Powerswitch may be turned off and solar mirror plant to be turned on

The largest concentrated solar power plant in the world being built in Morocco.

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

Consumer Powerswitch, which operates at Powerswitch.co.nz and also provides the price data to Whatsmynumber.org.nz may stop operating next year if its government funding is cut. A report last year found a third of households had looked for information to help them decide whether to change power companies and most of them had used the website which was launched in 1999. A number of councils around the country have been responding to Government plans to open up large new areas of the NZ seabed for oil and gas exploration. Both the Kaikoura and and Christchurch councils are in firm opposition. In a close vote Auckland councillors supported a proposal for oil exploration off the city's west coast. An upgrade to Transpowser's inter-island link will allow the electricity supply system to operate at a national level, rather than separately for South and North islands.

Herald energy writer Grant Bradley travelled to Norway which, like NZ, generates most of its electricity from renewable sources but has 70,000 electric vehicles. With only 800 electric vehicles on NZ roads he asks if it's time for our country to follow Norway's lead. The Business NZ Energy Council thinks the NZ fleet could be fully electric by 2050. It has just released a report outlining two different scenarios of what NZ's energy future could look like over the next 35 years. Dr Rosie Bosworth compares the alternatives in the NZ Herald.

A new enthusiasm to act for climate protection is gripping NZ businesses writes Rod Oram for Stuff. Business New Zealand will soon publish results of a survey showing a commitment by many of its members to act. This comes after years of ambivalence, if not outright hostility, by many of them to climate change policies, he says. Meanwhile, in the US, the Bank of America has warned that oil, gas and coal companies face the mounting risk of legal damages for alleged climate abuse as global leaders signal an end for business-as-usual and draw up sweeping plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Ahead of the Paris climate talks Catholic bishops have called for a "complete decarbonisation" of the world's economy and more help for poor countries battling the effects of climate change. Enel, the biggest utility in the world by customer numbers, says it will never build another coal plant and will be carbon neutral by 2050. Enel CEO, Francesco Starace, says that in the next 12 months many more utilities will move to provide low carbon energy.

The internet created an abundance of free information. Is energy next? Chris Cooper, writing for Renew Economy, says the global system is ripe for disruption.

Morocco is building the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world and the first phase, called Noor 1, will go live in November. Rather than solar panels it uses mirror technology and can continue producing power even after the sun goes down. In the last 10 years the number of Australian homes with solar has jumped from 1500 to more than 1.4 million. Within the next decade there are predictions that solar could provide all Western Australia's daytime electricity needs. And, in a suburb being developed in Canberra all homes will be required to install a 3 kW solar system. 

Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof, Richard Branson and international business leaders have joined politicians from 14 African countries to launch a global campaign to bring solar power to the 620 million people on the continent who must still use kerosene, candles and wood to light their homes and cook. Apple says it is significantly increasing its solar power investments in China in order to address the energy consumption coming from its supply chain. The projects, if completed, could have the equivalent effect of taking about 4 million passenger vehicles of the road per year, the company claims.

A Canada-based cleantech start up company has spent several years turning academic research into technology that can suck CO2 directly from the air and turn it into net zero emissions when combined with hydrogen. It is building a pilot-scale plant capable of capturing one million tonnes of CO2 per day.