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Landmark year for solar, NZ plans for zero carbon

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

Solar PV had another landmark year in 2017. The world added more capacity from solar PV than from any other type of power generating technology. On average, the equivalent of more than 40,000 solar panels was installed each hour of the year, reports REN21 (pdf). Meanwhile, Forbes reports China may this year curb the astronomical growth of its solar industry. 

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is turning to solar to power the kingdom, reports the LA Times. A 170,000 panel solar power plant has been built on an abandoned 27-hole golf course in Japan, reports Business Korea. And, to fully power NZ on solar would take 1520 square kilometres of solar panels, according to finder.com.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The world’s major industrial democracies spend at least $100 billion each year to prop up oil, gas and coal consumption, despite vows to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, reports Reuters. And, President Donald Trump wants to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and economic security, reports the New York Times

Meanwhile, the NZ government axed granting any future offshore oil and gas exploration licences without a formal Cabinet paper and with minimal analysis from officials, reports Newsroom.

Big oil companies are investing billions of dollars in renewable energy technologies, reports Motley Fool. Taupō and the West Coast have high prospects for "green minerals" used in electric vehicles and wind turbines, reports RNZ.

A pioneering project in north-west England will turn air into liquid for energy storage to help electricity grids cope with a growing amount of wind and solar power, reports the Guardian.

Climate change

Public consultation for the Zero Carbon Bill, giving New Zealanders a chance to say how the Government should tackle climate change runs until July 17. The NZ Herald looks at four big ways the Bill will matter. We signed an open letter with 200 other businesses, community organisations and leaders in support of the government’s commitment to get Aotearoa to zero net emissions by 2050. 

EECA has released a new strategy (pdf) to help NZ lower emissions from energy use. It says it will inspire, assist and mobilise NZers to make smarter use of sustainable energy in their homes by choosing more energy efficient technologies and behaviours.

Hawaii has set the most ambitious climate goal in the US after it signed a bill to become carbon neutral by 2045, this week, reports RNZ.

The Vatican is about to host executives of the world’s top oil companies for a conference on climate change and the transition away from fossil fuels, reports Reuters.

Power prices

A survey by Consumer NZ reveals more people are having problems paying for power than three years ago, reports RNZ. The survey found 25,317 homes had power disconnected last year because of unpaid bills, compared to 19,106 in 2015.

Electric vehicles

The number of electric vehicles on roads worldwide rose to a record high of 3.1 million in 2017, reports Reuters. It also reports that Panasonic  is aiming to develop automotive batteries without using cobalt in the near future amid soaring prices of the key battery ingredient.

Yoogo, which set up one of the world's first electric car-sharing fleets in Christchurch hopes to do the same in Whangārei, reports the NZ Herald. And it also reports that battery-powered airplanes suited to carrying passengers on regional routes or on charter flights are being developed and could be flying around New Zealand within the next decade.