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US power plant combines solar and geothermal, 2016 could be hottest year on record

The world’s first triple hybrid renewable energy plant in Nevada, US. Photo: Enel Green Power North America, Inc.

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 battery storage

The world’s first triple hybrid renewable energy plant in the US combines geothermal, solar PV and concentrating solar power. US electric car maker Tesla says it plans to start working with Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. on solar energy.

A rapid advance in battery technology could have significant implications for global credit markets, causing disruption across sectors that account for nearly a quarter of all outstanding corporate bonds says Fitch Ratings

Taiwan plans to release uncultivable land for large-scale solar PV projects. A small village in Tanzania, that has never had electricity, is about to light up using solar technology. 

Renewables and fossil fuels

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund will start getting rid of its investments in fossil fuel companies. The sell-down is part of The Super Fund's climate change strategy, which includes measuring its carbon footprint, engaging with companies and investing more in low carbon or renewable businesses. Both 350 Aotearoa and Greenpeace say the strategy to reduce investments in polluters does not go far enough. 

The country’s largest energy producer, Refining NZ, is also one of our largest users of fuel and electricity. It has signed an agreement with EECA to make the Marsden Point refinery more energy efficient and reduce its carbon emissions.

An unprecedented legal case has been filed against the Norwegian Government for allowing oil companies including state-owned Statoil to drill for new oil in the Arctic, reports Greenpeace. The plaintiffs, Nature and Youth and Greenpeace Nordic, argue that Norway is violating the Paris Agreement and the people's constitutional right to a healthy and safe environment for future generations. 

Masdar City, in the United Arab Emirates, has been built as a test case for sustainable urban living. Green Building Elements reports on how this unique city is progressing.

Climate change

Nasa climate figures have all but confirmed that 2016 is well on the way to becoming Earth's hottest year on record.

New Zealand could face a bill of $72 billion  to meet its obligations under the Paris climate change agreement unless there's an effective international carbon market, says Ministry for the Environment climate change director Kay Harrison. That amount would cover the period 2021 to 2030. It’s crucial that NZ starts reducing agricultural greenhouse gases start now says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright. About half of NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the agricultural sector. 

The appearance of white blooms of plankton east of New Zealand suggests the ocean is responding to climate change, according to research by Victoria University of Wellington scientists.

Power prices

The Electricity Authority (EA) is to undertake another round of submissions on its politically charged proposals that would raise the price of electricity for Auckland, Northland and the South Island's west coast by changing the way the national grid is paid for. A group of organisations that have spoken out about the EA’s proposals in the past says the extra consultation period may just be a token gesture to quieten down growing opposition. It’s calling on the Government to stop the current process until an independent expert can undertake a review.

Electric vehicles

The number of plug-in electric cars on the world’s roads is set to pass the landmark of 2 million vehicles by the end of 2016, with industry observers saying the electric car revolution is finally underway after a number of false starts, reports the Guardian. Electric cars could account for two thirds of the cars on the roads of 50 major world cities by 2030. 

Thirty of New Zealand's largest companies are committing to at least 30 per cent of their corporate fleets being electric vehicles by 2019. Studies of the potential for EVs in New Zealand have concluded that a market will only start to develop when corporate and government fleets start converting to them.

A small unmanned solar-powered vessel named SeaCharger is expected to arrive in NZ around the end of this month. It left California in July. If successful it will be the world's first unmanned surface vehicle to cross an ocean on solar power.