Negative solar report rubbished, Trump turns US off climate action path

Electric personal aircraft may be coming sooner than you think. Credit: Ehang

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

We responded to a report, partly funded by the electricity industry, attempting to cast shade on the uptake of solar in New Zealand and completely ignoring that many Kiwis are buying solar as a service without any capital costs. The Sustainable Electricity of NZ also took the report to task saying its central premise that alternative energy was too expensive for low income families was “absolute rubbish”.

A huge $1bn solar farm and battery project will be built and ready to operate in South Australia’s Riverland region by the end of the year. Battery storage developer Lyon Group says the system will be the biggest of its kind in the world, boasting 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries. A summer of record high temperatures, heat waves and unplanned electricity outages appears to have put a rocket under the Australian rooftop solar market in 2017, with installations at end of February nearly 50 per cent up on the same time last year.

Solar power produced six times more electricity than the coal-fired power stations in the UK last Saturday setting a new record.

Network Tasman hopes to identify a rural spot where lithium-ion battery technology could replace capital spending on a traditional line extension.

Amputees with prosthetic limbs may soon have much a better sense of touch, temperature and texture, thanks to “solar powered skin” developed by engineers from Glasgow University.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The amount of electricity generated from renewables in New Zealand grew to 88 per cent in the three months to December 2016. Coal-fired generation declined by 64 per cent and gas-fired generation dropped by 21 per cent over the same period, says Energy and Resource Minister Judith Collins.

Brittany Baker from Stuff reviews what’s happening in the NZ oil and gas industry as global demand has dropped off dramatically over the past two years.

Canada will accelerate efforts to shift its economy to lower carbon growth with more than C$2.2 billion ($1.7 billion) in proposed clean energy investments over the next five years.

Eco Watch takes a look at five sustainable cities and the steps they've taken to become leaders in clean energy and climate solutions and 25 US cities have now committed to transition to 100% renewable energy. The use of electricity per person in the UK has gone down every year since 2008. Part of the reason for this is European Union regulations that have pushed the production of energy-efficient appliances, machinery and light bulbs.

Climate change

US president Donald Trump signed an executive order to overturn key parts of the Obama administration's plan to tackle global warming. The Washington Post looks into what this means, what will the effects be and if Trump can keep his promises on energy job creation. A survey of electric utilities in the US shows a sector reshaping itself for a cleaner, more distributed future, no matter what Trump does. The slash-and-burn of federal climate action in the US is making one of humanity’s greatest ever challenges more difficult, just at the time when it needs to start getting easier, reports the Guardian. The Vatican urged U.S. President Donald Trump to listen to "dissenting voices" and reconsider his position on climate change. 

Greenpeace NZ says it will confront Trump’s “climate madness” at sea in a crowdfunded boat off the Wairarapa coast where oil giants Chevron and Statoil are searching for oil using the world’s biggest seismic ship. Trump has shares in Chevron, and the oil company funded a large part of his presidential inauguration.

As the UK formally triggers the process to leave the EU, UK businesses have made it clear that climate action policies are good for people, the planet and business, reports the Independent.

The fingerprint of human-caused climate change has been found on heatwaves, droughts and floods across the world, according to scientists.The discovery indicates that the impacts of global warming are already being felt by society and adds further urgency to the need to cut carbon emissions. A roadmap for achieving the Paris climate goals over the next three decades has been created a by a group of European researchers. It gives a sense of the sheer scale and speed required.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is under serious threat from climate change. Dr Jim Salinger, a leading Kiwi climate scientist has a message for people wanting to visit the World Heritage area: see it now before it's too late. More New Zealanders believe climate change is real and that humans are driving it. Kiwi scientists say the finding is encouraging when climate research is under renewed threat.

Power prices

It is essential for lines companies to standardise their terms and conditions and coordinate pricing structures across the country to allow more retailers to enter their regions, says the Electricity Retailers Association of NZ.

Electric vehicles

Cleantechnica provides an overview of nine personal flying machines. The first, the Ehang184, is scheduled to start work as a taxi service in Dubai later this year.

When Deutsche Post AG couldn’t find a zero-emission delivery van that met its needs, it bought a startup and developed one. Now Europe’s largest postal service may start selling those vehicles — dubbed StreetScooters — to others, showing the potential for disruption in the rapidly changing auto market. Issues around the range of electric cars won’t be around for much longer, says the head of BMW.