Shift to clean energy unstoppable, NZ power prices to spike

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

Solar energy is now cheaper in Australia than retail power prices in most capital cities after dropping 58 per cent in the past five years. The cost is predicted to fall a further 40 per cent to 70 per cent by 2040 with the lower price expected to drive an uptake in usage, says the Climate Council.

Mozambique is gearing up to develop its first solar PV power plant that will power about 175,000 households. Helsinki Airport will soon be powered on solar energy and airport buses will run on renewable energy. European airport companies have committed to making 100 of their airports carbon-neutral 2030.

Tesla’s Supercharger network for its electric cars is shifting off-grid, with an end goal of running almost completely off solar power and batteries.

Renewables and fossil fuels

The shift to renewable energy, electric cars, and a low-carbon economy is now unstoppable, reports Think Progress.

More than a fifth of investment by the largest oil and gas companies could be in wind and solar power in just over a decade, according to analysis of how global changes in energy will reshape the sector. And a new report from BNEF says renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are set to take almost three quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generating technology over the years to 2040.

Wind and solar energy, as well as energy efficiency measures, are serving to replace the overwhelming majority of power which in the UK had previously been supplied by coal power, according to a new analysis conducted by Greenpeace’s Energydesk.

Last week renewable sources of energy generated more electricity than coal and gas in Great Britain for the first time. And in March, monthly electricity generation from wind and solar (including utility-scale plants and small-scale systems) exceeded 10% of total electricity generation in America for the first time, according to figures just released.

NZ Electric lines companies are under scrutiny for having what the Commerce Commission calls antiquated equipment. The Electricity Networks Association has responded saying the normal life expectancy of electrical gear does not reflect how well it is actually working, as some equipment lasts longer than others.

Climate change

The US refused to sign on to a Group of Seven pledge that calls the Paris climate accord the “irreversible” global tool to address climate change. The US withdrawal from the accord has led to a groundswell of support elsewhere for the accord.

It is tempting to focus all attention on Trump’s decision to withdraw from the climate accord, but this can make us overlook unpleasant realities right here at home, writes Dr Julie MacArthur, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Auckland. And, Alan Mark and Dugald MacTavish of Wise Response Society ask how much practical difference there is for climate change between the US withdrawal from the Paris accord and New Zealand's current policies?

DairyNZ says it will take a leading role in developing a framework for dairy farmers to cut their carbon footprint. Greenpeace says the Dairy Industry’s new “action plan” on climate change is completely lacking in any form of serious action. If we don’t drastically reduce livestock from our diets, as we reduce other greenhouse gas emissions, we have no future, says Dr Mike Joy, a senior lecturer in Ecology and environmental science at Massey University.

A review of Australia’s electricity market by the country’s chief scientist recommends a scheme that would reduce emissions by only half the amount that some experts say is required to meet obligations to the Paris climate accord.

Our Climate Declaration is calling on Kiwis to commit to urgently transforming society to achieve climate stability for future generations.

A tiny clipping from a New Zealand newspaper more than 100 years ago predicts the effects of global warming 'may be considerable in a few centuries'.

Power prices

Dry weather in the South Island is pushing up the price of electricity on the wholesale market, reports RNZ. Transpower says New Zealand’s hydro generators probably have enough storage to make it through until spring and the return of seasonal inflows although winter power supplies remain at risk from a major thermal plant failure or unprecedented low inflows, reports Energy News (subscription).

Electric vehicles

Tesla’s original designer, Henrik Fisker, has created a new electric car with a reported range of 640km and it charges in just nine minutes.

The growing number of electric vehicles hitting roads is set to fuel a nine-fold increase in copper demand from the sector over the coming decade, according to an industry report.

Electric vehicles will be better identified under new engine type definitions in the Motor Vehicle Register coming into force on July 1, says the NZ Transport Agency.