Growing affordability of renewables boosts solar and wind in key global markets

first_imgGrowing affordability of renewables boosts solar and wind in key global markets FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Business Green:New wind and solar plants are now cheaper than new coal and gas plants in countries that cover two-thirds of the global population and are capable of undercutting wholesale power prices in a growing number of key markets, according to the latest Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) Update from BloombergNEF.The influential analyst firm yesterday released its twice yearly update on the cost competitiveness of different power generation and energy storage technologies, excluding subsidies. Its headline finding was that new solar and onshore wind power plants have now reached parity with average wholesale prices in California and parts of Europe, while in China levelized costs for wind and solar are now below the average regulated coal power price.The milestones were the result of continued sharp reduction in renewables costs with BNEF calculating that its global benchmark levelized cost figures for onshore wind and PV projects financed in the last six months stood at $47 and $51/MWh, down six percent and 11 percent respectively compared to the first half of 2019.The fall in wind energy costs was attributed to continuing reductions in wind turbine prices, while solar cost reductions were partly the result of intense competition in a Chinese market experiencing relatively slow demand which has in turn put pressure on capital expenditure for new projects.“We estimate that some of the cheapest PV projects financed recently will be able to achieve an LCOE of $27-36/MWh, assuming competitive returns for their equity investors,” BNEF said. “Those can be found in India, Chile and Australia. Best-in-class onshore wind farms in Brazil, India, Mexico and Texas can reach levelized costs as low as $26-31/MWh already.”Tifenn Brandily, associate in BNEF’s energy economics team and the report’s author, said the continuing cost reductions will have huge implications for both how energy systems operate and global decarbonisation efforts.“This is a three-stage process,” he predicted. “In phase one, new solar and wind get cheaper than new coal and gas plants on a cost-of-energy basis. In phase two, renewables reach parity with power prices. In phase three, they become even cheaper than running existing thermal plants. Our analysis shows that phase one has now been reached for two-thirds of the global population. Phase two started with California, China and parts of Europe. We expect phase three to be reached on a global scale by 2030.”More: BNEF: Plummeting renewables costs give solar and wind cost parity in key marketslast_img read more

U.S. utility executives hint at new round of coal plant retirements

first_imgU.S. utility executives hint at new round of coal plant retirements FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):U.S. coal producers are already in a tough spot, but the hints power generators dropped on second-quarter earnings calls suggest they may soon be announcing plans to retire even more of the nation’s aging coal fleet.Demand for coal has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with production and employment in the sector falling to new lows as the lower demand weighs further on a sector already in secular decline. In recent weeks, multiple power generators made comments about the future of their generation fleets suggesting more coal plant retirements loom on the horizon.“We certainly look at the technology, which is out there, and we’ve certainly seen renewable energy technology and their related costs continue to come down,” Ameren Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Warner Baxter said on an Aug. 7 earnings call, responding to a question about the company’s integrated resource planning activities in Missouri. He added the company would “take a careful look at our coal-fired energy centers and the useful lives of those plants” and “really think about what’s really going to deliver value to our customers in the state of Missouri.” An Ameren spokesperson said the company would share additional details upon filing the integrated resource plan, or IRP, in September.Executives with Wisconsin-headquartered Alliant Energy Corp. said on an Aug.7 earnings call that while they have not announced any early retirements in Iowa, they are evaluating potential coal plant shutdowns as part of the under-development “Clean Energy Blueprint” plan. “We’ll have some more information to share later this year on any potential early retirements for Iowa state,” Alliant Executive Vice President and CFO Robert Durian said on the call. A spokesman for Alliant did not respond to an inquiry about potential coal plant retirements.Ameren and Alliant both operate coal fleets that extensively source coal from the Powder River Basin. That region, which produces a high volume of relatively low energy content coal with few export options, has seen drastically reduced demand in recent years. Both companies’ hints at reassessing their coal fleets fit into a broader theme: when U.S. power producers talk about coal on public calls held for investors, it typically involves plans to transition away from the once-dominant fuel.Power generators continue the steady march of coal plant retirements, even under a friendly presidential administration that campaigned on bringing back jobs in coal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently completed a coal combustion residuals rule that Vistra Corp. President and CEO Curtis Morgan said would have “far-reaching implications for the power sector.” Morgan noted that the company would provide a formal update on its site-level plans at a virtual investor event in September.Evergy Inc. President and CEO Terry Bassham touted the company’s retirement of more than 2,400 MW of fossil fuel generation since 2005. He noted that the company has added or contracted 4,600 MW of renewables in the meantime. Bassham told analysts and investors that the Missouri utility would continue to “economically retire coal-fired generation” and expand its wind and solar footprint as part of a new five-year strategic plan. “While we’re still targeting 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2005 levels, under this plan we have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions as much as 85% by 2030. A material improvement in our CO2 footprint over the next 10 years,” the CEO said.[Darren Sweeney and Taylor Kuykendall]More ($): U.S. utilities, power providers continue plans to accelerate coal retirementslast_img read more

House Mountain

first_imgApproaching it from the east on I-64, House Mountain outside of Lexington, Virginia, stands alone, rising abruptly from lowland valleys. As travelers continue westward, the mountain takes on a different look, with two distinct summits, each towering above the U-shaped saddle that separates them. A campaign in the late 1980s by volunteer members of the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council and the Virginia Outdoor Foundation proved successful and the upper portion of House Mountain is now preserved for all to enjoy.With the first part of the hike gradually ascending along a woods road, this is the perfect locale to bring the kids. A shelter and spring, located in the saddle, add to the comfort of spending a night on the mountain. With superb views, multitudes of wildflowers, and an array of wildlife, House Mountain can be a rewarding outing.An open farm meadow near the beginning furnishes a hint of the views to come, while the gated road at 1.0 mile leads onto private property; stay left and walk by raspberry and blackberry bushes that may tempt you to tarry if you do the hike at this time of year. Take a break when you reach the saddle at 2.2 miles and wander around the meadow where daisies and asters grow tall, snakes and turtles creep through lush grasses, and foxes, deer and even bears have been seen here. Although it surely must have been a struggle to live here in times past, you can’t help but envy the beauty those folks were privileged to experience every day.Return to the roadway intersection and turn right, making another right onto the shelter’s side trail at 2.3 miles. If this is going to be your home for the night, you can leave the bulk of your equipment here and just take a jacket and some drinking water when you return to the main route to continue the climb.The ascent steepens, but the views continue to get better. More than a thousand feet below is a mosaic of rectangular farm fields stretching across the Shenandoah Valley. Like the scenic backdrop of a theatrical stage production, the main crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains sweep upward to the eastern horizon.An old communications tower building announces that you have reached the summit of Big House Mountain (3,645 feet) at 3.2 miles. Although there is no view from this particular point, consider wandering around a bit, possibly finding a view or two from rock outcroppings hidden by overgrown vegetation.50 Hikes in Southern Virginia provides details of the hike.last_img read more

Must Be Something in the Water

first_imgDear EarthTalk: Pharmaceuticals were in the news again recently, how they are polluting water and raising a host of health issues because we dispose of them both unused and used through body waste elimination. What can be done? — Lucy Abbot, Macon, GAPharmaceutical drug contamination in our groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries and bays is a growing problem. Millions of us are flushing unused medications down the toilet and discharging them in our body waste—even though sewage treatment plants and septic systems were never designed to deal with such contaminants. Additional discharges by healthcare facilities exacerbate the problem. As a result, researchers have identified traces of pharmaceutical drugs in the drinking water supplies of some 40 million Americans.A nationwide study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1999 and 2000 found low levels of pharmaceuticals—including antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids—in 80 percent of the rivers and streams sampled. According to Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), the effects of constant, low-level exposure of pharmaceuticals on ecosystems and humans are uncertain, though “possible health concerns include hormone disruption, antibiotic resistance and synergistic effects.” And antidepressants, says CCE, can “alter the behavior and reproductive functions of fish and mollusks.”CCE cites a recent Stony Brook University study showing that some fish species in New York’s Jamaica Bay are experiencing “feminization”—the ratio of female to male winter flounder was 10 to one in the studied area—likely a result of flushed pharmaceuticals that can act as “hormone mimics” and cause such effects. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation concurs, citing a number of other studies underscoring the impacts on aquatic life. What irks CCE about the problem is that almost all known sources of drugs in the environment first pass through wastewater treatment plants where they could be filtered out, but these facilities are not required to be equipped with pharmaceutical filter devices.In light of the problem, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007 established its first set of guidelines for how consumers should dispose of prescription drugs. First and foremost, consumers should follow any specific disposal instructions on a drug’s label or the patient information that accompanies the medication—and shouldn’t flush the drugs down the toilet. If there are no disposal instructions, the FDA recommends finding out from your municipality if any take-back programs are in place. Also, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Days across the country at various sites a few times a year. 1 2last_img read more

The Next National Monument?

first_imgVisiting the Cranberry Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest of southeast West Virginia is like going back in time. Ancient red spruce cast their shadows over mountains and ridges, peat bogs, and ice-cold streams teeming with native trout.The Cranberry Wilderness, which stretches over some 48,000 acres and sits in a pocket created by the convergence of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Nicholas counties, also happens to be the largest federally-protected wilderness area in the east. Hikers, campers, anglers, mountain-bikers, bird-watchers, tree-huggers, hunters, and others have mounted their excursions into the wilderness for years from nearby gateway towns like Marlinton, Richwood, and Lewisburg.But a specter has recently been cast over this unique treasure: West Virginia’s natural gas industry is booming faster than people can make decisions about how to deal with it. West Virginia is, after all, a literal mine of natural resources. It sits atop the prolific Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale. While coal has long helped fuel the state’s economy, it is the rise of fracking, or the extraction of natural gas, that has begun to worry some about its potential impact on the Cranberry Wilderness and the headwaters located there. While there are currently no plans on the table to frack inside this corner of the forest, there are several proposed interstate pipelines that would run through it.That has a diverse group of West Virginians worried—especially in the wake of the disastrous Elk River chemical spill in January 2014 that contaminated the drinking water for some 300,000 people near Charleston. What if something similar would happen in this area, which happens to be the headwaters of six major rivers—the Cranberry, Cherry, Gauley, Williams, Greenbrier, and the Elk?Gauley_FIX“The water people use downstream starts up in our mountains,” says Angie Rosser, the executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and one of the leaders of a three-year-old proposal to turn the Cranberry Wilderness and thousands of acres surrounding it into a National Monument.That proposal, dubbed the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, would add another 70,000 acres to the protected parcel for a total of nearly 120,000 acres. It’s being championed by a coalition of local politicians, hunters and anglers, mountain-biking and whitewater enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and others who, far from being anti-energy, are focused on preserving access to the wilderness for generations to come.“There are some places that should simply be off the table when it comes to development or heavy energy extractions, and this area should be one of those,” says Lee Orr, chairman of the West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited.What is a National Monument Anyway?A national monument is federally protected land that can be designated directly by the president. There are currently 117 national monuments in the U.S. spanning 30 states. The first one was Devils Tower in Wyoming, which President Theodore Roosevelt created in 1906 after the passage of the Antiquities Act, which gives the president the power to preserve landmarks or structures with historic or scientific interest. Most U.S. presidents have followed Roosevelt’s lead in adding to the tally. But it is President Barack Obama, who has created 19 monuments covering some two million acres, who is the current record holder.That’s given members of the coalition hope that the president, who created three new monuments as recently as July 2015, would look westward from D.C. to the country roads of West Virginia to create his next one.More realistically, the coalition hopes that their former governor and now senator, Joe Manchin, will step up to the plate since the U.S. Congress can also create National Monuments through legislation.But the path to getting from here to there promises to be a rocky one politically. For one, the decision to pursue the designation of a national monument has admittedly created some confusion among locals about what a National Monument really is. While the state of Arizona has 30 of them, for instance, West Virginia has none.That’s led some residents to question whether the designation will somehow restrict activities like hunting and fishing or that sections would be paved under and turned into paid parking lots. Some of that mix-up might result from a failed attempt by then Governor Manchin several years ago to create a National Park in a different part of the state—an effort that failed to attract the support of just about anyone.That might also explain why a common catchphrase among skeptics today is: “Why not just leave things the way they are?”Strangely enough, the goal of the Birthplace of Rivers coalition is, in fact, to do just that: to keep things exactly the way they are. That includes continuing to allow timber harvests within the boundaries of the proposed monument and ensuring that outdoorspeople of all types will continue to have access to the wilderness regardless of any political maneuvering that might occur in D.C. or Charleston in the future.“We jumped on board in support of this monument a while back,” says Orr of Trout Unlimited. “It’s basically a name change. If angling or hunting would be restricted in any form, we would pull our support. This area contains some of the best native trout fishing anywhere on the east coast. Some people think that keeping a resource serves to protect it. We feel the monument designation would serve to promote the area, which could use an economic boost.”Indeed, an economic impact study commissioned by supporters found that designating the wilderness as a National Monument would attract some 42 percent more visitors from all over the country, create more jobs and lead to a net economic impact of more than $4.3 million a year.Those are encouraging numbers to John Manchester, the long-time mayor of Lewisburg, a town of 3,800 residents in Greenbrier County that sits just about 60 miles outside the proposed monument boundaries. Manchester says his town already serves as a basecamp for visitors who may want to relax in a comfy hotel bed or grab a hot meal at one of many restaurants that line Lewisburg’s downtown before heading into the wilderness.He thinks the National Monument designation would spur even more people to visit his town and also to take advantage of the many outfitters who also make their home there. “There are clear benefits to the community both in job development and economic impact that would accrue from such a designation,” says Manchester, adding that the city council in Lewisburg has already passed a resolution in support of the Birthplace of Rivers proposal.The Path AheadSupporters continue to rally for the National Monument designation. They all share the hope that Senator Manchin will step up and sponsor the legislation needed to get there before it’s too late.     “This is a special place,” says David Lillard, special projects manager for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “If ever there was a place that deserved to shine, this is it. Whatever else goes on, we have to protect this place. Let’s deal with the uncertainty of the future now. This would be a real shot in the arm for the state. We deserve this.”last_img read more

Retired Air Force Veteran Finds Peace On The Appalachian Trail

first_imgAs Adele Loar reached the summit of McAfee’s Knob she proudly posed for a picture displaying a flag for No Barriers USA. The 47-year-old retired Air Force Master Sgt. is hiking 2,190 miles, the entire distance of the Appalachian Trail, to raise money for No Barriers USA. This is an organization that helped “clear up her headspace”, as she put it, after being wounded in Iraq.Loar was a Special Agent assigned to the Strategic Counterintelligence Directorate in Baghdad, Iraq. Her team was tasked with gathering information from Iraqi Civilians to determine current threats. On February 20, 2006, while in route to a military base to deliver critical information the armored vehicle, Loar struck an improvised explosive device (IED). The blast pushed the SUV through a barrier and it fell 30-feet to the road below. The explosion did extensive damage to Loar’s body.  Two team members riding with her, OSI Special Agent Daniel J. Kuhlmeier and Army Sgt. Jessie Davila, were killed at impact.Loar’s injuries included loss of sight in her right eye, damage to her shoulder and a broken jaw. She is also diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and suffers from survivor guilt.In the years following the event she struggled to maintain, often making commitments only to give up without finishing. Loar’s PTSD and survivor guilt were affecting her life and pushing her to quit.In 2014, No Barriers Warriors introduced Loar to backpacking that provides her with therapy in the form of hiking. This organization empowers veterans with disabilities to overcome barriers and unleash their full potential. Loar joined the Warriors to Summit program of No Barriers and climbed Mount Whitney in California with her team. Mount Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States with a summit height of 14,505 feet.“It took me over eight years to accept and be ok with surviving the attack.  Two great men died, who had children and I really felt like the wrong person survived.  Then it dawned on me, I was doing an injustice to the fallen, by not living.”  —Adele LoarNo Barriers USA was founded in 2003. It was designed to help adults and children with disabilities bring positive change to their lives. They do this by providing transformative educational experiences with a focus on taking people out of their comfort zones and exploring the world. In 2010, No Barriers added its Soldiers to Summits program now known as, No Barriers Warriors. This program helps disabled veterans overcome their physical and mental health challenges.Loar’s victory on Mount Whitney and the program at No Barriers inspired her to live a “no barriers life”. It was this inspiration that provided the courage and faith in her abilities to meet the challenges associated with hiking the Appalachian Trail.Loar says she wanted to hike the AT as a fundraiser for No Barriers and to just to celebrate being alive.“It took me over eight years to accept and be ok with surviving the attack.  Two great men died, who had children and I really felt like the wrong person survived.  Then it dawned on me, I was doing an injustice to the fallen, by not living.”Loar began hiking the AT last year, but had to leave the trail when her brother suffered a heart attack. She returned to the AT this May to finish what she started and hopes to have the journey completed sometime in September.“The Appalachian Trail is helping me find inner peace,” she said. “In the woods, I feel happy.  No one cares I’m half blind and I trip every other step, or I can’t remember where I’ve already walked.  Everyone is supportive out here. When you get to talk with people, you become part of the trail together.  Everyone wants everyone else to make it to Katahdin.”Each year thousands of disabled veterans return home from service and find greater challenges in their day to day lives than expected. The unseen disabilities are often as crippling as the physical disabilities. Thanks to organizations such as No Barriers USA, returning disabled veterans, like Loar, find help and encouragement that provides a path for strength and healing.Loar’s unstoppable forward motion, combined with a strong military past and her kind demeanor has earned her the trail name Storm.  This twenty-one year Air Force veteran may have returned from service with scars, but she is proving to herself and her country that she is still a valuable member of society and a true soldier.last_img read more

Colombian Defense Minister Santos Raises Reward For Capture of FARC Leaders

first_imgBy Dialogo March 27, 2009 Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos increased rewards for information leading to the capture of the FARC’s top two commanders, Alfonso Cano and Jorge Briceño, to 7 million pesos ($2.9 million) each. Meanwhile, in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, admirers hailed a former Colombian guerrilla leader as a hero on the anniversary of his death, while Colombian officials boosted cash rewards for his top two successors. Some 100 supporters marched past Venezuela’s presidential palace carrying red flags and posters of Colombian revolutionary Manuel Marulanda, whose real name was Pedro Antonio Marin. The state-funded television network Telesur, meanwhile, showed video of what it said was Marulanda’s funeral. Rebels were shown carrying his flag-draped coffin through a forest. Telesur did not say how it had obtained the footage. Marulanda co-founded the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the Western Hemisphere’s last remaining rebel army. He died of a heart attack on March 26, 2008, at age 78 and is believed to be buried in southern Colombia. Colombian officials say they believe he died in rugged mountains near the town of Uribe, cradle of the 45-year-old rebel movement. “Long live Marulanda, long live the FARC!” Hector Rodriguez, a leader of the Venezuelan Communist Youth, shouted in a fiery speech in downtown Caracas. Participant Santiago Palacios, a member of the Venezuelan Communist Party, said President Hugo Chavez’s government had no role in the march, which he said was organized by the regional leftist group Coordinadora Continental Bolivariana and its Venezuelan affiliates. But Colombia’s government, which has used billions of dollars in U.S. aid to batter the guerrillas, says documents found in the laptop computer of a rebel leader killed last year indicate that the CCB was formed by the FARC _ a charge that CCB leaders deny. Other documents allegedly found in the laptop suggest that Chavez sought to fund the FARC, and Colombian officials say Venezuela continues to provide rebels refuge. Chavez calls both claims bogus. Colombia’s police chief, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, also announced the arrest of 10 alleged FARC members he said planned to assassinate Santos on his ranch south of Bogota during Easter Week.last_img read more

USNS Comfort Delivers Charitable Goods To Haitians

first_imgBy Dialogo April 23, 2009 Continuing Promise 2009 (CP09) delivered charitable goods to Mission Ranch Orphanage in Citi Soleil. Mission Ranch Orphanage, which stems from the Famine Relief Foundation, is a non-governmental organization that rescues orphaned children in the poorest sections of Haiti. “Our mission is quite simple,” said Mark Dreibelbis, president of Famine Relief Foundation and Mission Ranch Orphanage. “We go into the darkest places and provide a beacon of hope, humanitarian service, education and supply for the impoverished people of Citi Soleil.” Project Handclasp donated the goods to Mission Ranch Orphanage and other organizations throughout Haiti. Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program established in 1962 to collect and distribute donated humanitarian, educational, and goodwill materials using empty cargo space on Navy ships. Materials are distributed directly to needy recipients by U.S. service personnel. Through direct person-to-person contact in the conduct of community relations endeavors, Project Handclasp plays a vital role in enabling the Navy to carry out its mission of fostering peace and goodwill by promoting international friendship and trust. Their outreach in Haiti for CP09 included delivery of more than 1.4 million high nutrition meals, 350 water filters, wheelchairs, over-the-counter medications, and medical and hygiene pallets. Mission Ranch Orphanage received two pallets of medical supplies and two pallets of hygiene supplies. “CP09’s delivery is a tremendous blessing,” Dreibelbis said. “The resources delivered will provide recovery and restoration to one of the poorest cities in the world.” Aside from being an orphanage the staff at Mission Ranch Orphanage also provides basic medical care to the victims of violence in Citi Soleil. “There is so much uncontrolled violence associated with gang activity in this part of the country,” Dreibelbis said. “We provide medical care for up to twelve people a day coming in with gashes, cuts, burns, and machete wounds. The resources we are receiving will sustain our medical supply for over a year to enable care for people after CP09 departs Haiti.” The organization was established five years ago and this is the first time it partnered with the CP mission. “There is so much potential here for future missions,” Dreibelbis said. “Our organization is a liaison between the walls of the medical sites and the rest of the community. There is so much going on outside the gates of the medical sites and CP09’s support for our organization is building a bigger network to provide help to the people who cannot access the sites.” The Director of Mission Ranch Orphanage, Remedor Fritzner, a native of Citi Soleil, Haiti, highlighted the fact that the Citi Soleil community had never associated the U.S. military with humanitarian aid. “Now the Citi Soleil community will understand clearly that Americans are willing to help,” said Fritzner. “Everyone is talking about CP09 here. Seeing people in uniform used to be something they feared and now they realize that they are here to help.” CP09’s crew is expected to leave Haiti April 19 and will move on with its four month humanitarian and civic assistance mission to other Latin America and the Caribbean region countries to include The Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Panama, Colombia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.last_img read more

Mexican Drug Cartel Branches Out in Costa Rica

first_imgBy Dialogo December 15, 2010 Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel has established bases and storage depots in Costa Rica from which it ships drugs to the United States, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) representative said. Drug trafficking in Costa Rica now “will certainly increase because Mexican drug traffickers are already here, especially the Sinaloa” cartel, Philip Springer said in an interview with ADN radio. The DEA agent said Costa Rica for many years was used as a transshipment point for drugs, “but in the past year-and-a-half to two years, most of the drugs belong to the Sinaloa cartel.” Headed by Joaquin Guzman, who broke out of a Mexican prison in 2001, the Sinaloa is considered Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel. It has set up “bases here… and they’re sending Costa Rican drugs from storage depots” to the United States, Springer said. Springer’s comments coincide with San Jose’s request that Congress renew a six-month permit for US Navy ships to use its ports both to rest their crews and as part of a regional anti-drug trafficking effort. It also comes amid Costa Rica’s simmering border dispute with Nicaragua over a stretch of the San Juan river that serves as border between the two countries, in a jungle region local newspapers on Monday said is controlled by drug traffickers. Costa Rica since 1948 has been constitutionally without a military. Security Minister Jose Maria Tijerino on Monday denied the press reports, but warned Costa Rica has the right to request foreign military assistance to deal with Nicaragua. “Costa Rica is under attack, so it is fully justified should it seek help from friendly nations,” the minister told a press conference. Costa Rican experts said Mexican drug traffickers are extending their tentacles across Central America to take control of all cocaine shipment routes from South America to the United States. They fear the Sinaloa cartel will bring to Costa Rica all the rivalry and bloodshed of Mexico’s drug cartel wars, which have killed more than 28,000 people since 2006 despite a government crackdown with 50,000 troops across the country.last_img read more

Interview with Admiral Edmundo González Robles, Chief Naval Officer of the Chilean Navy

first_img DIÁLOGO: What are the benefits and the lessons learned from participating in these exercises in association with other nations? Admiral Edmundo González Robles: Undoubtedly, the chief threat to maritime security today is activities linked to drug trafficking, which in Chile’s case still prefers to use terrestrial alternatives to reach its customers. In the area of national security, relations with our neighbors are always factors of care and concern, in which regard Chile is making ongoing efforts so that they may be overcome in time. DIÁLOGO: What role does the Chilean Navy have in maritime drug interdiction and how do the other branches of the Armed Forces and the security forces support it? Admiral González Robles: The Chilean Navy’s maritime authority has numerous legal foundations, all of which are part of the legal order of the Chilean state and provide the basis for the tasks it is responsible for carrying out as a maritime police force. Some of the legal supports related to maritime authority and the fight against drug trafficking have emanated from legislative initiatives of the state itself, in view of the need to provide police activity in the maritime sphere with the necessary legal framework. Nevertheless, other regulations have been incorporated into the national legal framework for carrying out these police activities, given the various international commitments the country has made in its ongoing interest in contributing to the fight against this illicit activity. As a result, maritime interdiction, understood for the national case as a role belonging to the maritime authority, is fully supported by the legal provisions applying to its activities in jurisdictional waters, as is the case of our territorial waters. The other branches of the Armed Forces, since they lack the relevant legal backing, do not have the power to participate in maritime interdiction activity, insofar as they do not form part of the maritime authority, nor, therefore, can they be considered a maritime police force. With regard to the security forces, the Carabineros and the Investigative Police, they could possibly participate, but only if, in accordance with the national legal order, a public prosecutor issues an order authorizing a police agent other than the maritime police force to participate in a particular operation. Finally, the Chilean state, as a party to the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and the Convention on the Law of the Sea, has signed bilateral agreements for the purpose of carrying out maritime interdiction procedures in non-territorial waters in cases of suspected drug trafficking. DIÁLOGO: Changing the subject, what is the chief security threat that Chile is facing today, in your opinion? Admiral Edmundo González Robles: EXPONAVAL’s success is based on several factors: it’s the first of its kind and the only one in Latin America. Its joint institutional structure, bringing together a private firm with expertise in events of this kind, which takes care of the business matters, and very committed sponsorship by the Chilean Navy, playing a major role in the organization and execution of the topical lectures, has been a determining factor in its success. A good international image of our Navy, we think, is a factor to consider. Admiral Edmundo González Robles: Even if this question has been relatively covered by the previous answer, it can be reaffirmed that these exercises have brought various benefits, with a transverse effect on all the levels of management that participate. On the political level, it has been understood that there exist new threats that cannot be compartmentalized, but on the contrary require international complementary efforts, and for this reason, navies with ocean-going capabilities (blue-water navies) are required; on the strategic level of the Armed Forces, although we’ve concentrated on the role of navies, there’s a greater consciousness every day that multi-agency action is also desirable and necessary, due to the danger and dynamism of the threats, something which creates possible scenarios for adding flexibility to the legal provisions in effect; on the operational level, as has already been said, there’s been a gain in interoperability, which encompasses both material aspects and, perhaps more importantly, procedures for attaining greater effectiveness. And finally, these exercises have enabled greater familiarity with one another among navies, from their authorities to their resources, which in the regional sphere has a considerable value for the sake of winning mutual trust, a factor that helps to consolidate peace, the Armed Forces’ primordial objective. DIÁLOGO: The United States and Chile have participated in numerous regional naval cooperation exercises, with PANAMAX being the largest. What benefit do these exercises have in the fight against regional threats? Admiral Edmundo González Robles: EXPONAVAL’s importance is that it provides a nearby showcase for Latin American navies where the technologies presented are oriented toward demands at similar levels. Internationally, it’s an opportunity for more developed defense industries to exhibit their available technologies, establish contact with authorities in countries of interest, and in some case, initiate actual contracts. In this regard, everyone benefits. EXPONAVAL has been gradually consolidating its position on the global naval defense calendar, due chiefly to its capacity to attract the highest regional authorities responsible for naval defense acquisitions and regularly bring together an ever-increasing number of firms of worldwide prestige. For the Navy, EXPONAVAL provides an important platform for promoting regional and international defense relationships and for the growth of associated maritime and naval industry. For this reason, we hope that the exhibition will grow and continue to be recognized as a stimulus for exchanging information on maritime industry subjects, enabling political authorities, official delegations, businesspeople, professional visitors, and our naval personnel to get to know the latest advances in related technologies. At the same time, we hope that through the planned lectures, EXPONAVAL will be recognized as a point of reference in Latin America, a place where the maritime and naval world comes to be updated on subjects related to the industry and its different developments, both in the area of management and legislation and in technologies as varied as those associated with the environment, the economy, energy use, and so many other aspects that will be present. We want to create what we’re calling the “Latin American maritime week,” with the participation of different actors from the international maritime and naval industry. Finally, this opportunity coincides with the year of the bicentennial of Chilean independence, something that in itself gives this new edition of the event a special character and prominence, making it a stage for displaying Chile’s capacity for recovery and strength after the earthquake and seaquake of 27 February 2010. Admiral Edmundo González Robles: Our Navy, in accord with the level of its country, has an institutional configuration enabling it to act in this role of maritime protection, in which it has shown itself to be effective and efficient; the maritime security component, which in other countries is an autonomous institution, like the Coast Guard (USA) or the Naval Prefecture (Argentina), in Chile’s case is part of the same institution entrusted with national defense, the Chilean Navy, but all within a legal framework that clearly differentiates the levels and controlling authorities. The case is that for any illicit maritime activity, the one who deals with it is the national maritime authority, which has assigned resources for its activities, and in the event that it needs complementary operational capabilities from the Navy, they’re requested from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO): two differentiated roles with separate operational authorities (the Director-General of the Coast Guard and the Commander of Naval Operations), but one single institutional higher command (the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy), entrusted with administering their continuance and development. In the evolution of this role, there can be perceived a gradual and increasing interoperability with other civilian and police agencies that may have common interests with regard to some kind of threat coming from the sea, in both the national and the international sphere. So also, this evolution in the Navy’s development has been founded on a national project based on the concepts of deterrence and cooperation, as well as also on the strategy adopted by the Navy, based on developing the capacity to contribute to the national defense, ensure the normal course of maritime activities, among which transport is essential, and finally, international cooperation, in benefit of the country’s higher interests. In line with what I’ve mentioned, our national heritage, our marine resources, and in general, the maritime interests they generate are an ongoing concern, and it is for this reason that there exists a series of projects, completed and currently underway, such as the incorporation of helicopters, patrol boats, and launches, intended to protect and ensure the normality of the activities carried out. In this reality, maritime transport stands out, given that our nation’s prosperity and economic development are founded on the freedom of globalized trade, the pillar of which is this true uninterrupted flow, which reinforces the need to protect it beyond our borders. This last aspect is absolutely coherent with our institutional strategy. In effect, due to the extension, complexity, and particularities of the spaces where we should be fulfilling our mission, it’s imperative to further those trends that promote the achievement of international cooperative security in areas such as maritime vigilance, safeguarding human lives at sea, and joint training, to mention a few. These initiatives are additionally conducive to raising our standards of training and achieving a high operational return from the equipment incorporated, which brings us back to my initial words, since the result is a virtuous circle that generates the deterrent effect sought by the national strategic model and project, which as a whole, makes it possible to adequately meet the Navy’s challenges. DIÁLOGO: One of the issues discussed at the trade show was maritime protection. What is the Navy doing in this role today, and how do you see the evolution of this role? (technology, regional cooperation, peacekeeping, mine removal) DIÁLOGO: What is the importance of this trade show for this region and on the international level? Admiral Edmundo González Robles: In effect, the Chilean Navy, with the support of the Southern Command, was a pioneer in carrying out exercises of this kind, selecting Panama as an area of reference due to the major impact this important interoceanic passage has on Chilean trade. Chilean foreign trade is an important user of the Panama Canal, making Chile its fourth-largest customer if we consider the cargo originating in or bound for Chile that passes through the canal. The benefits have been multiple; from promoting greater interoperability with the participating navies to a greater conviction that the maritime threats of this globalized world require a multinational effort. It’s also in this way that these navies today understand and accept the concept of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) as a very good foundation for our navies with regard to the political level. DIÁLOGO: This is the seventh year that the Naval Expo will take place. To what do you attribute its success? By Dialogo December 20, 2010last_img read more