Aussie PM kicked into orbit and solar panels in space

We're all about saving you energy and have rounded up this week's solar and energy news so you don't have to.

Stuff reports the merger of Z Energy and Caltex service stations could hurt small towns. The $785 million deal, announced in June, is waiting for Commerce Commission approval. If it goes ahead it will give Z Energy about 49% of the retail petrol station market.

Meridian Energy, NZ's largest electricity generator, has been added to a long list of the world's most sustainable companies. The only other NZ business to make the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices is Auckland International Airport. Once a strong advocate for solar power, Meridian's about turn in NZ a year ago left thousands of customers without the feed-in they were promised when they signed up to the company. This is the key reason solarcity is supporting the Green party members' bill to put a level playing field in place for solar.

Will Australia's new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have a positive impact on the country's renewable energy industry which has suffered heavily under Tony Abbott? Renew Economy looks at some of the pro and cons of his appointment.

Fortune reports residential solar is breaking new sales records in the US. The amount of home solar grew 70% year-over-year for the most recent quarter and went from four states with vibrant residential solar markets in 2013, to 10 states today.

The Guardian reports that solar could be big in South Africa as the demand for electricity outpaces the development of the distribution network. About 90% of its electricity comes from coal-fired power stations and it's the 12th largest emitter of CO2 globally. All of which means it is no surprise that pressure is increasing to drive the country to a greener future.

In an effort to become "the most sustainable city in America", Los Angeles will lease 160 electric vehicles and 128 plug-in hybrids saving taxpayers 41% in operating costs for municipal cars. California is aiming to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on state roads by 2025.

Forget about hoverboards and flying cars in the future. How about solar panels in space beaming energy back to Earth? The only thing standing in the way is the astronomical cost. But that's finally changing and space-based solar power entrepreneurs are starting to see interest from private investors and potential customers.

A Canadian report says shifting the country to a 100% renewable energy economy will help create more jobs echoing similar findings of a NZ report released by Greenpeace in 2013.

A new scientific study shows that burning all the world's coal, oil and gas would melt the entire Antarctic ice-sheet and cause the oceans to rise by more than 50 metres, a transformation unprecedented in human history.

On a much lighter note, check out this satirical video of a US real estate agent who thinks sea level rise is an opportunity rather than a problem.