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India ramps up solar, Genesis Energy plans to ramp up coal and gas

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

India’s total grid-connected solar power capacity crossed the 8 GW mark at the end of the July 2016. To put that into context, that’s enough to power every house in NZ. India has ambitious plans to ramp up its solar capacity by more than tenfold by 2022. Sri Lanka is planning to boost renewable energy from 50% to 70% by 2030 by building 3000 MW of solar power capacity.

Batteries that store electricity and offset power required from the grid during peak periods are key to unlocking lucrative power and transport markets, according to new research reports Bloomberg News.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Genesis Energy says it is considering reopening its third coal and gas turbine at the Huntly Power Station and is eying up cheap fuels overseas. Are they serious? We say that’s the wrong option on every level. Contact Energy's combined cycle gas-fired power station in Stratford is in line for a $45 million do-over - but it could also be facing closure if it becomes uneconomical, reports Stuff. The station, which can produce 377 megawatts, was only used 43 days in the last year. National grid operator Transpower says it has a $600 million scheme ready to get electricity out of the South Island if the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter shuts down.

Shell is preparing to sell all or some of its New Zealand operations, which carry an estimated value of more than $1 billion, reports the Otago Daily Times.

Renewable energy producers have won more than a 50% share of Chile’s latest power tender, with falling costs for renewables driving the average bid price below USD 50 per megawatt hour (MWh) – the lowest since the tenders began a decade ago.

Power Prices

Consumer groups in the King Country say they are being charged "over the top" for electricity supply by The Lines Company's (TLC) and are preparing to do battle through the courts. Meanwhile, the Electricity Authority has began its market performance review into TLC which will cover pricing and related load control practices, the incentives placed on customers, and the outcomes they influence.

Two of the country's biggest power companies, Meridian and Genesis Energy, have reported mixed results as they cope with flat demand, a volatile consumer market and soft prices.

Climate change

With fires, floods and rising seas forcing a village to move, Chris Mooney of the Washington Post asks if events this month are a sign of things to come. The surge in global temperatures, driven by climate change and a strong El Nino, could begin to slow under a La Nina pattern, but not completely and not until next year, says an Australian-based climate researcher. A satellite study suggests that the Greenland ice sheet lost 1 trillion tons of ice between the years 2011 and 2014. It’s the latest story in a long series of increasingly worrisome studies on ice loss in Greenland. Climate scientists are keeping a close eye on the region because of its potentially huge contributions to future sea-level rise. 

Man-made greenhouse gases began to nudge up the Earth's temperatures almost 200 years ago as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, far earlier than previously thought, reports Reuters. The Climate Investigations Center, a small progressive group that monitors energy and environmental outliers, says the coal lobbying influence is waning. CIC released a survey this month of the lobbying spend and the influence of climate change on it. Scientists say that climate change means both more frequent and severe droughts and a heightened risk of flooding. The Huffington Post reports that it’s also affecting the quality of our water.

The Dompost says the NZ government is starting to talk about climate change action. Now it needs to start making the tough calls that will signal it really believes it.

Electric vehicles

The latest data  on electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales shows continued strong progress toward mainstream adoption. According to market tracker EV Volumes, 180,500 electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) were sold in the first four months of this year, a 42 percent increase over 2015 levels. More than 200 Chinese companies are developing 4,000 models of new-energy vehicles and unveiling prototypes, reports Bloomberg.