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Shining light on solar tax, NZ must do better on climate action

Photo: Greenpeace / Marty Melville


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

New Zealand musician Tiki Taane (pictured above) delivered 45,000 paper suns to New Zealand’s electricity watchdog, each with the name of someone who signed a Greenpeace petition demanding the authority support solar energy and prohibit electricity providers from penalising solar users. He then released a music video cleverly incorporating the petition delivery. Gold.

The race to build the world's largest solar power plant is heating up. A California-based energy company has announced plans for a massive concentrated solar power plant in Nevada that claims to be the largest of its kind once built. Malaysia plans to be the world’s second largest producer of solar photovoltaic panels by 2020. It is currently ranked third behind China and the European Union. The world’s second airport to be powered on solar energy has opened in South Africa. The world’s largest mining company, BHP, is running a trial project in Australia combining solar PV with grid scale storage. It says the technology could be adopted at its remote sites.

Egypt's first solar-powered village has risen from the desert and provides shelter for 350 people.A new way of using solar energy to light a bike path is being tested in Poland. It’s made from a synthetic material that can give out light for up to ten hours at a time once charged by the sun throughout the day. 

Renewables

Argentina expects investment of $1.8 billion from 17 renewable energy projects awarded in an auction to generate 1,109 megawatts of power as it tries to lessen dependence on imported power.

Fossil fuels

Norwegian oil giant Statoil is quitting its exploration efforts off Northland, putting another dent into the government’s resources strategy. Statoil's decision comes after troubled Brazilian company Petrobras in 2012 pulled out of exploration in the Raukumara Basin off the East Coast and in 2014 Texan oil giant Anadarko came up dry off Taranaki following a $300 million drilling campaign. And, across the Tasman, BP has decided not to go ahead with its controversial plans to drill for oil in the commonwealth marine reserve in the Great Australian Bight.

Climate change

New Zealand ratified the Paris climate agreement last week. It was the one positive bit of news in an otherwise bleak month when it came to us taking meaningful action on climate change, says our CEO Andrew Booth.

Adopting a firm commitment to reach zero net carbon dioxide emissions before 2050 is the bare minimum of a credible and defensible policy for New Zealand writes Professor of Public Policy Jonathan Boston in Stuff. The government is considering measures to further encourage more forestry planting as it examines whether locally grown forests will be cheaper than buying foreign carbon credits to meet its climate change targets.

Pattrick Smellie, writing for Stuff, looks at how agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be brought into the emissions trading scheme.With the cost of carbon credits skyrocketing, businesses should be looking at reducing their carbon emissions of to offset them with more tree planting, says NZ Herald economics columnist Brian Fallow.

The NZ government will join the an international agreement to deal with greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry. Aviation produces two percent of world emissions.

Power prices, energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is not only a huge business opportunity – it’s also critical to tackling climate change, says the International Energy Agency.

National is showing little concern for the axe hovering above the Kawerau mill which if proposed Electricity Authority power hikes proceed could force it to close with the loss of more than 700 jobs in the Bay of Plenty, says New Zealand First Spokesperson for Energy Fletcher Tabuteau.

Electric vehicles

Every new or refurbished house in Europe will need to be equipped with an electric vehicle recharging point, under a draft EU directive expected to come into effect by 2019, reports the Guardian.

Germany is pushing for a Europe-wide mandate to stop the sale of petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2030. A UK city will soon have a small fleet of electric buses charged by solar power generated by panels installed on the bus depot’s roof. There are only about 650 electric vehicles in Russia. The company that builds Lada cars is hoping to improve uptake and has just unveiled it’s second electric vehicle prototype.

A new season of the fully-electric racing series, Formula E, is starting very soon and a lot more popular car manufacturers are getting involved. This fact could prove a game changer for the future of electric cars in markets worldwide, says Car Keys. Wireless charging for electric cars has been talked about almost as long as modern electric cars have been on sale. A US company says it’s now fast becoming a reality.

A Renault-Nissan alliance will offer a fleet of 50 all-electric vehicles as the official passenger-car provider for the United Nations COP22 Climate Conference in Marrakech in November. The fully electric fleet will shuttle delegates to venues around the conference site. Auckland’s new mayor Phil Goff says he’s planning on driving an electric vehicle to show leadership in electrification and in reducing our carbon emissions.