Aussie solar saves billions, drones to charge electric cars

NZ emissions profile 2015

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

Our CEO Andrew Booth is profiled in a series by Pure Advantage and Westpac about New Zealand business leaders utilising technological solutions for a zero-emission future.

Rooftop solar is moderating the wholesale price of electricity in Australia and saved consumers several billion dollars last year, reports Renew Economy. France plans to more than double its solar power capacity in the next ten years and make it easier for citizens to become energy independent, as part of its energy transition plan. India has completed its largest floating solar plant. The main challenge for the project was a water level variation of 21 metres between summer and monsoon seasons.

Recent history has shown that solar is quite resilient in the face of extreme weather. After Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, solar installers in the region reported very little damage to their installs. 

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is working with Fijian agencies and authorities to bring solar power to rural communities without electricity, or that rely on diesel generators, reports RNZ.

The Memo looks at five innovative ways solar technology is becoming more accessible from keyless bike locks to window coatings.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The global coal-based economic model has been discontinued, says Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who oversaw the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Over a quarter of the 1,675 companies that owned or developed coal-fired power capacity since 2010 have entirely left the coal power business, according to new research from CoalSwarm and Greenpeace.

The most important aspect of the UK government’s new clean growth strategy is its unequivocal statement that tackling climate change and a prosperous economy are one and the same thing, says the Guardian. Meanwhile the Australian government has rejected a plan to generate 42% of its energy from renewable sources and will instead pursue cheaper and more reliable power. 

A geothermal power plant in Iceland plant captures more carbon dioxide than it produces and stores it underground. The world’s first floating offshore wind farm has begun producing electricity this week off the coast of Scotland, reports Bloomberg.

Climate change

Climate change may have already had an irreversible impact on New Zealand's natural systems and the effects are likely to worsen, says a new government report. The report needs to spur New Zealand’s political and industrial leaders into reducing greenhouse gas emissions, says Forest & Bird. Newsroom commentator Rod Oram notes a growing mood among New Zealand business leaders for any new Government to create a climate commission.

Planting forests and other activities that harness the power of nature could play a major role in limiting global warming. Combined, the suggested “regreening of the planet” would be equivalent to halting all burning of oil worldwide, according to an international study. 

Leading climate scientists have warned that geoengineering research could be hijacked by climate change deniers as an excuse not to reduce CO2 emissions, citing the US administration under Donald Trump as a major threat to their work.

Power prices

Household energy, which includes electricity, gas and solid fuels rose a quarterly 0.3 per cent and an annual 1.7 per cent, says Statistics NZ.

King Country residents say they're being held to ransom by The Lines Company which has the monopoly in the region, reports TVNZ.

Electric vehicles

Amazon has been granted a patent for developing a drone that can charge an electric vehicle while it’s travelling.

World petrol demand will peak within 13 years thanks to the impact of electric cars and more efficient engines, energy experts have predicted. Shell has bought a European company that manages 30,000 residential and business electric vehicle charging stations.

A futuristic family car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies energy back to the grid has been hailed as “the future” as the annual World Solar Challenge wrapped up in Australia, reports the Guardian.