Big predictions for electric vehicles and solar in 2016

The latest concept in electric cars. Photo courtesy of Faraday Future.

Welcome to our first weekly digest of solar and energy news for 2016. We’re all about saving you energy so we round up what’s going on here and around the world so you don’t have to. You’ll find our weekly digests published here every Friday. Enjoy.

2015 was a big year in climate science and solutions and Climate Progress has sourced five climate and energy charts it says you have to see. Last year finished dramatically with the UN Climate Change Conference agreeing to cap global warming well below 2°C with an emphasis on switching to clean energy. As a result the fossil fuel industry is facing a $US33 trillion hit to its expected revenues over the next 20 years, reports CleanTechnica. Wind and solar power appear set for a record-breaking year in 2016 as a clean-energy construction boom gains momentum in spite of a global glut of cheap fossil fuels. Figures just out, show that in 2015 renewables attracted more investment than ever before.

Bloomberg reports China, the world’s biggest clean energy investor, plans to increase wind and solar power capacity by more than 21 percent this year as it works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting its reliance on coal. Morocco gets about 3,000 hours of sun per year, which is precisely why it’s an ideal location for what will be the largest solar power plant in the world when it's completed in 2020 - and it’s already visible from space

The Telegraph reports that homes packed with energy-saving gadgets, including the latest- technology solar panels, are selling for a premium in the UK. In Australia, solar has just hit a milestone. It now has now more than 23.2 million solar panels installed which is the equivalent of one panel for every man, woman and child in the nation. And the Australian mining town of Broken Hill has become a solar power trailblazer.

With unusual weather from Britain to Australia, scientists are blaming climate change – but also the natural phenomenon called El Niño, which is raising temperatures and disrupting weather patterns. A natural gas well, near Los Angeles, has been leaking dangerous amounts of methane since it blew out in November. Methane is 80 times more warming than carbon dioxide, over a 20-year time-frame, making it a super-pollutant of climate change and a threat to public health.

The Telegraph predicts 2016 will be the year of the electric car and a new report says the electric vehicle (EV) market is set to explode over the next decade. However, OPEC says EV’s are no threat to petrol and diesel powered cars and the use of oil is going to keep on increasing. Meanwhile a NZ study, prepared for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, shows EVs have the capacity to make a dramatic impact to the carbon footprint of our passenger vehicle fleet. EVs no longer look like glorified golf carts. Check out the five coolest electric cars in the world. Tesla, which has led the way, is now getting some serious competition with Faraday Future revealing its vision - and there are similarities to the Batmobile.

Electric cars and scooters featured strongly when the latest tech innovations were unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Also on display were energy saving gadgets and appliances - from shower heads which light up when you start to use too much water to home heating and cooling systems controlled by your smartphone. A French researcher says balloons floating above cloud level could be the ultimate way to generate solar energy and hopes to have prototype within two years.

And, finally, Stuff reports the Government is expected to announce on January 27 that it will help fund Auckland's $2.5 billion inner city rail link two years earlier than originally promised.