Aussie solar capacity set to double, Genesis extends coal deadline again

We're all about saving you energy and have rounded up the latest solar, climate and energy news so you don't have to.

In 2015 Genesis said it would stop burning coal this year. Then it said 2022. Now it's saying 2030.

Solar and batteries

A record-breaking month of rooftop installations and a flood of large-scale solar farms could almost double Australia’s solar power capacity in a single year, say industry analysts.

Shell has suggested it will become the next major oil firm to enter the new build solar market following reports that the Dutch giant plans to build solar farms in Britain. An offshore seaweed farm in the North Sea will be turned into a large solar power farm that aims to pipe energy to the Dutch mainland in roughly three years.

Singapore has joined a number of countries going to the World Trade Organisation to demand a consultation with the US over its 30% solar import tariffs. And four Canadian solar manufacturers have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Meanwhile, the US government doubled its financial support for solar power projects overseas during President Donald Trump’s first year, reports Reuters.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Genesis Energy has pushed back plans to stop burning coal for power generation to 2030, a move that environmentalists say will prevent important investments in clean energy. Environmentalists have called on the Government to "live up to their promises" after officials gave NZ Oil & Gas an extra year to decide if it will drill off the South Island's east coast, reports Stuff.

And a NZ oil industry survey purporting to show it has favourable public support actually reveals the opposite, says Greenpeace.

Climate change

Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are speeding up the already fast pace of sea level rise, new satellite research shows.

Natural catastrophe and extreme weather events have topped the list of perceived risks to New Zealand in the World Economic Forum's Global Risks report for 2018. Auckland has 137,000 buildings prone to flooding and there will be more torrential rain and flash flood events. Fire and Emergency NZ says climate change and extreme weather will cause more complex fires. And NZ's commercial fishing industry will have to adapt, or risk decline as ocean temperatures warm, says Niwa marine scientist Cliff Law.

The global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40 percent in 2030, due to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth, according to the UN.

Power prices

A wide-ranging government inquiry will look into whether New Zealanders are getting a fair deal on their power bills. The inquiry will look at power prices and whether the electricity sector as a whole is prepared for new technology like solar power and electric vehicles, reports RNZ.

Genesis Energy has raised prices by between 2% and 4% for electricity and gas customers, reports Stuff. And Contact Energy says it is selling its electricity at a cheap price to the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter partly to help it stay in business.

Electric vehicles

The largest 100 per cent electric car-sharing scheme in the Southern Hemisphere has been wheeled out in Christchurch.

The roll out of easy to find charging stations is making it easier for Kiwi electric vehicle owners to travel longer distances, says the Transport Agency.

The world's best-selling electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, is to be sold in New Zealand within the next year.