Consumer watchdog gives solar a tick and electricity sector ticked off by rapid solar uptake

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

A Consumer report on NZ residential solar systems says grid-tied solar PV systems make economic sense for households with high levels of daytime energy use, or who can shift a significant proportion of their energy use to when the sun is out.

The Electricity Authority has released a consultation paper which looks at how emerging technologies are affecting the electricity sector. The Authority's chief executive Carl Hansen told Radio NZ that they way electricity distribution is currently being priced is not encouraging consumers to invest in the right technology at the right time and the rapid uptake of solar needs restraining. Brendan Winitana, who heads the Sustainable Energy Association, responded saying that solar was now cheaper than grid power for many customers, making it a smart energy option. He said the proposed changes aimed to reduce the uptake of solar while supporting the old system of central generation, transmission and distribution.

Skiers and snowboarders could be feeling the heat from global warming in NZ as soon as 2040, with rising temperatures predicted to reduce snow fall and cut short snow seasons, according to the government's latest state of the environment report.

Ahead of next month's Paris climate talks, Pacific island nations have called on governments to help address the health impacts of climate change, particularly upon women, infants and adolescents. "We in the Pacific are innocent bystanders in the greatest act of folly of any age," said Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Canada has a newly elected Prime Minister. Justine Trudeau says his government will "take real action on climate change" as well as helping to develop the country's cleantech sector. While Britain visualises a nuclear future, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to switch off all nuclear power by 2022 and fill the gap with renewables. Currently 26% of Germany's electricity comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources and the government wants to double that by 2025. The Tanzanian Government wants to have one million homes (10% of the country's homes) powered by solar by 2017. Currently, only 40% have access to grid power with access particularly sparse in rural areas.

Following the VW diesel emissions scandal there has been a lot of news about the benefits of electric cars. The Nelson Mail looks at some of the common truths and misconceptions. Tauranga is the "perfect spot" to lead the uptake of electric cars in NZ, says Sustainability Options. It says it is working with other groups to establish public charging stations in the city. Asia's two automotive powerhouses, Japan and China, are jostling for supremacy in how future electric cars should generate their power - from batteries or hydrogen-powered fuel cells.

Big battery storage is taking off and not just because of renewables, but also because grids want ways to hold onto energy to be deployed at peak times without having to build big expensive power plants. And Australian scientists have developed 3D printed organic solar cells cable of powering a skyscraper.