Sunday, August 29, 2021

Clive Bibby: The energy giant we dare not speak its name

One thing farmers learn quicker than anything else when dealing with climate change is that your survival will depend primarily on decisions that are based on what we know to be true.

Most of the reliable data used when planning for a changing environment will be gleaned from historical records that give clear indications of the likely success of any mitigating scheme introduced that includes the lessons learned from past severe events. It’s just common sense but it usually works better than placing all our eggs in a basket of relatively unknown alternatives.

So it is with the nation’s search for reliable clean energy alternatives that will enable us to eliminate the traditional reliance on a mix that includes coal fired power stations.

It would appear that those who make the decisions on the alternatives we can choose from have been given clear instructions from our political masters that large scale hydro schemes are not on that list in any shape or form. More's the pity!

This would appear to be the dumbest or most flamboyantly irresponsible decree ever to emerge from parliament buildings - and the evidence suggests that my suspicions are correct - current government policy appears to limit hydro type schemes to those of limited capacity (or if they can be justified economically) to small “pump hydro” type schemes.

These yet to be tested plans for bolstering our clean energy plants fly in the face of all the data we would ever need that suggests the “big brother” variant is by far the cheapest and most reliable form of energy supply we are ever likely to build in this country. And there are more than one good reason why we should build them where-ever they can also be used to provide other “life saving” supplies to communities under siege from climate change eg. fresh drinking and irrigation water.

Why then are we not investing in the one thing we know to be a winner on more than one of the criteria that would determine viability and survival?

You guessed it - we are being forced to accept even more evidence of a government that is controlled by ideological loons!

When it is clear that these large dams can become the saviour of provincial New Zealand, its people and its industries, and the flow on effect is equally beneficial to the large metropolitan communities with insatiable demand for clean energy, it beggars belief that (presumably) sane men and women are allowed to get away with this outrageous self indulgence.

Getting back to the farming folk and the supporters of our industry - remember us, the backbone of the country that allows the Prime Minister the luxury of claiming “we are all in this together”- such is her and the country’s dependence on our survival.

It is shameful that the green lobby in the current government is being allowed to dictate the parameters that determine the choices we should be making regarding our own survival.

My guess is that the reason they don’t want us to consider more fresh water storage multi purpose capacity is simply because it might alter the visual and environmental character of habitats that are home to the odd rare frog, dragon fly or endangered species of soldier ants.

No matter that the alternative considerations for clean energy generation are economically non viable for small populations like ours ie. nuclear or are currently notoriously unreliable suppliers at peak times such as wind and solar.

It is madness verging on criminal assault but what do l know.

You be the judge.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.



Ian P said...

If these people lived in a perfectly good, warm and safe house, they'd find a need to build a 'better' one next door. First step would be to demolish the existing house, then sometime (lots) later, starting planning the building of the replacement.

DeeM said...

The Greens and Labour think wind and solar is clean and green and has no effect on the environment. Hard to see how having 100m+ wind turbines dotted all over the hills and banks of black wind farms pointing north doesn't change the environment!
Huge amounts of raw materials (coal, oil, iron ore, heavy and rare-earth metals, cement) are needed to manufacture the turbines and panels. This results in very high emissions generated to build wind/solar farms per MW of capacity compared to conventional generation due to the low-density energy of wind and solar and their intermittency and unreliability. And they take up much more land.

Hydro is by far the most reliable form of renewable power. That big dam of water is like a huge battery waiting to be switched on when required. And, of course, it doesn't have to actually rain when you need power, unlike wind which must have the wind blowing, and at the right speed, or solar which must have the optimal weather, seasonal and daytime conditions just when you need it.
Hydro is still prone to long dry spells so is not as reliable as conventional generation.

Our government believes just what the UN tells it to believe on climate change and follows the same tired, phoney solutions to save the planet. In over 20 years of the UN promoting wind and solar it still only accounts for less than 3% of global energy needs. And that's because it doesn't work at a large scale, is hugely expensive and only competes with large subsidies, and is the least effective way to produce power.

Guess which option Labour will pick - it's a no brainer which matches their ability in government.

Michael Waldegrave said...

Hi Clive,
The most reliable drive in human nature is Self Interest & manifests as Greed in many cases. The farmers are now a Too Small Group to have any effect on policy & most city folk think of farmers as wealthy & greedy & are consequentially, quite happy to Shoot the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg.
Know what I mean ??
You need to get more people on your side to effect change. Common sense doesn’t come into it. It’s about the team of 5 mil. looking out for itself.
Cinderella & Co are a disgrace ….. a bit like the rest of us ??

Ray S said...

Quite right DeeM.
As you said, greenies forget about the things you mention. But we are saving the planet on our own. No matter that the manufacturing process of alternative energy hardware produces more Co2 and other greenhouse gases in one day than we produce here in a year. But that's OK, it's happening somewhere else so no problem.
As for hydro, the RMA as it is, would prevent any development of suitable rivers, for all sorts of reasons, top of the list would ownership of water, if indeed it can be "owned"
The slippery slope facing New Zealands future gets more and more slippery every day.

Dave Witherow said...

Hydro dams wreck rivers. Wind and solar are marginal.
Nuclear mortgages the future, and fossil fuels have one or two downsides as well.
But if we stopped shipping in hundreds of thousands of people we wouldn't need any new energy at all. But none of our political parties want any debate about that.

DeeM said...


Eventually our hydro dams will silt up and have less storage capacity. They currently make up about 60% of our generation. What do we do then? Even if we became the hermit kingdom and banned any more emigration we would still need more generation.
There's no such thing as a free lunch when you generate any kind of energy. What you should aim to do is generate the most efficient way, at the lowest cost, using the least land and raw materials.
That's wind and solar right at the back of the line.

Dave Witherow said...

We just close down Tiwai (a massive swindle) and we would have enough electricity - despite those slowly silting-up dams - for ages.
Plus, don't forget that electricity usage continuously gets more efficient, further stretching our supplies.
Apart from the suicidal nonsense of turning Auckland into a global slum our main problem will be to stave of the electric-car rort. That could really cook our goose.

DeeM said...

True - I forgot about Manapouri. But what would you have all the aluminium plant workers do? Not the government's tree planting job creation scheme, surely.
Plus, with most of the power demand being in the NI you'll have all the transmission losses sending that power north and the Cook Strait cable restrictions.
Nothing's ever easy.
I'm sure the government will come up with a great solution - probably a wind turbine on top of each Auckland skyscraper and solar panels on top of the public transport trains and buses. Everything will be fine as long as its sunny and quite, but not too, windy all the time.

Geoffrey said...

Enjoyed your article Clive. One thing bothers me… For as long as we subscribe to the notion that those elected representatives who ,for the time being occupy the Treasury benches, are our political masters they will continue to act like it.

Ken Millward said...

Good article Clive. I suspect the Green driven ideology opposition to any large water capture or hydro has nothing to do with their concern for the habitat of the green banded mung bean or whatever, its all to do with their
earnestly held belief that we can only save the planet and find our place in nirvana by bankrupting the economy and turning us into a third world peasant state (all except the green leaders that is).