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A solar future?

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, September 18th, 2009 - 34 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: ,

solar

You can read more about it here.

34 comments on “A solar future?”

  1. We better start building!

    For those wanting base load wind turbines can contribute and battery storage is a must.

    It is rare during the day for it to be dull and still.

    • jagilby 1.1

      “battery storage”

      Prey tell… what’s the electricity price path going to be once all this is said and done? Who’s going to pay? How are the poorest people ever going to afford the power generated by this fantastic scheme?

      For those wanting to read something devoid of any sense read this:

      “For those wanting base load wind turbines can contribute”

      Wind… base load???? Exactly how will that work?

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Right, so is this to completely replace all fossil fuel use universally, or just that used in current eletricity generation?

    Furthermore the additional land space required for the infrastructure to actually collect and distribute the power is probably at least a good 100% of what is listed here (roads and warehouse to carry spare parts for maintenance, etc).

    • Clarke 2.1

      So are you suggesting that these are insurmountable problems that can’t be addressed?

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        No, just that it’s extremely unlikely we could simply manufacture and install that many solar panels within 30 years, because you have to build all the roads and buildings to go with it, train all the people etc.

        Also, saying “zero carbon emissions” is rather a big gloss – what about all the carbon that goes into pouring all the concrete for the buildings, roads, and simply manufacturing and installing the panels themselves? 0 (or negligible) ongoing emissions possibly, but just stating it as “zero carbon emissions” is misleading.

        • Clarke 2.1.1.1

          No, just that it’s extremely unlikely we could simply manufacture and install that many solar panels within 30 years, because you have to build all the roads and buildings to go with it, train all the people etc

          Building all the infrastructure necessary to support this amount of solar in NZ would be a relatively trivial exercise – certainly smaller and less invasive than the effort needed to construct the chain of hydro dams and supporting roads, towns and electricity distribution in the Mackenzie Basin in Central Otago in a similar amount of time back in the 1960’s and 70’s. So scale certainly isn’t the problem.

          Also, saying “zero carbon emissions’ is rather a big gloss what about all the carbon that goes into pouring all the concrete for the buildings, roads, and simply manufacturing and installing the panels themselves? 0 (or negligible) ongoing emissions possibly, but just stating it as “zero carbon emissions’ is misleading.

          The same applies to any new electricity generation, so what’s your point? Unless we ration power consumption to the capacity of the current system, any new generation will require carbon emissions to construct. The difference is that solar PV has zero emissions in operation, in stark contrast to the expedient thermal generation that Contact et al have been so keen on over the last few years.

          • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1.1

            I was talking about globally building enough solar panels by 2030, rather than just New Zealand. If everyone rushes to build and install solar panels at once, the price will rise such that demand will meet supply. More supply will be brought on line to lower prices and increase demand, but I doubt the required area of solar panels could be built by 2030.

            “The same applies to any new electricity generation, so what’s your point?”
            My point is that while yes, it is of course true that any form of electricity generation will require CO2 output in order to initially construct, the statement cannot be taken at face value, which is precisely what the creator of that graphic is trying to get the reader to do.

            I’ve read various things about geothermal power, such as America being able to meet 5x it’s current total annual energy consumption purely from geothermal if they simply had the willpower to actually go and do it. NZ also has a great abundance of geothermal resource that we simply aren’t taking advantage of.

            captcha: timing

            • Clarke 2.1.1.1.1.1

              I was talking about globally building enough solar panels by 2030, rather than just New Zealand.

              Fair enough – although the reason I gave the NZ example is because it puts the required build-out in a local context. If we can terraform the entire Mackenzie Basin in the cause of hydro power, we can certainly put up enough aluminium framing to build a multi-megawatt solar facility.

              But the comparison is also a bit spurious – we could much more easily get to 100% renewables with geothermal (“welcome to the Shaky Isles!”), wind and tidal, probably at lower cost, and probably with lower embedded energy and carbon. Solar looks like a bit of an indulgence for little old Enzed, IMHO.

            • Ari 2.1.1.1.1.2

              This is why a mixed-renewable solution is crucial, as it spreads the resource-intensity and geographic loading of cleaner power. 🙂

        • Rob A 2.1.1.2

          Ever heard of the Manhatten project, or the Apollo project? Personally I have yet to give up all hope that humanity can pull our finger out of our arse when it matters

          • Clarke 2.1.1.2.1

            So where’s the equivalent Manhattan Project in fusion? Currently we’re building the experimental fusion reactor that will precede the prototype of the first commercial reactor. Even the most ardent advocates of fusion are predicting timelines measured in decades, not years – the ITER project is slated to cost around 10 billion euro and last for 35 years.

            I’m a big supporter of fusion. But believing it’s going to solve our climate change problems is akin to believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

            • lprent 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Besides widespread cheap fusion has an inherent problem as well – excessive waste heat would be a major cumulative problem within a relatively short time. Instead of trapping extra heat in the atmosphere, cheap fusion is effectively generating it. But that is probably a easier problem to solve.

              It is the hassle of being in a finite and rather small biosphere.

            • Rob A 2.1.1.2.1.2

              I was talking more of this solar panel idea, its technology we already largely have. Yes it has problems but nothing that would be impossible to overcome.

    • Con 2.2

      Right, so is this to completely replace all fossil fuel use universally, or just that used in current eletricity generation?

      In future, let me recommend clicking on the link that says “You can read more about it here.” – it works wonders!

      To save you the bother this time, the figure appears to include not just all fossil fuel, but the consumption of energy in all its forms.

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        Yeah, I didn’t have time to click it when I posted that comment, but I followed it and read it later.

        I was mainly skeptical based on another graphic I’ve seen around the net showing “1 cubic mile of oil =” and it has like 91,000,000 solar panels generating electricity for 50 years to be the equivalent. However that graphic has been debunked as being the energy value of the oil, but not what we actually manage to extract from it (because refining oil and cars etc are very inefficient).

  3. ieuan 3

    Ummm, what about the storage needed because solar cells, like, don’t work too well at night? The storage issue is probably a bigger problem (and cost) than building large arrays of solar cells.

    My personal 2c worth. I think the ‘solution’ is a lot more small scale power generation from various sources – solar, wind, small gas turbines etc rather than mega schemes.

    • lprent 3.1

      Yep it is an issue.

      The solution has been known for a while. Store it as potential mechanical energy. Use excess power during the day to pump water uphill. You get get a loss of energy converting back into electricity as hydro power at night but if the variable cost of the power was ‘free’, then this is a good way to store energy.

      The actual trick is to get so much power on the grid that it becomes worth while investing the infrastructure to take power off the grid during the day to do that.

      • snoozer 3.1.1

        It doesn’t even have to be water that you store the potential energy in, but that’s obviously the cheapest and most abundant fluid around. Not much water in the Sahara.

        You could use blocks from the pyramids instead – winch them up during the day, release the brake in the evening and turn the winch motor into a generator. 🙂

        captcha: simplest

        • Clarke 3.1.1.1

          The sodium-sulphur battery seems to be a good candidate for grid connection, as it’s large-scale, made from commonly available elements, and doesn’t seem to have the same memory issues as some other battery types. It’s being trialled for grid support in Japan.

  4. pentwig 4

    Nuclear is the only way to go!!

    • Lanthanide 4.2

      Fusion, yes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

      Fission probably can’t ramp up in time and has problems with waste disposal, and a limited amount of uranium – 100-200 years at current usage rates becomes 10-20 years if you build 10x as many nuke plants as there are today. Breeder reactors etc are feasible, but AFAIK no one has even started building one yet, let alone has them up and running.

      • Clarke 4.2.1

        I agree with your assessment of fission, but practical fusion has the minor problem of having been 10-20 years away for at least the last 40 years. So betting the farm on a technology that isn’t yet ready for prime time looks kinda risky.

        • Lanthanide 4.2.1.1

          Have a read up on polywell, which is why I linked it.

          They just got an additional $8m in funding from the US Navy. If everything goes well with their next prototype which is 8x more powerful than the previous one and aimed at being energy-positive, they plan to have a commercial plant up and running by 2020. The rebuttal is, of course, “they’ve been saying that for years”, but polywell actually looks very promising and is orders of magnitude cheaper than tokamak reactors. Not the least because it can use boron as a fuel source and using boron gives a nuclear reaction which has no radioactive inputs -or- outputs.

    • lprent 4.3

      Not if you know anything about it. Which I suspect you don’t. Prove me wrong – explain why you think it is the only way to go. I’m sure there are people here who will pick apart your arguments to educate you why that is such a stupid attitude.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.4

      Nope

      The Future of Nuclear Energy: Facts and Fiction
      Part 1
      Part 2
      Part 3

      Nuclear power was always only a short term option and its short term has run out.

  5. SjS 5

    What about the transmission? Seems like a really good idea to build a giant solar panel in the Sahara to power all of europe and north africa, but how do you get that power to europe?

    Those massive power lines they want to build through the Waitako to help power auckland would be tiny and insignificant compared to what you would need to build to get the power to/through europe …

    Good idea though! Interesting seeing it relative to the world’s totaly land area.

    • snoozer 5.1

      of course, for a project like that, the scales make it viable to use better transmission equipment than the crappy cheap stuff we have.

      superconducting wires – one day, hopefully 🙂

  6. Strathen 6

    I remember one of my Teachers telling us about this concept all those years ago at school. Although he did say that with a big enough structure in the Sahara, you could power the whole world.

    The issue we discussed in class was around who would hold the ‘power’. Who would control each of these facilities, and in the modern world, how susceptible would they be to an attack?

    I can see the above approach has reduced the risk of our theoretical discussion by spreading the structures around the world which makes sense. However with an organised attack (yes, very Hollywood) you could take down the entire worlds power system.

    Ignoring the attack angle, it is still interesting to consider who would hold the governance over these power supplies, more for places like Africa etc where one station is providing power to many countries. Whilst this can be worked out, I forsee it taking many times longer than it will take to build it.

    I like the idea and would love to see it implemented in my lifetime.

  7. wtl 7

    Re all those comments about transmission and dangers of attack. I think the point of the graph isn’t that we would use specific areas of that size and thus centralise power generation in those areas, but that the area we would need is rather small compared to the area of the world.

  8. Quoth the Raven 8

    There’s another possibility: Space-based solar power.

  9. Zaphod Beeblebrox 9

    Would have thought best place to collect solar energy is your roof. No transmission infrastructure, low construction costs, don’t have to pay any money grubbing power company and their executive bonuses.
    Just a thought.

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  • Rāhui day 4
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  • Letter to a friend
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 3
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  • Rāhui day 3
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  • A test of civil society.
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  • Life in Lock Down: Day 2
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    1 week ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    1 week ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
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    1 week ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
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    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
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    1 week ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
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    1 week ago
  • We are not America
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
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  • Lock Down: Day 1
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
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    1 week ago

  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
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    4 days ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
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    4 days ago
  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago