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Mexico sets record low solar price, NZ commits to quitting coal

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

Mexico is on track to generate the world’s cheapest solar power — with prices as low as 1.77¢/kWh. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, is poised to install a record amount of solar-power capacity this year, prompting researchers to boost forecasts as much as 80 percent. South Korean capital Seoul plans to invest US$1.55 billion in a solar plan which aims to install 1GW of PV generation capacity by 2022. 

Nearly 40% of all the new power capacity added in India this year is solar. And the International Solar Alliance, an India-led initiative to expand solar energy, plans to triple global solar capacity by 2030.

French designers have potentially found a way to supply green electricity to the most remote and disadvantaged populations using photovoltaic balloons

Energy storage

The global energy storage market will double six times between 2016 and 2030, predicts Bloomberg. And, if energy storage can cost-effectively fill the gaps in wind and solar energy production, renewable energy could be a 24/7 energy source and compete directly with fossil fuels in wholesale markets, says investment bank Lazard

Renewables and fossil fuels

NZ has joined a new alliance of 19 nations committed to phasing out coal quickly.

Environmental groups are pressuring Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage to refuse the large open-cast Te Kuha coalmine behind Westport after it was granted resource consent this week. The world’s largest seismic exploration ship is returning to the South Taranaki Bight where it plans to seismic blast for oil right in the middle of blue whale habitat, reports Greenpeace.

Renewable hydro, geothermal, wind and solar can provide NZ’s electricity needs, including powering our light vehicle and low duty cycle heavy vehicle fleet, says the National Energy Research Institute.

Commentator Rod Oram looks at Fonterra's apparently ground-shifting announcement about reducing its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and says the plan is not as impressive as it looks.

The $1 trillion fund that Norway has amassed pumping oil and gas over the past two decades wants out of petroleum stocks. The divestment would mark the second major step in scrubbing the world’s biggest wealth fund of climate risk, after it sold most of its coal stocks, reports Bloomberg.

Climate change

Nasa has captured 20 years of changing seasons in a striking new global map of planet Earth.​ And Nasa reports that October 2017 was the second warmest October in 137 years of modern record-keeping, 

If the Paris accord was the spark igniting the global fight against climate change, then the latest round of talks, held in Bonn, served to fan the flames, reports The Telegraph. New Zealand will now be a world leader on climate change, says Climate Change Minister James Shaw. Auckland's gross greenhouse gas emissions increased by 3.8% in 2015.

Pacific island nations could lose between 50 and 80 percent of their fish species by the end of the century if climate change continues unabated, according to a new study.

Power prices

The Commerce Commission has ordered Nelson Electricity to lower its prices next year after it was found to have overcharged customers $91,793 in the year to March. Meanwhile the commission has given the early all-clear for New Plymouth-based lines company Powerco to raise prices to fund a $1.27 billion upgrade of its network over the next five years.

Transport

Global sales of electric cars increased 63 percent in the third quarter of this year from the same period a year ago and 23 percent from the second quarter of 2017, reports Bloomberg.

General Motors plans to launch a new family of electric vehicles in 2021 that will cost less to build and make a profit for the U.S. No. 1 automaker. An ambitious new partnership between two Japanese carmakers - Suzuki and Toyota - could be the biggest disruption to hit India’s electric vehicle market.

Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s first electric semi-truck last week at an event in Los Angeles that also included the surprise reveal of a new Tesla sports car.

While much of the world is going gung-ho for electric vehicles to help get rid of auto emissions and end reliance on fossil fuels, Japan's top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. is banking on hydrogen.