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Global solar revolution unstoppable, time to end oil exploration in NZ

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

Preliminary figures show the number of global solar installations grew by almost 30% last year proving the solar revolution is unstoppable and happening much faster than anticipated, reports PV Tech. Having just reached the 100GW annual capacity level, the solar manufacturing industry must hit another 100GW within three years to meet demand, according to  prominent industry figure Pierre Verlinden. The International Solar Alliance aims to mobilise more than US$1,000 billion into solar energy by the year 2030.

Los Angeles could reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 with the help of solar. Sydney Markets in Australia has installed the largest ever rooftop solar array for a private company in the Southern Hemisphere and it's expected to save millions of dollars each year in electricity costs, reports Energy Matters.

Researchers have developed hybrid solar cells that can generate power from raindrops.

Renewables and fossil fuels

More than 60 notable individuals and organisations, including solarcity, have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urging the government to end oil and gas exploration in NZ. And more than 45,000 people have signed an associated petition that will be delivered to Energy Minister Megan Woods on March 19.

The UK's CO2 emissions fell by 2.6% in 2017 driven by a 19% decline in national coal use. Emissions have not been recorded at these levels since 1890.

The dream of nuclear fusion is on the brink of being realised, according to a major new US initiative that says it will put fusion power on the grid within 15 years. The Guardian says claims that the technology is on the “brink of being realised” should be viewed skeptically.

Power blackouts increased by 36% in NZ in 2017. And the average duration of the outages increased by 39%, according to Eaton's annual Blackout Tracker.

Climate change

NZ has the opportunity to lead the world in the fight against catastrophic climate change – and that leadership position creates economic opportunity, says Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

NZ's leading science body has joined an unprecedented Commonwealth-wide push for governments to slash emissions to net zero, reports the NZ Herald.

Niwa’s annual snowline survey, which tracks the level at which snow survives all year, has found that a record 30 of the 50 representative glaciers have had barely any fresh snow at all, reports Stuff. Glaciers are seen as a vital proxy for understanding the changing climate because they are sensitive to changes in temperature.

The world’s greatest forests could lose more than half of their plant species by the end of the century unless nations ramp up efforts to tackle climate change, reports the Guardian.

Electric vehicles

Testing of a self-piloted, electric-powered air taxi is taking place in Canterbury, with the hope the flying service could soon take to the skies, reports Newshub.

Electric vehicles recharging at home will start competing with households cooking dinner and watching TV, creating strain on existing electricity networks and forcing change to the way power is currently priced, say two new NZ reports on the issue. In response the Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand says electric vehicles provide one of the best opportunities for New Zealand to deliver on its climate change goals, and electricity companies are right on board.

Waste Management plans to convert 20 trucks from diesel to electric power its newly built electric vehicle workshop.

Automaker Volkswagen is ramping up for its big EV push, with $25 billion in committed battery supplies and plans to outfit 16 factories to build electric cars by the end of 2022, reports TeleCrunch.