NZ's bright energy future, 60 Kiwi firms pledge climate action

We're all about saving you energy and have rounded up this week's solar, climate and energy news so you don't have to.

Solar and batteries

NZ's renewable energy is at a tipping point and solar power is becoming more accessible and affordable, reports Stuff. This story includes comments from our CEO Andrew Booth who points out that you can now generate power locally from your roof and store it in a battery, for a price which is cheaper than buying it from the grid.

Utility-scale solar PV has started to spring up across Africa thanks to dropping equipment prices and support from development banks, reports PV Tech.

A new kind of solar cell that can convert sunlight into electricity using bacteria has been developed by researchers. While not as efficient as a traditional solar cell, this new technology works just as well in low light or bright conditions, reports Digital Journal

Renewables and fossil fuels

The Republic of Ireland will become the world’s first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, reports the Guardian. It also reports that Shell has backed calls for the UK to bring forward its 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.

Dairy factories mostly use coal to power the boilers needed to dry milk into powder. Synlait is taking the plunge to install an electricity-powered boiler. It will be the first of many. Gavin Evans, writing for Newsroom, explains why that matters.

A Zurich-based insurance firm has announced it will no longer provide insurance or reinsurance to businesses with more than 30 percent exposure to thermal coal, reports Greentech Media

A new $100 million natural gas-fired electricity plant is set to open in Taranaki in mid-2020, reports Stuff.

Climate change

Sixty firms that contribute almost half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions are pledging to help the country reach its net zero emissions target by 2050, reports Stuff. The announcement of the new “Climate Leaders Coalition” is good news for climate change action in New Zealand, in principle at least, says climate scientist James Renwick in The Spinoff.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says nearly all the country's cars will have to be zero-emission by 2050 if New Zealand is to meet its zero carbon pledge, reports RNZ.

The sovereign wealth funds from six countries, including New Zealand, have released a joint framework encourage investors to take climate-related risks into consideration when investing, reports the NZ Herald. And, the NZ government has put climate change at the centre of its new strategic defence policy, reports RNZ.

Electric vehicles

New homes in suburban England would need to be fitted with electric car charging points under a government proposal to cut emissions, reports the BBC.

Italian design house Pininfarina and Indian manufacturer Mahindra have teamed up to from a new company to make high-end electric vehicles, reports Stuff.

Tesla is to open a new electric car production plant in Shanghai, its first outside the US. The new auto plant is slated to produce 500,000 cars a year, taking Tesla’s total global manufacturing capacity to 1 million vehicles a year, reports the Guardian.