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Top stories

1) Solar: US market, solar plane Pacific crossing, Tesla battery 

An MIT study says that the US must direct spending from solar power tax credits and prepare the grid for large-scale use if the industry is to play a role in lowering carbon emissions. Current incentives fail to reward energy produced.

Oilprice.com looks at whether solar is ready to compete with oil and other fossil fuels, while last week’s Tesla battery news runs and runs. Forbes takes a look at thepotential for Tesla battery interactions with the grid; Reuters looks at the company’scompetition for customers and subsidies; and Deutsche Welle and EurActiv have the European angle on the developments – including identifying Germany as a key market for the development.

The solar powered single-seater airplane, Solar Impulse 2, is about to fly across the Pacific from Nanjing to Honolulu. Here’s Wired on how it’s prepping for the trip – part of the round-the-world of which it’s already done 6 of 12 legs.

2) US oil and gas: Texas ban halt, fracking chemicals found in drinking water, Shell Alaska delays

Following the vote in Denton, TX in November to outlaw shale gas extraction, state lawmakers have been under pressure to halt the anti-fracking movement – and the bill giving the state the sole right to regulate the industry has just passed the Senate. It would mean that Texas cities would not be able to ban fracking and is a coup for industry groups and top conservatives.

Meanwhile Bloomberg reports that chemical compounds used to extract natural gas through fracking were found in three samples of water from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region. The chemicals were detected in drinking water from households, and and the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is also reported in the NY Times.

In Seattle, Shell faces Arctic drilling delays as the city ruled the port must apply for a permit to allow the company to use it as a hub for oil drilling rigs. Mayor Ed Murray applauded the requirement, citing the importance of “environmentally progressive businesses”.

3) BRICs: Russia courting China, India underground coal gasification block auction

Moscow is showing an eagerness for Chinese funding by offering larger stakes in its energy assets, writes the FT.

The Guardian Sustainable Business has a series on BRIC nations and sustainable development, with one piece suggesting that the BRIC response to climate change is critical to the fate of the planet.  Another piece wonders whether India, a nation of 1.25bn, can lead on green buildings, clean energy and corporate responsibility.

Meanwhile India’s Economic Times reports that the coal ministry is preparing isolated coal and lignite blocks for auction as underground coal gasification sites. It also reports researchers’ suggestions for “climate-smart” villages in tribal areas.

In other news:

ArcticClimate drives ‘new era’ in Arctic Ocean

US: Western towns target coal companies over climate change

Global oil: Shell to clean up 2008 Niger Delta oil spills

SustainabilityUnilever: sustainable brands growing twice as fast