Free solar system plan launches in Australia, more Kiwis want climate change 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

Australian homeowners are being given a chance to switch to solar and battery storage without any capital costs. Sound familiar? While there are a couple of key differences, the Free System Solar Plan is similar to our solarZero energy service which makes it easy for customers to power their homes on solar and save money.

The US Department of Energy has announced  up to $105.5 million in funding for about 70 projects to support efforts to innovate solar energy technology. And America’s top companies are investing in solar in record amounts have installed solar systems that in total generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 402,000 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association

Point of No Return, a film about the first solar-powered plane to fly around the world, will screen in NZ during the DocEdge Film Festival in May.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Some countries have been far more successful than others in orchestrating a state-led transition to renewable energy. NZ could be one of them, reports Newsroom.

There are no plans to halt exploration for coal in New Zealand, Energy Minister Dr Megan Woods told Q&A. However, last year Climate Change Minister James Shaw signed New Zealand up to the international "Powering Past Coal" alliance, which is committed to phasing out the use of coal for electricity generation, reports Stuff.

New Zealand households which rely on natural gas won't have to switch to another energy source despite the latest advice showing there may be as little as seven years' reserves left, according to Energy Minister Dr Megan Woods, reports the NZ Herald. Writing for Newsroom, Rod Oram systematically dismantles the economic and environmental claims New Zealand's gas sector makes as it doubles down on on its promises that it can help cut carbon emissions.

Climate change

More Kiwis want action on climate change than at any time in the past decade - but large numbers still don't see a need to deal with it now, according to a poll by Horizon Research, reports the NZ Herald.

NZ's target of net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 is feasible, though challenging according to the Productivity Commission's draft report on the transition to a low-carbon economy, writes Brian Fallow in the NZ Herald. Also in the NZ Herald, Pattrick Smellie highlights 10 big ideas from the report for reaching our carbon goals. And Bernard Hickey, writing for Newsroom, says the proposed economic policy changes to reach carbon neutrality would be as big as the deregulation seen from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s.

A report released by the the Deep South National Science Challenge highlights key gaps in our collective understanding about how climate change will impact Aotearoa New Zealand’s diverse communities.

Internationally acclaimed author, climate activist, and founder of, Bill McKibben, will be in NZ in May as part of his global ‘Fossil Free Acceleration Tour’.

Scientists have discovered a worrying process that speeds up the melting of Antarctica's ice - and the rate of resulting sea level rise, reports the NZ Herald.

Power prices

MBIE data shows families in some parts of NZ are paying close to 40% more than the national average for their power, reports Stuff.

Up to a third (29 per cent) of households either struggled to afford their power bills, spent a large part of their income on power, or often felt cold, according to a 2015/2016 Statistics New Zealand Report on Energy, reports Stuff.

Electric vehicles

The world’s first electrified road that recharges electric vehicles as they’re driving has been opened in Sweden.

Electric buses were seen as a joke less than a decade ago, now they have the potential to revolutionise city transport, reports Bloomberg.

A regular poll of hundreds of EV owners across New Zealand reveals a range of fascinating motivations for walking away from petrol and diesel-driven cars, reports the NZ Herald. There's been a 37% increase in imports of two-wheeled powered vehicles, which includes electric bikes, mopeds and motorcycles, reports RNZ.

And Top Gear debunks five myths often raised by naysayers of electric vehicles.