Shell pulls out of the Arctic and the Middle East moves to embrace solar

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

Kiwi homeowners will soon be able to compare electricity providers faster and more accurately thanks to smart meters and changes to the Electricity code, reports Stuff. With more information available a Christchurch company plans to offer a digital-based service which could make switching power companies as simple as getting a text.

The Electricity Networks Association says a network of charging stations is needed to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles and reduce NZ's carbon emissions.

A Wellington investment firm says a startling slump in aluminium prices means the Tiwai smelter will remain under significant pressure. Woodward Partners has set up a 'Tiwai-o-meter' tracking the viability of the smelter in the changing energy landscape. "If Tiwai isn't in the market everything changes. Tiwai's demand profile is not only the largest, but also the flattest in the market."

coalition of environmental organisations is calling on the NZ government to stay away from the Paris Climate Conference in December. They say that due to its poor record on climate action our government is better out of the decision making process. Ahead of the Paris talks Brazil has been the first major developing country to pledge an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The world's 7th biggest climate polluter says it will cut its emissions by reducing deforestation and boosting the share of renewable sources in its energy mix.

The governor of the Bank of England has warned that climate change will lead to financial crises and falling living standards unless the world's leading countries do more to ensure their companies come clean about their current and future carbon emissions. And entrepreneur Richard Branson is urging governments and businesses to come up with big innovations to counter climate change. 

Shell has abandoned its plans to search for oil in the Arctic in the face of mounting opposition. The Guardian reports that Shell has spent over $7bn on its failed hunt for oil which critics said could only endanger one of the world's last pristine environments and produce expensive fossil fuels that were no longer needed. Energy Post says this is a significant event in the global energy picture and is another sign that the end of the oil age is in sight. Mark Shapiro agrees saying Shell and other big oil companies are facing dropping share prices and earnings and outlines what's influencing oil's uncertain future.

We'd only need to cover a land area about the size of Spain to power the entire Earth on solar. This map shows just how little space that is. The Washington Post says big scale solar storage could soon help out the grid by storing large amounts of solar energy for use at night. It predicts the consequences will be transformative. Solar power is gaining substantial new interest and investment in the oil-rich Middle East including projects in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and  Saudi Arabia.