Solar takes the heat off Japan, record melt in the Arctic

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

Scientists say thinning of the sea ice has reached even the coldest parts of the Arctic. Photograph: Nick Cobbing/Greenpeace

Solar and batteries

Due to Japan's increasing solar capacity the government has not needed to ask the country to conserve electricity over the past two summers, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

The majority of the British public would like to install solar panels and home energy storage schemes if greater government assistance was available, reports the Independent

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Victoria Labor government has unveiled a plan to dramatically expand the installation of rooftop solar to more than 650,000 homes, reports Renew Economy. And details have been unveiled of a massive solar farm in South Australia that will generate power for 96,000 homes while offsetting 492,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, reports ecogeneration.

A group of grandmothers in Madagascar has brought light into their community by becoming the village’s first solar engineer (video).

Renewables and fossil fuels

The world famous Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior is on its way to New Zealand for a tour of the country to celebrate the government’s recent oil ban and promote clean energy opportunities.

Conserving oil is no longer an economic imperative for the US, the Trump administration declares in a major new policy statement that threatens to undermine decades of government campaigns for gas-thrifty cars and other conservation programmes, reports the NZ Herald.

Climate change

The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break up, opening waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen, even in summer. This phenomenon – which has never been recorded before – has occurred twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heatwave in the northern hemisphere, reports the Guardian.

Even the oceans are breaking temperature records in this summer of heat waves, reports the NZ Herald.

Summer weather patterns are increasingly likely to stall in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, according to a new climate study that explains why Arctic warming is making heatwaves elsewhere more persistent and dangerous, reports the Guardian.

Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences, says a new report from an Australian think tank.

The Trump administration has put forward a greenhouse gas emissions plan that could boost output from coal-fired power plants rather than push them towards closure, reports the Guardian.

Power prices

See part 2 of our video poll which reflects a recent survey revealing 90% of Kiwis think NZ power prices are too high.

Mercury NZ reported a record $561 million in operating earnings for the year ended June 30, reports the NZ Herald. And Meridian Energy announced earnings of $666 million.

The Government may be getting more in dividends from its 51 per cent holding in three major power companies than when it owned the companies outright, reports Stuff.

Electric vehicles

Industry lobby group Drive Electric says the government needs to be acting now if it is to sustain take-up of electric vehicles as part of its emissions reduction strategy, reports Newsroom.

Mercury has launched an electric vehicle subscription service offering cars from $100 a week as a way of enticing drivers in plug-in transport, reports the NZ Herald.