NREL: Belgium's Red Electrical Devils Win $1 Million for Innovative Inverter Design

Google and IEEE announced today that Belgium's Red Electrical Devils, a team from CE+T Power, has won the Little Box Challenge, a competition to invent a much smaller inverter for interconnecting solar power systems to the power grid. The success earned the team a $1 million prize while proving that inverters can be the size of a tablet or smaller rather than the size of a picnic cooler, a size reduction of more than a factor of 10.

The Red Electrical Devils were declared the winner by a consensus of judges from Google, the IEEE Power Electronics Society, and NREL. Their inverter had a power density of 143 W/in3 -- far greater than the minimum requirement of 50 W/in3 and 50% higher than the nearest competitor --plus a volume of only 14 cubic inches, smaller in volume than a cube measuring 2.5 inches on each side.

PV-Tech: Musk Called Me About Nevada Net Metering

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of multinational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway, has confirmed that Elon Musk contacted him directly about the Nevada net metering row.

Buffett-owned state monopoly utility firm NV Energy pressed for changes to net metering regulations that left SolarCity and other installers exiting the market. Musk is chairman of SolarCity, a major shareholder and cousin of its two founders, the Rive brothers.

In an interview with CNBC, Buffett said Musk phoned him about the changes and [said] that he was “unhappy."

Reuters: EU Not Increasing Emissions Targets After Paris

EU regulators will say this week the European Union does not need to set a more ambitious greenhouse gas target until the next decade, a text seen by Reuters shows, even though the Paris climate deal stipulates a preliminary review of goals in 2018.

Such a decision would please member state Poland, whose economy relies on coal, but anger environment campaigners, who see the Paris agreement, agreed in December, as an argument for the European Union to step up its climate action.

Washington Post: Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscars Speech Was About Climate Change

On Sunday night, while accepting a long-anticipated Oscar for best actor, for his role in The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio seized the moment to highlight the plight of the planet.

“Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world,” DiCaprio said. “A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow.”

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now,” DiCaprio continued. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

Carbon Brief: Decline in China's Coal Consumption Accelerates

China’s coal use declined 3.7% in 2015, according to official statistics released by the Chinese government today.

This is the second year running that the consumption of China’s most polluting fuel has declined. What’s more, the reduction took place while the economy grew.

The data will raise hopes that coal use in the country has finally peaked.