Bright future for NZ solar, One Planet talks commit to climate action

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

New Zealand’s power system is in a good position to enable a significant increase in renewable electricity generated from solar photovoltaic panels, says Transpower.

India added more rooftop solar power capacity in the last financial year than in the previous four years combined.

The world is quickly abandoning coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. But that’s not the end of the road for coal mines - in many countries they’re coming back to life as solar farms, reports Quartz.

Business journalist Rod Oram talks about the benefits of converting his home to solar, making it more energy efficient and switching to electric vehicles. And musician Tiki Taane is powering his house, music and car from the sun.

New smart window technology, developed in the US, lowers building temperatures by shifting from clear to opaque under strong sunlight. When the shift to opaque occurs, the solar prototype begins electricity production, reports electrek.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The downside to the brilliant early-summer weather is the effect it could have next year on electricity supply, says climate scientist James Renwick.

Fonterra, one of New Zealand's biggest coal users, plans to divest all its coal interests by 2025. It is exploring options to use electricity for its current processes, rather than relying on heat generated from fossil fuel boilers.

NZ Trade Minister David Parker has told a World Trade Organisation meeting that hundreds of billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies should be redirected into renewable energy.

Solar and wind power face serious threats from the Trump administration, reports Time.

Climate change

Marking the second anniversary of the Paris climate agreement the One Planet Summit set out a raft of wide-ranging commitments to take action on climate change. French President Emmanuel Macron awarded grants worth millions of euros to bring 18 American and other climate scientists to France, a programme to counter U.S. President Donald Trump's rejection of the Paris climate accord.

The development of oil, gas and coal energy must stop in order to avoid the worst ravages of global warming, say 80 top economists.

A Government-commissioned report has acknowledged NZ doesn't have a co-ordinated plan to deal with future climate change, which threatens to damage hundreds of billions of dollars of property and infrastructure.

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund is among a group of powerful investors putting pressure on the world's biggest polluters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, reports RNZ.

Melting Arctic sea ice caps are altering the planet's temperature dynamics, changing the global distribution of rain. This could spell disaster for regions under chronic water crisis, reports Futurism.

Climate change is starting to have an impact on the value of coastal properties in Australia, reports Renew Economy. Meanwhile in NZ we’re still building large developments within a few metres of present-day sea levels. The tough decisions faced by one coastal council illustrate the struggles going on around New Zealand, reports Newsroom.

Drought and climate change mean California faces a new reality where lives and property are continually threatened by fire, at a cost of billions of dollars, says the state's governor Jerry Brown.

Power prices

The incoming government has been told New Zealand has far too many local electricity companies, and they are pushing up prices, reports RNZ.

Genesis will raise residential power prices in Northland next month. Customers in the Top Energy network will pay an extra $100 a year while prices for Whangarei and Kaipara customers will rise by $83 a year.

Electric vehicles

Electric cars, specifically their batteries, can help balance supply and demand on the grid, reports Forbes

Lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles are now the cheapest they've ever been thanks to a global ramp-up in production. Toyota has reached a deal to explore a new battery partnership with Panasonic in a move that threatens to encroach on Tesla's territory.

Separate studies in the U.K. and Switzerland indicate solar power could offer a cost-competitive way to power trains.