Solar, wind and batteries could power the planet, NZ’s inadequate climate action

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

Around 70-80% of the world's energy needs can be met by wind and solar power generation combined with battery storage, says Ramez Naam, an energy futurist visiting New Zealand.

Solar power offers a compelling trifecta for the world’s health sector writes Hakan Bjorkman for Huffington Post. It improves health services when electricity is otherwise unreliable; it helps mitigate climate change; and it saves money that can be reinvested to save even more lives.

Once a distant possibility, solar power is a game changer for developing countries that are swiftly embracing this clean, renewable source of energy to close their electricity access gaps and meet climate change mitigation goals, says the World Bank Group.

Global banking group, Deutsche Bank says the global battery market is at an inflection point, with global consumption expected to treble between 2015 and 2018, and then more than double again by 2025.

A solar farm in Western Australia is developing a new way of predicting solar power generation, thanks to cloud-tracking cameras. This new technology aims at enabling the solar farm to become more reliable regarding power generation, through predicting its output 15 minutes ahead of time and therefore minimising the reliance on energy storage.

A home that revolves to track the sun throughout the day to optimise solar gain has won California’s first tiny house competition. Powered by eight solar panels it stores surplus energy in saltwater batteries.

Renewables and fossil fuels

President-elect Donald Trump is considering an oil billionaire and a North Dakota lawmaker for top posts as he moves to roll back President Barack Obama's environmental and energy policies and allow unfettered production of oil, coal and natural gas, reports AP.

New analysis from Deutsche Bank reveals that even if Trump follows through with all his anti-clean energy promises there will be no impact to the long term development of renewables, reports PV Tech.

The UK Government has announced it will commit funding to support less developed renewable energy technologies, such as offshore wind and marine energy, in tandem with proposals to phase out coal-fired electricity generation.

The Solar Impulse Foundation that completed the first solar-powered flight around the world earlier this year has announced its World Alliance for Clean Technologies. It will be a network of "start-ups, companies, institutions and organizations producing, implementing or supporting the use of clean technologies." 

The Wellington community hosted an "unwelcoming party" for oil companies Statoil and Chevron. They have contracted the world's largest seismic blasting ship to look for oil off Wellington's coast. Greenpeace is running a petition calling on the the companies to stop their exploration in NZ waters. It says searching for oil that the world can't afford to burn is reckless and immoral.

The Dunedin City Council voted to oppose the government’s 2017 Petroleum Block Offer, reports Oil Free Otago. Dunedin Mayor David Cull stated, “The world is waking up. We can’t identify benefits of exploring for oil off our coast. We don’t have any kind of right to trade in our grandkids futures for a few pieces of silver now.”

Climate change

NZ’s response to climate change has been labelled ‘inadequate’ for the fourth year in a row by Climate Action Tracker – an international group of climate science researchers. It says our target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 is not in line with any interpretations of a “fair” approach to reach a below 2°C pathway, let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit.

2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row, according to the UN. It means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been this century. The scorching temperatures around the world, and the extreme weather they drive, mean the impacts of climate change on people are coming sooner and with more ferocity than expected, according to scientists.

The Guardian rounds up stories from around the world of how the lives of many people have already been changed by a warming planet.

Declining consumption of coal in the US last year played a significant role in keeping down global emissions of carbon dioxide, according to a new report. The Global Carbon Project annual analysis shows that CO2 emissions were almost flat for the third year in a row, despite a rise in economic growth. The slowdown in the Chinese economy since 2012 has also been a key factor limiting carbon.

The Ministry of Health should not be considering the use of coal in Christchurch Hospital’s boiler, say the New Zealand Climate and Health Council and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association. They say coal burning is a mistake for the climate and is inconsistent with the Ministry’s legislated responsibility to protect health.

Young climate activists are proceeding with a lawsuit against the U.S. government. They allege the federal government has known for decades that carbon pollution causes climate change but has failed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Power prices National president of the Grey Power Federation Tom O’Connor is astonished that IRD has secret plans to tax monthly rebates paid by lines companies, through retail power companies, to consumers.

Electric vehicles

BMW wants to boost sales of electric cars by two-thirds next year to 100,000 vehicles by offering more battery-powered models.

Hyundai has revealed details on its upcoming trio of electrified vehicles.

All electric vehicles sold in the US after Sept 2019 will be required to make noise at low speeds. The "Quiet Car" rule is designed to prevent pedestrians from getting hurt by electric cars that they can't hear.