Community solar tipped for NZ, consumer watchdog targets power companies

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

This unmanned solar-powered plane set a new flight duration record. Photo: Quartz 

Solar and batteries

Community solar projects are trending in the US and will soon be a feature of the NZ energy landscape, writes our CEO Andrew Booth for Pure Advantage.

CleanTechnica provides a summary of global solar developments over the past two months. And Power Technology profiles the nine biggest solar power plants in the world with five of them are in India.

A solar-powered aircraft built by Airbus broke the record for longest continuous flight last week. If the unmanned Zephyr S had stayed aloft for just three minutes longer, it would have flown for exactly 26 days, reports Quartz.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Fonterra's Stirling dairy processing operation in south Otago will be the first plant in New Zealand to change from coal to electricity, reports Stuff.

Mercury is partnering with majority shareholder Infratil (IFT) in a takeover offer for all shares in listed renewable energy generator Tilt Renewables (TLT) with the intent to privatise the company.

Climate change

The world is likely to see more extreme temperatures in the coming four years as natural warming reinforces manmade climate change, according to a new global forecasting system, reports the Guardian.

Scientists have warned that New Zealand's climate could revert to a hot, tropical state if the world's emissions aren't reined in, reports the NZ Herald. And Scion researchers say warming temperatures could help NZ's pine forests to grow but the extreme fire risk could almost double by the end of the century, reports the NZ Herald.

A report from commercial lawyers Chapman Tripp says climate change is creating a huge need for new infrastructure in NZ, reports the NZ Herald.

Power prices

Power companies are on the Commerce Commission's "priority list" for the coming year, as more consumers risk falling foul to dodgy traders, reports Stuff.

Electric vehicles

A Munich-based start-up is in the testing stages of its all-electric solar vehicle that lets you charge as you drive, reports Reuters. And Scottish scientists have developed a liquid battery which could charge electric cars in seconds, reports the BBC.

Last week Stuff reported close to 50% of Kiwis would consider buying an electric vehicle over the next two years. This week a Trade Me survey shows that only 11% of respondents are considering an electric vehicle (EV) for their next purchase, reports Future Five.

Tesla is forming a special committee to evaluate proposals to take the company private one week after CEO Elon Musk said he was considering it, reports the NZ Herald