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NZ solar grows 25%, stressed energy system poses risk to Kiwi economy

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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 number of Kiwi homes with solar systems increased by  25% over the past 12 months and totalled 19,497 at the end of September, reports the Electricity Authority. Auckland had the highest number of solar homes at 4204 while Nelson had the highest proportion at 2.2%.

Award-winning solar scientist Martin Green says the time of solar has arrived and this is good news for the world, reports Vice.

Cheap, reliable and hard to hijack, the sun could be an ideal energy source in many war zones and disaster areas, prompting aid agencies to consider ditching costly fuel for solar power, reports Reuters.

Renewables and fossil fuels

Falling lake levels and gas supply problems pose an "immediate risk" to New Zealand's economy, with warnings that energy prices could rise across the board, reports Stuff.

Those resource issues are already having an impact on wholesale electricity prices, reports Sharechat. Genesis Energy says it is looking at importing coal to make up for the shortfall in gas supplies, reports the NZ Herald. The situation is another reminder that we need to fast-track the rollout of solar energy, says Greenpeace. We agree and say using fossil fuels to keep the lights on is putting us on a path back to the dark ages rather than urgently shifting us to a bright energy future.

While not linked to the current supply issue, Austrian oil and gas company OMV says New Zealand has just seven years' firm supply of gas, and production is forecast to start falling away from 2021, reports the NZ Herald

Climate change

Despite the dire warnings in the United Nations' latest report on climate change, some good signs emerged here in New Zealand about our efforts to respond effectively, writes Rod Oram in Newsroom.

One of the world’s leading climate scientists has launched a scathing attack on the UK's government’s fracking programme, accusing ministers of aping Donald Trump and ignoring scientific evidence, reports the Guardian.

Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations with links to climate change, reports the NZ Herald.

Power prices

Power prices have contributed to inflation rising to its highest level in a year, reports RNZ.

Entrust has called on the Commerce Commission to investigate Meridian, Genesis Energy, Mercury and Contact Energy’s arrangements to supply Tiwai Aluminium Smelter with artificially low-cost electricity at the expense of consumers across the country.

Electric vehicles

Air New Zealand and Google co-founder Larry Page plan to bring the world's first autonomous electric air taxi service to market in New Zealand, reports the NZ Herald.

Trade Me has seen a staggering 252 per cent jump in users scouring the online auction site for electric vehicles compared to last year, reports Stuff.

Tesla has just reached a significant milestone - 100,000 Model 3 electric cars have left the factory, according to the latest estimates, reports Bloomberg.