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Big growth for solar & storage, Kiwis worried by rising power prices

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

The global annual market for solar PV plus energy storage is expected to exceed $49 billion by 2026, and reach 27.4 gigawatts, according to a new report.

NZ’s energy trusts need to step up and rise to the challenges of new emerging technologies like solar PV and battery storage, says Minister of Energy Judith Collins.

Electricity generation from solar PV plants in China rose 80 percent in the first quarter after the world’s biggest solar power market increased installed capacity. India unveiled the world's biggest solar farm earlier this year and has quadrupled its solar capacity in the last three years, bringing electricity to millions of off-grid households. And, wholesale solar power prices have reached another record low in India, faster than analysts predicted and further undercutting the price of fossil fuel-generated power in the country.

Australia installed another 71MW of small scale rooftop solar in April, extending its record start to the year as households and business continued to respond to high electricity prices, easing solar module prices and the rapid falls in battery storage. And, in Western Australia, a new solar car park will supply nearly half the energy needs of a large shopping centre.

Three states on the east coast of the US are making funding available to encourage “resilient power” for solar and storage, to keep the lights on and businesses operating if the grid goes out. 

Google’s Project Sunroof, which helps identify the solar potential of residential rooftops, has been expanded from the US to include Germany.

Spray on, printable and other new thin film technology looks set to provide a major boost to the global solar market, reports the Guardian.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Germany broke a new record for renewable energy, with low-carbon sources nearly obliterating coal and nuclear power last weekend. Germany plans to shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022, in addition to nearly eliminating fossil fuel power. Dutch officials have opened what is being billed as one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, with 150 turbines spinning far out in the North Sea.

Climate change

The excuses for New Zealand’s lack of climate action are feeble and unacceptable. We need to take sincere, authentic, practical and innovative action to reduce climate gas emissions right now, says Associate Professor of Political Science Bronwyn Hayward.

The next round of UN climate change negotiations is underway in Germany to further develop the guidelines needed to fully implement the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to protect the landmark climate agreement while US President Donald Trump is still deciding whether to withdraw from the accord. He will make a decision after the G7 summit in Italy in the end of May.

The pace of global warming is likely to quicken in coming years as natural processes in the Pacific switch from serving as a brake to an accelerator, placing the planet on course to exceed a landmark level within a decade, according to a new paper.

Scientists behind the award-winning documentary Thin Ice have released a series of free online resources to help to spread the word about climate change and signal hope for a good outcome if carbon emissions are reduced.

Power prices

As we head towards what is traditionally the most power hungry season of the year, a Canstar Blue survey reveals that over one third of Kiwis worry about the size of their power bill and that nearly half will reach for extra layers of clothes and blankets rather than turn up the heat. And thousands of Kiwis have registered their interest in a movement to bring down the cost of electricity.

Meridian Energy has been given a formal warning for unacceptable conduct when it ramped up prices during a power shortage last year.

Electric vehicles

Sales of battery-powered cars in Europe soared 38 percent in the first quarter of this year. That compares with a gain of 2.9 percent for all of last year, reports Bloomberg.

India's most influential government think-tank has recommended lowering taxes and interest rates for loans on electric vehicles, while capping sales of conventional cars, signalling a dramatic shift in policy in one of the world's fastest growing auto markets, reports Reuters.

Carmakers readying a salvo of electric cars will be stung by ramp-up costs until about 2025, amid an industry-wide push to make the vehicles more appealing to the mass market, according to one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, Continental AG. It says it is going to invest an extra 300 million euros in electric drives by 2021.