Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Professor Michael Kelly: Open Letter to PM on Climate Commission

12 July 2021

The Prime Minister, New Zealand.

Dear Prime Minister

The Climate Change Commission’s Advice Needs an Engineering Review

I am writing this letter with the support of a group of experienced engineers who have all brought multi-million-dollar projects to successful conclusions. I have determined that the advice of the Climate Change Commission requires that three key engineering projects must be completed well before 2050:

1. Electrifying ground transportation.;
2. Electrifying industrial, commercial and residential heat.
3. Constructing a major increase (~75%) in the capacity of our electricity generation, 
transmission and distribution systems to provide the power needed for projects 1 and 2.

I have carried out a comprehensive study of the resources of people and materials needed between now and 2050 and estimate the cost at about $600 billion for these projects. It is my view that the Climate Change Commission’s aspirations are not achievable in the time frame, may not be the most cost effective, and may not contribute to lowering global CO2.

  • The Climate Commission's advice is critically dependent on a positive outcome from the NZ Battery Project study if coal and gas fired generators are to be closed. The cost and feasibility of such energy storage has a high degree of uncertainty.
  • Experience indicates, based on the $600 billion project cost, that 1000 extra professional engineers and 4000 extra highly skilled construction staff would be required quickly, and for 30 years, to deliver the projects. With current staffing shortages, the resource demand from the increase in infrastructure project spend and global demand for staffing similar projects, it appears unlikely the resources will be available to deliver the projects in the time frame required.
  • With similar projects happening around the world, it is likely that the equipment and resources needed for the NZ projects will be in short supply and expensive.

There will be other ways to achieve the overall objectives and I strongly recommend that the Government considers all options. The obvious one is the Emissions Trading Scheme which, as the Commission admits, is capable of producing a significant reduction in emissions. Another option is to accelerate the replacement of our ageing motor vehicles with newer vehicles with much lower emissions.Consider exploiting our gas resources to reduce the amount of coal, deploying nuclear power, which is reliable, clean and safe and distributed energy resources (DER).

We strongly recommend that the government uses the time window until April 2022 to carry out:

  • an engineering review of the advice provided by the Climate Change Commission aimed at the addressing the challenges we have identified;

  • an analysis of the costs and benefits if the Commission’s advice is followed;
  • an analysis of other options for reducing emissions of man-made greenhouse gases in a way that benefits New Zealand and the world.

If you need assistance with these studies those of us who are willing and qualified to assist have an asterix after their names in the list below.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Michael Kelly, FRS FREng

Supported by:

Simon Aimer BE MBA MA CEng(UK) FIMechE FEngNZ CMInstD

Douglas Armstrong QSO, BE (Civil) DistFEngNZ

Geoffrey Bates BE (hons) ME

Prof. John Boys

Duncan Campbell ME(Hons) CPEng IntPE(NZ) CMEngNZ

Bruce Cole ME

Rod Fulford BE, CEng, MIStructE, MEngNZ, Registered Engineer

Roger Fulton. BE(Hons) CPEng

Geoffrey Hunt* ME(Dist), DistFEngNZ, MIET, MIOD

Bryan Leyland* MSc, DistFEngNZ, FIMechE, FIEE(rtd)

John K Raine BE(Hons), PhD, CEng, FIMechE, DistFEngNZ, MSAE, CRSNZ

John V. Richards BE, FEngNZ, Life Member EngNZ, Retired

Antony (Tony) Smith BE, CMEngNZ, IPE. Willie L. Mandeno BE, FEngNZ, CPEng Mike Kramer BSc (Mech) Eng, CPEng

Tony Pickford BE, FEngNZ, CPEng

Professor Michael Kelly, Emeritus Prince Phillip Professor of Technology in the University of Cambridge and former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government, is a New Zealander and Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Academy of Engineering.


DeeM said...

Professor Kelly and at least some of his colleagues should have been on the Climate Change Commission instead of the bunch of ideologues we ended up with.
Amazing what real experts produce when they apply real engineering and science to a problem...that's right, a REAL solution.
I really hope Jacinda has the sense to at least consult with Prof. Kelly but I fully expect her to ignore their advice and follow the fantasy land recommendations from Rod and his mates. After all, that's exactly why they were give the government exactly what they asked for!

G. Marshall said...

Waste to energy could not only make a contribution to the grid but also reduce the need to open new tip sites, with their 50 or 100 years of aftercare. W2E uses well proven technology and is clean enough to be sited close to centres of population where, coincidentally, most of the waste is generated and electricity is used.

Unknown said...

Congratulations Professor & to your associates. Well done! Although, I don't believe that man is contributing very much at all to Climate Change / Global Warming!!!

Ross said...

The most important point to consider is regardless of whether industrial civilisation is contributing to climate change will these recommendations lead to a happier, cleaner and more prosperous society. Personally I believe that they would.