India’s mega solar farm, Arctic meltdown

A solar road under construction in France. Source: Wattway

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

India has finished building the world’s largest solar power plant at a single location. Covering 10 square kilometres it’s estimated that it will produce enough electricity to power about 150,000 homes. By 2022, India aims to power 60 million homes powered by the sun.

A French company has designed rugged solar panels, capable of withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, that they're now building into road surfaces. It has plans to build solar roads in Canada, USA, Africa, Japan and throughout the European Union.

Using more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla power packs the tiny island of Ta’u in American Samoa is now entirely self-sufficient for its electricity supply. Lego will harness the power of solar energy to generate electricity for its new factory in China. And Ikea will install close to 9,000 solar panels on a distribution centre being built in the US. 

Renewables and fossil fuels

At six least major countries, including Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and now Finland, have recently announced the imminent phase-out of all coal-fired power plants, reports Electrek. Europe will begin phasing out coal subsidies and cut its energy use by 30% before the end of the next decade, under a major clean energy package announced this week,

Nearly 50 of the world’s most disadvantaged nations have pledged to fast-track their shift to 100% renewable energy and to ratchet up emissions reductions. The Climate Reality Project profiles six nations whose efforts to become more sustainable in a world shifting away from dirty fossil fuels in favour of clean, renewable energy may come as a bit of a surprise. They are Saudi Arabia, Russia, South Korea, Iran Venezuela and Indonesia.

Climate change

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year. Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe. The average westerner’s carbon emissions destroy 30 square metres of Arctic sea ice every year, according to new research. The work indicates that, even with current efforts to cut emissions, the Arctic will lose all its ice in summer within about 20 years. NASA has produced a visualisation showing the changes to the area of Arctic sea ice from 1984 to 2016.

Data released by Australian researchers shows more than two thirds of the coral in the northern region of the Great Barrier has died following the worst bleaching in recorded history. They say the bleaching was caused by record high temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, fuelled by global warming and a powerful El Niño.

Electric vehicles

Four of the world's top carmakers have agreed to invest in thousands of fast-charging sites across Europe to boost mainstream acceptance of electric cars. Finland has less than 1000 registered vehicles but it plans to boost that number to 250,000 by 2030. Here in NZ, more electric vehicles are appearing on South Canterbury roads since two fast public electric vehicle chargers in Timaru and Waimate were unveiled in April, reports Stuff.

Luxury carmaker Daimler is planning to invest up to 10 billion euros in developing electric vehicles, reports Reuters.

There are plenty of electric cars on the market right now. But none of them stand out quite like the new UK1909 three wheel vehicle from Britain’s Morgan Motor that looks like it could have been right at home on England’s roads during WW1.