This may be a slow year for wind energy

However, that growth may stall due to not enough transmission lines, the report also found.

Wind power grew markedly in 2019, but experts expect much slower going for the industry this year. A report by the Global Wind Energy Council, an industry trade group, concluded that 2020 will see less growth, owing mostly to insufficient infrastructure.

Global wind-energy capacity grew by 60 gigawatts last year, representing a 10% increase, which is its second-highest annual growth ever, according to the report. The report noted especially strong expansion in China and the United States, and added that wind is now one of the cheapest sources of electricity, and it costs less per unit of power to build and maintain wind turbines than it does to fuel a fossil-fuel plant.

However, that growth may stall due to not enough transmission lines, the report also found. It indicated that U.S. wind generators will need approximately 1,200 miles of new transmission lines to effectively feed their communities’ energy needs, and U.S. federal investment for transmission capacity needs to grow first.

The report foresees single-digit growth this year, and a stable market of slow growth for the next four.

The report does not attribute this year’s anticipated industry slowdown to coronavirus—it was published in January before the virus went global. But the pandemic has caused disruptions in many other industries, and the association states in a recent press release states that the wind industry may suffer further from it as well.

“This forecast will undoubtedly be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, due to disruptions to global supply chains and project execution in 2020. However, it is too soon to predict the extent of the virus’s impact on the wider global economy and energy markets,” the release reads.

Europe stalls on developing energy storage

Energy storage systems store energy incoming from solar panels and other renewable-energy technologies.

Growth in Europe’s new energy-storage industry slowed substantially last year, and a study by the European Association for Storage of Energy (Ease) energy blames a lack of government support. The group voiced concern that if the industry does not resume growing, then the rollout of new renewable-energy systems that could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will in turn suffer.

Energy storage systems store energy incoming from solar panels and other renewable-energy technologies. Europe’s energy-storage capacity made a substantial growth of 1.47 gigawatt-hours in 2018, defying expectations, according to Ease. But in the newly published report, consultants for Ease noted that the industry grew only 1 gigawatt-hour last year.

The slowdown was especially sharp among large-scale storage projects that connect directly to energy grids. These large systems can help grids more effectively use renewable energy by storing it and making it available during times when there is not enough sun for solar panels to generate power, or not enough wind for wind turbines to run.

These systems government financial support and regulatory action to move forward, according to Ease. In its report, it cites a clean-energy policy that the EU has enacted for supporting clean-energy technologies, and it anticipates this policy being key to creating a framework  for investing in energy storage.

“The message is clear: even if energy storage is a key enabler of the energy transition and clearly seen as a major tool to achieve the emissions targets linked to the Paris agreement, more support is needed,” said Patrick Clerens, Ease secretary general.

Other energy analyses have found that the coronavirus pandemic is likely to slow renewable-energy development worldwide this year. A report by BloombergNEF forecasts that 2020 will be the first year since the 1980s that global solar energy capacity falls.

10 Tips for Staying Fit at an All-Inclusive Resort

You’re on vacation, after all. Here are some ways to feel good about keeping your fitness goals even when visiting an all-inclusive resort.

Relax. Really. You’re on vacation, after all. Here are some ways to feel good about keeping your fitness goals even when visiting an all-inclusive resort.

 

 

Approach the Buffet Wisely
Food is typically everywhere at all-inclusive resorts. It’s super hard to say no to an endless supply of calorie-heavy treats. But, you don’t have to deny yourself buffet bliss all vacation long. “You can have a couple days where you can say ‘I’m on vacation and I’m going to eat whatever I want to,'” says Atlanta-based personal trainer and nutrition coach Johnnie Perry. “But the other three days my diet is going to consist of healthy choices — protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts.” Perry suggests starting your day with a breakfast of protein and fats (like fresh fish). “You’ll have more energy and be able to enjoy what’s going on during the day.”

Take a Class
Until recently, I had been too shy to try one of those morning pool workouts — the ones where the most flexible member of the resort staff leads a group of vacationers in a routine of stretching and strength exercises under the stares of a lounging pool crowd. But then I took the plunge, literally, and found out that if I wasn’t actually closer to being able to touch the floor with my palms afterward, at least I jumpstarted my day with some early exercise. And I made some new friends.

Take Morning Walks
If you’re a runner, you know it can be hard to turn out a quick mile running through a bustling resort. Instead, kick the speed down a notch and enjoy a morning walk before breakfast. “Walking at a steady pace helps your body break into its fat stores,” says Perry. “Obviously, walking for five to 10 minutes won’t burn a ton of calories. However, if you build that up to three to six hours during the week of vacation, that’s a recipe for burning some excess fat without stress on the body.”

Bring the Gym With You
If your destination doesn’t offer a full gym, or one with equipment you’re not used to, then pack your own gym. A set of resistance bands is a good place to start. Watch this video for tips on how to pack a well-rounded travel fit kit.

Run on the Beach
Pavement pounders, use a week at the resort to take a break from running on hard surfaces. Running on the uneven beach can help train some of the stabilizer muscles in your feet, ankles and knees. Plus, running in the sand takes a little more effort than running on firm pavement, so you’ll burn more calories during your run.

Drink Water Along With Your Cocktails
Have a glass of water with every alcoholic drink. Alcohol dehydrates the body. When you dehydrate the body, it wants electrolytes, in the form of sodium, which leads to bad food choices like fries.

Ride a Bike
The resort’s stable of bikes might not be as well-maintained as yours at home. But, some resorts will offer guided tours that are safe (no cars whizzing by), and what could be better than seeing paradise by bike? And this article from Penn State University explains why biking is a great, low-impact exercise choice for the whole family.

Try a New Sport
If you get bored lying by the pool, run down the beach and take out a kayak or a paddle board for 30 minutes. Most all-inclusive beach resorts include watersport rentals with your stay. Resort staff would make sure weather and water conditions are safe, so this week at the resort is a good time to try something new. And most resorts will happily help you make reservations for guided, active excursions like snorkeling or kayaking off the resort property.

Use the Resort Gym
If your fitness routine includes working out at your local gym, you may walk a few circles around the resort’s fitness center trying to decide where to begin your workout. The resort’s equipment almost certainly will be different, and some equipment (like fitness bands, for example) may be completely missing. During your vacation, think about modifying your routine with bodyweight exercises to hold you over until you get back to your local fitness center. Perry suggests getting in a full-body workout every other day, with each workout lasting 35-45 minutes.

Make It a Rest Week
Yes, that’s right. Resting actually can help you build fitness. If you’re feeling stressed and a bit worn out from your early-morning workout routine, look at a week of vacation as an opportunity to give your body and mind time to recover. This article from Bicycling makes the case that taking a week off from your workout routine is helpful in the long run. “Your body is not going to forget,” says Perry. “It’s vacation. You’re supposed to enjoy yourself. One week off isn’t going to hurt you.”

The Top 15 Hotel Brands

The largest property in the Six Senses portfolio is the 113-room Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, in Chengdu, the brand’s first foray into China.

Oman, Vietnam, and the Seychelles. These are just a handful of the exotic locations where the World’s Best hotel brand has properties — so there’s never been a better time to cash in your points or miles for a first-class ticket, and stay at a Six Senses resort. “They have a great balance of luxury, relaxation, great food, and social responsibility,” said one reader of this debut winner, which has 11 properties worldwide. “The locations they have chosen are amazing.”

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, we ask readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated hotel brands on their locations, rooms and facilities, food, service, and overall value.

The largest property in the Six Senses portfolio is the 113-room Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, in Chengdu, the brand’s first foray into China. They will also soon be expanding to destinations including Fiji and Cambodia — and our readers are determined to follow (one said they couldn’t wait for the company to open its five luxury lodges in Bhutan at the end of the year). Clearly, remote locales aren’t a deterrent, but rather a draw for our readers, since this year’s winners also include the India-based Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and the Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts, as well as Alila Hotels & Resorts, a brand known for having properties in China, Indonesia, and the Middle East. One reader specifically called out the Alila Jabal Akhdar, an 86-room resort perched 6,500 feet high in the Al Hajar, or “green” mountains of Oman. “This hotel combines luxury with adventure, walking and hiking,” said the fan.

When it comes to companies that mainly focus on urban properties, readers once again chose the Peninsula Hotels — a brand that prides itself on intuitive service — but also recognized newcomer Rocco Forte Hotels, renowned for its stylish city hotels in European destinations like Berlin, London, and Florence. “We love the Hotel de Russie,” said one reader of this Rocco Forte property (which also happened to win No. 1 in Rome this year). The concierges are amazing, and we consider it a home away from home.”

15. Belmond

14. Thompson Hotels

13. Rocco Forte Hotels

12. Montage Hotels & Resorts

11. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

10. The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts

9. Aman

8. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

7. The Peninsula Hotels

6. One&Only Resorts

5. Capella Hotels & Resorts

4. Alila Hotels & Resorts

3. Auberge Resorts

2. Oetker Collection

1. Six Senses

Founded in 1995, the Six Senses brand prides itself on a sense of place, sustainable practices, and wellness — all things top-of-mind for travelers these days.

“One of the most cutting-edge brands in the market,” said one reader. In-house experts conduct wellness screenings to measure stress as well as discuss sleep health and optimal nutrition. Guests can embrace the local surroundings (say, by sipping Portuguese wines in the Douro Valley) and feel good about their carbon footprint, too, since energy-efficiency and waste-management procedures are strictly followed.

Guests can also learn about charity initiatives, including one that helps provide clean drinking water to an on-island kindergarten in Vietnam.

Airbnb delays IPO

AIrbnb shakeup: CFO is stepping down top female executive Belinda Johnson promoted to company’s first COO and company delays initial public offering.

A lot is happening at Airbnb in 2018, and it’s only the second month into the year. Airbnb will be losing its CFO, Laurence Tosi, who has been with the company since July 2015. The company will also be getting its first COO and finally the company will not be going public this year.

In a blog post, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky stated that Tosi will be leaving the company in order to “dedicate his full time and energy to his investment fund, Weston Capital Partners, and dedicate time to the several boards he currently sits on.”

According to CNBC, Airbnb, the short-term home rental company founded in 2008, was last valued at $31 billion and has been a private company for 10 years, which once considered an eternity in the venture capital world. However, this is no longer true as more and more tech start-ups are staying private for a longer period of time.

While Tosi is leaving, Airbnb is promoting its top female executive, Belinda Johnson, to the role of COO, the company’s first in its 10-year history. Johnson joined Airbnb in 2011 as chief business affairs and legal officer, where she led efforts to work with city governments and was at the forefront of the company’s many legal battles. Prior to Airbnb, she served as general counsel at Yahoo and Broadcast.com. She is considered one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley.

Chesky stated “the COO is one of the most critical positions in any company.” Before the holidays, I made a decision about who was right for this role, and I’m incredibly excited to announce that we have appointed Belinda Johnson.”

During his tenure at Airbnb, Tosi helped turn the startup profitable, through his experience on Wall Street and his financial discipline. Tosi, served as CFO for Blackstone Group before joining Airbnb in 2015. His decision to leave the company most likely stemmed from Chesky’s decision to promote Johnson, due to their different philosophies.

Tosi’s departure raises questions about the timeline for an initial public offering, which now won’t come until next year at the earliest. “We’re working on getting ready to go public and we will make decisions about going public on our own timetable,” said Chesky.

Astronomers discover extremely luminous nova

First nova ever found in Small Magellanic Cloud is studied in multiple wavelengths.

What might be one of the most luminous stars ever detected is actually a nova or explosion that occurred in a binary system consisting of a white dwarf and Sun-like star in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

White dwarfs are stellar remnants of stars not massive enough to have died in supernova explosions.

The Small Magellanic Cloud is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 200,000 light years away.

Using NASA’s Swift satellite, scientists at the University of Leicester discovered the extremely bright nova, caused by the white dwarf’s sucking of material from the regular star until critical pressure was reached, causing the sudden brightness increase.

Led by researchers at the South African Astronomical Observatory, the scientists also observed the nova with ground-based telescopes in several countries, including South Africa, Australia, and South America.

Designated SMCN 2016-10a, the nova, one of the brightest observed in any galaxy, was discovered on October 14, 2016.

The term “nova” means new. Centuries ago, astronomers thought these suddenly bright objects to be new stars as opposed to what they really are–dying old ones.

White dwarfs emit both visible light and high-energy X-rays. By studying their emissions in various wavelengths, scientists can determine their temperatures and compositions.

This is the first time astronomers have spotted a nova in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Approximately 35 are seen in the Milky Way each year.

“Swift’s ability to respond rapidly, together with its daily-planned schedule, makes it ideal for the followup of transients, including novae,” said Swift team X-ray analysis leader Kim Page of the University of Leicester.

“It was able to observe the nova throughout its eruption, starting to collect very useful X-ray and UV data within a day of the outburst first being reported. The X-ray data were essential in showing that the mass of the white dwarf is close to the theoretical maximum; continued accretion might cause it eventually to be totally destroyed in a supernova explosion.”

Paul Kuin of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at University College London, who organized the UV data, described the ability to observe the nova in multiple wavelengths as key to this being the most comprehensive nova study ever conducted.

Findings of the study have been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Auroras at Jupiter’s poles act independently

Researchers take advantage of rare opportunity to observe polar regions through Juno mission and space telescopes.

Auroras in Jupiter’s north and south polar regions act independently of one another, according to observations conducted by a study team using the European Space Agency’s (ESA) X-MM-Newton telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Researchers at University College in London and at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics led a study of high-energy X-ray auroras at both of Jupiter’s poles and were surprised to learn that unlike auroras on the poles of other planets, those at Jupiter’s poles do not mirror one another but pulse independently.

Activities of Earth’s north and south pole auroras mirror one another. Saturn does not appear to experience any X-ray auroras.

X-ray pulses at Jupiter’s south pole occur regularly every 11 minutes while those at its north pole are chaotic, with unpredictable increases and decreases in brightness.

“We didn’t expect to see Jupiter’s X-ray hot spots pulsing independently, as we thought their activity would be coordinated through the planet’s magnetic field,” explained study lead author William Dunn of both UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory in the UK and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“We need to study this further to develop ideas for how Jupiter produces its X-ray aurora, and NASA’s Juno mission is really important for this.”

The researchers observed Jupiter using both space observatories in May and June of 2016 and in March 2007 to map the planet’s X-ray emissions and identify X-ray hot spots at its poles.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which arrived at Jupiter in 2016, does not have a science instrument capable of detecting X-rays; however, it is collecting other data at the polar regions that scientists hope to combine with the X-MM and Chandra data to better understand the planet’s auroras.

Scientists are fortunate that Juno is studying both of Jupiter’s poles at the same time, making it possible for them to compare activity at the poles with the giant planet’s complex magnetic interactions, emphasized study co-author Graziella Banduardi-Raymont of UCL Space and Climate Physics.

“If we can start to connect the X-ray signatures with the physical processes that produce them, then we can use those signatures to understand other bodies across the universe, such as brown dwarfs, exoplanets, or maybe even neutron stars,” Dunn stated.

One theory the researchers hope to test as they observe Jupiter’s polar activity over the next two years is that the northern and southern auroras form separately as a result of interactions between the planet’s magnetic field and the solar wind.

A paper discussing the findings has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

 

100-year-old fruitcake found in Antarctica in ‘excellent condition’

Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust, based in New Zealand, recently found the fruitcake in a hut at Cape Adare, the oldest building in Antarctica.

A team excavating Cape Adare in Antarctica, where British explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s party took shelter during their 1910-1913 Terra Nova expedition, has stumbled on a century-old fruitcake in such good condition that it looks and smells almost edible.

Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust, based in New Zealand, recently found the fruitcake in a hut at Cape Adare — the oldest building in Antarctica.

Although the tin the cake came in, manufactured by British biscuit company Huntley & Palmers, was in poor condition, the cake itself seemed almost as if it had been bought yesterday.

“With just two weeks to go on the conservation of the Cape Adare artifacts, finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise,” said Programme Manager-Artefacts Lizzie Meeks, in a statement. “It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favorite on modern trips to the Ice.”

Scott and his four-person team arrived at the South Pole in 1912, but all died while returning to their base camp on Cape Evans, according to National Geographic.

Conservators have been excavating artifacts at Cape Adare since 2016. The hut where they found the fruitcake was built by Norwegian explorer Carsten Borchgrevink’s team in 1899.

“Fruitcake is not something that people usually get excited about, but this discovery shows what a spectacular environment for historic preservation the Antarctic is,” wrote Stephanie Barczewski, a historian at Clemson University, in an email to National Geographic.

15,000 scientists issue dire warning to humanity

Time is running out to save planet, say more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries.

If the world does not take immediate action to combat the growing problems caused by greenhouse gases, population growth, and dwindling resources, humanity and other living things on planet Earth will suffer.

This message — by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries — is an update to an original warning issued in 1992 by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Today’s experts say the situation is far more dire now than it was 25 years ago, and that nearly all the problems identified then have only gotten worse.

The only area of improvement has been in reducing the use of chemicals damaging to the ozone layer, the scientists say. Otherwise the trends are alarming.

For example, human population has risen by 35 percent; the number of ocean “dead zones” has increased by 75 percent; carbon emissions continue to increase significantly; and the number of animal populations, including birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, has decreased by nearly one-third.

“Humanity is now being given a second notice,” writes U.S. ecologist Prof. William Ripple from Oregon State University, in the online journal BioScience, as reported by the Independent. “By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.”

Ripple cautioned people against dismissing the warning as a false alarm, saying the scientist signatories, drawing on a wealth of governmental and other data, see the path the world is treading as unsustainable.

“Soon it will be too late to shift away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out,” warns the letter. “We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”

‘Snowball Earth’ may have helped give rise to Earth’s first animals

Those new conditions perfectly allowed algae to spread across the globe. That then created the burst of energy needed for more complex organisms to thrive.

A group of researchers led by scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have shed light on the mystery of how animals first appeared on Earth, a recent study published in the journal Nature reports.

The team began their researcher after uncovering ancient sedimentary rocks in central Australia. While researchers had previously been aware of such formations, new technology helped them look into the stones in a way that was not possible in the past. After looking into the rocks, scientists crushed them into powder and took molecules from the long-dead organisms inside them. This analysis revealed algae first began to rise some 650 million years ago.

That finding is important because, not only does it give a more concrete timeline of when multi-celled organisms first appeared on Earth, but it also sheds light on one of the most important ecological revolutions in the history of the world. In fact, without that event modern animals — including humans — would not exist today.

“Before all of this happened, there was a dramatic event 50 million years earlier called Snowball Earth,” said lead author Jochen Brocks, an associate professor at the Australian National University, according to Phys.org. “The Earth was frozen over for 50 million years. Huge glaciers ground entire mountain ranges to powder that released nutrients, and when the snow melted during an extreme global heating event rivers washed torrents of nutrients into the ocean.”

Those new conditions perfectly allowed algae to spread across the globe. That then created the burst of energy needed for more complex organisms to thrive. It was also the first time the oceans were dominated by life other than bacteria.

This discovery is the first evidence that Snowball Earth was directly evolved in the evolution of large and complex life. Researchers hope it will lead to further research into the origins of animals and spur other studies on one of the world’s oldest mysteries.

“The reason why [the timeline] is so exciting is it is just before animals appeared and also exciting because it happened after the biggest climatic catastrophe in Earth’s history,” added Brocks, according to ABC Online.

The findings will be presented this week at the Goldschmidt Conference in Paris, France.