US solar jobs double coal, Costa Rica plans fossil fuel ban

Tesla set a world record for the heaviest tow by an electric production passenger vehicle. Credit: Electrek.

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 is the leading job creator in the American clean energy sector employing 250,271 people in 2017. Solar provides more than twice as many jobs as the coal industry, reports Solar Power World.

The global solar panel recycling market is projected to reach US$269.8 million by 2023, reports P&S Market Research.

Solar and wind power could help thirsty Middle Eastern and North African countries reduce the stress on their limited water supplies, reports Reuters.

We need to improve the way houses are built in NZ before making it compulsory to install solar panels on all new builds as happened in California, according to the NZ Green Building Council, reports Stuff.

The organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are backing a Scottish-based project that will have fans walking on sunshine. The international team, led from Glasgow Caledonian University, is creating pavements that gather energy from the sun, reports the BBC.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Costa Rica’s new president has announced a plan to ban fossil fuels and become the first fully decarbonised country in the world, reports the Independent.

Almost half of Australia’s large businesses are actively transitioning to cheaper renewable energy, including many going off the grid by building their own generators and battery storage, as power bills threaten their bottom line, reports the Guardian. It also reports the UK has no need to build new large gas-fired power stations to replace the coal plants that the government has pledged to switch off by 2025, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, 

Russia is going to use a floating nuclear plant to power its oil drilling operation in the Arctic, reports Clean Technica.

Climate change

None of the world’s challenges loom as large as climate change, says the United Nations chief who believes that global warming poses an “existential threat” to humanity.  In NZ, a report just out from a Government-owned science company details the health risks to New Zealanders from climate change, helping to illustrate why it has been called the biggest contemporary health issue, reports Newsroom. And new analysis shows global warming is on track to cause a major wipeout of insects, compounding already severe losses, reports the Guardian.

In the Arctic Ocean, some ice stays frozen year-round, lasting for many years before melting. But this winter, the region hit a record low for ice older than five years. This, along with a near-record low for sea ice over all, supports predictions that by midcentury there will be no more ice in the Arctic Ocean in summer, reports the New York Times.

Water shortages are likely to be the key environmental challenge of this century as new Nasa data has revealed a drying-out of swaths of the globe between the tropics and the high latitudes, with 19 hotspots where water depletion has been dramatic, reports the Guardian.

The $100 million Green Investment Fund, announced in this week's Budget, is designed to stimulate private sector investment into low-carbon projects, technology and businesses. Another $14m over the next four years will go into other climate change policies, reports the NZ Herald.

Buildings could be belching out 20% of New Zealand's carbon pollution - and much more needs to be done to make them greener, according to the NZ Green Building Council, reports the NZ Herald.

Power prices

Tauranga-based Trustpower lifted annual net profit to $129 million last year - an increase of 35%, reports the NZ Herald. It also reports that Bay of Plenty social agencies are seeing an increase in struggling families unable to afford necessities as the pressures leading up to winter settle in and people try to keep up with their power bills.

Electric vehicles

Global EV sales were up 59% in the first three month of this year compared to the same time in 2017, reports

An increase in the number of light electric vehicles in Hawke's Bay has sparked moves to introduce new specialised higher standards for the repair industry, reports the NZ Herald.

Last year New Zealand imported a massive 20,000 e-bikes and that number is likely to grow exponentially. The Spinoff has the lowdown on what you need to know before you buy one. 

A Tesla Model X P100D set a Guinness World Record for the heaviest tow by an electric production passenger vehicle by towing a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, reports Electrek.