Australia's battery storage solution, India's solar milestone

The trial of a solar bike path in the Netherlands is exceeding expectations.

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 South Australian government has announced plans to install the country’s biggest battery storage installation as part of a sweeping response to a series of power blackouts. News of the tender of the storage plant came just days after Tesla’s Elon Musk promised he could build a 100MW plant in South Australia within 100 days, or deliver it for free. Meanwhile homeowners in the state are embracing the solar market like never before, investing approximately US$16.9 million in rooftop solar installations in just three months.

India now has 10 GW of solar capacity installed and could double that this year. Analysts expect India to leapfrog Japan to become the world’s third-most dynamic solar market in 2017, potentially joining China and the U.S. in posting double-digit GW growth. India’s largest floating solar power plant at Kayamkulam in Kerala has started generating power. 

Google's Project Sunroof has surveyed over 60 million buildings in the US. It has calculated that 79% of all US rooftops are solar viable, meaning they have enough unshaded area for solar panels. California briefly generated enough solar power to meet nearly half of the state’s electricity needs. Over a third of the solar power generated in California comes from smaller rooftop systems.

Africa needs a diverse energy mix with an emphasis on immediate deployment of off-grid solar power to help the continent’s 620 million people without electricity, says a report by Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel.

There are now approximately 52,000 operational storage systems serving PV installations in Germany. Swedish start-up Northvolt, which is run by two former Tesla Motors executives, plans to build a huge lithium-ion battery factory in the Nordic region, giving Tesla and Panasonic's Nevada Gigafactory a close rival within Europe in terms of size.

A 70-metre bike path with embedded solar panels is generating more power than expected during its trial in the Netherlands. Now the company behind the project has launched the SolaRoad Kit -10 meters of solar bike path that can be ordered by companies or governments.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Georgetown, a city in the US state of Texas, has become one of the first cities in America to be powered entirely by renewable energy. City leaders say it was a business decision and not a response to climate change.

The Australian domestic gas industry is facing a crisis point, with a shortage of supply projected for two years time, and battery storage and renewable energy ready to provide a cheaper alternative. The NZ gas industry says it is not in a position to help Australia out has it has no import export capability.

In 2016, China’s solar capacity grew by 81.6% and its wind power increased by 13.2% while coal use fell 4.7%.

Climate change

The world’s oceans are warming up at an overall rate that is 13% faster than previously thought, according to new research.

The severity of the storm that hit the top of the North Island last week demonstrated a worldwide trend of changing weather patterns, says Professor James Renwick of Victoria University, Wellington. Extreme flooding in Auckland over the weekend shows the urgent need for central government-led investment into aging infrastructure to prepare for more frequent and extreme weather events, says the Green Party. Niwa says research suggests that there will be up to 8% more intense rain for every 1°C of warming. 

Much of South Dunedin housing will be at sea level or below in just 17 years, says Professor Jim Flynn of Otago University. There were 1932 homes in Dunedin, mainly in South Dunedin, built below 25cm.

University of Canterbury's Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward will be a lead author of a major report assessing the impacts of a global warming of 1.5C on human and natural environments. In the capacity of a political scientist interested in climate change, she shares her own personal views in a NZ Herald Q&A.

Record percentages of Americans are concerned about global warming, believe it is occurring, consider it a serious threat and say it is caused by human activity, according to Gallup. All of these perceptions are up significantly from 2015.

Electric vehicles

The NZ Government has made $3 million available for projects that encourage the uptake of electric vehicles. It has a target of doubling the numbers of electric vehicles every year to reach approximately 64,000 by the end of 2021.

Dozens of US cities are willing to buy $10 billion of electric cars and trucks to show skeptical automakers there’s demand for low-emission vehicles, just as President Donald Trump seeks to review pollution standards the industry opposes, reports Bloomberg.

Chinese electric-car maker BYD sold more electric cars than Tesla last year, reports Greentech Media in a review of the top 10 electric car makers in 2016. The world’s bestselling electric car model was Tesla’s Model S, followed by Nissan’s Leaf and BYD’s Tang.

German car makers Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW will make more than 100,000 purely electric cars for the first time this year. Production of hybrid vehicles is also set to increase, by 46%, to 330,000 units this year.