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Trump disaster for the planet, solar and wind to keep charging ahead in US

Modelling by Finnish researchers depicts a 100% global renewable energy system.

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

Climate change

Just days after the historic Paris agreement officially came into force, climate denier Donald Trump’s victory has thrown the global deal into uncertainty and raised fears that the US will reverse the ambitious environmental course charted under Barack Obama. Representatives of more than 200 countries are currently gathered in Morocco hashing out the details of the landmark Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst effects linked to global warming. They were not expecting a US election upset, particularly the US negotiation team that was preparing to represent the Obama administration in the talks and now finds a radically different administration waiting in the wings, reports Scientific American

The past five years were the hottest on record with mounting evidence that heat waves, floods and rising sea levels are stoked by man-made climate change, says the World Meteorological Organisation.

New research finds that the world’s hydroelectric dams generate a surprising amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The study from Washington State University finds that methane, which is at least 34 times more potent than another greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, makes up 80% of the emissions from water storage reservoirs created by dams. 

Agriculture produces almost half of New Zealand's total annual greenhouse gas emissions. If we are to meet our climate change obligations, there will have to be big changes in our agricultural sector, says Professor Ralph Sims. Global taxes have been suggested for beef and dairy products to pay for climate damage caused during their production. The University of Oxford study argues emissions pricing on food could save half a million lives and one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year if implemented in 2020.

Solar and batteries

More than 17,000 solar panels will be installed on the site of a defunct coal-burning power station in Massachusetts, USA. Now, environmental organisers are hoping Mount Tom will be a model for other communities. And a Japanese golf course has been converted into a solar farm that will generate enough to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes.

Off-grid solar panels have brought electricity to three remote villages in India, lighting up the lives of people who have never had electricity. A British farmer is harvesting power from rows of solar panels and storing it in a shipping container-sized battery to sell to the grid when prices are high.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Uncertainty looms large over the US energy industry following Donald Trump’s election victory but expect wind and solar to keep on charging ahead, says Fortune. However, it predicts funding for future energy R&D could be in serious jeopardy. 

Auckland councillors voted 14-7 against deep-sea oil exploration off the west coast of the North Island. They said that rather than encourage further oil exploration, effort should instead be put into developing abundant clean energy opportunities and strategies that can create employment and replace polluting energy sources. Last week the new Christchurch City Council voted to make a submission against the government's proposed block offer, continuing the annual tradition of the previous council.

 Researchers in Finland have developed the first-ever model depicting a 100% global renewable energy system. The global Internet of Energy Model aims to find the most economical solution for a renewable electricity system, and show how renewable energy can provide electricity for every season, day, and hour of the year. Singapore will soon be home to Southeast Asia's first large-scale offshore renewable energy system, based on hybrid microgrids that integrate solar, wind, tidal, diesel, and power-to-gas technologies. Major cities switching to renewables, electric vehicles and batteries in digital networks could increase GDP almost 4% by 2030, concludes a report by Bloomberg and McKinsey.

Transport

Toyota is looking at mass-producing long-range electric vehicles that would hit the market around 2020 in what would be a dramatic reversal of strategy for the world's top-selling automaker. Until now Toyota has been promoting plug-in petrol-electric hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as the most promising alternative to conventional cars. The Nissan-Renault alliance aims to offer Chinese drivers a new electric car costing just $8,000 within two years, said chief executive Carlos Ghosn as he touted an "explosion" in demand amid efforts to offset climate change.Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the company will likely add solar charging technology to the roofs of future all-electric cars.

The US will establish 48 national electric-vehicle charging networks on nearly 25,000 miles of highways in 35 states. To meet its commitments under the UN's Paris Agreement, Finland must briskly step up its adoption of electric cars and biofuels. That could lead to major investments and job creation.

New Plymouth district mayor Neil Holdom has chosen an electric car as mayoral transport. He says it “sends a message that you can think globally, act locally, make a difference to the environment and still get out there to do things you want to do” in New Zealand.