Solar Blog


  • 23 Jun, 2017
    Global temps May 2107
  • 19 Jun, 2017

    Electricity sector failing New Zealanders says solarcity CEO

    2017-06-19 17:49:24 by solarcity

    Auckland, 19 June, 2017 - The government needs to change the way the electricity sector operates so it encourages clean energy technologies, says the CEO of New Zealand’s leading solar energy services, Solarcity.

    Today the High Court released a decision that stops Solarcity from pursuing a complaint that a solar tax, introduced by lines company Unison Networks, breached the electricity industry code.

    “That’s disappointing for Kiwis looking to embrace solar and energy efficiency as it means the electricity sector is able to make up its own rules without having to defend them in a hearing,” says Andrew Booth, CEO of Solarcity.

    “We have been fighting too long for New Zealanders’ rights to challenge the legality of Unison’s tax which wrongfully disadvantages solar users.

    “The current system is failing New Zealanders. We need the government to step in and ensure there is a level playing field so that solar, batteries and energy efficient technologies are encouraged. The electricity sector must take climate change into account and not penalise families that are trying to do the right thing for future generations.”

    Booth says clean energy technologies will help make New Zealand’s energy network more resilient and shift the nation towards a government target of 90% renewable electricity by 2025.

    “Right now the low levels of the South Island hydro lakes are causing concern. That’s only going to get worse with climate change. We need to be taking action now.”

    Solarcity’s complaint about Unison’s solar tax has been at the centre of a legal wrangle since it was laid with Electricity Authority (EA) more than a year ago. Rejected by the EA, it won a full hearing from the Electricity Rulings Panel, an independent appeals body, which said the issues around Unison’s tariff needed to be “fully tested.” The decision to proceed with the hearing was challenged by Unison which was backed by the EA. The High Court ruled in Unison’s favour today.

    Unison introduced its solar tax in April last year. It said its customers in Hawke’s Bay, Rotorua and Taupo areas that installed rooftop solar after April 1, 2016 would be charged an extra fee for their lines connection. It plans to extend that tax to all solar power users in its region from April 1, 2019. 

    “Unison is discriminating against its smartest, most energy aware customers and is charging up to an extra $239 per year without providing any extra services. That effectively makes it a tax on solar,” says Booth.

    “These kinds of approaches by monopolies to try to stop solar won’t work. Similar moves in Spain, Sweden and South Australia have all failed. Here in New Zealand Vector, Orion, Network Tasman and Powerco have told us they have no intention of introducing a solar tax.

    At the end of last year Greenpeace delivered a petition signed by 45,000 Kiwis calling on the Electricity Authority to support solar energy and prohibit electricity providers from penalising solar users.

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  • 16 Jun, 2017

    Shift to clean energy unstoppable, NZ power prices to spike

    2017-06-16 08:53:19 by solarcity

    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 energy is now cheaper in Australia than retail power prices in most capital cities after dropping 58 per cent in the past five years. The cost is predicted to fall a further 40 per cent to 70 per cent by 2040 with the lower price expected to drive an uptake in usage, says the Climate Council.

    Mozambique is gearing up to develop its first solar PV power plant that will power about 175,000 households. Helsinki Airport will soon be powered on solar energy and airport buses will run on renewable energy. European airport companies have committed to making 100 of their airports carbon-neutral 2030.

    Tesla’s Supercharger network for its electric cars is shifting off-grid, with an end goal of running almost completely off solar power and batteries.

    Renewables and fossil fuels

    The shift to renewable energy, electric cars, and a low-carbon economy is now unstoppable, reports Think Progress.

    More than a fifth of investment by the largest oil and gas companies could be in wind and solar power in just over a decade, according to analysis of how global changes in energy will reshape the sector. And a new report from BNEF says renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are set to take almost three quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generating technology over the years to 2040.

    Wind and solar energy, as well as energy efficiency measures, are serving to replace the overwhelming majority of power which in the UK had previously been supplied by coal power, according to a new analysis conducted by Greenpeace’s Energydesk.

    Last week renewable sources of energy generated more electricity than coal and gas in Great Britain for the first time. And in March, monthly electricity generation from wind and solar (including utility-scale plants and small-scale systems) exceeded 10% of total electricity generation in America for the first time, according to figures just released.

    NZ Electric lines companies are under scrutiny for having what the Commerce Commission calls antiquated equipment. The Electricity Networks Association has responded saying the normal life expectancy of electrical gear does not reflect how well it is actually working, as some equipment lasts longer than others.

    Climate change

    The US refused to sign on to a Group of Seven pledge that calls the Paris climate accord the “irreversible” global tool to address climate change. The US withdrawal from the accord has led to a groundswell of support elsewhere for the accord.

    It is tempting to focus all attention on Trump’s decision to withdraw from the climate accord, but this can make us overlook unpleasant realities right here at home, writes Dr Julie MacArthur, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Auckland. And, Alan Mark and Dugald MacTavish of Wise Response Society ask how much practical difference there is for climate change between the US withdrawal from the Paris accord and New Zealand's current policies?

    DairyNZ says it will take a leading role in developing a framework for dairy farmers to cut their carbon footprint. Greenpeace says the Dairy Industry’s new “action plan” on climate change is completely lacking in any form of serious action. If we don’t drastically reduce livestock from our diets, as we reduce other greenhouse gas emissions, we have no future, says Dr Mike Joy, a senior lecturer in Ecology and environmental science at Massey University.

    A review of Australia’s electricity market by the country’s chief scientist recommends a scheme that would reduce emissions by only half the amount that some experts say is required to meet obligations to the Paris climate accord.

    Our Climate Declaration is calling on Kiwis to commit to urgently transforming society to achieve climate stability for future generations.

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    Science notes and news
  • 9 Jun, 2017

    The rise of global solar PV, electric vehicles sales hit new high in NZ

    2017-06-09 08:57:45 by solarcity

    Solar PV Global Capacity and Annual Additions, 2006-2016. REN21

    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

    During 2016, at least 75 GW of solar PV capacity was added worldwide – equivalent to the installation of more than 31,000 solar panels every hour, according to the latest Renewables Global Status Report (PDF). It says growth was due largely to the increasing competitiveness of solar PV as well as the rising demand for electricity and improving awareness of its potential as countries seek to alleviate pollution and reduce CO2 emissions.

    Replacing coal with solar power would save American lives and money, according to a new study. It found that if the US transitioned from coal to solar PV nearly 52,000 lives would be saved with an investment of $1.1 million per life.Rooftop solar panels in towns and cities across Scotland were able to generate more than the average home’s demand for electricity throughout last month, according to WWF Scotland. 

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    2006 2016 capacity graph
  • 2 Jun, 2017

    UK breaks solar record, US breaks from climate agreement

    2017-06-02 09:42:11 by solarcity

    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 power broke new records in the UK last Friday by providing nearly a quarter of the country’s electricity needs. Solar is predicted to be the source of more than half of Australia’s electricity generation by 2050. Currently at just over 3% of total generation it appears to be on track to deliver at least 30% by 2030.

    Numerous forecasts by internationally respected bodies have proven woefully conservative when it comes to the predicting the growth of solar generation. Auke Hoekstra at the Technical University of Eindhoven, in The Netherlands, compares the predictions to what is actually happening.

    Abu Dhabi has broken ground on what will be the world’s largest independent solar plant. The mammoth project is part of the UAE’s bid to diversify its energy sources and work towards a low carbon economy.  A hospital in Syria will have uninterrupted power from this week, charged by solar power in a project designers hope will save lives and can be repeated across the country, reports Reuters

    The Auckland Harbour Bridge will be lit up with with lights powered by solar energy in a $10 million project scheduled to be completed this year. 

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