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New Zealand’s Energy Future

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, May 25th, 2018 - 53 comments
Categories: climate change, energy, Environment, global warming, greens, james shaw, labour, megan woods, nz first, science, winston peters - Tags:

This is what New Zealand’s energy future is supposed to look like.

The view of Transpower is that our energy future will provide New Zealand with its biggest international advantage: clean, sustainable, affordable and efficient energy to power our economy.

The Transpower Chief Executive expounds on her view of the future here.

Neither the report nor the Chief’s view really faces up to energy regulation and pricing squarely; the focus is on generation, transmission and distribution, and technology.

Personally I would like to see the Climate Change Commission take a cold hard view of this. Fine to predict that 85% of vehicles will be electrified by 2050, but at the moment there’s plenty of cost-stick being applied to mineral fuel through price and tax, but stuff all carrot to electricity retailers, home generators, or indeed anyone else seeking to make a good, hard change for the planet.

No evidence of the Minister of Energy, Minister of Climate Change, or the Minister of State Owned Enterprises having a view on this. The effect of the report, and the typically siloed utopian thinking from the one-entity Chief Executive, feels like it’s still too hard to aggregate the levers of government towards common ends when it comes to energy.

I like good reports.

I really like Ministers who set out the plan to achieve the strategy within them. The last bold Minister of Energy we have had was Max Bradford – and what a mess that caused, when people are still switching off their heaters in winter to cut down on the household bill.

So I really, really like governments who aggregate bold Ministerial direction into results that last and are good.

I don’t want to be sceptical: I want a future for New Zealand that is both bold and credible. We need aggregated strategy that includes more than generators.

Can this government achieve real change in energy sustainability?

53 comments on “New Zealand’s Energy Future”

  1. saveNZ 1

    The reality is that NZ has slowly changed from being egalitarian to being for the most persuasive lobbyists.

    There is plenty of buzz words around, but when the cold hard facts are analysed it is all about the powerful and greedy profiting at the expense of those who are ordinary who are getting less and less out of the deal as the years go by.

    Laws such allowing solar energy to be sold as lower and lower costs back to the grid (unlike Germany) but also now a tax on the people who actually have solar panels to ‘help’ keep those transmission profits for big business going.

    The fact that over the last 30 years there have been numerous electrical outages including a major one over months in Auckland in the 1990’s and now constant days of power outages, because they way the government have structured power is all about profit not about service levels.

  2. saveNZ 2

    Not sure what’s happening about the rest of NZ but in Auckland it’s greed city for the construction and utility sectors.

    Anybody who builds a house is expected to pay around $10,000 – $30,000k per house to Vector/their subcontractors to add on the infrastructure such as transformers, meters, meter number allocation, private pillars, the actual cables themselves going into the meter boxes, which the homeowner don’t seem to actually own in spite of paying most of the costs. Then they slap a rental cost to rent your power after the thousands you just shelled out for your own infrastructure.

    The situation seems to be in Auckland that you own infrastructure like power when it comes to repairs but you don’t own it when it comes to digging it up and taking all this infrastructure to your new property. Thats fair. (sarc).

    When you pay $30,000 as a private homeowner to connect to the electrical grid before the $20,000+ to wire up a new house (unlike big developers who seem to get the tax payers to pay for the infrastructure), it becomes obvious that there ain’t gonna be any affordable rental housing available any time soon. How could there be when just the connecting to power is more than a years rent? Then you add the water meters now $10,000+ (another years rent), the wastewater and drainage (another year+ rent), the driveway (2 -3 years rent), then there is the actual house (100m2 @ $2500m2 is $250,000), then the council development charges for subdivision ($12,000 – $100,000 depending on location) and then the price of the land…

    Thats why Auckland council can afford to spend so much on it’s little private projects, billion dollar stadiums, new glam premises for themselves and their COO’s, higher wages for the increasing amount of ‘senior’ managers apparently needed. They have not used the vast amount of money they collected in the right way, now they are crying poor.

    What the F happened to all the money they collected as per above and have been for the last decade with the building boom – you have to ask why is the price gouging fees not able to cover the new infrastructure and more and more money is being collected from tax payers and rates payer to be gifted to construction and utility companies to upgrade it now….

    So I very much doubt we can be energy efficient, because words are not actions and the actions of our government and local government is to get their information straight from the sectors themselves who just say, give us more money and regulation to help us get more money from ordinary people…

    What happened the petrol price fixing for example. My guess is a little talk and then nothing from government.

    The government focus seem to be gathering more money from ordinary people on behalf of the lobbyists and lowering wages by bringing in cheap unskilled labour to keep the Ponzi going with more people and then helpfully they leave satellite families behind (with free education and healthcare), once gaining permanent residency/citizenship and those overseas wages can afford to buy more million dollar houses.

    Sadly this does not go well even in places with 60 million people like the UK… we have 4. 5 million so it’s going to happen a lot quicker in NZ.. if the routs are allowed to continue unabated…

    The new MSM messages seems to be middle class and poor, abandon ship in Auckland, and be pushed out to the provinces leaving a new political class of neoliberals in Auckland controlling 30% of the vote.

    Even the assets appropriated by the state such as Unitech and built with public money are being sold with few questions asked… why are they being sold when affordable rental housing is becoming non existent in Auckland?

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    We need aggregated strategy that includes more than generators.

    Which means a state owned monopoly as it’s the only way that we can achieve what you want.

    • pat 3.1

      “The process that drives the collapse of civilizations has a surprisingly simple basis: the mismatch between the maintenance costs of capital and the resources that are available to meet those costs. Capital here is meant in the broadest sense of the word, and includes everything in which a civilization invests its wealth: buildings, roads, imperial expansion, urban infrastructure, information resources, trained personnel, or what have you. Capital of every kind has to be maintained, and as a civilization adds to its stock of capital, the costs of maintenance rise steadily, until the burden they place on the civilization’s available resources can’t be supported any longer.”

      http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/the-limits-to-growth-described-in.html

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Capital of every kind has to be maintained, and as a civilization adds to its stock of capital, the costs of maintenance rise steadily, until the burden they place on the civilization’s available resources can’t be supported any longer.”

        It can be supported but the rich are taking all the resources for themselves thus preventing the needed maintenance. We see that in National’s and Labour’s tax cuts over the last thirty years and the state of Middlemore hospital.

        • pat 3.1.1.1

          the wealthy’s actions only impact the speed not the direction….it is as inevitable as night follows day….and its happening in your community as we write…..rates rise anyone?

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1

            it is as inevitable as night follows day

            No it’s not.

            What needs to happen is the true reporting of costs so that the people can see that the governments isn’t spending enough.

            rates rise anyone?

            This is buying into the RWNJ meme that taxes are theft. This is the reason why our infrastructure fails.

            You’re part of the problem.

            • pat 3.1.1.1.1.1

              lol…you’re an idiot…of course im part of the problem…as are you and everyone else

              • Draco T Bastard

                I’m not the one saying that we can’t maintain the infrastructure that we build while complaining about rate increases. The simple fact of the matter is that we don’t have high enough rates or taxes to pay for maintenance. If we did we would be able to maintain it.

                What that means in practical economic terms is that we need to shift more people into maintenance of our infrastructure from unemployed and BS jobs. We have the resources we’re just misusing them or even not using them at all.

                • pat

                  What percentage of gov income should be spent on capital items per budget would you suggest?….hint ,theres no wrong answer

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    It shouldn’t be a percentage – it should be enough to build and maintain the infrastructure.

                    Do that across all government services and then adjust taxes to meet it.

                    Not hard.

                    Of course, that will have the rich complaining that they’re paying too much taxes – just like you have been.

                    • pat

                      too much taxes huh…..how much is too much?….how about we forget ‘money’….how about resources?…both labour and material…..even a modest 10 % capital investment rate (local gov run around 40%) at say an again modest general 3% p.a.maintenance budget would have us using 20% of output after 33 years ….exponential growth…..ultimately all resources and labour will be required solely for maintenance of existing infrastructure….of course we wont reach that point because…catabolic collapse.

                      Local government are unable to provide and maintain services at current funding levels….what do you think will be the response if funding increased 10% or even more?…..a large proportion will simply be unable to pay….you have a choice…fund it adequately and destroy your funding base….or underfund it at an affordable level and watch it fail….guess what we’re doing?

                      Physics dont care about taxation

  4. saveNZ 4

    USA uses TPP-like trade-court to kill massive Indian solar project

    https://boingboing.net/2016/03/13/usa-uses-tpp-like-trade-court.html

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      That’s an old one but a good example of how the WTO and FTAs actually prevent the development of local nations, their resources and their people.

  5. saveNZ 5

    USA uses TPP-like trade-court to kill massive Indian solar project

    https://boingboing.net/2016/03/13/usa-uses-tpp-like-trade-court.html

  6. Bill 6

    Just on that electric vehicle front.

    Less than 1% of vehicles are electric at the moment and only 1.2% of registrations are for electric vehicles. So 85% in 30 years seems a bit of an ask at first glance.

    Oh. And if 85% of the 4 million cars in use at present are to be electric, then where is the capacity to charge them going to be coming from? Is there some major roll-out of supply side electrical infrastructure going on that I’m not aware of? (Only about 20% of our current energy needs have an electrical source, suggesting a need to increase electricity generating capacity by x3 or x4)

    • Antoine 6.1

      If it happens over 30 years there will be plenty of time to build stuff.

      A.

      • Bill 6.1.1

        Really? You think some millions of electric vehicles will just appear alongside a hugely increased electric capacity one fine morning? This shit takes time.

        West Wind Farm near Wellington produces about 142MW of electricity and NZ uses near enough 10 000MW. And will need 30, 40 or 50 000MW of generating capacity.

        It took two years from the beginnings of construction to bring West Wind up to operation and provide about 1.5% of current needs. I’ve no idea how long consent and design took. But at that rate of construction we need to be bringing on line a goodly number of “West Wind’s” every year – preferably starting in some yesteryear.

        • Barfly 6.1.1.1

          Tell Rio Tinto they will be paying market price for electricity – no backhanders, subsidies, sweeteners – nothing…when their dummy hits the dirt….there’s a large chunk of the power needed for electric cars – though yes we will need more it will still be a good start.

          • bwaghorn 6.1.1.1.1

            How you going to replace the 1000 of jobs whan you drive Rio tinto out

          • Antoine 6.1.1.1.2

            > Tell Rio Tinto they will be paying market price for electricity – no backhanders, subsidies, sweeteners – nothing

            The Government doesn’t have the power to decree that.

            A.

        • Antoine 6.1.1.2

          > But at that rate of construction we need to be bringing on line a goodly number of “West Wind’s” every year – preferably starting in some yesteryear.

          Let’s not, in case the estimated uptake of EVs turns out to be an overestimate (which I think we both suspect it will).

          Generation is expensive, we don’t want to be building far more than we need, that money is best used elsewhere.

          A.

          • Ad 6.1.1.2.1

            The only thing worse than too much electricity capacity, is too little.

            The price of mineral fuel towards $3 a litre will drive some change in fleet. We can’t yet see how fast or how much until that hits.

            • Antoine 6.1.1.2.1.1

              There’s a self regulating element to all this. If generation lags then electrification will slow down. Leave the market to it

              A.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      Only about 20% of our current energy needs have an electrical source, suggesting a need to increase electricity generating capacity by x3 or x4

      If they don’t have an electrical source then where’s the power coming from?

      • Bill 6.2.1

        Mostly fossil.

        • AsleepWhileWalking 6.2.1.1

          “…85% of vehicles will be electrified by 2050”

          Its more likely that we travel 80% less by private vehicle.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.2

          75% to 80% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. Even taking into account transportation it’s not as bad as you make out which thoroughly refutes your assertion that Only about 20% of our current energy needs have an electrical source.

          • Bill 6.2.1.2.1

            You understand the difference between “where electricity comes from” and “where energy comes from”?

            • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.2.1.1

              Yes I do.

              So far I’ve been ignoring your ignorance of physical reality in that rather stupid sentence. Electricity doesn’t have an electrical source. It has an energy source. Hydro it’s gravity. Solar it’s sunlight. Fossil is chemical reactions that release heat.

              BTW, all our current energy needs are met and thus they all have an energy source.

              • Bill

                Okay draco. We use energy that comes from a variety of sources.

                This computer runs on electricity that may or may not be generated from fossil.

                In the future, all (or damned near all) energy that we consume or use is going to have to come from electricity that has been produced in a no or low carbon fashion.

                Currently, about 80% of the energy we consume or use does not come in the form of electricity or is not electricity that has been produced in a no or low carbon fashion.

                That better?

    • David Mac 6.3

      I think the increasing need for electricity to fuel electric cars may well come via the sort of industries the Greens are keen to advance: A turbine box to throw in the creek, a wind turbine or solar panels on the garage roof. Systems that will pay for themselves after X kilometres of driving.

      • bwaghorn 6.3.1

        I once looked into a micro hydro . The council wanted $2k upfront with no guarantee of getting cosent

  7. Antoine 7

    Transpower is a SOE. It can ask Government departments their opinion, but it’s by no means bound to be part of an all of Government view. I thought it was gracious of them to lean as far in the direction of renewables as they did.

    A.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Which is why we need to get rid of SoEs and make them all government departments and services again.

    • Ad 7.2

      As a 100% owned SOE their Board gets a clear Letter of Expectation from the Minister every year. If they don’t follow it they find that the Board and CE are out of a job pretty damn quickly. Most of them learn.

      • Graeme 7.2.1

        Transpower may be “directable” but once you get down the line to the local level it’s a different story.

        The local lines companies are all purely commercial entities, thanks Max. And as far as I know are universally obstructive of any development that threatens their monopoly position and opportunity to charge premiums at peak times. If you know of a lines company that encourages distributed small scale generation I’d love to know, because our local certainly doesn’t.

        • Ad 7.2.1.1

          Yes that was the point I made there about lack of focus on regulation or on lines companies. Their behaviour resisting even incremental regulation is just shit.

          • Graeme 7.2.1.1.1

            Have been giving the Transpower report a more thorough read and notice some very careful language around entities at the utility level.

          • Antoine 7.2.1.1.2

            > Their behaviour resisting even incremental regulation is just shit.

            Example?

            A.

      • Antoine 7.2.2

        > As a 100% owned SOE their Board gets a clear Letter of Expectation from the Minister every year.

        Presumably the next such letter of expectation will say they should conform with the Government’s policy of carbon transition, and I think they can happily say they’ve done that, in this regard.

        A.

        • Ad 7.2.2.1

          As I pointed out it will take a lot more than one Letter Of Expectation to form a coherent strategy.

          Most of the political energy required to achieve strategic coherence in energy falls to Minister Shaw.

          That requires an actual carbon transition plan.

          Then it requires massive political force, which is not evident in this government yet.

  8. DH 8

    It’s a bit long at 64 pages but a quick skim found an interesting proposition of using EV vehicles to power the home at peak times and ease the base load.

    It makes a theoretical sense but I can’t see people being keen on it, IMO they’d be too concerned about shortening the battery life and reducing the car travel distance.

    • Graeme 8.1

      We’re still very early in the transition from one mode of transport to a new one, and a centralised electricity generation / transmission model towards a distributed model.

      Quite where we are on that path we don’t know yet, but comparing it to the transition from horse to automobile I’d put us at closer to the De Dion steamer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Dion-Bouton#Steam_cars than the Model T. That development took 10 -15 years and after that the horse’s days where pretty much over.

      Where things will be in 10 – 20 years is hard to comprehend but it will almost certainly be away from centralised networks and ICE towards distributed generation and storage and most likely EVs. But the technology we see now is most likely transitional.

    • Antoine 8.2

      > It makes a theoretical sense but I can’t see people being keen on it

      It can be done but it needs coordination and a good share of the $$$ needs to sheet home to the vehicle owner.

      A.

  9. Jackel 9

    Well the horse is a fine animal. I think we should bring back the horse and cart. There’s progress and then there’s real progress. So if we’re being consistent then our technology should never get ahead of our virtue. But then when did the naked ape ever listen to sense.

  10. Jackel 10

    Well the horse is a fine animal. I think we should bring back the horse and cart. There’s progress and then there’s real progress. So if we’re being consistent then our technology should never get ahead of our virtue. But then the naked ape never did listen to sense. The mirror should never have been invented.

    • Jackel 10.1

      Gosh with mistakes like that they’ll put me in a state house in Epsom with well-heeled dodgy neighbors. Robots and wise guys, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  11. Philg 11

    Thanks Jackel,
    There’s the Problem and the answer, front and centre, just look in the mirror!

    • Jackel 11.1

      I wish it were as simple as looking in the mirror. However the problem is they chatter but never speak. Cannon fodder for the hollow men party.

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