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India hits solar milestone early, global warming may hit Paris threshold by 2022

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

Greenpeace activists protest oil and gas exploration in NZ waters. Photo credit: Greenpeace

Solar and batteries

India has reached a milestone for solar capacity four years ahead of schedule. China's latest energy mega-project is a floating solar farm on top of a former coal mine that will produce power for about 94,000 homes.

Australian home builders are starting to see the advantage of incorporating solar and energy storage products directly as part of their offerings, reports electrek. And, in South Australia, Tesla’s mega-battery project has been demonstrating its capacity over the last few weeks. Now the system is showing its potential to be highly profitable by making an estimated A$1 million in just a few days.

The world's first solar-powered amusement park will be operational in 2019. The project to switch the Six Flags park in the US starts in March and will include 16 hectares of ground mounted solar panels. Also, in 2019, the world’s first solar energy sails will be put to the test. The technology should enable ships to use both solar and wind energy at the same time.

See 10 of the world's coolest solar power systems, as rated by electrek.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Greenpeace activists locked themselves to a ship at New Plymouth's port on Wednesday to protest the resupplying of the world's largest seismic blasting ship which is working off New Zealand's coast.

An all-time low in oil and gas exploration in New Zealand means commercial gas consumers could face shortages in the future, reports the Otago Daily Times. Meanwhile, we can’t rely on natural gas replacing coal to avoid dangerous climate change, reports the Guardian.

Royal Dutch Shell is cranking up its drive to expand beyond its oil and gas business and reduce its carbon footprint and has recently spent over $400 million on a range of acquisitions from solar power to electric car charging points, reports Reuters.

Climate change

Global temperatures could break through the internationally agreed upper 1.5C limit within the next five years, according to a forecast by British scientists that raises fresh questions about the world’s efforts to tackle climate change. The world’s oceans were far warmer in 2017 than the previous hottest year, say researchers from China.

January was the warmest month in New Zealand since records began in 1867 with temperatures 3C above average, says climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger. Otago University researchers are warning the impact of the hot dry summer on our glaciers will affect hydropower generation, irrigation and agriculture in the future. The rise in seawater temperatures may be to blame for hundreds of dead and starving seabirds washing up on Tasman beaches and other areas of NZ coastline, reports Stuff.

The Ministry of Health is developing a nationwide heat health plan to help district health boards and community service providers prepare for the health impacts of hotter summers from climate change.

A NZ team of scientists is studying the impacts of climate change on the Ross Ice Shelf in the Antarctic.

Power prices

Decreasing levels of water in hydro lakes due to the sweltering summer have driven up electricity spot pricing, says the Electricity Authority.

Trustpower customers in Tauranga paying high prices are effectively being bribed with their own money to stay loyal, reports Stuff. And some WEL Networks customers in the Waikato are unhappy that they will lose their annual discount after this year.

Electric vehicles

Sales of electric vehicles in China last year were up 71% compared to 2016 and made up 3.3% of the entire Chinese auto market.

Mercedes says it will make electric vehicles in six plants across three continents while creating a “global battery network” to produce batteries for the vehicles.

BP will add rapid charging points for electric cars at its UK petrol stations within the next two months, in the latest sign of an oil giant adapting to the rapid growth of battery-powered cars.

The UK has bet on solid state batteries as the future for electric vehicles, pledging part of a £42m government grant to the technology in a bid to compete with countries in Asia.