowatts, the going rate for energy is about 11 cents per kilowatt. That’s why developers are likely to build in the 2,000-kilowatt-or-bigger range. How much money can a homeowner save on electricity?Homeowner C made $80,000 in personal income in 2011 and decided to install 6 kilowatts of solar on the home she built in 2009. She paid $27,000 up front for panels and used a $4,500 state net metering grant to offset the cost. On her federal tax return, she deducted $8,100. She now produces more energy on her home during the summer than she can use, and pays $0 for electricity for that period. Green Mountain Power gives her credits for the extra energy because of Vermont’s net-metering law, so she pays very small electricity bills during the winter. There is no property tax on the panels because the installation is under 15 kilowatts. What is a commercial solar project?Projects larger than 500-kilowatts (equal to 5,000 watts or a half-megawatt) are considered to be commercial-scale. The largest commercial solar installations now in operation are about 2,200 kilowatts (2.2 megawatts), but the amount of energy solar installations generate is going up. Four recently proposed projects would produce 20,000 kilowatts each.Read more(link is external) SunCommon ExpandingEnter SunCommon, the company building a grassroots effort to have solar on every home and place 150-kilowatt community arrays throughout the state. The company launched its community solar program in fall 2014, right when Public Service Department grants were drying up.James Moore, the co-president of SunCommon, says four people started the company in 2012 with the idea that everyone should have access to clean energy. SunCommon has grown each year since. The money households pay for community solar goes right to the cost of construction, and the profits have been invested in the company, Moore said.“We’re definitely still in that startup phase, but we effectively launched a new business by launching our community solar program,” he said. “I don’t know when we’re going to be out of startup mode.”Emily McManamy, a spokesperson for SunCommon, said Vermonters rushed to buy solar through SunCommon when word got out that the Public Service Department grants were drying up at the end of 2014 and that the Investment Tax Credit could be gone by the end of 2016. More Vermonters than ever are signing up for SunCommon solar services, the company says.“We welcome that federal money flowing into Vermont,” McManamy said of the federal tax breaks. “A big message to people now is there literally has never been a better time to get in on solar.”SunCommon is expanding in Vermont because of its grassroots marketing approach. The company installed residential solar on 250 homes in 2012; on 450 homes in 2013; and 890 homes in 2014. The company expects to install solar on 1,100 homes in 2015.SunCommon has 69 limited liability companies registered with the state under “Sun CSA” for 150-kilowatt community solar arrays. Ten have been connected to Vermont’s power grid. Each community project is designed to provide power for 30 households. SunCommon takes the federal tax credit for itself and gives Vermonters who buy shares in the solar farm a 7 percent discount on their electricity bills.“Many Vermonters on fixed incomes, disability and Social Security are not able to benefit from federal tax incentives,” McManamy says, “so we set up the ownership structure for the arrays in a way that maximizes the ITC and other federal incentive programs.” What is residential net metering?Net metering is a complex system that gives Vermonters big benefits for producing electricity through solar panels.A homeowner who installs a solar system can essentially sell back excess solar power to a utility through the net metering program at a fixed rate of 20 cents. If the homeowner purchases power from the utility at a rate of say 15 cents, the 5-cent difference is applied as a credit for future power bills. Low cost, high demandAndrew Savage is the chief strategy officer for AllEarth Renewables, owned by renewable energy magnate David Blittersdorf. The company has built 12 megawatts worth of solar farms across the state. Another part of the company sells pole-mounting systems to other developers.Savage, who is also on the board for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said his company builds solar projects under separate limited liability companies with “AllSun Solar” in the name. Once the projects are built, they seek an investor who will buy the project from them, take the 30 percent tax credit for themselves and manage the project in the long-term.“They can own it for five years and sell it to someone else, or they can own it for 25 years and have it be a long-term annuity,” Savage said. “The payback period can be anywhere from 5 to 8 years. The investor is going to want to make somewhere between an 8 to a 12 percent return. If it’s lower, they might as well just put money in the stock market.”The 3.6-megawatt Essex solar farm, Vermont’s largest so far. Courtesy photos.Savage said the industry is benefiting from low interest lending rates, the declining price of solar panels and a growing consumer demand for solar.“[Panels] sort of steadied out around 70 cents per watt, but they came down from about $4 per watt,” he said. “Solar is a pretty stable investment. The economics really are there.”Savage said the expiration of the Investment Tax Credit would slow growth in the solar industry, but demand will remain because companies “can go to a customer and offer significant energy bill savings.”“It is definitely going to cause some contraction,” he said. “It’s definitely going to cause a change in the business model, but it’s clear that the technology is sound, and the demand for solar is increasing.”Gary Skulnik, director of marketing for groSolar, sees things differently. The 15-year-old company is based in White River Junction and has an office in Maryland.In 2015, groSolar had two commercial projects in Rutland Town and Hartland approved by the Public Service Board. Rutland Town is now challenging the board’s decision to approve the 2,300-kilowatt array.Green Mountain College solar project.Skulnik says the federal tax breaks may make building solar worthwhile, but the array of cash incentives that Vermont offers, and a political environment that has made it possible to develop solar virtually anywhere in the state, makes Vermont a great place to be a solar developer.“Vermont has some good land, some good sites, and it’s got a citizenry that for the most part is very supportive of switching to clean energy for a clean environment and to fight climate change,” Skulnik said. “It all helps, and it’s part of what makes Vermont attractive.”“Of course it doesn’t have the solar coverage of Texas or Oklahoma, but it’s got enough [incentives] to make these profits worthwhile,” Skulnik said. “If [Texas and Oklahoma] had the incentives that Vermont had, people would be building like crazy there.”Skulnik says his large-scale projects take his company about three months to build. He said if developers don’t start construction on new projects by Dec. 1, 2016, “you’re probably not going to make it in time” for federal tax breaks.“It’s not going to be the end of the solar industry,” he said. “However, we do want an extension.” How efficient is solar energy?The efficiency of any type of energy is measured by a physics term called the “capacity factor,” which is usually about 14 percent for solar in Vermont.Only a small percentage of the sun that shines on solar arrays gets turned into energy, especially in a place like Vermont, which has long winters and frequent rainfall in the summer months.To know how much energy a project produces in a year, physicists multiply the theoretical capacity of a project by the number of hours in a year (8,760) by the “capacity factor,” which measures the efficiency of the technology.While the capacity factor for solar is 14 percent in Vermont, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind by comparison is 33 percent efficient, hydropower is 38 percent, geothermal is 70 percent, and nuclear energy is 90 percent. Hydro trumps solar as share of Vermont’s energyThe state aspires to get 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Most of the renewable energy Vermont uses now comes from hydropower because solar panels are comparatively less efficient and the energy is more expensive.The Ethan Allen Institute, a conservative think tank, estimates that Vermont would need to install panels on 100,000 acres of land to meet 90 percent of its electric energy needs through solar.At Green Mountain Power, which serves about three-quarters of Vermont households, 42 percent of the company’s energy portfolio comes from hydropower from Canada.According to Kristin Carlson, spokesperson for Green Mountain Power, solar is currently 2.3 percent of Green Mountain Power’s energy portfolio, and about half of that number comes from commercial solar projects of 500 kilowatts or more. Green Mountain Power’s percentage of solar power the utility uses has increased from 0.5 percent in 2012, 0.8 percent in 2013 and 1.6 percent in 2014.Forty-four percent of Green Mountain Power’s electricity is miscellaneous power from the New England grid. The company values solar because it produces the most electricity during summer days, lining up conveniently with when Vermonters are using air conditioners.Residential solar, according to Carlson, reduces what the utility needs to buy from energy wholesalers. Green Mountain Power is now developing a mapping tool that would help the utility figure out which areas of Vermont need energy.Green Mountain Power wants to develop a strategy for purchasing solar power. The utility has not yet had to reject energy from a solar developer. by Erin Mansfield vtdigger.org(link is external) Vermont Business Magazine Contributed to This Story Solar is the fastest-growing source of energy in the country, and Vermont’s solar industry is growing dramatically. The solar industry is booming nationwide because of multibillion-dollar federal tax breaks, and developers have their eyes on Vermont because of its additional cash incentives. In 2014, the state ranked at 22 out of 50 states for total solar capacity nationwide and 8th highest in solar per capita. Rutland itself is now the ‘Solar Capital of New England.’ Vermont’s industry employs about 1,500 people at 72 companies, and produces $76 million in output, making it the state with the most solar jobs per capita.In just the past eight months, Vermont’s Public Service Board has approved 79 nonresidential solar projects across the state, including 11 commercial-scale installations. Last year, the board approved 138 nonresidential solar projects, including 23 commercial-scale installations.RELATED STORIES:SunCommon part of group to expand community solar in VermontRutland becomes the ‘Solar Capital of New England’Over the past 10 years, the total number of net-metered solar projects in Vermont has grown exponentially. The number and proposed size of commercial projects is also shooting up. The Public Service Department is now reacting to a handful of 20-megawatt commercial projects — which are 10 times larger than any of the existing projects in Vermont(link is external).The growing size and amount of solar arrays is directly related to a 30 percent federal tax break for unlimited investments in solar projects. The tax breaks are designed to drive the nation away from fossil fuels, and supporters hope that solar energy use will help to combat climate change.While state incentives pale in comparison, Vermont offers a tax structure that keeps solar developers rushing in, and a net-metering program that requires utilities to buy solar at a higher rate.Solar home in Rutland.The federal government’s Business Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, which lets corporations write off 30 percent of construction costs, is set to drop to 10 percent at the end of 2016. That means if developers want to write off one-third of each solar project’s installation costs, they need to get their applications in as soon as possible and make sure their projects are built by Dec. 31, 2016.The looming expiration date for the tax breaks has sparked a gold rush because developers know there is no guarantee that Congress will extend the federal Investment Tax Credit this year. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., has signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill in the House that would extend the credit through 2022.The plummeting cost of solar panels in the past decade is another contributing factor. The cheapest ones come from China, and while they’re slightly less efficient than the more expensive products from the U.S., Korea or Japan, developers can install inexpensive panels across a larger land area to produce the same amount of energy.ISO New England (the regional transmission manager) released its “Final 2015 Solar PV Forecast Details” last spring (SEE REPORT)(link is external).Because of the loss of the ITC, solar installation, and therefore the increase in output, declines significantly starting in 2017 and continuing through 2024. However, by the end of 2024, assuming no change in the ITC, Vermont’s total installed capacity would increase from 81.9 MW in 2014 to 234.7 MW in 2024.ISO NE said in its report: “PV projects should continue to offer strong investment returns in the next couple of years if all incentives can be monetized. Recent trends in PV deployment should continue through 2016, and may accelerate near the planned decline of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).”ISO suggests that the following trends in New England will likely result:• Policy drivers that do not significantly constrain the timing of PV development (SRECs, net metered project growth below caps) will likely facilitate accelerated deployment until the slated ITC reduction• Policies that involve periodic procurement or solicitation (CT ZREC, RI Renewable Energy Growth, Vermont Standard Offer) will likely facilitate more consistent, incremental growth• The planned decline of the federal ITC beginning in 2017, together with the planned reduction of some state PV policy support, creates more challenging overall PV economics in 2019 and 2024, as compared to 2015. Much more uncertainty regarding PV deployment in the region from 2017 onward• By the 2024 timeframe, the overall economics of PV investment does not entirely recover from the ITC reduction, despite the following assumptions:– Modest reductions in installed costs (in real dollars)– Improvements in system performance– Increases in wholesale/retail electricity rates– Existing net metering policies remain intact, and existing net metering caps would not be constraints on future PV investment.Small Percent of Energy PortfolioWhile solar arrays continue to sprout up across the Green Mountain State, the amount of energy from commercial and residential solar is rising, but in total remains only 2.3 percent of the energy portfolio of the state’s largest utility, Green Mountain Power. Canadian hydropower, in contrast, represents more than 40 percent.Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Public Service Department, says that while the state offers incentives to solar developers, the Investment Tax Credit is the main driver of the nationwide solar boom.“You’re going to see a lot of applications this year for construction next year because the thing has to be operational by Dec. 31 of next year to be eligible for tax credits,” Recchia says. “I think that’s probably the biggest interest in why we’re seeing those [solar projects] now.”Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans, said subsidies on solar should end now that the industry has proven it can make money. Solar should be treated like any other business, he said, and developers should get the same level of subsidies as his masonry company, which is zero.“The people who are putting up the projects are millionaires or corporations held by very wealthy people, and the tax dollars are paid by all of us,” Rodgers said. “These solar deals seem to be very lucrative for them, and it’s on the backs of the taxpayer and the ratepayer.”Doug Tolles, a New Haven Selectboard member, also says the industry is dominated by people who are in it to make money. He opposes solar energy altogether, and his town has been at the forefront in land use debates.“This is corporate welfare is all it is,” Tolles said. “It drives me crazy. The Legislature has changed the rules so that the solar industrial generating plants get tax breaks, and the towns that host them get screwed.”What’s so great about Vermont?Developers look for flat land near three-phase power infrastructure that gets virtually no shade. That’s what makes the South and the Midwest popular regions to install solar systems.When developers come to Vermont, they usually steer clear of roof-mounted arrays that require expensive racking systems. Putting arrays in fields is more attractive because installation is cheaper and construction takes six weeks to three months.This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2: Rural communities push back against solar.(link is external)“The solar boom is not equal across the country,” says Andrew Perchlik of the Public Service Department. “It’s a combination of federal policies and state policies. There are some other states where you can’t do net metering, for example.”Vermont’s net-metering law, which passed in the 1990s and was updated in 2014, allows residents to build as much solar as they need and essentially sell unused energy to their utility company at a higher rate than what they pay for the energy they use. In exchange, they receive credits to lower future energy bills. Developers can build large net-metered projects up to 500 kilowatts and enter into contracts with institutions, such as schools, towns or businesses, which essentially invest in the project.From 2004 to 2014, the Public Service Department gave cash incentives to Vermonters who wanted to install net-metered solar projects on their property. The department offered $2,500 per kilowatt in 2004; the number gradually decreased before disappearing at the end of 2014.Brattleboro Savings Bank solar project.Vermont continues to offer solar developers a 7.2 percent personal income tax credit for construction costs. Piggy-backed on the federal government’s tax credit, the state tax break means solar developers can subtract up to 37.2 percent of the price of installing solar farms directly from their taxable income.Vermont law says utilities like Green Mountain Power must pay 19 cents per kilowatt hour for energy from net-metered solar projects. In real terms, credits on a 150-kilowatt net-metered project add up to about $35,000 in revenue per year. Revenue on a 500-kilowatt net-metered project would be about $117,000 per year.For commercial scale projects, those larger than 500 kilowatts, developers only get 11 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s an incentive for developers to build either 500-kilowatt net-metered projects or multi-megawatt commercial projects. In contrast, utilities could pay between 4 cents and 8 cents per kilowatt hour for hydropower.“The savings to (utilities) is worth that (few) cents per kilowatt hour for renewable energy generation,” Recchia says, adding that it saves Green Mountain Power from having to buy energy from the rest of the Northeast electric grid.The state has also set a special formula for the assessed value of nonresidential solar arrays. Property owners pay $4 per kilowatt directly to the state’s tax department, which deposits the money into the Education Fund.In real terms, developers pay $600 per year in property taxes on a 150-kilowatt community solar farm sitting on roughly an acre of land or $8,000 for a 2-megawatt farm sitting on about 15 acres of land. Who has the most solar per capita?1. Hawaii2. Arizona3. Nevada4. California5. New Jersey6. New Mexico7. Massachusetts8. Vermont9. North Carolina10. ColoradoSource: 2015 data from the Solar Energy Industries Associationlast_img read more

Glo League: Battle for title and against relegation on final day

first_imgThree clubs hunt for the title and six others battle against play-off as the Glo premier league draws to a close, Sunday.Leaders and favourites Accra Hearts of Oak have 49 points and must win against relegated St Mirren at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium to certify their 20th league title.Champions, Kumasi Asante Kotoko with an eye on retaining the title, need to beat local rivals King Faisal at the Baba Yara Stadium. They have 48 points and would count on Mirren to hold or defeat Hearts to be crowned league champions for another year.Dark horses Heart of Lions are lying third on the log with 46 points and play Berekum Arsenals at home.The Kpando lads mathematically have a chance of winning the title for the first time, but would have to count on favours from King Faisal and Sporting Mirren.It appears an impossible task but with the swings in this year’s Glo premier league it will not be surprising for lions to beat Kotoko and Hearts to the league. Board room decisions have taken a little drama and sensation out of the dog-fight against relegation.Tema youth joined Mirren in relegation after they were deducted six points for fielding an unqualified player.Prior to that decision, six clubs had their tongues in their mouths with relegation staring them right in the face, but will now have to shrug off play-off scare.Ashantigold, Liberty, All Blacks, RTU, Hasaacas must win to avoid a play-off with a division one side.Liberty play as guest of Beechem Chelsea in a match that could go either way. A draw is pretty much likely.Hasaacas trek to Wa to face All Stars. The sekondi lads need maximum points to avoid play-off, but that would be a difficult task. RTU are hot favourites in the match against Ashgold in Tamale, whilst Eleven Wise host Kessben at the Essipong Stadium.Tema Youth now clutching to straws engage All Blacks in at the Tema Sports Stadium.Preview by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline/Ghanalast_img read more

Ban bubbles up

first_imgBy KATHRYN BERMINGHAM Councillors scupper vote to cut council alcohol spend… CARDINIA Shire Council has voted to continue spending money…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img

Combining aerial imagery and field data estimates timber harvest and carbon emissions

first_imgArticle published by Sue Palminteri Researchers used images from LiDAR, a remote sensing technique that produces 3-D depictions of forest structure, to map logging areas—including roads, skid trails, gaps under the canopy, and decks used to store timber—for four timber concessions in Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.Pairing the LiDAR data with statistics on the number of trees felled and damaged, the researchers established equations relating the logging area data to both the volume of timber harvested and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.The equations explained up to 87 percent of the variation in the volume of timber extracted.Using this method, governments, NGOs, and private organizations can verify timber harvests, formulate future management plans, and estimate harvest volumes and greenhouse gas emissions in other tropical forests, including areas of illegal logging. Selective logging—where specific high-value trees are cut—in tropical forests affects biodiversity, forest structure, and carbon storage. According to a 2009 study, timber was removed from over 20 percent of the area of humid tropical forests during the 2000s. Notably, more than half of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from forest degradation in the tropics have come from selective timber harvests.Forest laws determine the areas, volumes, and maximum and minimum diameters of trees that can be extracted from a concession in any given year. Unlike forest clearing, selective logging is not easily quantified using satellite imagery.Most previous logging estimates rely on data from governments and timber companies, which are not independent and do not include illegal logging, for which there are few reliable, globally consistent assessments. Research suggests that illegal logging accounts for roughly 40 percent of all logging in the tropics, with figures as high as 72 percent for the Amazon.Illegally logged rainforest tree in Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesia. Image by Rhett A. Butler/MongabayNow, a pair of studies present a method using models to detect selective logging areas and estimate volumes of timber harvested, both legal and illegal, along with the resulting GHG emissions, from high-resolution aerial images. Relating forest structure from the images with timber harvest volumes and GHG emissions, the researchers state, enables future studies to deduce harvest volumes elsewhere from remote sensing alone.“Those wanting to know greenhouse gas emissions finally have an independent means to examine the impact of timber harvesting,” said Timothy Pearson, director of Arkansas-based non-profit Winrock International’s Ecosystem Services, and lead author of the study.Peering under the canopy through LiDARTraditional moderate-resolution (30-meter) satellite imagery can be ineffective at detecting a group of trees plucked out from the dense forest canopy by poachers. Resolutions greater than 1 meter can capture primary logging roads, the researchers state in their paper, but not skid trails created beneath the canopy by dragging logs or gaps exposed in the canopy by felled logs. Even high-resolution (1m) satellite images cannot peer through the canopy, where most of the damage from selective logging occurs.So how can we independently determine how much selective logging has occurred?Researchers have turned to aerial surveys that use LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), a remote sensing method that measures the return time of many thousands of pulsed laser beams sent to Earth’s surface from an aircraft. The return time of each pulse represents its distance from the airborne sensor. Some pulses penetrate the canopy, enabling scientists to generate high-resolution (sub-1 meter) three-dimensional images from the ground to top of the canopy and detect changes inside the forest.A pair of LIDAR images compare the structure of old-growth forest (right) to that of a new plantation of trees (left). Image by Sarah Frey, Oregon State University, CC 2.0.“What LiDAR allows us to do is not just see the canopy but also look underneath so we can see pockets and tunnels that are caused by the timber extraction,” said Pearson and co-author Stephen Hagen, a senior scientist at Applied GeoSolutions.Looking beneath the forest canopy is “really important for logging because when you are just removing a few trees you sometimes cause minimal damage to the canopy,” Pearson and Hagen said.For example, gaps created above the stump of a felled tree may be smaller than the tree’s crown, and branches from surrounding trees will partially cover where the felled tree stood.With LiDAR, we “don’t have to rely on being granted access to areas by companies or governments,” stressed Hagen.Pairing of LiDAR data with field data to estimate harvest volumes and emissionsA team of researchers, including Pearson and Hagen, recently developed automated algorithms based on commercial LiDAR data from Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo, that can detect and generate fine-scale 3D maps of logging roads, skid trails, gaps, and decks used to store the logs.The four concessions used in this study, located in the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. Figure 1 of Pearson et al. 2018, Remote assessment of extracted volumes and greenhouse gases from tropical timber harvest, Environ Res Lett., 13, 065010. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aac1fa licensed under CC BY 3.0.For the current study, funded by NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, the team paired these maps with ground data on 188 trees cut from two logging concessions, Roda Mas and Timberdana.By pairing the LiDAR data with the known extracted timber, the researchers gleaned relationships between the roads, skid trails, and gaps and the volumes of timber extracted and formulated equations to estimate harvest volumes elsewhere based solely on remotely sensed LiDAR data.In addition, the team linked the volumes extracted with emissions factors to calculate the resulting GHG emissions. These factors included emissions arising from the 963 trees damaged incidentally (i.e. snapped or uprooted) during felling, storage, and extraction of the timber.On the left side is a high-resolution aerial photo of a portion of the Timberdana concession. The image on the right shows the same area with roads/decks in orange, skid trails in red, and canopy gaps in blue obtained by analyzing the LiDAR data. Images courtesy of Stephen Hagen.Relating forest structure to timber extractionThey developed three equations to estimate the volume of timber harvests and GHG emissions from the LiDAR data under different scenarios. The first equation, includes roads, gaps, and skid trails as predictors, and explained 87 percent of the variation in volume of timber extracted. According to Pearson, “that is a very strong relationship for an equation to have that much predictive power.”Damage caused by logging generated greater emissions in both concessions than either log extraction or infrastructure. Because the emissions factors were similar in both concessions, they combined them to allow for extrapolation to other concessions.When the researchers used the equation to calculate the volumes of timber extracted from the two surveyed concessions, Roda Mas and Timberdana, their estimates (59,452m3) were similar to the actual reported volumes (60,827m3).Next, they applied the equation to two other concessions for which LiDAR data were available but ground data were not. Sari Bumi Kasuma emerged with the highest carbon dioxide emissions, while Roda Mas came second. But per hectare, Timberdana had the highest rate of emissions, followed by Roda Mas.Estimated greenhouse gas emissions, in tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (t CO2e), associated with timber extraction in the four concessions due to logging infrastructure, incidental damage, and extraction. The error bars represent the 95% confidence interval of the total emissions of the concession. Figure 2 of Pearson et al. 2018, licensed under CC BY 3.0.A second equation was developed to estimate the volume of illegal logging where rivers, instead of roads, are used to extract timber. As a result, roads data were omitted from the equation, which still explained 86 percent of the variation in the timber harvest data.But what happens when both on-the-ground data and LiDAR are unavailable? Since LiDAR data are costly to obtain, the team created a third equation that considered only road length, which they found could predict 78 percent of the variation in the timber volume. Road lengths can be obtained from freely-available moderate resolution imagery.There is a linear relationship between the length of roads and the volume of timber extracted, the study found. Longer roads in an area are associated with more timber extracted. Figure 4 of Pearson et al. 2018, licensed under CC BY 3.0.The case of illegal logging Pearson explained that there are two types of illegal logging. The first occurs within legal concessions when “timber is extracted outside the area of the granted concession or goes beyond the maximum area that can be harvested in a given year or too many trees are extracted from the allowed area.” All three equations can be used for this case, he said, “but if only moderate resolution satellite data are available, the road equation could be used.”In the second type of illegal logging scenario, operators extract high-value trees from pristine or protected forests. “In this case,” Pearson said, “it would be very rare for roads to be built.” Instead, these logs are extracted by floating them out on rivers. Consequently, the second equation, based on only gap areas and skid trails, would be suitable to estimate the volume of extraction.Using the airborne LiDAR maps, the team identified an illegal logging site in Central Kalimantan, located outside of the concessions, which lacked roads and consisted only of skid trails and logging gaps. By applying the second equation, they estimated 730m3 of timber harvested (20 m3 per hectare) resulting in emissions of 45 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per hectare, roughly half of the average rate of emissions of the legal concessions. They believe that relatively smaller trees harvested might explain the lower volumes and emissions.Using the approach to estimate logging in other areas The method can be applied to other upland forests in Kalimantan, whereas swamp forests have a different structure, leading to different relationships, said Pearson and Hagen.Application to tropical forests elsewhere will require both LiDAR and field data to create relationships. “It will be interesting going forward to examine how much the relationships vary in different forests and if there are patterns that will allow us to predict relationships for forests we haven’t visited,” they added.“We know for example that the Indonesia sites use bulldozers to skid the logs out of the forest, while many other logging operations use skidders, which have a smaller footprint,” Pearson noted.LiDAR image of an illegal logging site in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia showing skid trails in green and logging gaps in blue. These damaged areas are very difficult to detect with satellite imagery. Figure 5 of Pearson et al. 2018, licensed under CC BY 3.0.The researchers suggested that governments can use the approach to independently monitor concessionaires’ adherence to harvesting plans and apply appropriate taxes. Buyers, investors, and non-governmental organizations can use the approach to independently verify harvests to guide future management actions. Emissions data on timber harvests could inform countries’ commitments to international climate change and REDD+ programs.Limitations of the method One of the main downsides of the method is the high cost of obtaining LiDAR data, which usually limits data collection to a single set of overflights, said Michael Palace, associate professor at the University of New Hampshire, who was involved in the earlier automated algorithms study. Moreover, flying may be restricted in some areas.Apart from obtaining LiDAR images, there is the cost of collecting field data that links the forest structure variables to timber volumes and emissions, explained Pearson. However, he said, “the cost of collecting data in the field on an ongoing basis (let alone the issues of access) will make a remote method cost-effective, and where application is broad, this potentially would even cover the initial development costs.”“Ultimately, relationships could be created for all relevant regions, at which point the new imagery would be all that is needed,” he envisioned.Estimating timber volumes and emissions in areas without LiDAR flight data still requires field sampling, which can be even more costly than LiDAR over the long term. If timber harvest volumes can be estimated using remote sensing and equations, which can be done in hours, versus days, it can save time and money. Remote sensing can cover any area of land, eliminating the need for permission to visit a site and measure wood of logged trees, thereby offering a way to monitor illegal logging.Like other methods, estimation with LiDAR data paired with equations derived from ground data also has uncertainties, Pearson and Hagen said, but for purposes of an approximate estimation, it gives an “immediate value where none currently exist.”Citations Melendy, L. et al (2018). Automated method for measuring the extent of selective logging damage with airborne LiDAR data. Int. Soc. Photogra. Remote Sens, 139, 228–40. doi.org/10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2018.02.022Pearson, T.R.H., Bernal, B., Hagen, S.C., Walker, S.M., Melendy, L.K., Delgado, G. (2018). Remote assessment of extracted volumes and greenhouse gases from tropical timber harvest. Environmental Research Letters, 13, 065010. doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aac1fa Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Forests, LiDAR, Mapping, Monitoring, Remote Sensing, Technology, Wildtech last_img read more

Catching up with coach Lindner

first_imgTigers soccer head man gives an update on early-season resultsBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterMARSHFIELD — With a number of new front-line players, finding a way to score goals was a known issue for the Marshfield girls soccer team coming into the 2015 season.After suffering their second-straight shutout of the season, a 3-0 loss to Wausau West in its Wisconsin Valley Conference opener Tuesday, the Tigers are continuing their search for consistent offensive play.Hub City Times caught up with Marshfield girls soccer coach Steve Lindner following the Tigers’ loss for an update on the team’s early-season play. Marshfield had a 1-2 record heading into a nonconference game Friday at home against Chippewa Falls.Hub City Times: The game was pretty even with you getting six shots on goal and West five, but they got three in, and you didn’t get any in.Steve Lindner: We had some decent shots on goal. We just haven’t found the finishing touch this year. We have to have better shots at angles or at the corners and low shots, not right in the stomach or chest area.HCT: You have practiced for three or four weeks. Now you are getting into the games, which must be a big difference with conditioning plus a lot of new kids are playing for you this year. Do you feel things are coming together over this first week?SL: It’s developing and an ongoing process. It is a process with the younger kids, knowing where to be and understanding the conditioning and what to do on both ends in the transition game. The transition is the hardest part for the younger players, going from offense to defense and defense to offense. We’re a little slow at reacting and not anticipating the way I would like to. I’m sure we’ll keep developing.HCT: For your first conference game, do you think this is a good measuring stick early in the year as to where you are and where you want to be, where you want to get to?SL: I really believe Wausau West, us, Wisconsin Rapids, and Wausau East are right in that middle of the pack. Merrill is improving each year. I think we’re right in the mix with all of those teams. Stevens Point and D.C. Everest, I believe, are the strongest teams in the conference, and the rest of us are trying to catch up to them.HCT: What’s it going to take to get you to that point?SL: We have to work hard, and we have to continue to react quicker and move to the ball faster. We have to win more 50-50 balls. We’re not challenging as hard as I think we can. To compete with teams like West and get over the hump, we have to win more 50-50 balls and challenge the ball more. We need to be the aggressor.last_img read more

Ontario Teachers and Glencore team up in base metals joint venture

first_imgTORONTO – Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has formed a 50-50 joint-venture with Glencore Canada Corp. that will focus on investing in base metals streams and royalties.Under the terms of the deal, Glencore has contributed a portfolio of selected royalties and Ontario Teachers’ acquired its interest in BaseCore Metals for cash.The value of the initial royalty portfolio is approximately US$300 million.It includes a selection of existing royalties on producing and development stage properties in North and South America, including the Antamina and Highland Valley mines.The joint venture will be independently operated and governed by its own board of directors.The companies said BaseCore Metals will actively pursue investment opportunities.last_img read more

Delhi all set for an interesting contest in Lok Sabha elections

first_imgNEW DELHI: After nomination filing of all political parties candidatures, Delhi is all set for an interesting contest in Lok Sabha elections as the Congress and the BJP candidates including a former Chief Minister and two famous sportspersons, on Tuesday filed their papers.The ruling Aam Aadmi Party candidates have already filed their nomination before the last date of nomination. Where the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded cricketer Gautam Gambhir from East Delhi replacing its sitting MP Maheish Girri, Congress has fielded Olympic medal-winning boxer Vijender Singh from South Delhi. After six year gape in active politics, former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit entered the poll fray from North East Delhi and will be facing BJP Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari and the AAP’s Dilip Pandey. The BJP again fielded Union Minister Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk. Dr Vardhan filed his nomination papers on Monday. The Congress, which does not have any MLA in Delhi, has announced a strong list of candidates to regain strength in the national capital where it was in power for 15 years. Former Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken will contest from New Delhi, J P Agarwal from Chandni Chowk and Arvinder Singh Lovely from East Delhi. State Congress Working President Rajesh Lilothia will be the party’s face from North West Delhi, while Mahabal Mishra will contest from West Delhi. The Congress and AAP had been in alliance talks for weeks to fight unitedly against the BJP, which won all seven seats in the last polls, but they could not reach an understanding. The announcement of Vijender Singh’s name came as a surprise and is expected to boost the party’s prospects in the seat. The BJP also declared six of seven candidates with no announcement yet about the North West seat won by Udit Raj in the last elections. The party re-nominated sitting MP Meenakshi Lekhi from New Delhi, ending speculation that Gambhir may be fielded from their and Lekhi moved to another seat. Lekhi will lock horns with Maken and Brajesh Goyal of the AAP. Gambhir will face Lovely and AAP’s Atishi. A veteran of 58 Tests and 147 one-day internationals, Gambhir was a key member of the Indian teams that won the World T20 in 2007 and the ODI World Cup in 2011. He formally joined the BJP on March 22. BJP has again fielded Parvesh Verma, son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma West Delhi while Ramesh Bidhuri has been retained in South Delhi, where the AAP candidate is Raghav Chadha. Other AAP candidates are Balbir Singh Jakkar from West Delhi, Guggan Singh from North West Delhi, and Pankaj Gupta from Chandni Chowk. Polling to Delhi’s seven seats will be held in phase six on May 12.last_img read more

Ohio State womens volleyball wins two loses one over the weekend

Senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe, junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer and sophomore setter Taylor Hughes gather near the net during a match against LIU Brooklyn. The Buckeyes won 3-0. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News DirectorThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team took their first loss of the season to No. 10 Brigham Young University on Saturday. Both teams came into the match undefeated at 5-0, but when the dust cleared, it was the BYU Cougars who left Columbus unscathed after a point-for-point, five-set battle.  BYU proved to be the Buckeyes’ toughest match during the Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic. The Buckeyes had no trouble sweeping LIU Brooklyn and Wyoming in quick, three-set matches on Friday at Nationwide Arena.Junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer and sophomore setter Taylor Hughes were named to the D.C. Koehl Classic all-tournament team. Schirmer racked up 30 kills on the weekend, while Hughes contributed a staggering 110 assists. Senior libero Valeria León rose to third place (1,342) as she continues to climb the ladder for most career digs in OSU history. After the loss to the Cougars, the Buckeye “tribe” carries a 5-1 record going into next weekend’s play. LIU BrooklynOSU put away the Blackbirds in three-set fashion (25-11, 25-17, 25-19). The Buckeyes hit for an impressive .462 attacking efficiency and held LIU Brooklyn to just .112 on the match. Freshman outside hitter Brooke Bailey drove down six kills on nine attempts, while teammate junior outside hitter Ashley Wenz was the team leader with a .769 hitting rate.The loss put the Blackbirds at 0-4 on the year. WyomingRevenge was on the table when OSU took on Wyoming, the team who handed the Buckeyes a loss on their first match of the season last year. It was the Buckeyes though, who came out on top on Friday, knocking off the Cowgirls in three sets. OSU had trailed for much of the first set against Wyoming, but the swinging power of senior middle hitter Taylor Sandbothe and company brought the Buckeyes out of the hole, eventually winning the set 25-22. The pattern continued for the second set, with the Cowgirls once again taking an early 0-4 lead. A Buckeye timeout was called, and senior middle blocker Kylie Randall gave the team their first point with a kill. After some point-for-point play, OSU regained the driver’s seat and cruised to a 25-17 second-set victory. OSU led the way almost the entire time in the third set, only tying at an early 1-1. The team ended the third and final set 25-17 on a kill by Schirmer. Sophomore outside hitter Audra Appold posted 12 kills on the match, six of which came in the third set. Sandbothe led both teams in kills and blocks with 14 and six, respectively. Sandbothe admits the team was off their mojo in the beginning, but she is glad they were able to stitch up the loose ends.  “We started off a little slow, but I think we trusted in our coaching staff, we trusted in the game plan and bringing it in the middle, refocusing our team and making sure we were going nose to the pavement,” she said.Head coach Geoff Carlston was also satisfied that his team could come through and redeem their loss from last season. “Wyoming’s a really good team. We lost to them last year … I’ve been nervous for this match, and I was really happy with how they played tonight,” he said. BYU The final match of the tournament featured No. 11 OSU taking on No. 10 BYU in a tooth-and-nail battle to stay undefeated.OSU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first set but had to battle a Cougars squad who didn’t back down. The first set was a back-and-forth affair, but ultimately OSU took home the first set. OSU also maintained the lead for the majority of the second set, until a kill from the Cougars’ McKenna Miller tied the score 24-24. However, two quick kills from Sandbothe put the Buckeyes ahead 2-0 heading into the third set. Despite the two strong sets from OSU, BYU’s attack was in full force in set No. 3, as the Buckeyes began to unravel from early mistakes finding themselves down 9-0. The woes continued, and at one occasion, the Buckeyes faced a 21-3 deficit, the largest they had seen all season. Three kills from OSU’s Wenz and errors on BYU’s side of the net helped the Buckeyes collect 11 points before the set’s end. OSU went on to lose the third, 14-25.  Fate was not kind to the Buckeyes again in the fourth set. They trailed the Cougars nearly the entire duration of the set. BYU won the set 25-20, forcing a fifth and final set. The Cougars took an early lead in the fifth that wasn’t relinquished in the 15-point, sudden-death set. Despite the Buckeyes’ efforts, they dropped the fifth and final set 15-9, marking their first loss of the season.BYU out-swung the Buckeyes 70 kills to 52 and held OSU to only a .126 attacking efficiency.OSU will see the floor again on Friday when they take on Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Missouri State and Green Bay during the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational in Springfield, Missouri.**Colin Gay contributed to this article read more