The Interim Climate Change Commission has come out saying that making our electricity generation 100% renewable would be really expensive and that that expense would land on the poor of New Zealand. That’s according to this NZHerald scoop.
FFS these people need to show they are useful or go and get jobs. The Minister signaled in March that he was open to changing the 100% renewable horizon if they came up with something useful.
Instead they decide to go and shit on the Minister.
The ICCC were not tasked with telling us how hard it was all going to be. No. The Government asked the ICCC to provide advice on planning for the transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035.
Having New Zealand transition to 100 per cent renewable energy was one of the key planks of the Greens 2017 election campaign, and this got written into Government. In Labour and the Green’s supply and confidence agreement, the parties agreed to: “Request the Climate Commission to plan the transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 (which includes geothermal) in a normal hydrological year”.
What I am looking for from this report, once it hits the streets, is:
No, what we get from this interim commission is bitching and moaning about how policy is too hard.
What these overpaid fools have also failed to deliver is a properly democratized grid for generators large and small: an open-access network, in which consumers can connect and operate any device – including solar, batteries, and electric vehicles (subject to proper safety and operating standards and an appropriation cost for access).
To state the obvious: this is the way life in modern New Zealand is becoming now, not just in 2035.
We are one of the most backwards of developed economies when it comes to decarbonising, and have been coasting on massive interventions in dams and geothermal plant made in the four decades after WW2. Time for the ICCC to state what the bold new interventions need to be. That is their damn job.
They’ve had a roadmap for this for quite some time. If this Interim Commission isn’t in make-it-happen mode, they need to Decommission themselves.
The government clearly has the will to generate cross-Departmental bid discipline through the WellBeing Framework, so it would be great to see it having that same will in decarbonising electricity generation with recommendations across multiple Departments and agencies.
The electricity sector is increasingly confident in its ability to evolve and adapt, as falling costs bring more solar, batteries and electric vehicles onto distribution networks. New tools and pricing models are already being developed to enable their uptake while also managing the change in consumption patterns that will result.
Earlier this year the Major Electricity Users’ Group cited the “significant potential” of electrification to reduce emissions, but warned that won’t happen unless the cost of power can be kept low. My little caveat to that is that there are major carbon-electricity generators who are big enough to refocus their carbon reliance.
So here’s a practical signal:
Synlait Milk completed the commissioning of a 6 megawatt electrode boiler – the largest in the country – in March this year. The new boiler, which is expected to avoid 13,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, was enabled by Canterbury network company Orion doubling the transformer capacity at Dunsandel and installing two new 11-kilovolt lines to the plant.
Orion is now planning to spend close to $29 million within the next five years building a new link to Transpower’s 220-kV line at Norwood.
That will provide additional power to meet demand at Dunsandel, Brookside, Rolleston and Highfield from rural township development, commercial growth and “signalled decarbonisation measures by cornerstone industrial customers”, Orion says in its latest asset management plan.
Practical, and market-led.
The government is currently in train to re-regulate the legislation that governs Fonterra. The ICCC should have given a strong signal about how to persuade Fonterra to phase out their dirty coal-fired evaporators in favour of non-carbonised electricity. Among other reasons, there are plenty of consumers who already won’t touch Fonterra products on this count alone.
Just as Kiwirail are actively investigating how to join the remaining Fonterra plants to rail rather than relying on roads, so too should the generators consider how to pull this massive customer fully their way.
Now, in the politics of this, I see Shaw getting more support from this from Parker rather than the weak Megan Woods. Parker is busy with stuff, and it’s easy to swot the Greens down on most things.
But if this government can re-regulate banks as they are doing, they can re-regulate electricity generators towards the 100% renewable target.
Hey ICCC: form a plan or get out of the way.