Thursday, November 10, 2022

John Porter: Are We Going to Be Able to Keep the Lights On?

The government has set a target for 50% of total energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2035.

“Thanks to our strong economic management and our readiness to do things differently we are well positioned to slash our energy emissions and create a sustainable energy system for generations to come.” So said Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources.

Minister Woods has a doctorate in Integrating the nation: Gendering Maori urbanisation and integration, 1942-1969. That thesis examined the mid-twentieth century attempts to create integrated and therefore ‘ideal’ Maori citizens.

I’m not sure how that qualifies one to be a Minister of Energy, but then again you could easily question the qualifications of the entire Labour cabinet!

But back to her new “Landmark New Zealand Energy Strategy”.

The first jest is her words “Thanks to our strong economic management…” Give us a break Megan! Strong economic management be buggered.

To this Government, strong economic management means PRINTING MORE MONEY!

Joke number 2 is when she states, “…our readiness to do things differently…”

Do things differently! But hang on, this is a government that is overseeing a health system that now reports that patients are choosing to die rather than suffer the tribulations of a hospital waiting list. How’s that for doing things differently?

Our illustrious Minister further flabbergasted us with “We must keep our economy secure against what the global downturn and climate change may throw at us”.

2 high level objectives of the strategy are –

* Energy affordability and energy equity for consumers

* Our energy system transitions at the pace and scale required to support a net-zero 2050.

Let’s look at the “Energy affordability and energy equity for consumers” objective.

Energy affordability! Electricity has not been affordable to Joe Average since National’s Max Bradford screwed us all with his “Bright Future” economic initiative in 1999, and the changes to the retail sector of the electricity industry in 1998.

And just what the hell is energy equity?

Well, we are currently burdened with an extremist socialist, ethnically skewed government so what do you think? So here you go.

“Energy equity recognizes that disadvantaged communities have been historically marginalised and overburdened by pollution, underinvestment in clean energy infrastructure, and lack of access to energy-efficient housing and transportation.”

And just who do you think would be the target beneficiaries of that initiative?

Now let’s have a look at the “Our energy system transitions at the pace and scale required to support a net-zero 2050”.

Net-zero 2050 sets a target for all greenhouse gases, except for biogenic methane – methane from agriculture and waste (and that is a big issue in itself) – to reach net zero by 2050.

As new electricity-dependent technology arrives in New Zealand, households’ demand for electricity is expected to grow rapidly with the electrification of the economy and the move away from fossil fuels.

While we still rely heavily on renewables, such as hydro, geothermal and wind to produce our electricity, 60% of our energy still comes from fossil fuels.

In fact, we use around 46 million barrels of crude oil every year – that’s more than 1600 litres of crude oil per person, per year.

Worse than that, in the years 2017-2021, we imported 4.7 million tonnes of low-grade, ‘dirty’ coal mostly from Indonesia, with a record 1.8 million tonnes in 2021.

But why do we do that when NZ produced over 7 million tonnes of sub-bituminous coal in the same period? Well, just over 6 million tonnes was exported. Our dirty coal must be cleaner than Indonesia’s? Weird environmental logic that.

More lunacy abounds with Jacinda’s promotion of electric vehicles, but hey, like so many of this inept government’s schemes, it just isn’t working!

The government has paid out over $30m in clean car rebates to Tesla owners – now it’s recalibrating the scheme because it’s dished out too many discounts. The clean car discount is supposed to be a revenue neutral policy – subsidies are meant to be paid for by a tax on heavy-emitting vehicles like utes. Amazing, aren’t they?

With electricity-dependent technology infiltrating more homes, concerns mount over the impact on the electricity grid, particularly during the early evening period of peak demand. As this new load keeps growing, and the distribution infrastructure starts to creak, are we going to be able to keep the lights on?

Don’t panic! Our intrepid Minister has a cunning plan; Pumped-hydro!

The Government is spending $30 million on an investigation into renewable energy projects including a hydro scheme at Lake Onslow in Central Otago.

If the scheme proceeds it would be the largest hydro project in New Zealand’s history and could cost more than $4 billion. Knowing this Government’s inability to accurately cost projects, you have to say $8 billion not $4 billion!

Megan says pumped-hydro at Lake Onslow “is technically feasible”. Yeah right, Megan!

And then MBIE advise, “…proof that the project would lower wholesale electricity prices is not necessary for Onslow to proceed”. Does this sound more like ideological thinking rather sound economic thinking?

I haven’t even touched on how greenhouse gas emissions from geothermal power production, while generally low, are emitters of CO2 and studies overseas show some are on par with emissions from coal fired power plants!

Then there are the issues around modern wind turbine blades, especially around disposal. The blades have a life of less than about 20 years and the most common disposal procedure is to truck them to landfills.

Labour’s new “Landmark New Zealand Energy Strategy” sounds awfully like so many other Labour strategies: huge on aspiration; minimal planning and negligible delivery!

John Porter is a citizen, deeply concerned about the loss of democracy and the insidious promotion of separatism by our current government. This article was first published HERE

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