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Without science it's fiction and flying cars no longer a dream

Thousands joined the global March for Science last weekend. Even bigger crowds in the US are expected for the People's Climate March this Saturday. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Fairfax NZ.

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

The global solar market looks set to continue on its trajectory of extraordinary growth, says global investment group Deutsche Bank. Solar's appeal isn't just one of cost; it's the most democratised and decentralised power source. Bloomberg looks at the various ways solar energy is used around the world, right now and the New York Times reports that today's energy jobs in the US are in solar, not the coal industry.

Australia is now generating enough solar power to fuel nearly all the households in Melbourne, new figures reveal. Solar power makes up 11 per cent of the country's total electricity generation capacity with more solar added to the system in 2016 than any other fuel type. A government oil company in the United Arab Emirates says it has opened the country's first solar-powered gas station in Dubai.

Solar power collecting stations deployed on the moon could transmit energy back to Earth using cheap satellites, says a retired US physicist who has been championing Lunar Based Solar Power for over 40 years.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Last Friday was Britain’s first ever working day without coal power since the Industrial Revolution, reports the Guardian.

China says it’s aiming for non-fossil fuels to account for about 20 percent of total energy consumption by 2030 as the country continues its years-long shift away from coal power.

Despite battle cries to end the ‘war on coal’, Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president have done very little to materially dismantle progress in renewable energy and climate action, according to a US energy and national security expert. While Trump might want to prop up coal, it wasn’t Obama’s policies that caused the industry’s decline, but rather falling prices for gas and renewables and global market pressures, according to a new report (PDF) which warns that if the situation continues, coal’s decline is inevitable. 

Almost half of the biggest U.S. companies have established clean-energy targets for themselves. Many are finding that renewable energy isn’t just cleaner, it’s also often cheaper. About 190 Fortune 500 companies collectively reported about $3.7 billion in annual savings, according to a new report.

Demand-side response and energy efficiency may be the key to achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity supply in New Zealand, a report (PDF) commissioned by the Green Party suggests. New Zealand's renewable energy sector is now valued at $13.8 billion, after recent growth led by geothermal and wind generation, says Statistics NZ.

Climate change

Hundreds of people around NZ joined the March for Science last Saturday. Marchers were protesting against US President Donald Trump's cuts to science funding and his denial of climate change. The global event also aimed to show the importance of evidence-based science to society and political decision-making. This Saturday, April 29, the People’s Climate March will focus attention on the US sidelining action on climate change as it coincides with the 100th day of the Trump administration. New York billionaire, and former city mayor, Michael Bloomberg has urged world leaders not to follow President Donald Trump's lead on climate change and declared his intention to help save an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

The small West Coast settlement of Granity is already dealing with the effects of climate change as beachfront properties are eroded by rising sea levels and more intense storms, reports Stuff.

Power prices

The Electricity Authority is ditching the cost-benefit analysis at the heart of its controversial attempt to find a new way to divide up costs for the national grid after finding an expanding range of serious computational errors in the work by Australian consultancy Oakley Greenwood.

The Green Party's new energy policy has won a cautious vote of support from the business community. The policy, announced last week, reiterates the party's goal of 100 per cent renewable electricity, lays out plans to phase out fossil fuel generation, and would require power and lines companies to be more accountable and innovative.

Electric vehicles

More than a dozen start-ups along with big aerospace firms like Airbus, the ride-hailing company Uber and even the government of Dubai — are taking on the dream of the flying car. Over the past week companies Kitty Hawk and Lillium Aviation have released videos of prototype electric flying vehicles taking to the air.

The Indian government is working on ways to incentivise consumers to purchase electric vehicles with a target to have a 100% electric car fleet by 2030. China will continue to lead the global market in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids which will make up 30% of the country’s fleet by and by 2025, reports Forbes.

The third annual Leading the Charge road trip promoting electric vehicles in NZ started from Bluff this week and will finish at Cape Reinga in about two weeks’ time. A number of public events are scheduled along the way.