solarcity walking the talk on carbon, Shell’s 1991 climate film rediscovered

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Climate change

We’ve been awarded our carboNZero certification for the 7th year running. That’s no small feat as our business more than doubled in size last year. Relatively speaking, our carbon footprint shrank in 2016.

The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of a century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered. It warns that trends in global temperatures raise serious risks of famines, floods and climate refugees. But in the quarter century since, Shell has continued to invest heavily in fossil fuels.

China's consumption of coal fell in 2016 for the third year in a row, according to official data this week, as the world's top carbon polluter has emerged as a global leader in addressing global warming.

Greenpeace said an analysis of data from the National Energy Administration showed an expected "significant drop" in China's CO2 emissions of 1 percent this year, in what it said would be the fourth consecutive year of zero growth or a decline.

A new study indicates that the Arctic Ocean is also becoming more acidic, another consequence caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It gives researchers renewed cause to worry about the Arctic, suggesting that a large — and increasing — swath of the ocean may have reached a level that’s dangerous for some marine organisms.

New equipment installed on aircraft flying in and out of New Zealand as part of an international climate change initiative will help monitor greenhouse gases and air quality.

Power prices

Households are being told to shop around for a better power deal with prices set to rise, reports Stuff. Lines companies around the country review their prices each year on April 1 and that is often a catalyst for the retailers to hike their own prices.

Power prices look set to rise in South Canterbury. The new prices from the region’s lines company, Alpine Energy, are most apparent in daily fixed charges. More than 12,600, largely residential, customers who paid 87 cents a day last year will pay $1.04, and more than 5800 customers who paid 97 cents will pay $1.14. Low user fixed charges remain unchanged.

Concerns raised in 60 expert reports on the Electricity Authority’s transmission pricing methodology proposals have not been addressed by the regulator, says industry expert, Dr John Small of Covec.

Solar and batteries

Drones, robots, software, sensors and networks are being used by US companies to design, build and operate solar farms. After seeing the prices of solar panels drop dramatically over the past decade, companies are looking for new ways to cut costs and compete with fossil fuel power through project design.

Australian homeowners with solar panels and batteries could soon trade their electricity in a digital marketplace developed by a consortium of electricity providers, energy tech startups, energy retailers and energy agencies.

Solar photovoltaic cells and wind turbines were peripheral to the energy system just over a decade ago. Now they’re growing faster than any other energy source and their falling costs are making them competitive with fossil fuels, reports The Economist.

Solar panels have been installed on 10 hospitals in Libya to enable them to continuously operate vital medical equipment in areas where power cuts are frequent.

A Mumbai-based start-up is helping to tackle the issue of malnutrition among female farmers and rural women in India by providing solar-powered dehydration units so food can be preserved for up to six months.

And a solar-powered cinema has been opened in the West African country of Burkina Faso.

Renewables and fossil fuels

If we want to break our reliance on coal, using it to make electricity is the first place we should start, says Colin Campbell-Hunt an emeritus professor at the CSAFE Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago.

India’s renewable energy capacity increased by 34% compared to 9% in the coal-based power sector in 2016

Average household electricity bills have increased less in the renewables-rich state of South Australia over the past 10 years than they have in Australia’s eastern states, which are predominantly powered by coal and gas-fired generation, says a new report.

President Trump has doubled down on his campaign promise to reinvigorate America’s long-ailing coal and steel industries, promising that under his administration “dying industries will come roaring back to life.” Meanwhile, in a move that more closely reflects market reality, China announced it is cutting 500,000 coal and steel jobs as it begins shifting its economy away from heavy manufacturing.

Despite the new Trump administration the largest U.S. government agency - the Department of Defense - plans to forge ahead with a decade-long effort to convert its fuel-hungry operations to renewable power, senior military officials told Reuters.

California's Senate leader has introduced legislation that would require the state to draw all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. If passed, the bill would make the nation's largest state the second to commit to a carbon-free grid.

Electric vehicles

Auckland Transport (AT) will trial two electric buses this year as it develops a clean bus roadmap for the city. It will also install 60 EV charging stations at AT parking facilities around Auckland.

Almost 70,000 petrol powered taxis in Beijing will gradually be replaced with electric vehicles, and any new taxis on the road must be electric in a bid to reduce the city’s pollution problem.