Huntly Power station - New Zealand's last big coal-fired power plant

Trillion dollars wasted on coal

If you had a trillion dollars to spend on energy, would you invest it in burning coal for electricity? Well that’s exactly what is slated to happen internationally, according to a new report.
The report, published by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm, explains that coal-generating capacity equal to 1,500 coal plants is either in planning or construction at a valuation of US$981 billion.

Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes checks out a wind turbine
Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes checks out a wind turbine

Meanwhile in New Zealand, our power industry is mobilising to reverse the decision to end the burning of coal to create power at Huntly, and also actively campaigning against solar. Huntly has been responsible for 43 million tonnes of carbon pollution since 1990 and the industry, including retailers like Meridian who market themselves as clean and green, are pushing to burn coal into the future.

We are unlikely to meet our global safe climate targets with current coal emissions, let alone more pollution spewing out from Huntly’s smokestacks or from the new 1500 coal-fired power stations overseas. Perversely, governments subsidise coal and subsidise fossil fuels in general to the tune of $650 billion annually. Like New Zealand, most countries have woefully inadequate carbon prices that encourage perverse investment like this.

Coal cannot be our future and, for the power bosses looking to burn more at Huntly or the global energy companies looking at spending $1 trillion, it’s not just a potential bad, stranded investment, it’s also a terrible ethical decision.

Huntly Power station - New Zealand's last big coal-fired power plant
Huntly Power station – New Zealand’s last big coal-fired power plant

Globally, that $1 trillion instead could be invested in clean energy – growing jobs, economic development and providing power to the 1.2 billion people without. In New Zealand we can play our bit and get to 100% renewable electricity while keeping the lights on and the bills affordable.

67 Comments Posted

  1. work done = commodity indexing

    Tax haven trusts are in NZD, right? That means we’ve billions that aren’t even on the books (guess this is how they control exchange rates, transferring between secret trusts). So, with such a large volume of NZD in existence we have options.

    State housing on Sovereign Money is safe, as it’s been done in NZ before, clearly timing is right too.

    By also starting Sovereign Money on short-term loans like UBI, we have limited risk of things getting out of balance. UBI would be paid back within a few years, once taxes are reformed.

    Tactical use to recover core assets such as Ozzie banks would be an interesting gamble. Wander if anyone has an estimate on risk of assassination.

    UBI “3years” (tax reform)
    Buy Back Banks “10 years” (they should sell cheap, and mortgages as income)
    State Housing “30years” (rent)

    Would be nice to help social n health, but this is an evolutionary reconstruction of financial systems. Oh, and Small interest free credit, on 10year payback period might bridge and start new credit rating).
    Services will come from taxes in a few years, as global depression starts to lift.

    That should be a budget-able dose of “QE” to fix NZ. We can settle payments between central banks directly if required. Based on commodity basket indexing. Just add transactions tax, and flow control detail to avoid currency speculation.

    Apart from short term problems like earthquakes on Wellington, and more fluoride in our water, looks sound economically long term. But the whole “Kiwi-saver-thinking” will have to take a rest.

  2. Bj you are absolutely correct about money representing credit for work done.
    When Banks are allowed to issue money that is not credit for work done then more money exists against the credit of work done so the value of all money within that is lessened. As money is extracted from the system then that inflation is lessened.

    The problem in NZ is that money is being extracted at an increasing rate which masks the inflating effect of banks rampant spree for money creation. But in that process the credit for work done is being captured and leeched out of our system.

    Banks are predatory and parasitic.

    When a state issues money then it used for public good and pays for work done or goods that represent work done. While the effect is still inflationary, the outcome can be controlled unlike private bank activity which now runs open ended lending activity.

    The finance market manipulate money flow without producing any work and so are parasitic activity also.

  3. Best of “neue energie” April 2016 – German sustainable energy monthly:

    Main headline is about small scale production under-attack from big-business, being bought-up. Seems big companies have been financially rescued via politics, and now they can buy up small and private.
    In one case, regulations only allow half of individuals photo-voltaic energy from private homes to be feed to the gird.

    German Govt are bleating about 1.5degree (to avoid talking about German Govt protecting Turkey during four years of war crime in Syria). In the medium-term Germany should have battery storage in every second household 😉 ping, (just subsidise it with income tax via steal industry, with is supplying war-lords in Saudi)

    Is there any sector of politics where it isn’t the same pattern?

    Wander how many of these energy companies will be forced into World Bank insolvency programmes. (maybe due to their other non-renewable investments)

  4. The problem some nations face is that they need to buy the solar plant or wind turbines from foreign companies and need to borrow foreign money to do so. Given the unstable nature of some of these nations, they can’t borrow this money cheaply because there is a very real possibility the lender won’t get it back if the nation disappears. They can’t simply print money or not charge themselves interest because it isn’t their money that they need.

    Fortunately falling costs of the solar plant, wind turbines and storage technology will help as the pay back period and therefore the risk decreases.


  5. Now I get BJ, he’s supporting the default on debt. Yeah, can’t see any other real option either. Thing is that the companies to who we a defaulting will be our companies, via the Bretton Wood insolvency process.

    So it’s a bit sad to not pay back your own company (the Ozzie banks), bit life goes on, minus your business (registered bankrupt, both you and the bank) But perhaps your wife has no debt and she can just leave you and take out an interest-free loan at one of the many state owned banks.

  6. If “Real Money represents work done” it can be the case that the State does NOT have the surplus “money” to pay cash . Spent it all or lent it to borrowers or gave it away. Point is that there is only so much “work done” and when it is gone the State has run out of money… but… to build a source of money (work done) for future generations, or for purposes authorized by the citizenry, the nation can borrow from the future production.

    It does not need to charge itself interest for the privilege. 🙂

  7. Sorry BJ, are you saying that every sovereign nation had the right to use Sovereign Money? Therefore the debt-based-capital-system isn’t a problem. Agreed 🙂 Evolutionary Reconstruction has arrived! And at the global level the World Bank are working on the legal (against the will of power withing the IMF…) At the national level, I also think the time is right for Greens to go strong on Sovereign Money! Similar thoughts from Values Parties globally.

  8. The need for the state to borrow from itself is surely fabricated.

    It can just issue the money.

    The fact that the banks issue money continuously for theri own profit, is only possible because the Govt allows them to do it.

  9. The issue of capital is… fascinatingly irrelevant if one recognizes that real money represents work done and that any investment in the production of renewable energy is open to the state directly funding the process. This doesn’t excuse wasteful investments, but there is no problem with any state borrowing from itself for this purpose.

  10. Agreed Trevor, capital requirements is a big cause of the problem. Eg. BIS and rating agency politics are pure corruption. Pay-back periods are way too short, unless you’re at the top for the pyramid like the Swizerland and others. According to World Bank lawyer sources, it seems the banks are coming back under-state control. So we can expect a brighter future for Green long-term investment, once the legal side has been sorted.

  11. Finally found the article with the pricing information for wind and solar:

    “Just since 2000, the amount of global electricity produced by solar power has doubled seven times over. Even wind power, which was already established, doubled four times over the same period.”

    “Every time global wind power doubles, there’s a 19 percent drop in cost, according to BNEF, and every time solar power doubles, costs fall 24 percent.”

    And storage technologies are following a similar trend.


  12. Gareth’s main point is totally correct. Long-term investments in coal doesn’t allow space for new technology. Each technology has problems, but each bridges the gap till the next arrives. Unfortunately the technology is two slow. 20-30 should be a cycle, but the Oil Barons have us still on combustion engines, some 100 years later!!!

    Eg. Germany over-investment in first-generation-bio-fuels. They must now continue to subsidies ethanol and rape-oil for the full 20-30 years. But if the next generation of bio-fuel is economical, then it wont have been a complete waste of time. (would have made more sense to turn the nuclear off more slowly – thinking of the maize mono-cultures and effluent overloads in ground-water).

    Paradoxically, I generally agree with John, but support more towards the space-programme (it might eventually be lower energy than you’re thinking). NZ is in a position to use our renewables well and maintain a high energy consumption. But if the energy is just used to service tourists and speed festivals like in Whitianga (a drinking village with a fishing problem). Getting students off the play-station and onto the quantum engineering is just one of the challenges.

    Solar and nuclear are two examples of infinate resources. “Information” is another potential source. Einstein knew his E=MC2 didn’t cover the “information” corner of the triangle. Einstein tried to go further to include God for a grand-unified-theory, (the word “information” is more user friendly than “god”). Think of string-theory, and dark-matter, as examples. There is a life beyond the laws of thermodynamics. The Chinese have officially started using quantum communication satellites, mind blowing!

    More coal power is clearly the wrong path, unless it’s small scale and tactical, like drying milk. Although I’m open to default on debt, allowing coal to payoff some more of their investment life-time would also be ecological wisdom.

    Should really be commenting on Jame’s KiwiBank blog, that’s where the action is. Expose the JK corruption link…

  13. Its a complex process and very costly in terms of extraction and separation. Some of the “spent” lithium forms compounds which are problematic. New lithium is also required.

    There is a lot of hype out there and none of it should be taken as verbatim.
    Many of the present so called “Green” hybrid vehicles also have very large carbon foot prints.

    Batteries suitable for vehicles must be light and have a high energy storage and a lump of other features that constrain performance, working life and long term viability as a technology.

    There are no miracles and mankind’s wants have grown to exceed what can be realised. That is a barrier that seems hard to come to terms with for many.

    If human population was much smaller then we would probably multiply back up to where we are again if the planet was not as damaged as it is.

    The NNR store at say 1700 was virtually intact apart from forest and woodlands being plundered in high population areas. By 1800 some inroads were being made into coal and later oil. That cheap energy enabled a growth in human population and since we have exploited NNR to the point that nearly two thirds of what was available have been consumed, with the present rate of consumption being faster than during any previous period.

    Following graph it appears that by 2080 our rate of consumption can only be 2.5% of the present day rate and NNRs would be very difficult and costly to harvest.

    The data was originally complied by MIT and since reviewed by many institutions including very recently by CSIRO and Melbourne university. We have not responded with any significant actions to moderate our quest and wants.

    The business world dismally failed to take any notice but in fact used lies and spin to confuse while short term wealth is gathered by the few.

    I have spoken with three of our well known Economists about how the data is factored into the economic outlooks and the answers add up to that it is not.

    The more senior of them said quite bluntly that if an economist tried to factor such data in then he would be unemployable.

  14. So John, why can’t the lithium in the batteries be recycled? Surely the concentration of lithium in the batteries is higher than that found in natural ores/deposits, if not now then in the near future when the best ores or deposits have already been exploited.


  15. Replacing fossil fuel with non fossil carbon for burning is not a desirable approach to rationalising energy supply and use. A bit like carbon capture, the narrow rationale in justification, selectively ignores a much bigger picture but fosters a myth people then rely upon.

    A lot of vocalisation around details of alternative approaches to avoiding the fundamental problems we face, cannot be seen as solutions.

    Amid an industry of spin and widespread confusion about where we are heading, selecting beliefs and justifying them with details and minutia of technicalities or entrant discoveries, may create hope by way of exploration of ideas seeking a way past a wall of finite resources. Continued consumerism as we know it into the long term is very unlikely.

    Generally doubling the NNR rate of consumption increases pollution four fold.

    EVs depend on energy harvesting to charge batteries. To facilitate that, equipment and infrastructure to transport, build and distribute the resources necessary, all consumes more energy and NNRs with further resultant pollution and carbon footprint.

    The vehicles has to be manufactured with plant and processes that again need further energy, mineral harvest and processing, consuming of a wide range of NNRs. So each EV vehicle has a foot print leading in the same direction as conventional vehicles. As vehicles are currently not built for multi decade functionality but more of a fashion / lifestyle statement, then the present pattern or recycling vehicles after just a few years use seems to be current market thinking. The recycling process also has plant, further use of NNRs and energy requirements and so has a further additional NNR depletion and carbon/ pollution / environmental foot print.

    Then we look at the batteries which are regarded as cutting edge for the purpose. Panasonic use a Li-ion based cell.
    As there is a growing awareness of using any such technology widely, creates a heavy carbon / pollution score, Panasonic / Tesla have announced a recycling of the batteries. They don’t tell the public that the recycled cell process yields in single figure percent of the battery case material, then suitable for ongoing battery production. No other part of the battery can be salvaged effectively for further battery production. A small part of other processed materials salvaged materials can be used as a concrete additive.
    So the spin about recycling the batteries is just that. The batteries are not recycled to make more batteries. Even so the “recycling” takes plant, energy and further NNR consumption.

    In a world of finite resources the long term use of NNRs is surely a paramount concern in planning. The rate of energy use has a direct effect on NNRs, pollution, and dwindling NNR supply. Large scale man made facilities for storage of energy are constrained by many factors.

    The question has to be put as to why we need to do this. Is it to attempt to continue wide scale wastage and consumption of NNRs, energy and support a wasteful culture that is destroying the web of life.

    A profoundly fundamental cultural change is needed if we are not follow a BAU path to nowhere, on a finite planet.

    Bring in the pundits for space exploration and mythical asteroid capture for minerals.
    How do you reach cornucopia.

  16. @Chris – why don’t you just tell us how big those DC storage batteries are at Drax?

    Gareth was commenting about the NZ power companies campaigning against solar. Therefore if solar is causing wind generation to be curtailed, then that is relevant. It would also reduce the effective capacity factor of the solar even further, and if it causes some wind generation to be uneconomic, then it could lead to greater emissions (less displacement of fossil fueled generation by wind generation the rest of the time).


  17. Interesting article Chris, but don’t know why it didn’t mention biogas? Bio-gas was more than solar last I heard. If biogas was used as storage, which it could be, then the renewable sector would get by. Third generation bio-gas with hydrogen and methane creation from excess supply, is the obvious answers, and obviously they are working on it. Note that they produce lots of ethanol and oil to replace diesel, but this type of renewable is double the cost and an ecological eye sore. Unfortunately fixed costs already sunk in, so…
    Note that this foolish effort into bio diesel and ethanol can one-day be good effort into 3rd gen biogas (algae) with storage and excess energy capture.

    Should be able to fire your BBQ on bio-gas.

  18. Trevor – Look at the battery banks at Drax and I believe the nukes are even bigger.
    And no – the topic is “Trillion dollars wasted on coal”, unlike the Trilion dollars wasted on windfarm subsidies in Germany.
    db Hawaii is really incentivised to put in any form of generation they can, because they are mainly diesel gen sets for their power. As well, their loads are related to airconditioning use so PV sort of matches this. There is demand management in NZ now but it is relatively limited and most of the significant sources are already utilized. Here is a link to someone who tried to work out storage systems need to replace thermal generation in UK with renewables.
    Some of the data and links in the comments are interesting

  19. Planning for less electricty use, regulating and incentivising a reduction in electricity use…

    I’ve been arguing for some years now that real time demand management would allow mostly useless energy sources like PV to be able to step up and make a real difference, not to mention provide a buffer around grid stability. Strangely, or, perhaps, obviously, as it is fairly conventional thinking, Hawaii are doing something very like it on the generation side with their PV, but if applied to the load side here it would open new possibilities, and not just for PV, any of the non-firm intermittent sources..

    I understand the UK does a bit of this, but for their scale and energy mix, I’d have thought it not be in the first pile of things they need to do.

  20. Planning for less electricty use, regulating and incentivising a reduction in electricity use would make a lot more sense than maintaining and developing further an infrastructure that must be unsustainable in the long run.

    The market does not have a brain so following market demands is no solution to conserving NNRs and planning a future existence.

  21. @Chris – I understand the difference between power and energy very well thank you. Better that some reporters who only mention one and not the other when it comes to battery storage systems such as Georgetown’s and San Diego’s.

    What power plants have more than 20MWH of storage on their DC systems?

    Any comments about solar forcing the curtailment of wind during the day? At least that would be on topic, and even more relevant in New Zealand given our high wind capacity factors and low solar capacity factors.


  22. Would wind at Waihi be best, so gold can be processed on site with aqua regia? Carbon anodes in salt would buffer current, does that control line fluctuations? If meters actively fluctuate resister to carbon anode. Strong acids, could be produced only when windy. with rock dust slurry, strong acid!, but smaller batches than arsenic, less poisonous. Probably more efficient with small coal boiler to warm the carbon based catalysts in the agua regia, but we might be able to get Ngati Maru on security.

  23. Trevor – you still are confusing power with energy. For the Georgetown plant being installed by Ormat – what is the size and cost? They are still insignificant for grid sized operation and very expensive I’ve been in power stations with bigger storage in their DC system that the great developments you are touting. And remember batteries doesn’t generate anything.
    dc They are using Dinorwic and a few other pumped storage because that is the only thing that can do GWh. All these futurists go on about disruptive technologies but they aint here yet. And they need to be proven reliable. I remember over 25 years ago saying they were going to stop investing in the grid because of smart meters and distributed generation. Guess what – the meters haven’t got any smarter and they are uprating the grid, mainly by jacking towers up and cutting the tops off hills.
    I disagree with your comments about oversupply. There isn’t much margin for a dry year at all, especially with Otahuhu and Southdown gone and Huntly down to just two units. The next station off the blocks will be either geothermal or open cycle GT. What gets the nod would probably depend on whether it is baseload or peaking where the need is. No-one will commit until the future of Tiwai is known. If it goes, it is likely Huntly will go too.
    NZ is in the situation like Iceland and Norway where we can have a hydro dominant renewable energy grid. That is not relevant to either China or India where the bulk of the coal fired stations will be built and run.

  24. @Chris – I am not going to try to answer your unanswerable question as you are changing the topic. My point was that the cost of the wind turbines has fallen, so that it isn’t such an economic blow to be unable to use the full output of the wind turbine if the network can’t accept all that power all the time.

    Your question is unanswerable because the cost per GWH varies from turbine to turbine, depending on exactly where it is located, and from day to day and year to year depending on the weather, (and whether the turbine has to be curtailed due to some constraint) and much of this information is not freely available anyway.

    And with respect to your comment about the British grid, how much of the remaining generation is solar PV which can’t be dispatched off the grid because it is not under the grid operator’s control? In other words, are the wind farms paying the cost of the peak output from the solar installations?


  25. getting interestin guys. What happened to tannin cathodes? Can we put a giant anode in Waihi’s mine-lake, use it as storage? Any good lakes around the Bomb Bays? Close to the lines?
    The molten salt reactor; still sounds good to me. Is the Bomb Bays are too swampy? Bet all the good solid rock is Tapu. Probably have to get the Maori do it. Go nuclear, but only on thorium. Do we have thorium deposits anywhere other than the SI Westcoast? Breaks down to radium and lead. Can’t compare it with uranium. Shall I get some thorium t-shirts printed for the winter conference 😉

    As suggested, the grid is the weak link in Germany’s wind miracle.

    Their renewable energy leadership helps take your mind off their Syrian concentration camps.

  26. … British grid authorities have warned that windfarms are going to be dispatched off over the summer there because their operation will make the grid too unstable. That is even with Dinorwic [sic] operating at full capacity

    Dinorwig isn’t a reasonable answer to stablising the output of wind farms, as Dinorwig isn’t intended for that purpose. It was built for a very specific purpose, prior to wind being important, and isn’t a good fit for this job. Hydro can be a great fit for patching over wind, but you need to have hydro stations that can run for prolonged periods at variable output. Which we, unlike the UK, happen to have.

    Looking further into the future, its a decent gamble that battery storage and/or supercap technology will become more cost effective, and thus wind and/or solar in combination with embedded storage could make these technologies firm, and thus fully dispatchable without the need for patching over at the grid level.

    The actual problem we have as environmentalists is getting this stuff built. In common with much of the first world, the power demand in New Zealand has stopped growing significantly year-on-year. Also, New Zealand has a significant oversupply of generating capacity, so the existing generators have no incentive to build more, in fact they would be stupid were they to do so. The only reason to build something now is to replace required assets that are nearing end-of-life.

    Making this worse is that the structure of the industry means that we have genetailers, and thus if someone did want to significantly break into the generation field they would be at a financial disadvantage if they weren’t retailers as well. If any party want to actually do something sensible for the electricity consumer, functionally splitting the genetailers would be the thing to do.

  27. Trevor
    Please read what was written – what was their cost in GWh? All you linked to was just nameplate capacity. Though I should really have asked for their dispatchable load rating as that is what the grid is interested in. If you can’t understand the difference, there is no hope for you.
    With regards batteries, to be credible, storage needs to be GWh. Most of the batteries being built have very little storage, being used in a manner akin to capacitors for smoothing.
    You might also like to read how the British grid authorities have warned that windfarms are going to be dispatched off over the summer there because their operation will make the grid too unstable. That is even with Dinorwic operating at full capacity

  28. JohnW is right. I would call it a “spiritual challenge”, to learn to accept our self-pain and learn to give love, to demonstrate the spiritual path for others. Replacing coal with fusion may end the CO2 problem, but the cost of fusion weapon technology may out-weigh that CO2 reduction. I think of the costs of just the war on Libya. Thousands of multi-million dollar missiles, plus the cost of the rebuild… we can’t pretend we live in the vacuum of Hobbiton. Unlike The Shire, NZ is geopolitically (love the way spell-check doesn’t accept that word) active. The Middle East supplies NZ with the majority of our oil, right. We are a 5eyes player and all the rest. We do service debt to criminal international banks… Debt-based-money-creation gives only competition and war for resources. We need cooperation based culture that can share and seek peace. Peace is the only way forward.

    Reducing coal, and increasing organic farming is important, but not as important as peace and escaping the growth-trap of money-from-debt. The Greens greatest challenge is to get a dumbed-down population to see the big issues. Get people on to a truth-seeking spiritual path. Missionary Christian teachings weren’t truth focused. The end result was more about power and cultural control. The Maori had enough spiritual life, before Christianity. Christianity is a path though. Hey, even the grey religion of Islam (Mohammad was a warlord) offers enough light to find the path to peace.

    The science side and numbers game is all secondary. Wish our political system could allow space for the real goal: learning to help ourselves, so we can learn to help others.

    Peace, Love and Forgiveness, my dear Brothers and Sisters.

  29. @Chris

    which says that “Wind power grew 63 GW (17%) driven by declines in onshore turbine prices of up to 45% since 2010.”
    The declining costs are due to economies of scale and the trend to larger turbines which can access winds at higher levels, which blow faster and more consistently.

    These costs are in $/W, not $/Wh because the lower costs per Watt are changing the relative economics of building new plant vs building new transmission lines.

    I do realise that the cost of wind generation per Wh will rise as more generation is added to an area due to the best sites being developed first, so that the last generation is developed on the inferior sites, thus giving less averaged output for the same investment, or costing more for similar performance.

    A number of companies are building utility scale storage systems. One I read today was 20MWH/4MW. Georgetown have just started construction of a 10MW system. Utilities are finding storage systems more cost effective than gas peaking plants. And the costs of these storage systems are also coming down with economies of scale and new technologies being developed.


  30. Basics

    The consequences of using more energy are very costly environmentally and reducing our future survival prospects.

    It is not the energy harvesting and supply alone but the consumption of NNRs associated.

    Get your garden/ crops set up and work towards local low energy input, sustainable plant based food supply.

  31. Trevor
    Where do you get your data from saying the actual cost of installed wind generation is getting cheaper ( The data needs to be in capital cost per GWh because it is energy that is being sold)? It isn’t from the most recent round of builds from Europe where cost has gone up. They are also constraining windfarms off there at times of low demand because of lack of inertia. db picked up on the grid insecurity. Even Transpower here had to increase the biggest underfrequency scenario because windfarms fall off when they are needed. Rather than just mouthing platitudes and tee-shirt slogans, how about you actually learn about the issue.
    No-one is interested in unreliable power – and it is all shit about storage making it cost effective. That makes power more expensive and everything other than pumped hydro is too small to make a difference. It also adds to the bills having to be paid by the consumer. Why do you think Denmark, then Germany have the highest domestic electricity prices in the OECD (fuel poverty in Europe is a real and growing problem) and industry is leaving Europe?

  32. Almost all those power stations Gareth rails against will run, and have a 30 year plus lifetime generation factor around 70%.

    They will be shuttered within 15 years.

    Stranded assets mate. Just like newly discovered offshore oil.

  33. China is the only state to limit population by policy.
    The one child policy as it is called in Western MSM is still in place with minor modifications. Their population numbers will fall.

    Use of “cheap” energy. NNRs and population growth are the key causes of the environmental mess we are in.

    The greatest historical polluter per capita is the USA and their emissions per capita are presently two and a half times that of China. China’s rise in emissions since 1990 when the level per capita was one tenth of that for the USA, is largely connected with manufacturing for global consumers with the USA being a major one.

  34. “Ip forecast the “curtailment rate” – the portion of wasted wind power output due to insufficient transmission capacity – to have surged from 8 per cent in 2014 to 16 per cent last year and said he expected it would rise further to 18 per cent this year.”

    This is a predictable consequence of the cost of wind power falling while the cost of transmission lines hasn’t fallen nearly as much. The economics say that you get more net wind energy delivered as electricity to where it is needed by adding more wind plant than by upgrading the transmission network to handle the biggest peaks in supply. Sooner or later you need to upgrade the transmission lines but as wind power prices fall, that becomes more later and less sooner.

    As more wind generation is added, it becomes more cost-effective to add storage to smooth both the wind generation peaks and the load peaks, thus smoothing the demands placed on the transmission network. And as more storage is added, the costs of that storage decrease except where geological features are harnessed (such as pumped hydro or large caverns).

    If the wind farms spend a lot of time being curtailed, then the local price for electricity will be depressed and it will become attractive to make use of that almost free electricity, such as for hydrogen generation (e.g. for ammonia/urea/nitric acid manufacturing).

    The wind farms won’t stay stranded assets.


  35. You might pay more attention to the fact that the Greenpeace link I provided described all the problems with China’s statistics and explained them in the bargain. You’ve added nothing new Chris.

    More to the point, Gareth described subsidies of fossil fuels, not “just coal”. I pointed out the social cost as a subsidy. You are trying to distract everyone from that social cost, from the risk and from the problem. I’ll say it again because you are working really hard to not understand.

    In 15 years the burning of coal for almost any purpose at all, is going to be unacceptable to the population of this country and slowing to a stop in every country. In 25 years the burning of coal will be ended. Period. Not for anything at all. What arrogance to think that it is going to be “the west” that brings on this change? The Chinese are already working harder to get off coal powerplants than the USA or Germany. You’re right, they don’t care what we think, because they are actually smarter than we are in some pretty important ways.

    Here’s the next conundrum. Why are we making milk powder instead of cheese and butter? The market is, in many ways, just another one of the niche markets that we can do well in until the rest of the world slams the door shut on it. It will, for almost any nation you can imagine or name, be cheaper to keep and milk their own cows, and produce their own dried milk and not mess around with OUR dried milk. They have to have the cows for their own fresh milk and butter and cheese, so a few more and the drying equipment and our market is history. No nation is going to NOT have some dairy.

    So the question I have, in the context of the environment we are in, what the heck were we thinking? We shouldn’t be trying to grow the export trade sector so much as we should be trying to shrink our imports… but some government of ours has the ambition to make trade 40% of the economy within 10 years.

    As though there won’t be a price set on the CO2, or damage from the market failure it represents at present.

    There is no such thing as “free trade”. I can’t help but understand that, but the ramifications for New Zealand are especially severe. We have pursued the chimera of free trade all the way to the bottom of the OECD… and to this day New Zealanders, who have become “Mexicans with Cellphones” think this was good for them.

    So… If we want to stop burning coal, stop burning fossil fuels in general, we’d best get a price on it that reflects the severity of the problem, and lay on tariffs according to how much CO2 is emitted in total. This is going to be more expensive, by a fair large margin, than what we pay today, for the things we import and for the things we make ourselves to replace them. It’ll also work… if we do it.

    I think what has to happen has to be an effort to break the perception of BAU that is encouraged by allowing it to proceed without discussions OR prices.

  36. Any data out of China has to be treated with a lot of suspicion
    Note they are allowing for peak emissions in 2030 and they will cap their consumption as 4.2B tpa
    Current figures if their data is correct is about 3.9Btpa
    They are closing down their old 1950s era power plant and replacing them with super-critical boilers, precips and FGD. A lot more energy and less pollution for the coal consumption.
    The Middle Kingdom doesn’t care about the opinions of the west. Look at their expansion into South China Sea or Tibet (did Russel get his flag back?)
    And db, note how Bloomberg don’t quote GWh, just expenditure. Give the energy and the graph reverses.

  37. My, my, touchy little soul aren’t you bj. Never mind, I will get over it.
    In the main post, Gareth makes the comment “Perversely, governments subsidise coal and subsidise fossil fuels in general to the tune of $650 billion annually” The source for the specific subsidy isn’t given. IEA gives the world wide fossil fuel subsidy as $200 billion per annum. Almost none of this is for coal. Getting data on actual coal production is difficult as one is unsure if the numbers include coking coal with the steaming stuff or that coal used for cement and brick production. There also seems to be different methods for counting the variable calorific value and how all the water in the brown coal is treated. However, it seems steaming coal is about 4B tonnes of oil equivalent. Most of this is burned by China and India. There consumption will be increasing in the forseeable future. They have also shown no regard for world opinion, and particularly Greenpeace’s pronouncements. That means no matter what we say or do, we will have no effect on the burning of coal. Almost all those power stations Gareth rails against will run, and have a 30 year plus lifetime generation factor around 70%. That doesn’t sound like “stranded” assets to me, unlike all those wind farms in China that they won’t allow to be connected to the grid because of the costs and disruption they will cause. It is starting to be reported in the press now as the issue has got so big.
    “Besides, only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the UHV lines’ capacity could be used to transmit wind power, since the intermittent nature of wind energy meant it needed to be mixed with conventional energy with steady output, like coal-fired power, when transmitted to avoid infrastructure damage, he added.

    Ip forecast the “curtailment rate” – the portion of wasted wind power output due to insufficient transmission capacity – to have surged from 8 per cent in 2014 to 16 per cent last year and said he expected it would rise further to 18 per cent this year.”

  38. One other thing Chris. This is not a matter of a bunch of Greens answering you with one voice. . Gareth is an MP, and I’m a Green but we don’t necessarily agree and I don’t have to match what he says… half the time I don’t. I disagree, as you noticed if you were reading what I wrote, with the emphasis, and I have good reasons to do so. Gareth isn’t even half an engineer… he’s an MP. He does policy and explicit subsidies and things like that… but if someone argues climate science or power engineering here, that gets handled by the rest of us… and every opinion here is not necessarily that of a Green. I happen to be a Green, but you may have noticed that it isn’t a requirement and there’s no little symbol to tell you who is and who isn’t. I don’t know if you are a Green. I suspect not, but I don’t know.

    So I don’t know where this “consistency” comes in, but it doesn’t come in here. 🙂

    Basically if someone argues with me here, they argue with ME, not with the Green Party.

  39. Actually, I’m being quite generous with the coal burning clans.

    I’m talking about something different from what Gareth is. I’m talking about the cost to the society of burning the coal. Not the global tax breaks and direct subsidies to the mining industry and the power industry. THAT money is money that could be used to shift us all to other forms of power… directly… and unlike a number of people you might encounter here I’m perfectly happy if we’re building nuclear plants to pick up some of that load. Not as happy to do it in New Zealand. The ground shakes a lot and we don’t really need it being in the roaring forties, but I’d have no objection to a well designed installation.

    Here’s the problem. If you are putting at risk all of human civilization, which is what burning coal does now, you aren’t acting sanely in the first place. Not at any damned price at all. That risk has to be addressed. If it proves overstated the coal can be burned later… but if it is real and ignored we’ve just killed about 5-6 billion people because WITHOUT our civilization we’re a bunch of ignorant naked apes wandering around in tribes and wondering what happened to the magic birds.

    If we still retain some semblance of civilization we’re still not going to like the price.

    I’d be happy to be wrong about that but at least $150/tonne. That’s what we have to get the cost up to, and that’s way more than any coal plant can afford for operations. The burning of coal is a GROSS market failure. Typical of market failures it is predicated on inadequate and misunderstood information.

    As impacts on our globalized society reinforce negatives, destroy crops and make areas near the equator uninhabitable for unprotected humans what exactly will humans affected by all those negatives to start doing with their navies, armies, air-forces and nuclear weapons?

    Have you any notion of what happens if Hansen’s newest theory about the Antarctic is correct? The one where the Antarctic Ice behaves non-linearly?

    Optimists… are so depressing. 🙂

  40. The government is subsidising our CO2 emissions. New Zealand has signed an international agreement requiring us to buy CO2 emission trading units if we emit more than a certain amount, which we are exceeding. Those CO2 emission trading units trade at a certain price, but the government requires our emitters to pay for half the number of units than what they emit. The government pays for the other half, and that is the subsidy.

    The low price for the actual units that our emitters buy is not itself a subsidy. It is just a disaster. There is no real incentive to reduce CO2 emissions or to take other action to remove CO2 from the air, so CO2 levels are rising at record rates, along with temperatures and sea levels and a number of other indicators.


  41. Bj
    Your value for CO2 that is the basis of your “subsidy” claim is totally subjective and just an opinion. It has no basis is either law or actual money terms. It doesn’t even match Gareth’s numbers. If you want to be credible, the least you could be is consistent.

  42. Chris – if the person burning the coal is not paying a minimum of $150/tonne for every tonne of CO2 emitted ( about $450 per tonne of coal burned ), the coal burning is being subsidized. That’s the sort of damage they are doing to the planet and that is what it has to cost. Same price goes on the CO2 emitted by a gas plant, but methane doesn’t make the same ration of CO2 per tonne of gas burned. The math for coal is absolutely invidious.

  43. Rather than burning it to produce heat, here is a better use for wood and other biomass:

    …as a source of liquid fuels, potentially even aviation fuel. This could allow planes to fly into and out of Wellington airport without burning fossil fuels, and without scrapping our current airline fleets.

    The Russians came up with a couple of alternatives years ago. Firstly they demonstrated a large jet aircraft running on hydrogen, which can be generated from water using off-peak electricity. Then they demonstrated a large jet running on methane i.e. natural gas – not sure whether it was CNG or LNG. Although natural gas is predominantly a fossil fuel, it can also be made from biomass (hence the “natural” moniker) and it can also be made from CO2 and hydrogen. The modifications to allow an existing jet aircraft to run on either of these fuels would be significantly greater but still feasible.

    We are a long way from running planes on sustainable fuels. Firstly we need to address our stationary energy usage, not just electricity generation but also space heating, water heating, drying and other usages of fossil fuels. Yet I see new and rebuilt houses with gas hobs, gas hot water heating and gas fires, so we have a long way to go there too.


  44. The problem with solar in New Zealand – the land of the long white cloud – is its low capacity factor – around 15%. This means that it takes a lot of solar PV to make any sizable impact on our electricity demands. 1GW of installed solar PV would only generate approximately the same amount of electricity over a year as 150MW of geothermal power generation, but the latter can help meet our winter peak power demand. 1GW of solar PV generating at midday on a warm sunny day would be quite a chunk of our low midday electricity needs, so integrating that into our grid would be a bit of a challenge, yet the output is low during winter when we need renewable power the most.

    Wind meets our needs much better. Unlike solar, there is a reasonable probability that if there is no wind at one wind farm, there will be wind at others. In New Zealand, our wind farms have very high capacity factors by world standards – often over 40%, and the wind farms generate most of the time, even if they are not generating at full output. Their output over winter is still reasonable and they don’t have the high peak during summer of solar. Storage is still needed, but wind generation places much less demand on that storage.


  45. Not seen them mentioned here but it is wrong to write solar pv off as a solution for two reasons.

    One is that the energy embodied in manufacturing solar panels is paid off in around 4.5 years according to one report I saw recently. That’s a positive gain even if solar pv manufacturing requires a carbon investment up front. Of course, as the proportion of renewable energy generation increases over time, that up front carbon investment steadily diminishes.

    The second reason too often overlooked, is that solar pv (and wind) displaces new carbon emissions from stored fossil fuel sources. Were that carbon retained in the ground instead of being released to the atmosphere, the world would not be so deep in the shite.

    So agree with Gareth I do. The earlier we stop spending on technologies that put more new carbon in to the atmosphere the better. And that requires investing in renewables.

  46. Yes, storage is king. Germany’s bio-gas disappoints me because they all burn at full power 24hours per day. If they were just on 18hours per day and balanced out with solar, it would be great. But the cost of the bigger generators is said to break the economics of that first generation bio-gas.

    Folk down Taranaki way aren’t enjoying the gas industry. Can it truly be regulated effectively? Where, how? Not in my back yard. Guess gas would be double the cost if it was ethical.

    I’m guessing that Huntley staying on coal… but conversion plan is a done deal, or? Dry year back up.

    This oil pricing is literally tied to the currency war. Russia won, when they stopped using the SWIFT system and kicked out the cartel banks. Russia is now the biggest buyer of gold. They are rebuying Russia’s based companies back from international owners, as the companies go out of business, all at favourable currency prices. They are also paying with the selling of USD bonds, but selling slowly. China also selling USD bonds, slowly. Can the war machine hold the price of gold at 1000 USD forever? Gold was on the rise last I saw. Theoretical gold price from World Bank is over 2000 USD.
    As big banks are all legally bankrupt, the assets should be turned over to the World Bank. But the courts are all corrupt. Follow Karen Hudes, for detail on the World Bank court cases.

    Honestly I wouldn’t be shocked if “peak oil” was a hoax to put up the oil price. Wouldn’t it be cooler if oil got portalled into the deep earth, through an inter-dimensional rabbit hole, from anther solar system.

  47. Adding open cycle gas turbine generators is not the only way to deal with the problems caused by wind (or solar)’s intermittency. A better way is to add battery or ultra-cap energy storage systems, which can also be used to increase system inertia. Larger storage systems such as flow batteries can be used to time shift generation from off-peak periods to peak periods, and can help with transmission line constraints and losses too, if sited in appropriate areas.

    Not a complete answer, but one more part.


  48. It may come as a shock to some, but halving a levy is not a subsidy. If one goes to the IEA website, the only country that subsidises coal burning is Kazakhstan. All most all the subsidies are transport or cooking fuel subsidies in third world dictatorships. Their actual words in the summary are:
    IEA estimates reveal that fossil-fuel subsidies are becoming increasingly concentrated in the major oil- and gas-exporting countries. The share of Middle East oil exporters, for example, in the world total has risen from 35% to 40% over the last four years. The main reason for this trend is that high oil prices over much of the period meant that they, as net oil exporters, did not have the same fiscal incentive to reform energy pricing as that in many other parts of the world. Instead, the rise in government revenues from oil exports allowed an increase in government spending, often on social support programmes, expanding infrastructure and subsidies to food and energy. Over the period 2009-2014, fossil-fuel subsidies for this group of countries have, on average, been equivalent to more than one-quarter of government expenditure.”
    There are no plans in NZ to build another coal fired station. The biomass burning at Huntly was never realistic. it was only a sop to the anti coal lobby. However, more open cycle gas turbine stations may be needed because of the grid problems wind is causing. A bigger DC link won’t fix that issue.

  49. 100% renewable is a crap aim, Trever is right there.
    Interesting points from Rich, but I wouldn’t pin toooo much value on science.

    I would say, “Depends where the money is coming from for the solar. If half the money is coming from the One Bank then it’s a no-go. But if the solar money has come from our own Reserve Bank, then it would be nice to have more solar. So long as we have a healthy labour force that is capable of installing the systems in an artistic fashion.”

    Talking about energy from the sun, has a symbolic or intrinsic value. And most importantly, he’s out there well connected with a tech-future.

    The voter market will like his ideas, better than what the science will tell us. Greens are better as an opposition party, true. Labour would bring us to shame. Though that might be a good change for Greens to split the party in two before the 2020 election 😉

    But we Greens could better get bold on economics and “boycoting Israel”. But seriously, I’m typing this on backup computer. The other computer went down after watching:

    The video was of NY, just this week, they where marching on Trump Tower. Police stopped several thousand protesters. There was a policeman who walked in the middle of a circle, like a gladiator, they say he just came back as leader of military toucher in Iraq. Oh, and then the update of whats really happening in Syria, now full of best Russian tech, even in the med. It’s now down to the CIA fighting the Pentagon, at ground level in Syria. Turkey is sending military stuff in a confused circle. But Syrian army now has full superiority. US forces strong in Europe. Money markets are looking super shakey, but the BRICS system running and NZ was an early mover on joining the new bank system (“Bill English, got this one right”), along with Malaysia, who lost those jet-liner. One of which was stolen and was also the one same that “they” shot down over Ukraine (“they” is probably the gang for which Soros is the frontman, or similar level of criminal billionaires).

    Funny, A big guy was waking around with a sign saying pointing to a group of protesters “paid for by Soros.”

  50. @Chris – the NZ Government is subsidising CO2 emissions by way of their one for two emission trading unit requirements. However I think Gareth and BJ are referring to the global fossil fuel subsidies.

    There is a big difference between building new coal-fired power stations and asking that an existing coal-fired power station remain operational. Meridian is rightly concerned about possible supply outages and would like Huntly kept operational so that if there is a “dry year”, then we will have enough alternative generation to keep the lights on.

    Even if we have enough water in our lakes, we may face supply shortages in the North Island during peak load times (winter evenings) if some of the other fossil-fueled plants are shut down and there is an equipment or transmission line failure, so keeping some of this plant operational makes sense from a risk mitigation point of view. The need for operational fossil fueled plant may be reduced if the HVDC link is upgraded to 1400MW (requiring another undersea cable) or if additional hydro or geothermal power stations are build in the North Island. Gareth’s preferred solar PV systems won’t help keep the lights on after sunset, and even adding batteries won’t help if the day is heavily clouded and the batteries haven’t been charged.

    Actually I suspect a bit of brinkmanship is going on between the power companies with respect to taking responsibility for having enough generating capacity to cope with outages and dry years.


    PS: Of course net CO2 emissions could be significantly reduced if Huntly started using biomass co-fired with the coal, as Genesis said was possible when they applied for a resource consent for Huntly.

  51. Gareth takes heat (and I provide some of it) for the Solar PV emphasis he has. It’s the wrong EMPHASIS for a country located in the roaring forties of the Southern Ocean… our wind resource is spread over 8 full degrees of latitude across the path of the wind.

    It isn’t like anything anywhere else in the world and we aren’t taking proper advantage.

    However, the point he is making in THIS post, is that the subsidies for burning coal are still in place… and should not be… Which is a damned good point.

  52. Finally read the “report” that Gareth leads to; I say “report” because its clear they started with what they wanted to say, and then used the numbers to back it up. Which is fair enough, I suppose, given the authorship.

    The fist question they fail to ask, let alone answer is: “why the hell would anybody build a coal fired power plant in the 21st century”? The answer is that if one ignores the climate and health impacts, then coal fired plants are a decent choice. They are cheap, they provide firm power, they are quick to build, fairly cost effective to run, reliable, and very well proven technology, thus are easy to finance, and there’s lots of coal still in the ground just waiting to be burned.

    But… the health impacts from coal are terrible. The report estimates 130K deaths/annum from these new plants, which are mostly cleaner than old plants, so deaths of many hundreds of thousands per annum worldwide. This also excludes deaths from mining and processing, which although smaller in number, are still deaths.

    But… the emissions from coal are terrible. The report quotes thusly: “According to CAT, even with no new coal plant construction, emissions from coal-fired power generation in 2030 would still be 150 percent higher than what is consistent with scenarios limiting warming to below 2°C (CAT 2015a). Additionally, researchers have estimated that 80 percent of global coal reserves must stay in the ground to avoid runaway warming (McGlade and Elkins 2015, Jakob and Hilaire 2015).

    So… coal bad. Lets not build any more of these, and lets do away with the stations we have. In reality, for the survival of mankind on the planet, that is really what we have to do.

    So why are all these plants being built? Why is there a demand for power? Again, the report gives the answer, look at Table 11. Look at the list of countries on there. Note the civilised countries are at the bottom of the list; its mostly “emerging economies” that are driving this dash to coal. “Energy for all” is driving this.

    So the second question tha ask, and aswer badly is “what are the alternatives?” Well, this is where the paper really falls to bits, its almost as though they were members of the Cult of Gareth. For an engineering perspective on this, the paper that Chris Morris pointed to brings some sense to the party: The first sub-title in the executive summary is “The Need for Zero Carbon Firm Capacity”. It turns out that although there are renewable technologies that on a cost/watt basis are better than coal, they are not anything like firm, so aren’t a baseline solution, they are a topup at best.

    As a decent example, lets consider the UK’s mighty Drax power station. This station could always power our North Island on its own, and sometimes supply our whole country. It’s coal fired, and is the UKs single biggest CO2 emitter. What could replace this monstrous emitter? The only reasonable answer is nuclear. To it’s credit, although the paper isn’t proposing nuclear as part of the solution, it does describe it as renewable.

  53. CoroDale, when you say “There is no one answer, so Gareth will take shit no matter what he says” you are missing the point of the criticism generally being levelled at Gareth’s promotion of domestic solar PV.

    Gareth is the Green party spokesperson for energy. Energy is pretty much science and there are numbers that support or contradict various assertions about the subject. It’s not an area where someone in his position should be making emotional statements which are unsupported by a sound basis.

    I find it pretty disappointing that he obviously disagrees with a report that says domestic solar PV will have minimal benefit in NZ but seemingly can’t argue against the findings logically so tries to dismiss it as being funded by the electricity industry (maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t) who he says are “actively campaigning against solar” – linking this claim to an opinion piece by someone who’s business is in solar PV installations. Gareth is railing against people with a mindset fixated on fossil fuel use when he seems fixated on one small component of a partial solution to the energy supply problem.

    As has been said many times in this forum domestic solar PV in NZ has a place, but it is of negligible benefit relative to the requirement/desire for the national grid to supply the peak loads in winter. I’m in agreement with Gareth in thinking there should be independent analysis of the costs or benefits to electricity suppliers relative to people having their PV systems feeding back into the grid, but would be entirely prepared for the finding to be little or no benefit.

    If people want to generate their own electricity then that’s fine. If people want to generate some of their electricity and use some from a supplier then that’s fine. But people shouldn’t really expect thanks or benefits for generating excess electricity when it’s of least value and when they expect to have electricity supplied to them when it is of greatest value.

  54. No – there is no “one answer” so it is trivially true to say “X is not the answer”.

    OTOH, giving up human civilization is ALSO “not the answer”. I know there are some who think so. The presentation of the choice as binary is a false logic.

    “The planned reduction of energy use is seldom a part of the discussion. Fossils and fossil fuel thinking is a dead end. ”

    The reduction of energy use is both expected and understood. As is the need to use it much more efficiently. The need to maintain as much energy availability as we can, while shutting down the CO2 generating sources, is also understood.

    So the EV is a PART of the answer. PV is a PART of the answer. Wind Turbines are a PART of the answer. Local production is a PART of the answer. Some parts of the world Nuclear Energy is PART of the answer.

    The world is going to change whether we wish it or else. That’s well understood. Our mission is to keep the knowledge and the civilization alive… not to descend into tribalism or succumb to anti-tech superstitions.

    So thinking about what Gareth says… yes we need the PV installations. Including on our houses… and what DBuckley says… we don’t (and should not) expect to make money selling electricity back into the grid… and the principles of local production which JohnW wants to emphasize. All these are true at the same time . Step back a wee bit and reflect that nothing at all is being neglected here (well I could complain about the absence of the more potent (in NZ) wind, but that’d confuse everyone).

    The point that Gareth makes proper, is that human civilization is wasting a lot of money on coal. That we’re subsidizing its consumption. That we aren’t doing well overall. I often think that some Greens are a bit naive about how big the shortfall is and how much added power is necessary, but for the most part the measures required don’t care much about how much they understand, as long as they do the right things.

    The point I think we all need to keep in mind though, is that the economic system and in particular the NZ economic system, remains in a state of dependency. We have successive governments (and a majority of New Zealanders) who are incapable of forming the sentence “I do not support free trade” or its alternative form “Free trade is bad for New Zealand”.

    So the Monetarist, Friedmanesque , neo-liberal economics continues to dominate. As long as this is true, we will have no traction in getting any of our principles in play and we will be called names by people who understand economics and the truth far less thoroughly than we do.

    Ignorance is bliss, and a hell of a lot of New Zealanders are WAY too happy.

  55. There is no one answer, so Gareth will take shit no matter what he says.

    Can’t disagree with JohnW’s thinking, but don’t EVs bridge the gap, and suit NZ as a second car for bigger families where both parents work..? What does Julie Transport says on this one? If she is busy learning about international payments and the relation to NZ’s reserve bank, then I’ll leave her to it.

    Going back to the land is always the natural default. And farmers are so poor (oops, how do that happen), they should be doing more labour intensive crops. Govt could make local cheese making regulations at least temporally easy.

  56. EVs are not an answer.

    The point seems to be conveniently ignored that transportation of people and goods should be avoided by planning for sustainable survival. Some think everything will continue to suit their present lifestyle, destructive economies and wants but cannot see the long term consequence of such myopia.

    The constructed debate of EVs vs PVs is a nonsense spin taken aboard by many narrow sighted who find grasping the bigger picture a little beyond their comfort zone.

    The planned reduction of energy use is seldom a part of the discussion. Fossils and fossil fuel thinking is a dead end. Get over it.

    What looms ahead is as yet not understood in detail but how justification of present emissions, pollution, habitat loss and squandering of Non Renewable Natural Resources to provide continuation of an necessarily destructive way of life, is evidence of the shallow understanding held in popular regard.

    Opinions in this blog often reflect both sides of the argument whether we plan for a smaller human footprint or blunder ahead the way we are.

    Gareth your comment is pertinent even though minimalistic in several aspects but will draw criticism no doubt from those who just don’t want to know.

    The younger generation hopefully will shift political opinion beyond that of shallow “economic” short term analysis and spin.

  57. Great that Gareth is keeping so technically well informed on all this. There seem a few assumption at the meta-level, but getting toward more ethical electricity is clearly Gareth’s game, playing the issue well.

    And Jan’s blog “The Real Story”. Holy shit! Big issues there. The same corruption seems to be at the heart of all these issues. Great that the change has began. Is this the starting of the full system change? Turning point.

  58. Oh dear, Gareth is off in lala land. Again. When he says:

    Meanwhile in New Zealand, our power industry is … actively campaigning against solar.

    One might like to read the source paper that has led to the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand (SEANZ, a pressure group) to lead Gareth to make these comments. The paper can be found on this webpage: [link]. What the say in the summary is:

    Overall if consumers wish to spend money on new technologies to deliver environmental benefits, by far the biggest emissions saving can be achieved from investing in EVs, whereas batteries and solar PVs have less benefit, and PVs are expected to increase net emissions in the longer term. .

    That seeems to be to be a long way from “actively campaigning against solar”. There’s another 90 pages of graphs and data as to why Concept believe what they say to be true. On the other hand, SEANZ have an opinion piece in the paper.

    You can see an earlier comment I made about this very issue [here]; I have differing reasons why rooftop PV may increase CO2 emissions, but my reasons are not the same as those in the Concept paper.

    So I remain of the position: If you want to put solar PV on your roof, go ahead, knock yourself out, but do understand why you’re doing it, and understand that as things stand for the foreseeable future, you’ll not be impacting New Zealand’s carbon emissions beneficially. And if you do put panels up, be absolutely sure to have an immersun or similar device installed, as this will give you by far and away the best return on your investment, assuming you are electrically heating your hot water today with standard rate electricity.

  59. KEEP UP the GOOD WORK Gareth. The young and savvy are really interested in what you say. UNFORTUNATELY the OLD GUARD CANT CHANGE and obviously will SOON be dead . Future HISTORIANS will SCRATCH their heads in amazement! SMART PEOPLE will be ENJOYING their SOLAR SHOWERS while the DONKEYS of the state SHIVER in the NEXT OVERCHARGED BLACKOUT! Actually my SOLAR LIGHT so i can SEE in the DARK works REALLY WELL!

  60. Thinking about the climate changing and the likely impacts of that, despite all the science and the real world evidence that seems to be mounting by the day, just seems beyond us as a species.

    I can’t understand how the Wellington City Council 10 year plan, which if you listen to the media soundbites is largely about reducing our carbon emissions, has $90 million allocated for extending the airport. Maybe I’ve missed the news where Tesla or the like has started producing battery powered heavy machinery and passenger aircraft; it does seem reasonable that a battery powered 747 would need more runway to get airborne.

    Even looking at the bigger NZ picture there are forecasts around tourist numbers increasing over the next 20 years and how wonderful that will be for the economy. How will they be getting here without using pretty much the most carbon emitting from of transport there is? We are going to arm the whales in return for them ferrying tourists to and from NZ in a low carbon way? We trust our lives to the science behind flying through the air at 900km/h 10,000m up while watching a movie but when the same science tells us we need to massively and immediately change our thinking and behaviour around our daily lives we largely collectively shrug and ignore it.

    Maybe we need to simply be beaten into acceptance with climate stresses on infrastructure and the economy sufficient enough to make us accept the reality we find ourselves facing. Shame that at that point we’ll largely be beyond being able to prevent major change and will be well into the ‘hoping to ride it out’ phase.

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