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Energy policy fails to energise

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, August 14th, 2008 - 30 comments
Categories: economy, national - Tags:

A positive and ambitious energy policy that reflects the personality of National leader John Key, was announced today. Old people wiped tears from their eyes and youths vowed never to tag another fence as they heard the ambitious vision National has developed for New Zealand’s energy future under heroic leader, John Key.

Actually, there’s 10 pages of repetitive moaning about problems for which no solutions are offered, some dodgy use of stats, a promise to either make some cosmetic changes to the RMA or drastically curtail communities’ say over projects (it depends on what Key’s ‘putting an end to vextatious objections’ means in reality), a promise to have a look at the energy industry’s regulatory framework, and a promise of more gas-fuelled power plants. Where the gas will come from, where the power plants will be sited, and how this option is cheaper or better than more investment in renewables, given that the price is skyrocketing as supply is struggles to match the surging global demand for gas as countries try to get off coal and we have to pay for the carbon emissions too, is not explained.

30 comments on “Energy policy fails to energise”

  1. sally 1

    Why the reference to Rodney?

  2. mondograss 2

    Todd Energy had plans to build a gas fired power station in Rodney District. Somewhere near Helensville I think. They canned it after the recent moratorium on thermal generation.

  3. Perhaps Rodney could also be the perfect spot for a nuclear station, since Lockwood Smith’s smile already beams radiantly, it’s close to John Key’s electorate and Owen McShane also lives around the corner in Kaukapakapa.

  4. I have to admit that using the image of Sim City 2000 was awesome :)

  5. Even though it’s kind of a pointless game, I really want to play it now.

  6. “Even though it’s kind of a pointless game, I really want to play it now.”

    We used to play it in our 5th, 6th, and 7th form economics classes – so I think it is a fitting image for discussing the impact of policy reform on society :)

  7. Matthew Pilott 7

    Matt Nolan: I Second that. I’m gonna go home and whip out my emulator.

    I saw an interesting table recently, I’ll try and find a copy somewhere. It showed projects in NZ by MW and RMA status – how much capacity was under construction, what was awaiting RMA hearings and what was going through the RMA process.

    All up over 2500mw (all renewable) is in the pipeline. Not bad when we need 150MW a year!

    A lot was waiting for RMA approval though, so there may be the question as to whether it is holding projects back, and if the system is too robust. I think the balance is correct at present; others may disagree.

  8. insider 8

    Actually Rodney is a Genesis plan. It will look nothing like that. It looks like a sort of aerofoil shaped building.

    There is a reasonable amount of gas still around despite the doom and gloom. A number of fields have received upward revisions of their capacity recently and Genesis is not going to build a plant without a 20 year or so guaranteed supply. NZ prices are not overly affected by global gas prices.

    One of the big weaknesses in Brownlee;s plan is to ‘build more and bring the price down’. Ok but who would build on the basis that prices will fall? Wouldn’t that mean an uneconomic project….?

  9. Matthew Pilott said “I Second that. I’m gonna go home and whip out my emulator.”

    Sheesh – never heard it called THAT before!!

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    That was easy – take a look:

    Planned renewable electricity developments (as at August 2008)

    Column:
    1: type
    2: Projects with RMA consents and under construction
    3: Projects with RMA consents – not yet under construction
    4:Applied for Consent
    5:Proposals

    Wind / 189 MW / 313 MW / 2411 MW / 787 MW
    Hydro / 13 MW / 93 MW / 343 MW / 895 MW
    Geothermal / 260 MW / 80 MW / 225 MW / 388 MW
    Biogas / 0 MW / 0 MW / 0 MW / 2 MW
    Biomass / 0 MW / 0 MW / 0 MW / 0 MW
    Marine / 0 MW / 1 MW / 200 MW / 0 MW
    Total / 462 MW / 487 MW / 3179 MW / 2072 MW

    I guess I don’t see the problem. There’s a lot applied for that has not got approval, but almost 1000MW that has. That’s 6 years’ worth.

    Link

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    Inventory2 – I’m not that excited by sim city…! heh

  12. insider 12

    Matthew

    Careful on that table. Much of the capacity is wind which you have to divide by 3 to get a more realistic number on energy production based on expected availability from NZ windfarms. ie 180MW wind farm might only generate 60MW on average over a year. It will peak much higher but you can’t rely on it. That is one of the reasons I think Parker is nuts to have now banned hydro as well as thermal.

  13. insider. He hasn’t banned hydro, what are you talking about?

    the report linked to in the other energy post has capcity assumptions for each of the generation types. Wind is 40%, but thermal is actually only 40% too in the projections because a large portion of the installed thermal is either reserve or expensive, and so only runs at peak times. In theory, you can get more MW/hours per MW of capacity from thermal but in fact you don’t in New Zealand because hydro makes up most of the base load, topped up by wind , and then when the others can’t cover demand.

    When they say 175MW ot new capacity is needed each year, the fact that no form of generation runs at full capacity all the time is taken into account.

  14. Matthew Pilott 14

    Yeah wind is the majority there, but power plants don’t operate at full output for long periods anyway, unless there is a strain on the system. Even thermal baseload doesn’t operate at 100% – though there is security in knowing you can.

    A dry, calm year could cause some trouble in the future…

  15. They’re also going to abolish EECA. God help us all.

  16. insider 16

    Steve

    He has effectively banned most new hydro by saying that no hydro can be built that cannot be dismantled. It was in the renewables policy statement yesterday.

    Wind at it;s absolute best is periodically at 50%. Some farms may achieve 40 over time that but it is likely to be much lower on average. In the first five months this year NZ wind farms were at 45, 31, 34, 25 and 24% capacity.

    Projections said Huntly was a peaking station…And I suspect those are scenarios not projections.

    MAtthew

    There is some research going on as there is a perception that dry, still winters tend to coincide…

  17. Tane 17

    One problem with your picture Steve. Under National there wouldn’t be any railway tracks.

    You’d probably have lots of borrowed highways though, putting you into a cycle of debt that will eventually ruin your game :)

  18. djp 18

    The funny thing is SimCity is predicated on the concept of using debt to build infrastructure. :)

  19. I was wrong. They’re not going to abolish EECA, just gut its powers.

  20. Tane 20

    Heh, good point, but then you start Sim City (from memory) with no assets and no revenue, so borrowing’s kind of the only option.

    Wouldn’t be much of a game if they gave you a fully functioning developed economy that’s already stretched to capacity.

  21. Darn it, its been so long, can anyone give me some tips on how to use a dos emulator?

  22. insider 22

    George

    They are not going to gut EECA’s powers, if anything they seem to want to beef it up. Are you sure you are not confusing it with the EC?

  23. Kevyn 23

    Matthew, Do you know what proportion of “3: Projects with RMA consents – not yet under construction” are not yet under construction because their RMA consents are subject to High Court appeals? Of the almost 500 MW that is under contruction how much will come on-line in each of the next three years?

    You didn’t mention your data source otherwise I would have checked for myself. The main reason for raising these questions is that the Wairau Valley scheme is the the dominant hydro in column 3, and it’s definitely not going to be generating within three years. Even if there wasn’t a High Court appeal from the NIMBYs whose backyards (and front yards) it is being built on top of only the first of the five power stations can pysicaly be built within three years.

  24. Ari 24

    SP, whoever made that screenshot needs more practice. They could’ve saved a lot of cash by setting up the power lines differently.

    Of course, this is a view of National in power, so it’s probably appropriate :P

    DJP- yeah, but not at the same time as reducing taxes for a significant amount of what you want to borrow. ;) I don’t think anyone minds borrowing a little (or dipping into the national surplus) during a recession to kick the economy in the pants and get some good public spending on infrastructure going, but it ought to be infrastructure that will last, (like renewable power) infrastructure that solves problems, (like pollution, unclean water, and unsustainable fuel use) and infrastructure that generates employment for New Zealanders. :) National’s spending ideas generally don’t meet the criteria we would expect from good public spending- probably because they’re very new to the idea of public spending as anything other than throwing away money as broad tax cuts.

    Labour’s just been anti-borrowing recently because National has dragged down the standard of debate to a level where we can’t have a thorough explanation anymore lest it generate distorted headlines and the classic right-wing perceptions of “wishy-washyness” and “flip-flopping”.

  25. Pablo 25

    The best source of data is the wind energy association website http://www.windenergy.org.nz They have stats on the amount of wind projects currently going through the consent process or merely just announced.

    I think local govt NZ or someone has stats on the amount of RMA applications that are blocked, and it is really small, less than one percent from memory. I’ll dig out a link

  26. We had to have cold showers as well this winter because our hot water was cut off.

    Shameful stuff Labour

  27. Matthew Pilott 29

    Kevyn – there was a “link” below my post with the table. From memory it was data from the MED. How big is the Mohikinui (or similar) hydro, that would be a fair chink, 70MW+ perhaps. That’s also fairly far awawy.

    But in answer to your question, I’m not sure. I guess the big ones would have to be the three wind farms – Central Otago, Port Waikato and Makara. Those three would account for RMA consent/under construction in the wind category.

    Darren, try paying your bills on time then. Jokes aside, I didn’t realise power was switched off for more than two hours to a few consumers over the last few months. I guess that’s the risk you take when opting for a cheaper power plan, though the media somehow missed the fact that anyone was having cold showers, which I find unbelievable.

    Why do you blame Labour? Power generation increased a huge amount under them in the last nine years, maybe you can blame your tory mates for hyping the ‘crisis’ to a level where people had to act to be seen acting, despite having twice the reserve capacity of 1999. Somewhat ironic – you paid the price for the actions of the idiots (I’m assuming) you support!

  28. Higher gas prices would perhaps allow the price of all power to be driven up….widening margins overall.

    Gas could be the trojan horse for holding everyone to ransom.

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