Solar sets 2016 record, global EV sales peak again

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

Solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy worldwide last year, outstripping the growth in all other forms of power generation for the first time and leading experts to hail a “new era”. The US National Resources Defense Council claims that the country’s solar energy capacity increased by 4,500% between 2006 and 2016.

Tesla is sending hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels in an effort to help storm battered Puerto Rico restore electric power, reports Bloomberg. And the US Solar Energy Industries Association announced efforts to coordinate with solar companies to donate equipment and installation services. 

A pledge by billionaire Elon Musk to build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system in South Australia winton 100 days is ahead of schedule with half the project already complete, reports Bloomberg.

Half of the houses in Oman may sport a rooftop solar system to support their power demands in the next five years as Oman moves to diversify the economy. Morocco is getting ready to launch a €200 million programme to spark investment in solar power projects in the agricultural sector by 2021.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The Welsh Government intends to set a renewable electricity target of 70% by 2030 at the same time as it announced a £4.5 million commitment to boost the marine and tidal energy sector of North Wales. And the Scottish government has announced an "effective ban" on fracking.

New coal mines will leave more people in poverty, Oxfam has said in a new report, calling on Australia to commit to no new coal mines and to end public subsidies for coal mining.

More than 40 Catholic institutions are to announce the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels, reports the Guardian.

Oilfield services company Schlumberger​ New Zealand has applied to survey up to 5000 square kilometres of the Taranaki Basin, reports Stuff. An industry insider says this shows renewed confidence in exploration of the area. Greenpeace describes it as "monstrous" due to its potential impact on marine mammals and because it could contribute to the discovery of fossil fuels blamed for climate change.

Mercury is spending $2 million on developing on a battery directly connected to the national grid that could help avert power cuts, reports the NZ Herald.

Climate change

Stronger hurricanes, hotter heat waves, more frequent wildfires and more severe public-health issues are all adding to the costs of climate change, which will reach almost $1 billion a day in the U.S. within a decade, according to a report from the Universal Ecological Fund.

New figures from the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency have confirmed global greenhouse gas emissions levels continued to increase in 2016, albeit at a relatively slow rate, reaching 49.3 gigatonnes in CO2 equivalent.

Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from livestock are larger than previously thought, posing an additional challenge in the fight to curb global warming, scientists have said. Kiwi scientists say New Zealand's inventory remains accurate.

Sydney and Melbourne can expect summer days when the mercury climbs to 50 degrees Celsius within a couple of decades if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, new research has found.

Having one less child is the most effective way to combat climate change according to a new study.

Power prices

Powerco's plan to fund a $1.4 billion network upgrade through a hike in regulated prices may create an unfair burden on customers say big electricity users and generator-retailers. Small electricity retailers have gained 10 percent of all New Zealand customers for the first time according to Electricity Authority figures, reports RNZ.

Electric vehicles

August was one of the best months ever for global electric vehicle sales, with nearly 103,000 units estimated delivered.

Mashable summarises recent announcements from the biggest names in the auto industry that have put electric vehicle development front and centre.

Most New Zealanders would save more than five times the interest on any loan they would have to take out to meet the extra cost of buying an electric vehicle, according to Flip the Fleet, a citizen science collaboration of over 330 EV owners. 

Enviromark has put together five key tips for businesses thinking about converting their fleets to electric vehicles.