Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Everyone's got an energy strategy: What we're short of is energy!

Government 'energy strategy' follows government 'energy strategy.' The first 'energy strategy' released this week was touted as "an ambitious plan mapped out by the Government to fight climate change." Not just "ambitious," but fashionable as well! Not a hard-headed energy strategy to produce more of the energy we desperately need, but a feelgood one to fight a fiction -- and that will make the production of energy more difficult.

'Government energy strategy may lift power prices 20pc': That headline pretty much sums up the effect of Energy Minister David Parker's strategy of promoting untested renewables, and the construction of a further financial barrier to using power is perhaps the only part of the strategy that will happen, and it indicates pretty accurately the real thrust of the strategy -- not to produce more power, but to to produce what we do now in different ways, and to consume less.

Not so much an energy strategy then, but a strategy for not so much energy. A sort of Think-Not-So-Big.

And what of those "different ways"? It consists of the government picking energy winners -- and we've all seen how well governments pick those. The chief executives of NZ's power producers put paid to many of these 'winners' -- "underestimating the cost" was the leitmotif. Crusader Rabbit looks askance at one of the 'winners': a car you plug in. "Motorists will be charging their electric cars at kerbside power points within five years under an ambitious plan mapped out by the Government..." Spare us, please, from the "ambitious plans" of governments! Notes the Crusader:
Hospital waiting lists grow ever longer, there's no possibility of tax relief (despite a record suplus of funds ripped off from the taxpayer), pensioners can't afford to use their heaters in winter.... But these effing morons can promote a useless plan to combat a non-existent threat at enormous cost to those of us who actually work for a living.
And what then of that other strategy? Titled 'Get Smart, Think Small,' this one is produced by the Parliamentary Commissioner of the Environment Morgan Williams, and was tabled in Parliament yesterday. This one makes more sense; it suggests that "small scale energy schemes should be considered, instead of relying upon large generation projects." Why not? Alternative technologies are best tried small, and many of them have the potential to function better and more efficiently at a small scale - and working small is the best way for the market to test the alternatives, rather than building Muldoonist headline-hogging white elephants.

In fact it's only government action that has and still does discourage the flourishing of alternative microgeneration technologies. There's no reason at all that in the absence of historical, large-scale, headline-grabbing government power-generation projects that microgeneration projects wouldn't have been more common in the past, and to my mind there's only one reason microgeneration projects aren't more common now: government regulation.

The Resource Management Act hands to large power producers a stick with which to beat any potential microgenerator -- and it's a stick that the government's generators have eagerly used right from day one, hiring consultants to find and slap down new, small, private generation projects. And council District Plans written under the RMA hardly encourage the building of microgenerators; quite the opposite.

If Mr Williams was to suggest government getting out of the way of microgeneration (and of macrogeneration) then I'd suggest he really is on to something. But he's not.

Everyone's got an energy strategy. If government got out of the way of anyone who has and who wants to implement it, we might not be facing an impending shortage of power, which is our real energy problem.

Warned Alan Jenkins from the Electricity Networks Association in 2005, after the decision to minimise Genesis's water right to the Whanganui river (a decision taken "to protect the 'mauri' of the river"):
The principal objective of having enough power to meet demand is steadily being eroded. "It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word...hydro is suddenly becoming too hard... [oil is becoming too expensive] what's left?...we can't do everything on windpower," says Jenkins. And if there's no power, there's no industry -- and industry is our real lifeblood. So this decision demands that our own real lives are being sacrificed for the mystical life force of Ken Mair's river. Such is the RMA.
Such is result of the current state-endorsed religion of environmentalism. As I've said for some time, the Kyoto Protocol and the RMA between them are an anti-industrial dream team that will leave us without the power to power industry. It's time to wake up from the dream before it really does become a nightmare.

UPDATE: Liberty Scott has released his own four-point energy strategy today. It won't take long to read. :-)

LINKS: Government energy strategy may lift power prices 20pc - Stuff
Local approach to energy suggested - Newswire
Microgeneration - Wikipedia
Small is beautiful
- UK Microgeneration Blog
No power, again - Not PC (June, 2006)
Still no power - Not PC (April, 2006)
We've got the power - or have we? - Not PC (Sept, 2005)
No Power - Not PC (July, 2005)

Energy, RMA, Environment, Religion, Global_Warming


  1. Heh - at least you weren't there to listen to the strategy being released in Auckladn yesterday.

    Was quite disgusted at the way the Minister fobbed off Bryan Leyland's questions like they weren't worthy of an answer.

  2. Right on.

    I'm very interested in microgeneration - makes sense on all fronts.

    Of course, if they intend to do anything about it, it won't be something sensible like ceasing to tax it. There will be "carbon initiatives" and "no sunbeam left behind" and another Wellington office building filled with bureaucrats to administer it.

  3. I wonder if anyone in this government is aware that Meridian now owns 95% of WhisperTech, a world leader in distributed co-generation technology based in Christchurch. Probably not, the concept is a bit too sensible to be understood by the current bunch of MPs.


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