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Solar leads global growth, trillions spent on fossil fuel subsidies

Net addition (in gigawatts) of electricity generation capacity for 2016. Source: REN21/IRENA/WNA

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

Solar has become the world’s favourite new type of electricity generation, according to global data showing that more solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is being installed than any other generation technology.

A UK-based solar developer has applied to the Tunisian government to build massive solar plant that could provide carbon-free electricity to over five million European homes. Turkey has launched its first floating solar power plant on a lake near Istanbul.

Greenpeace is calling for a solar revolution in NZ following reports that up to a third of electricity generated this winter has come from burning of coal and gas. Gisborne will be the first place in New Zealand to create a hub designed to put the community at the forefront of conversation about solar power and other emerging energy technologies, reports the Gisborne Herald.

Renewables and fossil fuels

A new study finds US$5.3 trillion was spent on subsidising dirty fossil fuels in 2015. The report concludes that by eliminating these subsidies altogether the world could lower its carbon emissions by 21%

The future of carbon capture and storage technology is in doubt following the cancellation of several large scale projects in Europe and the downgrading of a project in the US, reports Digital Journal.

The Waikato region is now the heart of NZ’s mining industry, statistics suggest. At the end of last year there were 18 coal mines operating across the country. Five of them, all opencast, were based in Waikato, between them extracting 700,000 tonnes of coal, reports Stuff.

Greenpeace NZ is taking legal action against Thompson & Clark Investigations alleging it has been engaged by oil and gas companies Statoil ASA and Anadarko Petroleum to provide intelligence about Greenpeace and its operations.

Climate change

As President Donald Trump touts new oil pipelines and pledges to revive the nation’s struggling coal mines, federal scientists are warning that burning fossil fuels is already driving a steep increase in the US of heat waves, droughts and floods.

People around the world consider climate change to be a top security threat—and in some cases the biggest threat, according to a survey published by Pew Research Center. Norway’s plan to ramp up oil and gas production in the Arctic threatens global efforts to tackle climate change, according to a new study. Some of Peru’s glaciers have lost more than 90 percent of their mass. As millions of people depend on their runoff for water, food and hydroelectricity Peru has become something of a laboratory for human adaptation to climate change, reports the Washington Post.

By 2090 Wellington could become hotter than Northland, and end up with a climate closer to Sydney's, if no action is taken on climate change predicts Niwa. A group of 14 New Zealand NGOs has written an open letter to every member of Parliament calling for a Zero Carbon Act to fight climate change.

An issues paper looking at what challenges and opportunities NZ faces ahead of the transition to a low-emissions economy has been released by the Productivity Commission.The NZ Government’s reaction to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s call for a durable statutory framework for climate policy was dismissive and consistent it with its slow-motion approach to the great issue of our day and age, writes commentator Brian Fallow.

Power prices

The NZ Commerce Commission is going soft on electric lines companies, according to the Major Electricity Users Group. The Commerce Commission denies the allegation.

The “big five” power companies – Contact, Genesis, Mercury, Meridian and TrustPower – all scored below 50% in Consumer NZ’s annual energy retailer customer satisfaction survey.

Electric vehicles

Nissan will unveil it’s 2018 version of it’s all-electric Leaf early next month. The Leaf's projected price is substantially cheaper than the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevrolet Bolt that have been tabbed as the vehicles that will introduce electric cars to the masses.

Toyota plans to take a 5% share of smaller Japanese rival Mazda as part of an alliance that will see the two build a $1.6 billion U.S. assembly plant and work together on electric vehicles, reports Reuters. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are embracing Formula E, the race series for electric cars.

Wellington-based electric car-sharing start-up Mevo intends to be in five cities across Australia and New Zealand in the next five years, with up to 2000 vehicles on the road.

Tesla boss Elon Musk has reportedly confirmed plans to build an high speed underground transportation system between New York and Washington DC. Called a hyperloop the trip would take 29 minutes compared to more than four hours by car.