Monday, 15 October 2007

When the wind doesn't blow

The Government's non-energy strategy -- banning the construction of fossil fuel power stations and insisting NZers rely instead on wind and other "renewables" for energy -- has inspired a reinterpretation of Raymond Briggs' cold-war story-telling...

UPDATE: Thank the gods that at least one person in the mainstream media has recognised that "placing the country’s energy security in jeopardy is foolhardy indeed." Press political reporter Colin Espiner declares "Labour’s new energy strategy barks like a dog. The strategy [is] two 100-page volumes filled with Pollyanna-ish claptrap..."

Stripping away the pages of numbers and formulae and meaningless hyperbole such as “New Zealand’s quest for sustainability” and talk of a “carbon neutral nation”, what the strategy does is put some flesh on the bones of Labour’s previous pledges to halve emissions from the transport sector by 2040 and to have 90 percent of electricity produced by renewable energy sources from 2025.
But when you strip them down you find these are bones without any muscle, any flesh, or any lifeblood for an industrial country like this one. Renewables are a pipe dream. When it comes to renewables, "wind farms suffer from the NIMBY syndrome" (and the need to provide reliable new power stations for baseload backup, and "major scale hydro projects are unlikely," which rather wildly understates the unlikelihood.
Demand for power is growing at 2% a year. The energy strategy states this will fall to 1.5%, which is an arguable point, but even accepting this, that means that over the 18 years before 2025 the country will require 27% more energy than it currently has available just to maintain the status quo. Add immigration, economic growth, and Kiwis’ seemingly insatiable desire for new electronic gadgetry into the equation, and it’s starting to look a little dodgy. Given that the security of our energy supply is already questionable (remember the cold showers and the brownouts every time there is a “dry year”?) and the Government’s decision to [ban the construction of new coal and gas power stations and] can the 500MW Rodney station has a whiff of political craziness about it.
It's more than just crazy, it's suicidal.

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