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Tesla releases new electric car and VW scandal hits NZ

A scene from the Guardian animation 'Can the Sun cool down the Earth?'

We're all about saving you energy and have rounded up the latest solar and energy news so you don't have to.

There's been a lot of motoring news in the last seven days. Tesla released its much anticipated Model X. It's a serious electric vehicle which can reach 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, has a top speed of 250 km/h and its battery charge lasts 400km.

The latest NZ Ministry of Transport figures show that while there are low numbers of electric vehicle and plug-in hybrids, registrations are rising fast. The number of EVs in NZ is now more than twice that a year ago and six times the number in September 2013.

The VW emissions scandal hit NZ this week. Stuff reports that 7600 NZ-new models including VWs, Audis and Skodas are fitted with cheat software that was installed at the factory to beat overseas emissions testing.

Other carmakers have been caught up by the emissions scandal, the Herald reports. New diesel cars from companies including Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat and Volvo allegedly produce more emissions when tested in realistic driving conditions, according to data from Europe's biggest motoring organisation. The Guardian reports the emissions crisis could be a "profoundly important moment" in the automotive industry, encouraging carmakers to step up their investment into petrol hybrid and electric cars. The NZ government is about to upgrade its official fleet of cars and has opted for diesel power over electric.

Every hour the sun blasts the Earth with enough energy to power humanity for a year. The Guardian has produced a 60-second animation showing how switching to solar energy could cool the warming planet. Vanuatu communities, previously without electricity, are set to have access to solar power under a project which has support from New Zealand and the World Bank.

A group of prominent energy companies has warned that the world’s energy infrastructure is at risk from the extreme weather expected to result from climate change. When energy systems fail, the knock-on effects on other aspects of modern infrastructure - from water and sewage to transport and health - can be catastrophic. PricewaterhouseCoopers has just released a report looking at the global energy transformation from a NZ perspective. It lists five global mega trends which are impacting NZ, saying technological innovations like solar and electric vehicles are driving change. The International Energy Agency says 26 percent of the world’s energy will be generated by renewable sources by 2020. The agency calls it “a remarkable shift in a very limited period of time.” Africa holds some of the best renewable energy resources in the world in the form of biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. It could quadruple its renewable energy share by 2030, generating a quarter of the continent’s energy needs.

As the last major economy to submit a target for a global climate pact, India is pledging to reduce the intensity of its carbon emissions and boost the share of electricity produced from sources other than fossil fuels to 40 percent by 2030. Solar is going to play a major role in India’s renewable energy mix.

Stuff reports the Otahuhu B gas-fired turbine, run by Contact Energy, has been turned off because of the increasing development of renewable energy.