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Solar, wind and storage to provide power 24/7, electric flying cars by 2021

The age of the Jetsons is almost here as Uber has plans to bring flying cars to commuters within five years. Image via Wired.

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

Scientists are finding solutions to the variability and uncertainty of wind and solar that show they are reliable enough to support the grid 24-7-365, reports Forbes. That’s already close to reality. A world-leading project that will combine solar PV, wind energy and battery storage is being built in Queensland, Australia and will be able dispatch round-the-clock renewable energy at an affordable price, reports Renew Economy.

A Singapore university is running the world’s largest testing centre for floating solar PV systems. Indonesia and Vietnam are looking to join Thailand in blazing a trail for solar power in Southeast Asia, reports Reuters. And, there are plans to build the world’s largest concentrating solar power plant in Nevada, USA.

Tesla has released plans with SolarCity in the US to build solar roofs made up of glass tiles. While we share the same name as our US counterpart, we are an independently run Kiwi business and are not part of the solar roof project. However, just like you, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments. Telsa isn’t the only company making cool things, says Vox which looks at a couple of other energy gadgets that have debuted recently.

A Swedish company has come up with an eye-catching design for a carport that integrates a solar array and a wind turbine. The Giraffe 2.0 carport can be used as an electric vehicle charger and/or a home power station. It may be innovative but not sure this design is going to catch on.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Seven coal mines owned by collapsed state mining company Solid Energy have been sold. Three will be bought by a partnership between mining company Bathhurst Resources and Nelson-based food processor Talleys. NZ’s Bionenergy Association say it has plans to totally replace coal as an energy source for heat plants across the country by 2030.

The NZ Listener investigates plans to build a hydro power station on the West coast’s Waitaha River. The scheme will cost $80-100 million and generate 16-20 megawatts of power – enough for about 12,000 households. Opponents say it would be an environmental travesty.

Two of the dirtiest power companies in the US are now investing billions to buy, build, and purchase electricity from renewable energy power plants, reports NasDaq. Protests over the construction of an oil pipeline in the US are reaching a head. The Standing Rock protesters in North Dakota have been fighting the $3.8bn pipeline since April and demonstrations have grown into a national symbol of indigenous rights and climate change activism

Some 300 million children live with outdoor air so polluted it can cause serious physical damage, including harming their developing brains, the United Nations said in a study released this week. The air is poisoned by vehicle emissions, fossil fuels, dust, burning waste and other airborne pollutants.

Climate change

The Paris Climate Agreement officially takes effect today, November 4, but the United Nations warns an urgent further 25 percent cut off predicted emissions by 2030 will be needed. In 2015 the world economy decarbonised at record levels but it still falls far short of the rapid reductions needed to achieve the two degrees goal, according to PwC’s latest Low Carbon Economy Index.

A proposed rule change in NZ would wipe the need to account for an estimated 79 million tonnes of excess greenhouse gas emissions - equating to nearly one year's worth of our emissions, says the Morgan Foundation in its third “Climate Cheats” report, Cook the Books. NZ can turn agriculture from our worst climate change liability into our most profitable low carbon opportunity, writes business columnist Rod Oram.

The New South Wales government has launched an ambitious climate change policy that could see the state achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s new climate change documentary, Before the Flood, is now available to screen for free on several online platforms, including YouTube. Shot over a three-year period, the film follows DiCaprio as as he explores the topic of climate change, and discovers what must be done today to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.

Electric vehicles

Uber has launched a new project to bring flying cars to commuters by 2021. It has published a white paper outlining its plans for Uber Elevate, a network of on-demand electric aircraft that would be used to shorten commute times in busy cities, turning a two-hour drive into a 15-minute trip. In the meantime Paris is set to become the first city in the world to be serviced by solar powered ‘flying’ electric water taxis. A prototype of the five-person hydrofoil trimaran, named SeaBubbles, is expected to be completed this year and production scheduled for early 2017. 

A new app to connect New Zealand’s growing number of electric vehicle (EV) drivers with the national network of charging points has been launched. Electric Highway is a free app with 500 registered charging points and growing.

A huge shift toward electric cars and other non-polluting vehicles in 10 states of the US has the potential to slash annual health and climate change costs by $21 billion and prevent 2,246 premature deaths each year by 2050, a new report has found. In the global race to bring electric cars to market, the German carmakers have woken up from their slumber, writes Stefan Theil for the European Handelsblatt Global. He says the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal fiasco seems to have given the entire industry a jolt.