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Wellington gets our first home solar battery and China set to triple solar capacity

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown at the installation of our first home solar battery system in New Zealand. Photo by Marty Melville

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

Today our first solarZero+ energy service customer had a solar battery connected to the rooftop panels of their Wellington home. The decision to launch our solarZero+ service in Wellington was driven by information from the city council solar radiation roof mapping tool which shows suburbs and roofs where  a solar power installation would provide benefits for owners and residents. Meanwhile a researcher has mapped the rooftop solar potential of half a million Auckland homes. Ultimately, the model suggests that if 250,000 houses had 36sq m of solar rooftop panels, they could together meet Auckland Council's "low carbon" target of powering the equivalent of 176,565 homes with the sun. The researcher intends to eventually make the rooftops results public and searchable by address.

Along with a group of organisations, we’re shocked that a New Zealand energy company is introducing a tax of up to 26% on solar power and batteries from today, April 1. Our CEO Andrew Booth told RNZ that the move was uncompetitive from an industry that was clearly running out of time in terms of technology change. 

We expanded our energy services into Northland to help homeowners there beat the rising price of power. Some Northland families are paying 30% more than the average price for grid power.

New Zealand needs both electric vehicles and solar power - they don't need to compete, says Brendan Winitana who heads the Sustainable Electricity Association of NZ.

The first completed battery storage trial by an Australian network operator has shown that the combined benefits of battery storage nearly match the costs of technology, and should exceed them as battery storage costs continue to fall. China plans to triple its solar photovoltaic generation capacity by 2020, and is aiming for a total of 143 gigawatts, according to the country’s National Energy Administration. The largest solar power project in Southeast Asia was commissioned in the Philippines this month. In the US a new study shows nearly 40 percent of electricity in America could come from rooftop solar photovoltaics. And India is working on a plan to make every car in the country an electric vehicle by 2030. 

Former NASA scientist James Hansen, who is credited with first raising the issue of climate change, says it is worse than previously expected, and governments are not doing enough. Climate change is coming, and with it communities may have to be abandoned or left to deal with major financial costs says Environment Commissioner Jan Wright. Global sea levels could rise by more than double the current best estimate, according to a new analysis of climate change in Antarctica. This would mean New Zealand's coastal waters would rise by 1.3m rather than the 59cm previously estimated. Australia's Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its worst coral bleaching on record. "What we're seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change," Prof Justin Martin University of Queensland told the ABC.

Global renewable energy investments in 2015 came in at US$286 billion which was more than double the US$130 invested in fossil fuels. A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) states that up to $4.2 trillion could be saved annually by the year 2030 if the current share of the global energy mix held by renewables was to be doubled. Europe gets so much of its energy from renewables that many leading countries are now facing a new problem: updating their energy grids to handle it all.

Scotland is witnessing the end to the coal age which fired its industrial revolution with the closure of Longannet power station. An uncertain regulatory environment has contributed to a delay in making a decision on a $15 million to $20 million hydro-electric scheme near Alexandra in Central Otago.

Tesla is about to reveal its newest creation, the Model 3. Starting at US$35,000, the car represents Tesla's first electric vehicle aimed at price-conscious, mainstream consumers. Vacuum company Dyson is developing an electric car at its UK headquarters.