Don’t look back, Don

Don Elder waxed poetic about the prospects for NZ coal this week at Solid Energy’s maiden annual meeting in Auckland.

We have more coal resource energy per capita than Saudi Arabia has oil. In a world of increasing demand, and increasingly constrained supply of energy, New Zealand is now the lucky country.

Sorry, Don, but New Zealand was always the lucky country, in energy resources and otherwise, long before the commodity price spike made Solid Energy’s ledger look good.

The truth is, coal is not last century’s energy source, but the 19th century’s energy source.  It was dirty then and it is still dirty today. So obnoxious is coal that as early as 1306, King Edward I of England banned the burning of coal in London by everyone except blacksmiths. 700 years later and we still haven’t got the message. We are still looking to the past to solve the challenges of the present. I think Edward’s ruling would be just a pertinent today as it was in 1306. Eliminate all coal burning except for blacksmiths – in our case, NZ Steel.

Don’t look back Don, look forward. Instead of building a 1 Megawatt coal seam power plant, why not build a 1 Megawatt concentrated solar array? I promise I’ll leave my lilly pad to come and project manage the job for you. This GreenVolts CPV may not be the perfect choice for NZ conditions, but it is just one of many solar technologies that has reached the commercial stage:


GreenVolts – Utility-Scale Solar from GreenVolts on Vimeo.

The future is green, Don, not a sooty black. Don’t look back, look forward to a greener future.

59 thoughts on “Don’t look back, Don

  1. All for solar…

    But what about “clean coal”, as mentioned by Obama in that clip you posted yesterday?

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  2. its not the sunshine hours its the land use, those areas that are getting the sunshine also produce the food, you can’t have both.

    Solar works well in the US because they have lots of deserts, like Nevada, Calafornia most of the south west.

    The great thing about solar is that humanity has finally found a use for all those deserts that cover the earth.

    I was driving through the Mojave Desert in sept this year, there is plenty of land not doing anything and lots of sunshine hiting that land.

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  3. Ah, good point. ‘food’ is a pretty loose term for all those grapes that’re growing in Nelson though! Possible that once solar becomes economical that they’ll tear up the vines and install solar plants…but not likely.

    Yes one often hears that if 1/4(ish!) of new mexico or somewhere were covered in panels…utopia! They’re on to something though, just awaiting the T Boone Pickens of solar to come along I guess.

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  4. IceBaby – clean coal is an oxymoron. The operative part being moron. Coal will never be clean. Even if we manage to sequester the CO2, which would be great, it doesn’t make it clean. It just means more landfills of a different type. When used for almost every purpose, particularly electricity, coal is expensive, dirty and life destroying.

    Obama must pay lip service to the billions of dollars in wasted research into “clean coal” since the 1970s. We’ll see if he has the guts to put a proper cap and trade system in place. Or a carbon tax, but I don’t think that is on the agenda.

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  5. I would love to keep all NZ’s coal in the ground also but we need it to trade with country’s for all those cell phones and computers TV’s and everything else NZ’rs want.

    We do not produce enough goods vs what we consume from the rest of the world. These days we have resorted to selling all our land in order to maintain our life styles, of course land is just another finite resource which will run out and then what will NZ’rs trade so they can buy their plasma tvs.

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  6. I didn’t really think “clean coal” was a reality, just wondered why Obama said it.

    I agree there does seem to be a wealth of better alternatives, and as you say, coal is a solution from the past.

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  7. But on this I do agree with the green hopping one – we don’t need to burn coal for electricity; its just vested interests that want us to. We can do (and historically have done) better than that.

    As evidence to support my assertion I’d like to use the UK, which gets its electricity in large part by burning stuff, and look at how much their electricity prices have gone up compared to ours. Sixty odd percent over three years. Thats the future of electicity prices for us if we generate power by burning stuff.

    At the end of the day if you dont have to pay for fuel your electricity costs will be better contained.

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  8. Check that link for the sunshine figures. Yes Nelson and Blenheim are chart toppers Lake Tekapo, Central Otago is not far behind. Yes Central Otago does have some Grapes. It also has a lot of practically bare land, and plays home to major water generation. Given that you probably want to offset the down time with solar with hydro – to some extent – this would work really well. Furthermore a dry winter probably means not much clouds means more solar. Just a common sense analogy would love to see a real feasibility study done on it though.

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  9. “Solar is a no go in NZ, we should stick to hydro, wave, wind, tidal.”
    That’s a very brave statement! And completely unsupportable. We have thousands of square kilometers of new roof tops being build every year and almost none of it being utilized to collect solar energy. Thinking outside the square we can reduce our dependence on a national electricity grid and even add energy to it! Collecting revenue in the process. Even households in the most southern parts of NZ can enjoy the benefits of solar energy. If you can feel the sun on your skin, you can collect solar energy. It doesn’t have to be stinking hot. Indeed in many cases that is a real difficulty (hot water collectors will quickly heat up a cylinder of water to boiling point and beyond) forcing it to be dumped. More attention to insulation of houses, and better energy efficient designs would also reduce or increasing reliance on external energy needs to run comfortable housing.. I work in an industry directly related to new housing developments – I see thousands of new high to mid-range houses being build every year. Companies that advertise on TV etc. NONE make any concession to energy efficiency apart from that demanded from them by regulation. They have garage doors where windows should be. they have no windows at all facing north in some cases! There is NEVER any attempt to provide solar water heating. yet there is every benefit to the potential owners by doing so.
    I have experience of solar panels for electrical power supply as well. It is not as expensive as many maintain it to be and has proved to be completely satisfactory.
    You also completely overlook one of our most valuable sources of energy – geothermal. A new 100 MW station just commissioned this week.

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  10. Solar works in places like Nevada why, because they have land that is not being used, where you can build collector based solar arrays which are many times more cost effective than sticking solar cells on the tops of roof.

    Solar cells are a horrible way to generate power and they have no means to store the excess power none its wasted.

    A steam based turbine is still a better way to produce the power using either towers and heliostats or troughs.

    If you had experience then you would know 2 things the NZ grid was never designed to allow small scale power production and 2 solar cells are inefficient and expensive.

    A Solar power plant can act as a base load power plant something a roof top will never be able to do. All the greens living in power la la land have you actually costed the conversion from base load power generation. IE the replacement of the grid. Economies of scale will get you every single time.

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  11. Turnip28 – Nice turn of phrase, saying that we ‘export’ our land to sustain our lifestyles. That is a great way to conceptualise the sell-off of one of our most precious assets to foreign interests, something the greens want to limit to those who are permanent residents or citizens.

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  12. I don’t know of any place in NZ where the sun shines at night. So every solar panel needs back up once the sun sets.
    Currently it is the most expensive power source available (by heaps) and I vaguely recall that it takes forty years for the “carbon free” fuel to pay back the carbon footprint of the manufacture.
    Great for electric fences of course.

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  13. It really worries me when I see all that land being loaded onto ships and sent to other countries.

    I just cannot sleep at night wondering when I shall wake up and find I am surrounded by sea.
    Mind you, a sea view on all sides would make me better off, so maybe ……

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  14. >>That is a great way to conceptualise the sell-off of one of our most precious assets to foreign interests

    What it is, is free foreign exchange earnings.

    We ‘aint short of land, and it isn’t going anywhere, no matter who it belongs to.

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  15. Owen,
    whilst the sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind doesn’t blow all the time, when it does we can store more water behind dams so it can be used to drive turbines when we need it to (storing GPE). Also I think you will find that energy peak usage will not be in the middle of the night, more likely to be during the day when manufacturing equipment will be running because people will be at work.

    Ice,

    If you think we aren’t short of land, try attempting to purchase a block in any holiday destination, you will be lucky to find something for less than half a million in Queenstown. Most people don’t keep loose change lying around in that quantity.

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  16. Turnip,

    Agree that currently solar panels are not that efficient now, but I think in 5 years from now they will be and localised generation is a much better idea because it cuts down on internal resistance in transmission

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  17. We are not short of land.

    You have no more right to have cheap holiday accommodation in the heart of the countries top tourist destination, than you have to cheap accommodation on the French Rivera. Someone will own it, and if you think 500K is expensive, then it won’t be you.

    What’s the difference between an Aucklander owning the beachfront property, or an Australian? You have the same level of access to it, which is nil.

    You’d decrease demand, but you’d also decrease foreign investment and foreign exchange earnings, which you’d need to get from somewhere else.

    What else do you suggest we sell to make up for the shortfall?

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  18. It’s not the supply that is the problem IceBaby. It’s the relative wealth of the purchasers. We are not a high wage economy. The difference in spending power of an Aussie with 500K and a Kiwi with 500K is dramatic. We are priced out of our own market by the high bidding of foreigners. I speak for myself here, but NZ should be kept primarily, but not exclusively, for people who live and work here. Permanent residents and citizens. Corporate ownership for industrial/agricultural purposes is a different matter, I am talking here about residential/holiday properties.

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  19. >>spending power of an Aussie with 500K and a Kiwi with 500K is dramatic.

    The spending power is exactly the same: 500K

    >>We are priced out of our own market by the high bidding of foreigners

    The more significant contributor is the RMA and local councils. We have considerable supply, but that supply is restricted.

    Once again, if you cut the level of foreign investment, then how are you going to replace those earnings?

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  20. Ice,

    Here’s the real kicker, we don’t need to sell more to survive, we need to buy less foreign goods, we need to realise we don’t need 4 TV’s in one house, or 3 cars for every driver. But since I know that that will never happen, I guess we just need to attract the expat’s back

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  21. >>The spending power is exactly the same: 500K

    Rubbish, if I go to Aussie and do the same or similar job as I do now, I could find myself making 15-35% more and that’s just on the numerical value and not including the exchange rate.

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  22. Why such an extreme example?

    Depending on how much you wish to cut our standard of living, people might not be able to afford one television or one car. Then they’ll move to Australia. But I guess that’s your engame, isn’t it.

    Most of us don’t want to live in a dull, expensive mediocrity. Which is why you’re on 6.4% of the vote, and National are in government.

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  23. >>if I go to Aussie and do the same or similar job

    The point is that scarcity here is artificial. It’s due to legislation, not foreigners. You could retain both the foreign capital and keep prices affordable simply by changing the RMA and council regulations.

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  24. It’s all very Winston Peters, isn’t it.

    Look, look! Land is unaffordable due to evil FORIENGERS!!!

    Deep voice: You have learned much, young Russel Skywalker….

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  25. >>The point is that scarcity here is artificial. It’s due to legislation, not foreigners. You could retain both the foreign capital and keep prices affordable simply by changing the RMA and council regulations.

    Well no, if developers tried to sell the land at their current prices and there was no foreign interest, then the land wouldn’t sell and the developers would have to put the price down to attract buyers. Whilst the legislation does cost a lot, if it costs less, the benefactors of that will be developers, as the foreigners will still pay the higher prices as due to higher wages and exchange rates, the land is cheap for them.

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  26. I’m with pat1 on this one. IceBaby, you sound too much like National, blaming everything on the RMA bogeyman. After you have lost your right to have your say on how NZ is developed, you will no doubt blame it on me!

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  27. Please show me the data that demonstartes foreign ownership is the cause of housing scarcity?

    Why the straw mans and distractions, Frog? The consents process has doubled the cost of building a new home since 1999, not to mention the time it takes to get the consents in the first place. That has nothing to do with foreign ownership.

    http://www.nzcpr.com/guest83.htm

    “Put simply – local government has forced New Zealanders to pay twice as much as Canadians for housing. It is obvious to most New Zealanders now that “something must be done” to restore housing affordability. The international evidence with respect to the cause of the problem – is clear, overwhelming and irrefutable.”

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  28. >>you will no doubt blame it on me!

    You’re powerless, Frog. Why would I blame it on you?

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  29. IceBaby

    Given that the mortgages are mostly held by Aussie banks, I’d say that the foreign ownership is rather well established.

    There isn’t any ONE place to put blame here. There’s half a dozen, but the motivator has been the drive to make housing investment the favourite investment in New Zealand, and the consequent drive to protect the owners from any deterioration in value.

    If you go to the LAQC rules, the lack of Capital Gains tax, the RMA and a couple of others I’ve forgotten you find the clear evidence of intentional market distortion by the government. It looks TO ME, as though this was motivated by powerful banking interests, who’s bottom line gets boosted as house prices and mortgage loads go ever upward. Then there’s the idiocy of having the local council responsible for all the inspections and warranty. Whatever happened here over the past 20 years of housing policy it has had no relationship whatsoever to common-sense.

    At the end of the day every critic of housing policy in New Zealand is probably correct. It is THAT bad.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  30. >>hatever happened here over the past 20 years of housing policy it has had no relationship whatsoever to common-sense.

    Got that right.

    Too much meddling in the market by the state sector.

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  31. What is wrong with burning coal? We have 2000 years worth of the stuff that we know about, probably a lot more. We need to dig it out of the ground, get it onto the ships, and send it to China and other places ASAP. And I mean ASAHP because no one is going to want this stuff in 30 years.

    This environmentalist idea of ignoring all the energy forms we have and looking for new ones is just silly. I’m sure that when solar is cheap, environmentalists will want something else which uses less surface area. When wind is cheap, environmentalists will want something that doesn’t spoil the view. When wave power is cheap environmentalists will want something that doesn’t interfere with fishing.

    There is no perfect world. If you want that, die and go to heaven.

    It is childish to look for the perfect answer and not accept any costs, or any compromise. Coal is not perfect because it produces air pollution, and is black. We would prefer that it didn’t produce smoke, and that it was a nice emerald colour. Perhaps it could be cute and cuddly also and emit a nice purring noise when stroked.. But these are a minor and manageable side-effects of the wondrous benefits of the energy it provides. So we put up with it.

    > So obnoxious is coal that as early as 1306, King Edward I of England banned the burning of coal in London by everyone except blacksmiths.

    I was aware that environmentalists were trying to take us back a century or so, but 700 years has to be a record! If 1306 had all the answers perhaps we should bring back burning at the stake. If Edward I is the epitome of wisdom then perhaps we should legislate for New Zealanders to go on a crusade to Iran?

    You might also be aware that the ‘London’ you refer to was a tiny place in 1306 with well under 100,000 people. It was a bit over 1 km square (the ‘city of london’ still is). It would be like banning coal in Sydenham. It does sound like an environmentalists’ dream in terms of urban crush, though.

    Anyway, stop trying to pretend that good things are bad. Coal is good, and gives us energy.

    Don, drop the snails and Mine That Coal!

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  32. >>What is wrong with burning coal? We have 2000 years worth of the stuff that we know about, probably a lot more.

    So we should, nay must use all of a resource simply because it’s there and meets historical criteria for its use? It may be correct to say that coal was an entirely plausible source of energy before we became aware of its negative environmental drawbacks. However, with hindsight and a fair amount of progress in both the energy capture and environmental hazards fields coal is arguably a fair way down the list of desirable sources of energy. This is not to say that it should not be used at all or employed as an emergency resource. Somewhat like asbestos (especially blue?) is to the building industr, really.
    If we are going to put a price on the extraction and use of coal, it sould no longer be a simple extraction cost. We need to at the very least somehow put a price on the environmental damage the extraction may cause as well as the pollution that resuts in its end use.

    >>Anyway, stop trying to pretend that good things are bad. Coal is good, and gives us energy.

    Just because an action is easy to do it does not follow that it is acceptable. For instance it is really not hard to ‘eliminate’ a business competitor by arranging his demise. However such an action is considered (highly) socially unacceptable. In the same way I believe we need to broaden our ethical framework to include other aspects of our total environment, such as damage to our natural environment being also (generally) unacceptable.

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  33. Owen McShane Says:
    November 26th, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    > It really worries me when I see all that land being loaded onto ships and sent to other countries.

    Okay, very few countries actually have a problem with foreigners loading their land onto a ship and taking it away (though it did happen in Nauru).

    In the Highland Clearances in Scotland, the lairds couldn’t take the land away from the crofters, but ownership of the land enabled them to kick the crofters off the land, which had the same effect as far as the crofters were concerned.

    In many cases with Maori land confiscations, the land was still there, and the Maori were still there, but that doesn’t change the fact that they had lost the use of the land.

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  34. The Optimist: “I’m sure that when solar is cheap, environmentalists will want something else which uses less surface area. When wind is cheap, environmentalists will want something that doesn’t spoil the view. When wave power is cheap environmentalists will want something that doesn’t interfere with fishing.

    Unfortunately, you are absolutely correct.

    The collection of people who are environmentally aware and want to change stuff is a very broad church indeed, and it is impossible to please everyone, or even agree what is the correct course of action. The Greens suffer from this conflict just like every other environmental movement.

    My favorite example of this is Project Aqua, which the Green Party were against, but the undeniable result of the temporary shelving of Aqua is that we burn more coal for electricity.

    And I see BJ is drifting out there a bit – every day we do things that kill people but that is accepted as a cost of society. Its tuff when someone gets flattened by a car, but we are prepared to accept a number of deaths and injuries per year for the benefit of the car.

    Its more difficult to understand why we accept the problems associated with uninsulated housing which are a drain on our economy, when there is such a simple, and over the long term, highly effective fix, and there is no downside.

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  35. Coal kills miners AND it kills people downwind DBuckley. Cleaning it up adds even more to the cost. I am old enough to remember some of the effects and the tradeoff for coal is worse than for almost any other source of heat energy.

    It is unnecessary…

    nanosolar, sunrgi and others are already price competitive with the cost of coal.

    Jacobs and Masters –
    “Since the 1980s, though, the direct cost of energy from large wind turbines has dropped to 3 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable with that from new pulverized-coal power plants. Given that health and environmental costs of coal are another 2 to 4.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, wind energy is unequivocally less expensive than is coal energy.”

    In other words, WTF are we thinking here?

    Basically there is a rather reactionary streak off to the Right, which seems to think that nothing will work except what worked in the 1960’s.

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  36. The Herald celebrates fewer houses being built in this article.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10545018

    “The trust was granted an adjournment to a district-plan change hearing in July after 1700 submissions were received, almost all opposing the second round of proposals, which cut the number of homes from 1400 to 850.

    Now it has cut the number of houses from 850 to 180, hoping it will be a case of third time lucky.
    The trust, a joint venture between local iwi Te Uri o Hau and Queenstown developer New Zealand Land Trust, proposes creating a coastal park and building a resort called Te Arai Park in the centre of Mangawhai North Forest.”

    One way to make housing available is to build more of them.

    We are short of houses but over half of NZ is now in DoC estate or other parks. Most countries aspire to 10%.

    The project would have created about 7,000 trademens’ jobs and another 50,000 downstream jobs.

    You would not know we are trying to build and trade our way out of recession.

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  37. Have you ever been there Owen? Any number of of houses would be a travesty. And these houses will NOT be lived in. They will be beach houses for the rich. Another Omaha. Probably used at most 3 weeks in the year. This is not the way to solve a housing shortage.

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  38. Jacobs and Masters cooked the books. Notice that word “direct” in front of “cost”.

    The unreliability and variation in wind generation generates many downstream costs with the need for back up and smoothing and also extra transmissions lines because normally major transmission lines are built in low wind areas.

    That is why wind is no longer being pursued with any vigour in the UK and Europe.

    HIdden subsidies make these calculations very difficult. As the following discussion points out:
    “Metcalf’s “level playing field” calculation (economic depreciation and no production or investment tax credits) pegs the levelized cost of the cheapest electricity source – conventional coal – at 3.79¢ per kWh. Next comes “clean coal” (integrated gasification combined cycle) at 4.37¢ per kWh. Next comes natural gas at 5.61¢ per kWh. Then comes nuclear at 5.94¢ per kWh – about the same as biomass-fired electricity at 5.95¢ per kWh. Bringing up the rear in Metcalf’s level playing field calculations are wind (6.64¢ per kWh), solar thermal (18.82¢ per kWh), and solar PV (37.39¢ per kWh). The right-most column – the “no tax” calculation – is simply costs under the existing regime (the “current law” category on the far left side of the table, which includes existing production and tax credits and federal depreciation rules) but assumes zero taxes … an interesting calculation given that nuclear energy’s cost numbers go UP under a zero-tax regime given that nuclear energy generators face a negative effective average tax rate.”

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  39. sunrgi does a solar concentrator. More power per cm2 of cell, while nanosolar makes cheap cells. Both are competitive with coal on cost per watt.

    BJ

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  40. frog Says: IceBaby – clean coal is an oxymoron. The operative part being moron. Coal will never be clean. Even if we manage to sequester the CO2, which would be great, it doesn’t make it clean.

    Frog…where did the carbon in that coal come from????? Presumably at some point in history it was floating around in the atmosphere.

    Doesn’t it belong there???

    Is it morally right to lock it up underground forever when it once roamed free providing food for hungry plantiferous lifeforms?

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  41. I may have missed it, but have the Greens come out in support of the UK’s new tax on long haul flights which Key was contesting?

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  42. I think we will have to make a choice between coal or no electricity very soon. We must be scrapping the bottom of the barrel with Maui so when that finally runs out we could have problems with electricity. I think Maui supplies about 25% of our electricity
    If we have as much coal as Don mentioned then we are indeed the lucky country and if we don’t use it then China will. That way China doesn’t run out of electricity but we do.
    I like the idea of rooftop solar panels but that technology is changing very rapidly and the latest solar technology sounds good. If the govn wants the local citizens to stick up personal windmills and solar panels then they should give tax rebates. In Europe I think they get 50% tax rebate so to keep off the coal we could do somehting like that.

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  43. Paranoid Peter

    The only problem with them doing this through a tax rebate for putting them on houses is that it is YET ANOTHER benefit to the landlord paid for by taxes on everyone… otherwise I like it a lot.

    If the government weren’t so HELL bent on making sure house prices stay higher than they should be, we’d all be better off.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  44. Excellent suggestion PP. If the government would allow tax rebates for green technologies it would be very helpful.

    Frog…what actually WOULD happen if a significant portion of coal was used up and that sequestered carbon returned back to the atmosphere from whence it came??

    Would it not permit a more friendly atmosphere which would lead to a re-afforestation of some of the global deserts?

    Is it really advisable to want to maintain the status quo where so much of the worlds useable moisture is locked up in ice at the poles??

    Doesn’t Antarctica have dinosaur bones aplenty suggesting that it was once a habitable place? Wasn’t the Sahara once an inhabitable place?

    Wouldn’t it be ok to go back to an earlier time?

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  45. Greengeek

    The TRANSITION would kill us…

    The end state might be survivable, but we would not recognize the place and we’d lose everything we’ve ever built.

    BJ

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  46. > If the government weren’t so HELL bent on making sure house prices stay higher than they should be, we’d all be better off.

    Absolutely, this is a major thing holding as back as a country. It ties up massive amounts of capital in something which could be quite cheap.

    But do you mean local government? It is the councils that seems to try to stop new development.

    Environmentalists make a wierd distinction between evil developers and lovely sweet homeowners. Yes one is a customer of the other. Hurt the developers and the homeowners pay the bill.

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  47. I don’t have a problem with Don selling our coal to China. We can use the revenue to buy wind turbines (the big 3 MW ones, not the dinky little ones) and geothermal plant and perhaps some wave powered units like Pelamis. We have easily several times the renewable resources that we need to generate all our electricity. We don’t need to burn more coal for electricity. We could burn less, using it primarily as a “dry year” reserve. Eventually the coal, oil and gas will run out so we will need to use alternatives anyway.

    Trevor.

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  48. # bjchip Says:
    The TRANSITION would kill us…
    The end state might be survivable, but we would not recognize the place and we’d lose everything we’ve ever built.

    You’re probably right.

    Which is why I now have very little time for the AGW debate. The irony is this: those who are most likely to survive upcoming climatic changes are those who retain access to high energy output generation such as nuclear and thermal.

    Which, I suspect, is why governments don’t give much traction to green technologies and initiatives.

    It is already too late.

    Not too late to save the planet, but too late to change the minds of enough people to enable an adequate change in direction.

    It is too late to find a financial way forward for those whose lives are tightly bound to their current transportation modes, and energy sources.

    And current economic times only make it less likely that we can invest adequately in alternatives.

    I could be wrong. There could suddenly be an explosion in the numbers of humans who decide that they want to drop the trappings of modern lifestyles, and return to shanks’s pony.

    I still say New Zealands only hope of avoiding a coal-based future is to focus on setting a population goal that could be sustainable with green energies.

    Without a limited population as the primary goal, there will always be a point at which green energy alone will not provide what we need.

    Our stand on nuclear power was a huge decision, and in my view the right one.

    We now need the same courage to say that NZ population will be capped at (say) 5 million, then slowly work towards practical green energies that generate adequately.

    At the same time however, we need to retain coal and other high output energy sources as a means of survival if indeed climatic conditions become as rough as many suggest.

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  49. Given our wind, wave, geothermal and other unexploited renewable resources, perhaps that cap should be around 15-20 million. Plenty of people would like to emigrate here once conditions deteriorate elsewhere.

    Trevor.

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  50. I don’t have a problem with a cap that high as long as it is PRECEEDED by those technologies coming online first.

    What worries me is the pretense that coal use is “only short term” but then discovering that population policies allow the energy needs to creep up to the point it no longer seems financially viable to rely on the more expensive green energy choices.

    I feel a population policy needs to be the primary goal, then any increase in population (eg immigration etc) has to be accompanied by some sort of tax/toll or at least some sort of plan to build adequate green infrastructure to support that growth without recourse to dirty technologies.

    Obviously the coal use should be available when required as a sort of “baseload” reservoir, but not relied upon as the mainstay indefinitely into the future.

    (ie: in our current financial climate it could be considered acceptable to run coalfired stations as a short term solution till we are rich enough to start a new period of “green infrastructure” development, but then the coal use would tail off again. I know it might not suit some business models, but we have to be innovative)

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  51. Optimist

    It is government on every level here. The motives are different at the local level, there the legacy of the English model which requires the council to back the house’s livability seems to be the primary problem. Don’t really know why they have any position at all in some of the things that they get involved in, but the NZ government is no less at odds with the idea of making houses affordable instead of investments.

    I’ve written to Cullen enough, I may as well write to Bill English. Chances are excellent he’ll be no more sensible than Cullen was on this issue.

    :-)

    respectfully
    BJ

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  52. > I’ve written to Cullen enough, I may as well write to Bill English. Chances are excellent he’ll be no more sensible than Cullen was on this issue.

    Yeah good luck. I’d love to see cheaper housing (building land), but have yet to hear a government of any persuasion argue for it.

    What amazes me is the idea of social housing as a way of bringing in cheaper houses. It is particularly mad in the UK where council restrictions push up the price of houses to levels only high income people can afford, and then the same councils bring in social housing to try to cater for the rest of the market. Duh.

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  53. Turnip argued “its not the sunshine hours its the land use, those areas that are getting the sunshine also produce the food, you can’t have both.” and “I was driving through the Mojave Desert”.

    Because all areas have roads we can get both food and electricity from sunshine. It just requires switching from flexible surfaces that need resealing every 14 years to glass slab surfaces that need re-etching every 25 years. The glass slabs can have as many layers as you want but three is the minimum. The top is the traction surface. The second is the electronics layer, containing pc cells, storage capacitors, LEDs for “painting” the road surface. The third layer is the chassis, and distributes power from the electronics layer and carries data signals phone, TV, internet, electronic tolling, real-time traffic data, etc. A potential fourth layer is to use peizocrystals to generate power from traffic vibrations.

    Incorporating the power distribution function into the roadway surface instead of using wires on roadside poles is safer, stormproof and no more expensive than maintaining and upgrading the existing wires.

    In simple terms, this is the silver bullet solution, but not just for AGW, for peak oil and the infrastructure deficit as well.

    http://www.solarroadways.com/Introduction.htm

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  54. Kevyn
    That idea of a piezo layer to generate power from traffic vibrations is counter-productive. The power generated would be less than the increased rolling resistance of the vehicles, which in turn are likely to be powered (more or less inefficiently) from electricity in some form. Better is to have a more rigid road surface to reduce the rolling resistance.

    Buried power cables are only relatively cheap at low voltage/low current, i.e. low power levels. At higher power levels, higher currents give more heat to deal with. This can be reduced by using a higher voltage, but that takes more insulation. It can be done, but is simply uneconomic for long distances. Overhead wires are easy to cool and air is all the insulation they need – except at the pylons of course.

    Trevor.

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