gareth hughes solar energy

Pouring Government energy into avoiding energy leadership

Energy Minister Judith Collins yesterday released the new New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy and it’s very disappointing. It’s unambitious, continues business as usual & won’t achieve much. It continues National’s well-worn tactic of playing tricks, rather than actually doing anything.

Here’s three reasons why:

1. Targets so low it would be impossible to fail
Process heat, for example burning coal in boilers is a big area we could make energy efficiency gains and the strategy sets a target that industrial emissions intensity decreases by an average of 1% per year from 2017 and 2022. Sounds good but as this graph shows, essentially this target is a continuation of the existing trend back to 1990.
It’s like announcing a diet where you don’t have to do anything at all.
Emissions intensity for selected industries, historical and projected 1990-2022.

2. Targets that are too hard are dropped
An area that’s dropped out from the last strategy is an economy-wide energy intensity target. The previous strategy had a target of reducing energy intensity by 1.3% per year. An economy-wide target was important, especially since New Zealand is one of the most energy-intensive economies in the developed world

The recent IEA 2017 Review of Energy Policies in New Zealand report said:

New Zealand’s energy intensity ranks seventh-highest among IEA member countries behind Canada, Estonia, Korea, Finland, the Czech Republic and the United States (see Figure 8.4). Energy intensity has declined from a 1992 peak of 0.18 toe/USD 1 000 PPP to the current level but has remained stable since 2005. A further indicator for international comparison is energy consumption per capita (see Figure 8.5). New Zealand’s rate of 4.5 toe per capita per year is tenth-highest among IEA countries. Under the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (NZEECS), the government’s energy efficiency target was to achieve a rate of energy intensity improvement of 1.3% per year. So far this target has not been met; the energy intensity level in 2015 was the same as in 2011

So basically we weren’t meeting this important target so it was dropped entirely from the strategy! Why put your energy into achieving it when you can just delete it entirely?

3. The new old 90% renewables target with no plan to get there.

The new strategy retains the existing 90% renewable electricity by 2025 target. I’m guessing the document was a bit light so they copied and pasted this old target in ‘pad it out a bit.’ It definitely is padding because there are no government actions to meet the target, meanwhile we’re going backwards.

In the year alone we’ve seen the reversal of the decision to stop burning dirty coal at the Huntly power station, a massive new gas-fired power station get consent in the Waikato where climate change couldn’t be considered and Unison’s ridiculous new solar tax. One measure mentioned in the strategy to help, the successful Warm Up NZ insulation scheme actually got chopped by National!

I believe we should be aiming for a 100% renewable electricity system, in average weather years, and I recently published a technical paper showing how it could look.

National’s sleight of hand means that in real terms – businesses and individuals will again have to bear the cost of the Government’s lack of leadership. It means businesses will continue to lack clear direction to transition to a clean energy future. For everyday New Zealanders – it means that our kids and our grandkids will have to pay with their future for National’s inaction. The Greens at the heart of government will bring real leadership in energy efficiency and real leadership through our climate action plan.