Phone

China sets record pace for solar, global temperatures scorch

The red square indicates the total area of solar panels it would take to power the US, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

We're all about saving you energy and have rounded up the latest solar, climate and energy news so you don't have to.

Solar and batteries

China, the world’s biggest investor in clean energy, is on pace to install record amounts of new solar this year after adding 24 gigawatts of capacity in the first six months.

The US would only need to cover an area 100 miles square with solar panels to power the whole country, says Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The US Department of Energy will spend $46.2 million on 48 projects as part of its SunShot Initiative. These projects are intended to develop innovative, early-stage solar power technologies, which are aimed at lowering costs and improving reliability and efficiency. South Miami, in the US, has mandated all new home builds must include solar panels. California is considering similar regulations that would extend to installing wind turbines on farms. 

A photo essay in Bloomberg reveals the the wide range of locations of solar farms in Japan including former golf courses, quarries, dams, man-made islands and floating projects on ponds and reservoirs. India has developed a train that uses solar panels to power its lights and fans saving about 21,000 litres of diesel a year.

Porsche has built a solar pylon to power the company’s newest branch office in Germany. The developers behind building solar roads in the US talk to National Geographic about about their progress over the last few years and what the future could hold. Panasonic sees the future of solar on car rooftops and has started producing a 180-watt array of solar cells for vehicles.

NZ Electricity retailers are urging regulators to 'ring-fence' solar, battery and other emerging technology businesses being pursued by monopoly electricity network owners to allow competition in new electricity services to flourish. Energy commentator Pattrick Smellie explains the issues.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The growth of renewable power, including wind and solar, has not harmed the reliability of the U.S. electricity grid, according to a draft U.S. Department of Energy study, echoing the findings of grid operators across the country, reports Reuters.

Two Taranaki dairy farmers are warning Southland farmers about the dangers of oil and gas exploration. They say that since since oil and gas companies began exploring and drilling for fossil fuels in their region many landowners and residents have had growing concerns about health, noise, traffic, fumes, water contamination and the devaluation of their properties.

Actor and environmental activist Lucy Lawless reports from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise on a voyage to witness Norway’s Statoil push into the Arctic Circle for extreme oil.

The Green Party wants to create an infrastructure fund, paid for by raising royalty rates on oil drilling, to help the country become carbon neutral by 2050.

Climate change

Last month was the third-hottest June on record globally, temperature data suggest, confirming 2017 will almost certainly make a hat-trick of annual climate records, with 2015, 2016 and 2017 being the three hottest years since records began. The figures also cement estimations that warming is now at levels not seen for 115,000 years, and leave some experts with little hope for limiting warming to 1.5C or even 2C.

Today’s climate extremes are fast becoming the new normal, reveals a new study. Even its researchers were surprised by the speed of change, but the information could be useful to officials around the world trying to plan for the changes global warming will bring to their cities and countries.

One of the world’s most famous climate scientists has just calculated the financial burden that tomorrow’s young citizens will face to keep the globe at a habitable temperature and contain global warming and climate change – a $535 trillion bill.

Rising seas are threatening scores of species on Pacific Islands with extinction, according to a new study.

Power prices

Prices for electricity in NZ increased 1.5% over the last three months while inflation was flat at 0%.

Auckland lines company Vector is dismissing a call it should refund customers nearly $14 million immediately, instead of over the next two years. A 10-year battle between locals and an electricity lines company in the King Country and Ruapehu District, is back in the spotlight following the recent freezing cold snap, with consumers railing against what they say are unfair charges.

Over $7 million of taxpayer money has been spent on the power bills of 94 of New Zealand’s largest companies since July 2014, the Taxpayers’ Union reveals. “At best, it’s a waste of money and pointless, at worst, it is corporate welfare in an environmental jacket, paid for by kiwis who have to pay more to turn on their heater,” says researcher Matthew Rhodes.

Transport

The world’s biggest oil producers are starting to take electric vehicles seriously as a long-term threat, reports Bloomberg. Car companies are committing to an electric future, but the success of the sector depends on better batteries, reports the Guardian.

The resale value of petrol-based vehicles could decline more rapidly than previously as electric vehicles become more popular and cheaper to operate, writes business commentator Brian Gaynor.

A multi-million-dollar boat that powers itself without any fuel has set off on a 6-year trip around the world in hopes of launching a movement of emissions-free travel. The Energy Observer will use a combination of a hydrogen fuel cell system, solar panels and wind turbines to sail throughout its voyage spanning 50 countries and 101 stopovers.