NZ must do more on climate change, solar vital to nation’s energy future

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

A Transpower report into New Zealand's energy future, estimates 1.5 million homes will have solar systems by 2050, reports the NZ Herald. And New Zealand's first publicly-owned solar park could be built in Wairarapa, reports Stuff.

India and China are driving a rapid global expansion in large-scale, solar power developments as the cost of building new projects falls, reports Bloomberg. Following up on that, Quartz reports that half of the world’s 10 largest solar parks under construction currently are in India.

With plummeting costs of solar and wind transforming the energy landscape the next big development will be energy storage, reports Bloomberg.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The Netherlands plans to shut all of its coal-fired power stations by 2030, reports Reuters.

The fossil fuel divestment movement is having a big impact, and holdouts may be missing their one great chance to really change the world, says co-founder Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone. University of Auckland has approximately $3.3 million invested in coal, oil and gas companies Fossil Free UoA is calling on the university to divest saying there is no justification for funding climate change, reports the Spinoff.

A flurry of oil and gas exploration is set to be unleashed in Taranaki during the next 18 to 36 months as companies make decisions on whether to 'drill or drop' existing permits, reports Stuff.

Energy-intensive heavy industry has a long-term future in New Zealand, but only if policies to decarbonise the economy can deliver a secure energy supply, says the outgoing chief executive of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters in the NZ Herald.

Climate change

The Government needs to do more to help NZ prepare for climate change according to a top-level panel, reports the NZ Herald

Sheep and beef farmers could be carbon neutral by 2050, reports Stuff. Dry rivers, like those that snake through Canterbury's countryside, could be making a hidden contribution to climate change, reports the NZ Herald.

Achieving the toughest climate change target set in the global Paris agreement will save the world about $30tn in damages, far more than the costs of cutting carbon emissions, reports the Guardian.

Oil giant Exxon Mobil, one of the world's largest producers of greenhouse gases, says it would reduce its methane emissions by 15 per cent in the next two years. A company statement on Wednesday did not mention climate change, but that would be one of the major benefits of this move, reports Stuff. And a project in Iceland is capturing carbon dioxide and turning it into stone, reports the BBC.

Power prices

Just over half of New Zealand households cut back on heating their homes in winter due to the cost, reports Stuff. In Auckland 55 per cent of households go cold in a bid to save on power bills. In Wellington, it's 52 per cent. In Canterbury, it's 50 per cent. And, Stuff also reports that many NZ homes lack even basic window coverings to provide insulation during winter, according to Habitat for Humanity.

Electric vehicles

The latest long-term forecast from Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows sales of electric vehicles increasing from a record 1.1 million worldwide last year to 11 million in 2025, and then surging to 30 million in 2030.

Westpac has welcomed the arrival of 65 new electric and plug-in hybrid cars as it gears up to meet a target of almost 100 electric cars by 2019.

Prince Harry and his new wife may have sped off in a classy, one-of-a-kind electric Jaguar but most electric vehicles aren't as sexy, and this needs to change says a marketing expert, reports the NZ Herald. Meanwhile, the quieter driving environment of an electrically driven vehicle can have significant mental health benefits, reports Electrek.