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Global solar investments hit new high and Kiwis search for better power deal in record numbers

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

2017 was one of the hottest years on record.

Solar

Global solar investments topped US$160.8 billion in 2017, an 18% increase over the previous year while overall clean energy investment reached the second highest annual level ever.

Australian homeowners wanting to avoid increasing power bills switched to solar power in record numbers in 2017. The University of New South Wales, in Australia, has made a new deal to source all of its electricity from solar power.

An off-grid solar project in Morocco is now delivering power to 19,438 homes in more than 1000 villages. A solar energy plant will begin operating within weeks at the site of the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine.

Energy storage

Mercury is investing more than $2 million into researching the integration of battery technology  with New Zealand's electricity system. The trial involves the Tesla Powerpack 2 large-scale battery which is the same modular, scalable technology installed in Tesla's projects in South Australia and Southern California.

Renewables and fossil fuels

New York City’s decision to sever ties with its fossil fuel investments is set to prove a catalyst to other cities in the face of the Trump administration’s staunch support for coal, oil and gas interests, according to several leading economists.

An oil tanker which sank off the coast of Shanghai was carrying 136,000 tons of oil, now threatens to pollute some of China’s most important fishing waters.

Climate change

2017 was the hottest year since global records began that was not given an additional boost by the natural climate cycle El Niño, according to new data. Even without an El Niño, the year was still exceptionally hot, being one of the top three ever recorded.

The American oil industry was warned about the climatic impacts of burning fossil fuels back in 1959. Since then there has been a conspiracy of silence, deceit, and obstruction, reports the Guardian.

Time is running out to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, Victoria University climate scientist Professor James Renwick. Stuff looks at ways Kiwis will need to adapt to the changing climate. And Newsroom looks at the risks that sea level rise will have on coastal properties.

The cost of the clean-up after last year's significant flooding in eastern Otago and Canterbury has more than doubled to nearly $55 million, prompting fresh calls to help councils tackle climate change.

Power prices

More than 440,000 Kiwis - a record number - switched power companies in 2017 looking for a better deal, says the Electricity Authority.

WEL Networks, in the Waikato, is dropping a discount programme which will increase power bills by $7 a month, reports Stuff.

Electric vehicles

Ford Motor Co’s plan to double its electrified vehicle spending is part of an investment tsunami in batteries and electric cars by global automakers that now totals $90 billion and is still growing, shows Reuters  analysis.

NZ company Ubco has released a road-legal 2×2 utility e-bike that is being sold in the US. For more about Ubco see a short profile of the company in The Spinoff.

NZ Climate Change Minister James Shaw says he is committed to encouraging the use of electric vehicles and believes the Crown car fleet can be electric powered by 2025.