Solar set for another record year, NZ power prices create social injustice

Uber could be testing its flying taxis in New Zealand as early as 2020.

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

The world installed 99.1GW of solar in 2017 and is expected to breach the 100GW level this year, reports PV Technology. It looks like that trend is set to continue with Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicting solar and wind technology will provide almost 50% of the world's  electricity 2050.

The capacity to use night time and non-sunny day solar energy in NZ is "moving forward in leaps and bounds", according to Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods, reports Energy News (paywall).

The World Bank has committed US$100 million of funding to support 400MW of solar energy projects in Pakistan, reports PV Tech.

Samsung plans to transition to 100% renewable energy at its sites in the United States, China, and Europe by 2020. In its home in Korea, Samsung plans to install 42,000 meters of solar panels at its headquarters, reports Fortune.

Power prices

The way we make and sell energy in New Zealand is a growing source of social injustice, writes Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson in Stuff. She says the end of new offshore oil and gas exploration could kick-start investment in clean, affordable energy that will mean fairer prices and more jobs to boot.

Stuff looks into claims that electricity 'prompt payment discounts' are a late payment system punishing the poor. Stuff also reports on a West Auckland-based organisation being inundated with requests for blankets from families needing to keep their power costs down as temperatures drop. 

Renewables and fossil fuels

Sweden has started construction on a factory that will test whether it's feasible to make steel without burning fossil fuels, reports the NZ Herald.

The EU renewable energy target for 2030 has been increased from 27 to 32% and will be binding, reports PV Tech. And, by the end of the year, London’s famous Square Mile will source 100% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources, reports CleanTechnica.

The Guardian looks at what the outcome could have been if the $200bn spent on Canada's oil sands over the past 19 years had been invested in wind energy.

Climate change

The world is failing "miserably" to deal with climate change, warns former Nasa scientist James Hansen who first sounded the alarm 30 years ago, reports the Guardian. And, Reuters reports that global warming is set to exceed the most stringent goal set in the Paris agreement by around 2040, according to the UN. 

Our Climate, Your Say is the government’s invitation for public input on its Zero Carbon Bill. It will be most important legislation to come before Parliament in this term reports Brian Fallow in the NZ Herald. Experts have hailed the ambitious bill - but some question whether all types of greenhouse gas emissions should be slashed to nothing by 2050, reports the NZ Herald. And Climate campaigner (and former Green Party co-leader) Jeanette Fitzsimons addresses the bill's emission targets in The Spinoff.

Following National’s offer of bipartisan support to the Government on climate change, party leader Simon Bridges talked to Q+A about the issue. National’s support for a Climate Change Commission is very welcome, writes climate scientist James Renwick in The Spinoff.

Electric vehicles

Auckland could be one of the first cities in the world to use Uber's electric aircraft, as the company works with Boeing to make flying taxis a reality, reports the NZ Herald. As well as drone taxis, Tom Pullar-Strecker, writing for Stuff, looks at other developing transport technologies including hyperloops, self-driving cars and electric vehicles.

Norway tested a two-seater electric plane on Monday and predicted a start to passenger flights by 2025, reports Reuters.