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Global climate talks plan for action, European solar jobs rising fast

Living solar panels printed on wallpaper. Credit: Imperial College London

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

An extra 94,000 new solar jobs in Europe are expected to be created by 2021.

The world’s biggest photovoltaic solar plant is set to start operating in Abu Dhabi by April 2019. The first block of one of the world’s largest solar plants has been completed in Oman. The Atacama Desert, in Chile, has the potential to power all of South America with solar energy. To reach this goal, renewable energy businesses are starting with small-scale test projects.

A new type of ultra-thin solar panel made from living organisms could lead to next-generation electrical devices that can be made on a home printer, reports Newsweek.

And, in Canada, the government is investing C$2.9m in the use of graphene to improve battery technology.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Scotland has hit its 2020 emission targets five years early and is now on target to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The Labour-led coalition’s plans to shift NZ to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 are profiled by Bloomberg.

The NZ government's decision to ban new mining on conservation land is "a huge victory for nature", says Forest & Bird. More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition by Greenpeace calling on the new government to stop planned seismic blasting for oil in the newly discovered blue whale habitat off Taranaki. Industry "hype" around the economic potential of drilling for oil and gas off the coast of Oamaru fails to recognise the risk exploratory drilling poses to Otago’s rich marine life, says Liz Slooten, University of Otago marine biologist.

Renewable energy in the US continues to grow, despite US President Donald Trump’s moves to dismantle clean power, deregulate industry and promote fossil fuels like coal.

Climate change

The world’s nations are meeting in Bonn, Germany, for the 23rd annual “conference of the parties” (COP) to lay the groundwork to meet the Paris climate agreement. The Guardian explains what the 12-day conference is all about and why it matters. NZ Climate Change Minister James Shaw is heading to the conference to highlight the plight of low-lying Pacific nations, as well as to show the world that New Zealand can now stand tall in the battle to reduce emissions.

The previous National-led government failed to take appropriate action over some of its climate change emissions targets, according to the High Court, but it won't face any consequences because it's no longer in power. The real issue for New Zealand is not the targets, but achieving them, says Professor Dave Frame, Director of the NZ Climate Change Research Institute.

This year is set to be one of the hottest on record and Kiwi scientists say the impact of the changing climate is hitting home in New Zealand already. Climate change has slashed the length of New Zealand winters by a third, Niwa data shows. And a study by Auckland University show coastal waters around south NZ are warming.

A series of fast-moving global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to avert the worst impacts of global warming, reports the Guardian.

Power prices

After announcing an 80% profit boost for the past six months, Trustpower says it hopes the government inquiry into retail power prices will be wide and take into account all factors that push up bills.

Mercury NZ chief executive Fraser Whineray has lashed out at electricity network monopolies, owners of the wires that deliver power to consumers, saying they represent a threat to people's "energy freedom".

Electric vehicles

Battery-powered cars will make up about half of the global vehicle market by 2030, as environmental regulations, falling prices and the deployment of driverless taxis fuel demand, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group.

A larger-than-expected boom in electric vehicle sales could cause global oil demand to peak and flatten out in the late 2030s, says OPEC.

A record 430 electric vehicles were registered in October taking New Zealand’s total EV fleet to 5,341, according to government figures.