US can meet Paris commitments despite Trump, large scale solar takes off worldwide

The Solar Thermal Tower at the Cerro Dominador solar plant in Chile. Credit: Tamara Merino

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 installation outpaced new global wind capacity in 2016 during a record year for global renewable energy capacity growth, says the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Nielsen Consumer and Media Insights reports that 45,600 Kiwi households say they plan to install solar power in the next 12 months - an increase of 31% versus a year ago.

Rooftop solar and storage can help Australia get rid of “super peaks” says the new chief executive of the Australian Energy Market Operator. And the new head of Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation will be focussing on distributed energy – including solar, battery storage and demand management. The South Australian government has received more than 90 proposals for adding battery storage to its grid.

Thousands of new and existing homes in Wales are to be fitted with a range of low carbon technologies including integrated solar PV and battery storage systems.

The Atacama Desert in Chile is the best place in the world to produce solar energy, with the most potent sun power on the planet. Chile derives about 6 percent of its energy from solar, but the potential of the Atacama is so great that the country could generate all of its electricity with about 4 percent of the desert’s surface area.

Morocco broke ground on its $220 million solar photovoltaic (PV) plant on Sunday, in the southern province of Ouarzazate, considered the biggest of its kind in the whole world, with a 582 MW production capacity. The station will be spanned over an area of 137 hectares and will be set up with photovoltaic (PV) technology. This project comes in line with the Moroccan Kingdom’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases emissions and its plans to increase the contribution of solar power in the national energy production to 52% by 2030.

There’s a new number one solar-powered city in America. San Diego has replaced Los Angeles as the top city for installed solar.

Adani Enterprises, which wants to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Australia, plans to invest A$2bn-A$3bn in solar power plants in the country over five years as it further diversifies its business beyond India.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Most energy experts surveyed for a study on the future of the world’s energy supply consider a global transition to 100 per cent renewable energy to be both feasible and realistic.

A surge in the use of wind and solar energy helped Europe to cut its fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by about 10% in 2015, reports the Guardian.

Hundreds of Medical students from The University of Auckland call for fossil fuel divestment for a healthy future.

The owner of one of Germany's biggest coal mines is shelving plans to expand the site because of government efforts to curb the country's carbon emissions.

An ocean-sailing waka on a protest mission intercepted the Amazon Warrior which is carrying out prospecting work for oil companies Statoil and Chevron about 200 kilometres off the Hawke's Bay coast. Te-Matau-a-Māui delivered a “face-to-face” message to the world’s largest seismic blasting ship to say it was not welcome in NZ waters.

Climate change

No matter what roadblocks the White House and Congress throw up, the United States can meet the commitment it made in Paris in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, writes former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in the New York Times.

Vladimir Putin now says humans are not to blame for climate change. The apparent reversal in the Russian President’s attitude to climate change came shortly after the White House announced that Donald Trump would decide by May whether the US will remain in the Paris Agreement.

The glaciers and ice caps on coastal Greenland are “doomed” to melt after reaching a tipping point 20 years ago, according to a new study.

This week's extreme weather in New Zealand is just a small taste of things to come as the intensity of storms increases because of climate change, climate scientist Professor James Renwick says.

Power prices

Trustpower is being accused of dragging its feet with the introduction of smart meters that record because it does not want to lose customers. Smart meters record information at half-hourly intervals and send the information to the power company at least daily. It means readings are more accurate and the meter does not have to be physically read.

Electric vehicles

Tesla, the upstart Silicon Valley electric carmaker run by Elon Musk, has overtaken Ford, the auto­motive pioneer that is exactly 100 years older, as the second-largest US carmaker by stock­market value.

Mercedes-Benz says it plans to speed up development of electric vehicles, aiming for 10 new models within five years. Meanwhile, Audi which will release its first electric vehicle next year, is under pressure from 43,000 of its own staff to pick up the pace on electric development.

New Zealand is emerging as a new hope for the development of the electric vehicle market, according to the Quebec Times.