Trillions to be spent on clean energy and NZ power companies still love dirty coal

This could be NZ’s 100% renewable energy mix in 2050 according to a Standford University.

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New Zealand's last two coal-fired power plants are in Huntly and are scheduled for closure in 2018. Electricity industry leaders say this could create a shortage of power from 2019 and have been meeting with the owner of the Huntly plants, Genesis Energy. With the world’s nations agreeing to cut carbon emissions in Paris last month Greenpeace says our electricity companies should be looking for clean energy solutions rather than supporting dirty coal.

More Kiwi households are installing solar PV every year, reports Sustainable Electricity Association NZ (SEANZ). In 2015 over 3,500 new installations were completed bringing the NZ total to more than 8400. Last year Stanford University released a report showing how 139 countries, including NZ, could transition to 100% renewable energy (not just electricity) by 2050. Now new infographics show at a glance how that could be achieved as well as the future energy costs, health benefits and job numbers resulting from the transition. They predict solar could make up more than 20% of the energy mix for NZ. Power from the sun could supply 20% of energy worldwide by 2027 on current technology trends, say UK researchers. 

According to Standard & Poor’s latest analysis, the Paris climate agreement will unleash more than $16 trillion of investments for renewable energy and clean technologies. UN secretary-general Ban ki-moon has challenged investors around the world to at least double their investments in clean energy by 2020. The global revenue from solar PV installations is expected to total more than $1.2 trillion between 2015 to 2024, according to Navigant Research. Global solar PV installation for 2015 increased 34% on the previous year. 

Key developments in China and India this week provide more confirmation that the global electricity markets are transforming a great deal faster than anyone expected. The minister responsible for Germany’s ambitious Energiewende, or energy transition, from coal and nuclear to renewable energy says it is clear that solar and wind energy have won the technology race. Vietnam says it will stop building coal power plants and look to gas and renewables to power its electricity grid. Plunging oil prices have been blamed for a sharp rise in the number of UK oil and gas companies going bust.

Our government has confirmed a funding commitment so work on Auckland's City Rail Link can start in 2018 - two years earlier than the current plan. Aucklanders are cranking up the air con to cope with the rising heat and humidity this week, causing a spike in electricity usage, says Transpower. New Zealand had a world-leading emissions trading scheme until it went off the rails in 2012, and we can have one again, says environmental economist Dr Suzi Kerr.

The growth in popularity of electric cars is akin to the spread of the internet in the 1990s, says the UK’s Transport Minister. UK cities are to allow electric car drivers to beat congestion by using bus lanes, as part of a government drive to encourage uptake of the cleaner vehicles. Plunging oil prices are set to hit the electric car industry hard, says the Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla.

The amount of sea level rise that comes from the oceans warming and expanding has been underestimated, and could be about twice as much as previously calculated, say German researchers.

Construction of the world’s largest floating solar power plant, in terms of output, has started in Japan. And a Chilean company plans to start building a power station that will use solar energy during the day to pump seawater up to a mountain reservoir so it can be released at night to generate hydro power.