Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods talks up NZ's comparative advantage producing renewable energy, but can't say how quickly its production can be scaled up 

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods talks up NZ's comparative advantage producing renewable energy, but can't say how quickly its production can be scaled up 

By Jenée Tibshraeny

The Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods admits she can’t be sure there will be enough affordable clean energy available to fill the gap left when New Zealand’s natural gas reserves run out as soon as within the next 10 years.

Around 14% of New Zealand’s energy demands are currently met by gas. We produce all the gas we use and export some of our gas largely by turning it into methanol first. Setting up the infrastructure to import gas would be very costly, likely in the billions.

Speaking to interest.co.nz in a Double Shot Interview, the Minister makes the point that our supply of natural gas was going to be depleted this decade regardless of her recently announced ban of new offshore oil and gas exploration.

Yet she notes there is still 100,000 square kilometres of acreage that can be explored, with the conditions of permits currently held by oil and gas companies remaining the same.

The Minister doesn't accept the view that the ban will reduce companies’ confidence in investing in new production projects.

“If there is going to be a resource there that can be exploited, there will be people that want to take advantage of that. People have spent a lot of money getting to this point already, with some likelihood. So, we have no reason to expect they won’t be exploited,” she says.

Woods recognises the fact that even if a producer makes a find, the chance of it being at a level high enough for it to be economic to exploit, is only around 10% to 15%.

Furthermore, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) notes that under existing permits, explorers only have until 2022 to decide whether or not they want to drill.

Potential for wind energy to increase its share of NZ’s energy production beyond 1.2%

Pressed further to provide evidence of forecasts and studies that have been done around the capacity of New Zealand’s renewable energy sector, the Minister points to a draft report published by the Productivity Commission last week, Low-emissions economy.

She notes the report says renewables can’t currently provide the security of supply at affordable rates.

Yet it points to the potential of wind energy, which according to Woods, New Zealand can produce at an increasingly low cost.

She says there is a lot of capacity that has already been consented, but hasn’t been built.

Asked to provide figures around the role wind energy currently plays in New Zealand, and how this is expected to increase in the future, the Minister says, “I don’t have that number right in front of me, but we can get that through to you.”

Wind constitutes 1.2% of all New Zealand’s energy production.

Interest.co.nz cannot find data to show what portion of the country’s energy needs wind meets. It can however confirm that 10.7% of the country’s energy needs are met by renewables, including wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, liquid biofuels, biogas and wood.

Geothermal energy could be used in aluminium and methanol production  

Woods says New Zealand has a strategic advantage when it comes to the production of geothermal energy.

Geothermal energy makes up 28.1% of our energy production. Putting aside the geothermal energy converted to other forms of energy like electricity, it makes up 1.3% of the energy we consume. 

“We see other countries that are blessed with this resources that are making huge gains from doing it,” she says.

“We see that Iceland’s built a whole economic development strategy around things like producing aluminium from its geothermal reserves; that it’s also doing a lot of research and started some production around making methanol from its geothermal feedstock.

“We have consented capacity that we are yet to realise in the central North Island, which is also where we know a lot of the capacity has to go."

Providing on-call electricity generation to remain a challenge

Looking at electricity, 85% of this is generated from renewable energy.

The Productivity Commission in its report says, “In the longer term, new technology should enable even more electricity to be generated at reasonable cost from low-emissions sources even as electrification of transport and industrial heat push up demand.

“Yet providing on-call generation to meet peaks in demand, and most importantly to provide energy in dry years, will remain a challenge…

“The Government should be cautious about setting stringent targets for electricity sector emissions before technology becomes available to further reduce emissions at reasonable cost.”

Woods admits: “One of the problems we have with our energy system in New Zealand is that we generate a whole lot of our electricity in the South Island and we consume it in the North Island."

Yet she says: “What renewables gives us is the option to actually put some of that capacity closer to where it’s going to be used and where our centres and population are.

“New Zealand’s competitive advantage in the 21st century is about the mix of renewables that we can bring. Other countries are having to rely on single sources to really provide the heft to it.”

She also credits bioenergy as playing a small but important role, and notes that the commitment the Government has made to forestry and planting more trees could potentially provide a waste stream that could be used by this sector.

Govt has been having conversations about clean energy capacity “for a long time”

However, like PEPANZ and the Solar Association of New Zealand, the Bioenergy Association says that despite its efforts to engage more with the Government, it wasn’t consulted with before the decision was made to ban new offshore oil and gas exploration.

Its CEO Brian Cox says there are a number of ways bioenergy could be used now to replace dirtier forms of energy, but the Government hasn’t expressed interest in having a conversation about these.

Woods however notes she did launch a report commissioned by the Association, which found bioenergy can replace 60% of the energy currently produced by coal. Coal meets 5% of New Zealand’s energy needs.

“These are conversations that we’ve been having for a long time around what capacity there is in New Zealand,” she says.

“I think there’s quite a misunderstanding around what transitions planning is… [It’s not] turning up on the day with a glossy document, slapping it on the table, and saying, here’s the future. 

“Transitions planning is about governments putting in place the resource so that we can work beside the people on the ground who this is going to affect.”

Woods has instructed the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to start setting up a “transitions unit” to work on energy. She can’t confirm how many people are going to be in the unit.

Woods can’t specify impact replacing gas use will have on emissions

The Minister says there are too many unknowns to put a figure on the extent to which carbon emissions will be reduced under different scenarios of gas being replaced by cleaner energy.

Woods is aware that 39% of New Zealand’s emissions come from the energy sector as a whole, so says a breakdown of what portion is attributed to gas could be made from there.

“That is exactly what the independent Climate Commission will be doing with its carbon budgets,” she says.

Asked what she makes of the fact the Productivity Commission didn’t mention banning oil and gas exploration in its 500-page report on transitioning to a low-carbon economy, Woods points out a problem it identifies is the limitations of replacing coal with gas. 

The report says only industrial heat users in the North Island can convert coal-based heat production to gas, as there isn't any reticulated gas available in the South Island. 

What Woods fails to reference is the sentence before the one explaining this limitation, which says replacing coal with natural gas in North Island industrial process heat plants is estimated (by First Gas) to reduce carbon emissions by 41%.

Woods shares Mark Carney’s concerns around stranded assets

Looking at the bigger picture, Woods is pleased the report “sounds a very strong warning” around the extent to which the world needs to reduce its use of oil, gas and coal.

“Globally, between 60% and 80% of the coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies cannot be used to have an 80% chance of limiting peak warming to 2°C [above pre-industrial levels],” the report says, referencing comments made by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

Woods also recognises the risk raised by Carney around a rapid transition to cleaner energy leaving coal, oil and gas producers with “stranded assets” they can’t use.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Adrian Orr likewise acknowledges this risk, and the potential impact it could have on New Zealand’s financial stability.

The Minister maintains it’s imperative strong signals are sent to investors about the transition that's being made. 

Govt to focus on buying EVs

Turning now to oil, it meets 46% of New Zealand’s energy needs and is mostly used for transport. Transport is responsible for 18% of the country’s gross carbon emissions.

We import all the oil we use and export the oil we produce.

Asked about the Productivity Commission’s recommendations around the Government playing a part in increasing the uptake of electric vehicles, the Minister makes a general comment that New Zealand needs to address how we feed our second-hand car market.

“New Zealanders buy their cars second-hand, and I think one of the most important things we can turn our attention to is procurement and fleet purchasing in terms of making sure we have affordable electric vehicles available for people to buy,” she says.

The Minister clarifies that introducing a “feebate” scheme, through which importers would either pay a fee or receive a rebate, depending on the emissions intensity or fuel efficiency of the imported vehicle, is the Productivity Commission’s idea, not government policy.

The Commission also suggest imports of new and used fossil-fuel vehicles should be required to meet rigorous emissions standards.

It is seeking feedback on whether we should go further and phase out the import of all fossil-fuel vehicles by a specified date.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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71 Comments

This Minister is a great talker. No doubt about that. [Unnecessary insult removed. Ed]

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Talking up Iceland's progress seems odd. Iceland is tiny, even compared with New Zealand (about the size of Christchurch). The proportion of their electricity from geothermal is large, but the amounts are small. New Zealand currently produces a +20% more than Iceland does right now.

It will be interesting to see how Iceland's electricity sector and related industry is affected once it is connected to the European grid...

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This government operates in a parallel world where facts and figures are weapons of oppression by right wingers. I don't believe they would read a cost/benefit analysis even had they ordered one. It's all about feelings and being seen to be the greenest country ever. The Green party has no understanding of how fossil fuels drive economies and will continue to do so, for many years. Meanwhile in the last ten years, Scandinavia has quietly moved back to diesel boilers for home heating, rather than 'renewable' wood pellets. Why? Because diesel is cheaper and loads more efficient. Those Scandis like to be green but not at the expense of comfort and efficiency. NZ should take note and not throw its economy under the bus trying to virtue signal to the world.

Excellent questioning! Very terrier like!
Yep. This proves that this minister is incredibly naive.
Not only does the gas have to be replaced but so too would the coal that fires Huntly.
In a dry year scenario where it's not raining and not windy the Generation Expansion Model shows that a huge amount of open cycle gas fired plant is not merely desirable, its absolutely necessary in order to avoid widespread power cuts. Particularly once the old Huntly units are retired.
The amount of new renewables required would be very expensive what with second grade geothermal and remote windfarms requiring long transmission lines. But after spending all this money sure, you may get away with 100% in a wet windy year, but in other years there will be a huge spike in carbon produced by all the inefficient gas fired fast-start plants.
Particularly once electric cars become popular.

I agree... Jenee asked some great questions, in a lovely, direct, terrier like way.!
She could have a future as a TV interviewer.

That spreadsheet in the primary article is a good example of the lies, damn lies and statistics. Look at the numbers for geothermal. It is both absolutely correct and totally useless. Because geothermal is a low grade energy source, most of the heat produced (which is what the spreadsheet records) goes into heating the atmosphere. That is why it is over 20 times larger than wind. Electricity should be in GWh and energy as tonnes of oil equivalent.

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Pretty clear that they didn't do their homework in opposition, and are now just winging it. A bit more solemn and well considered contemplation of tech and economics without enviro-zealotry would be welcome

Ultimately, all wealth relies on energy being available. No energy no work, no work nothing done.

Fossilised sunlight was the most compact source of energy, easily transportable, and with the advantage that the oxygen is available wherever you are. But the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) of fossilised sunlight has been dropping ever since we tapped into it. Because we use the best of anything, first. That is compounded by the fact that we tapped into it at exponentially-increasing rates.

So now we are about half-way through the resource (peak of light sweet crude was back in 2005/6) in physical terms, so one doubling-time left. At 3%, that would be 24 years to all-gone. But we're also down in EROEI terms to fracturing rock and deep-water offshore.

Atop this, we built a fiscal sysem which ignores depletion of finite resources, ignores pollution if it can, and fudges sustainability with growth, sometimes in the same sentence. The system expands due to ever-more debt being issued, the expectation is therefore that the future must deliver more. More stuff, more work, more energy required.
But the remaining energy cannot even underwrite the currently-held debt, and the supply is going to become both worse and more-contested. Ultimately, we are looking a global war(s) and massive population-reduction(s).
And a global fiscal meltdown. And ultimately, we will end up with renewable energy, because there will be no alternative.

I suspect this Minister knows all this. Pity our media baulks at asking the only question in town: How do we create a fiscal system which fits with a finite planet and with the survival of future generations? Because the current one sure doesn't, and can't have long to run given the ever-less-energy underwrite.

Powerdownkiwi is quite correct in his view. Indeed, as are many of the well informed movers and shakers on this planet as evidenced by their changes in investments. Already our insurance industry is warning that properties close to sea level will become inceasingly unensurable.

@powerdwonkiwi , as you say ............ "No energy no work, no work nothing done." and no no work equals no tax to collect to hand to those who dont have work

Once people start using the phrase "in the 21st century" the bullsheet alarm bells start going off in my head.

... we ought to tweet President Donald Trump that the 21'st century needs a leader ... a true innovator .... someone to lead the way in renewable energy ...

And the best way to achieve that end result is to increase the sun's output .... make " Big Yella " accountable for slacking off ...

... send up some weapons of mass destruction to prompt the Sun into action ...

Or else !

Ding-a-ling

There is no way the leader of the free world should be dicking around communicating via twitter.
The guy needs his head read, or at least get a new set of media advisors.

Yes , we only need to look to the GOP for real answers!

I noted that Ms Woods channeled Donald Rumsfeld with her unknown unknowns. She was also buzzword bullshit, delivered in an uninterruptable babble. There was nothing of substance in it. It could easily be summed up as "we have made these decisions, we don't know what will happen as we haven't done the work, but we think everything should be OK."

If I was an explorer or potential producer, Labours' decision would make me take a big step back in committing to what is a Capital intensive business.
It would make me wonder if already discovered reserves which are not economic today, are in jeopardy in regards to bringing them to production in yrs to come..??

Lets face it, with the pace in which the renewable energy market is developing it is probably unrealistic to produce any meaningful future proofed report showing how this energy transition will happen. But it is also unrealistic saying that the current transition from fossil fuels is happening at anywhere near the pace we desperately need it to. Climate change is not waiting for us all to be in a nice convenient situation to switch.
My problem with all these commentators criticizing the governments policy on this, is that they are making out like we not in a desperate situation. Banning future oil and gas exploration is not a plan A for anyone, but we are not in plan A territory anymore. If the worlds governments don't react faster Jenee's grandchildren will be facing a future a lot bleaker than ours. If you don't like the governments plan then suggest another or just get out of the way because ignoring climate change is simply not an option!

When the powers that be (UN) address exploding populations in badly resourced and corrupt countries, I might be more amenable to considering the effects of climate change. In the meantime it is naive to think anything New Zealand does could affect climate change, while much larger economies continue to expand their carbon footprints. So why should we be first to exit fossil fuels and damage our grandchildren's economic future?

In every country in the world there are people saying just what you have said ( and you are not completely wrong ) If all of theses countries governments listen to this argument then it's game over, as they all will use everyone else behavior as an excuse not to act. We have just seen the largest economy and green house gas pollutant in the world try to use your ( it will only make a small difference ) argument as reasonnot a reason to act.
The truth is "fmr ca": If everybody uses your logic then we are signing a death warrant to future generation. Is this what you are suggesting?

Well, here is the point ... we don't know if we are signing their death warrant Jamin!... there is no solid proof other than the propaganda machine that is blowing this trumpet day and night.

Countries laugh at or draw out from this scheme and idea for good reasons ... It is not a given fact that there is a global warming ( forget climate change) and NO ONE knows for sure that we will have a 2 deg increase etc.... so for the ones who do not follow this emotional blackmail , it is all BS and putting a price on a something we cannot see or feel to milk the sheeples all around the world.

But, shooting ourselves in the foot and crying wolf decades before anything is proven to happen sounds like stupid and foolish to me.

How many dollars are invested in research proving that Global Warming is NOT a fact or a possibility versus the amount of money forked out for reports and research to the contrary ?

Follow the money Jamin - people are not stupid!

Green and Logic do not mix well

As Gandhi put it: 'Be the change you want to see in this world'.

But the "exploding populations in badly resourced and corrupt countries" are not the ones using up all the resources and causing the problems. It's the over consumption of the so called first world that needs to change.

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Sea level is rising at about 2mm a year (median of tide guages around the world), a rate that is almost unchanged since the 1860s, with about 1/3rd of it coming from melting ice caps - specifically Greenland as Antartica is long-term gaining ice, another 1/3rd from sea water thermal expansion and last 1/3rd from agricultural pumping (which will stop in a few decades as aquifiers get drawn down.

tidal guages: http://notrickszone.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/C_11.gif

Upper levels of Ocean(measured by Argo buoys) are increasing by about 0.03°C per year - which is unimportant over even century time scales. But which ultimately clamps the maximum rate of global warming as well.

Note also that increased CO2 has made plants massively faster growing - supporting more mouths, and has also shrunk deserts (Sahal et al) as higher CO2 reduces water requirements for plants in arid conditions. Tropics can't/won't get significantly hotter due to exponentially higher evaporation of water that effectively clamps sea temperatures to a maximum of about 30°C, we might get slightly increased temperatures in temperate regions - which is fantastic for agriculture.

And now the world has begun a quite obvious transition to renewables you really need to find a real problem to worry about - AI, 3rd world population explosion, antibiotic resistance, biodiversity, the next great pandemic... because all the empirical data indicates that global warming simply isn't a significant problem for humanity.

Hmm I can see an Onion headline here " actual scientist disagrees with climate change denier " Who would have thought!

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/103664849/earths-carbon-dioxide-levels-con...

Well said Jamin. If these climate change protesters realised how stupid they sound to those that have a real grasp on what is really happening they would shut up.

That’s rich considering Foyle and Profile have absolutely ‘owned’ you on these discussions.

Absolute codswallop Ex Expat. They use old data sets to minimise the true effects of CURRENT sea level rises. Such increases are now exponential rather than lineal as reported in February by NASA. Over coming decades there will be a retreat from the sea in places such as Christchurch, Dunedin and Thames etc. Our insurance industry is certainly taking such issues very seriously.
https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2680/new-study-finds-sea-level-rise-accele...

Just more proof this government has done zero research or planning for this transition and is currently doing nothing to help develop alternative energy sources. If it was as easy as saying "We want to be carbon Neutral, with no economic impacts" every country would have done it. One of our geothermal power stations actually emits more C02 than a gas fired plant equivalent.

This is very poor policy making by the government.

I am all for NZ eventually reaching zero net carbon but it needs to be done at the lowest possible cost.

This can be best be achieved by letting the carbon price determine whether or not there should be fossil fuel exploration.

South Australia has proved, in spades, that smelters cannot be run on sunshine and breezes. And despite the wind spruikers, it's increasingly apparent that the MBTF for these behemoths is closer to 10-15 years than 25. Plus, as the percentage of unreliable generation in the mix increases, the requirement to have spinning standby on tap, correspondingly increases. That's not a real issue for NZ if....

Our best hope for an energy revolution (in terms of what source gets used to what end) is for Tiwai to close, and its 17% of total electricity consumption put to transport etc use.

Selling that notion to Southland, with the 'Naki's bleak future minus oil and gas in all-too-recent focus, is gonna be a tricky task for any Gubmint, let alone one composed of, let's be kind, pollies with zero-to-low experience learning on the job, on our dime.

The meme arising from SA's and Germany's 'unreliables' experiments is that we need to let engineers and other logical types design power grids, place generation sources, and decide where and of what type.

Not politicians and zealots.

Good luck with all that Transition, however, because they are all still at the 'We Know Best' stage. Which, from the article and interview, clearly includes the 'Plan? we don't need no stinkin' Plan' confidence....

Invercargill is a safe National seat, but there is a material level of Labour and NZ First support. I vote to close Tiwai. It’s unfortunate collateral damage but if it’s ok for the Naki is going to take the pain, then why not another regional centre? /Sarc

So you vote to get rid of another billion a year in Aluminium exports, on top of the several billions we will lose from murdered oil and gas industry. NZ already runs a balance of payments deficit of about 2-3% of GDP (say 7 billion a year, with a lot of up and down), while enjoying near record export commodity prices, and has a growing population who demand lots of expensive foreign sourced toys.
https://www.interest.co.nz/news/86520/nz-current-account-deficit-narrows...
My question is: just where are we going to find all the extra billions in exports we need to balance the books, without selling ~$10billion a year worth of NZ assets to foreign owners? With all the growing offshore interest payment remittances that such sales or borrowing will accumulate.

Maybe by Selling Infrastructure, and other things ...like our green clean backside ... what else is left there to sell that hasn't got a Carbon price on?

I am really apoled when some just simply announce: close this and stop that with little or no thought given to any consequence, as if rich dad will always take care of them when they starve!

Sorry, I forgot the /Sarc identifier. I don’t think the COL has the political capital to do anything meaningful. It’s all virtue signalling from an incompetent and unprepared government. They know that they are toast if they upset the centre swing voters and there’s nowhere to go with this.

That's an amazing amount of spin you've put on that.
Read the SA review, and it says that now that they have adjusted some safety shut down settings on the windfarms they would not have a system shutdown if they had the same weather event again. It was caused by a protective setting on the windfarms shutting down 456MW of generation after a series of faults on the transmission network. Turning the setting from 3 ridethru faults to 10 should mean it won't happen again. Amognst other changes. Oh, and now with the Hornsdale Tesla battery system they have a huge frequency keeping reserve. It was a failure of system engineering rather than a failure of generation/transmission capability.

And Germanys problem is shutting down the nuclear generation, which is being replaced with more coal generation. Can't blame solar/wind for that.

There were several major failings identified in the final report as to why SA went black. The low voltage ridethrough was just one. The major reason and the one that actually caused the trip was lack of inertia. The rate of cnge of frequency was too great for the staged cuts to load. Hornsdale would not fix the situation in similar circumstances to what happened then. The line from Vic was running at about 700MW. Hornsdale is only 100MW. It might take a few more milli-seconds but SA would still die. AEMO fixed it by mandating a number of GTs having to stay running and wind gets dispatched off.
With regards Germany, the problem there is the subsidies paid to wind and solar have totally distorted the market. The price for normal power stations doesn't cover the cost of operation. Their domestic power price is about third highest (SA is highest, funny that). The cost of those payments to the renewables has meant that fuel poverty is real and increasing. Power intensive industries are also leaving.

You mean inertia like hornsdale windfarm can provide? https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/australian-first-trial-shows...

Hornsdale cannot provide inertia, and the fact that you quote a newspaper shows your lack of understanding. It can provide a very quick MW injection response to a drop in frequency, akin to the droop that normal machines' governors provide and just like the coal fired stations provided during the recent Loy Yang trip. Horsdale provided 8MW, Gladstone 100MW.
When Kogan Creek tripped some days later, as well as providing some MW support, Hornsdale caused high system voltages - some recorded 268V in downtown Adelaide.

http://www.ee.co.za/article/synthetic-inertia-grids-high-renewable-energ...
https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/renewables/can-synthetic-ine...

Yes, Gladstone is huge, and Hornsdale is tiny, not surprising Gladstone provided a lot more power, i suspect it's also on a lower impedance path to Victoria than Hornsdale, but i CBF trying to understand Australia distribtuon network architecture tonight, and I know i have forgotten a lot since I last studied power networks many years ago.

Yes, its new, and there are going to be intergration issues and technical standards to hammer out, but once battery backed renewables are widespread their wont be much of a need for spinning synchronous generation as a backup.

Those two articles you linked to are only theory papers saying it could be done. And even they call it synthetic. Inertia also stops rapid frequency rise on the generator side of the trip, which batteries can't do.
If you read the reports, Hornsdale was losing money most days it has been in service so far. And its rating is only 30MW for dispatch purposes
https://2dvriazy5as2cpf171km7oj1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uplo... I think almost all its income came from 5 events. On the other hand Gladstone was running all the time generating real power and both inertia and droop was there as a bonus.

Yes the Minister's comments on Iceland show how little she knows. NZ already produces more geothermal Electricity than them. It is just their grid is so small. Most of their power, especially that for the smelters is produced by their hydro. Most of the geothermal potential she waxes lyrical about is from fields that have protection orders on them or are unproven resources. All those wind farm consents won't be taken up. Whoever builds the farms needs just as much generation on standby as the wind is so unreliable. They don't want to be buying from the market on those July nights. And they aren't getting cheaper. They still have to be subsidized to produce. That is why they aren't being built in "free" markets.

Dead right. Windfarms and solar in themselves might appear cheap but as the proportion of them increases past what our (small) hydro lakes can back up, if you couple the cost of them with the backup generation required, the story starts to look incredibly stupidly expensive. Getting to 100% reliable renewables would make NZ electricity prices the highest in the world. And you can't have huge amounts more geothermal otherwise you would start having to back off that generation at offpeak times. Madness.

Do not forget the RMA constraints on river / lake flows and levels that impose serious constraints on generation.

Do not assume all wind shortfalls over 2 -3 day periods - when a big anticyclone sits over NZ with little wind can be made up with hydro.

We live in a very long country. If it's windy/cloudy/wet somewhere it's the opposite elsewhere. WInd is very reliable year on year and unreliable day to day. Hydro has dud years but can throttle up and down in minutes so a great battery and balancer. Homeowners with panels and Mr Musks batteries signal an end to the paradigm of a few huge generation plants and a zillion consumers. Instead we will power our car off a roof meters from where it is parked. When plugged in 3 million cars provide a national battery resource like we have rarely considered before.
Does not seem that hard to link all that up with some smart grid and the right money flows. Using some math.
But a nightmare of course with politics and vested interests. Yep. The article is right. Megan needs some numbers and to do the sums.

PV has become very cheap - around $500/kW for the modules, but installation on a house is hugely expensive - installed cost up to about $2-3000/kW. That installation cost may not come down. So we can't rely on home PV to save us, particularly when grid companies hit home owners with huge monthly connection fees that make PV even less economic to house-owners who need a reliable source of electricity.

But as a country we are in the enviable position of having huge hydro-dam spinning reserve - with dams that can have massive and fast modulation of their power output to deal with variable renewable outputs. That makes wind and PV far more viable than in most countries. And we certainly have enough wind resource to keep the lights on economically if we can just manage our Nimby problem.

No. The proportion of hydro had dropped in recent years due to the greens. They think rivers are more important to NZ than lakes for some reason. I have no idea where the greens think economical renewable power will come from.

The distribution companies that own the lines are regulated by the Commerce Commission so don't know where you get the huge monthly connection fees.

Anyone connected pays the same - so no disadvantage to solar owners or those that install LED lighting which both generate reduced demand.

KH.
You have been reading too many tee shirts. Wind isn't reliable, even year on year. Our lakes have little storage once the head lakes (Taupo Pukaki, Tekapo are taken out. Our heaviest power demand is on frosty nights in July - no wind, no solar. Transmission lines are very expensive to build, even if you get the consents. All those electric cars would need a lot more reliable power stations to be built. And people wouldn't take kindly of not being able to go to work because there was a grid problem overnight. They have been talking smart grids for 40 years and no-one has got one to work.
How about you use some common sense and put real numbers to your assertions?

People have spent money thus far....
Sunk Costs people.

Something I haven't seen anywhere above is discussion on the efficiency of our current energy production and distribution systems. I would have thought that was a place to start so can only assume it's 100% and there is nothing we can change.

100% isn't possible, pipeline, transformers, he lines all have losses, but these losses are miniscule compared to end use losses/wastage.

Is it time yet for a new Government please please please...................

Nope, the electorate needs to feel the full pain of COL mismanagement first. Maybe even get in a recession and a housing crash as well. All good.

Is it time yet for a new Government please please please...................

Presumably your whinging tone reflects a desire to return to "do nothing" government? The government of "nothing to see here", "don't make me think too hard" and "leave me alone with my houses and my Bimmer so I can retire in comfort"? You sound just like that poor chap from Federated Farmers this morning whinging about how farmers now had to do all this "environmental stuff".

The real problem with Socialism is that you soon run out of other peoples money to spend .

Addressing inequality through redistribution sounds wonderful until you have the end result where those on handouts and welfare are still on handouts and welfare , and those who previously did not need help and looked after themselves are reduced to needing help .

You mean like Switzerland?

But you're deluding yourself if you think National is much less redistributionist than Labour. It's just the handouts have been going to different favourites - including subsidising property investors. Why hardworking Kiwis should have to subsidise property investors and company wage bills so much under a supposed right-leaning government is beyond me...

Phil Twyford is either a delusional idealist or a great visionary .

I am undecided , but I wish him well

Is there a difference ?

UPDATE: I have added a sentence clarifying that geothermal energy makes up 28.1% of energy produced in New Zealand. Previously I only said it makes up 1.3% of the energy we consume. This is correct, but it refers to pure geothermal energy and doesn't take into consideration the geothermal energy transformed into other forms of energy, like electricity. 

Jenee. That is not right, but that is because the MBIE data is not well laid out. In the body of their 2017 report (P9), they assume the transformation efficiency as only 15% and put in the comment that they use that when real data isn't available. They know the electricity generated by geothermal is7424 GWh from here http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/energy/energy-d... and then seem to have done a back calculation plus added in a bit for direct use. The actual conversion rate depends very much on field enthalpy, how much is re-injected at what temperature, and what the air or water temperature is in the condensers.
Take what they have written with a big grain of salt. Their numbers are false precision. Even the best steam and water flowmeters are only good to about ±5% according to the Standard.

Thanks for your feedback Chris. This is rather complex. Is there another source you suggest I get data from? How off do you think those geothermal figures are in the MBIE data?

I don't know what sources are out there that can give you the "right" data. but I don't know if it really relevant to the discussion. To give you an idea of the problem, the fluid at Wairakei comes out of the ground at about 1200kJ/kg and about 80% is reinjected back with an enthalpy of 400kJ/kg. That is effectively putting it back in the reservoir it came from. The rest is discharged to the environment. How should those figures be used or more to the point, what is the point of the data? I don't know and I don't think MBIE does either.

I see. So given the difficulties using the data, what words would you use to describe the contribution geothermal energy makes to meeting New Zealand's energy needs? (I assume you have some engineering expertise?). Cheers.

There are two contributions geothermal makes. The first is electrical energy, That is easy - GWh, though I am not sure if the embedded generation like at Tasman is picked up. There is no breakdown of the contributions that each station/ generator makes. To convert that to energy is relatively simple mass flow times enthalpy out of the ground minus mass flow times enthalpy back in. The data would come out of the environment monitoring reports all the stations do for the regional councils.
The supply of process heat is a different matter. Some supplies are dedicated, like say Tenon for their Kilns. Tasman gets both heat and electricity from their steam. Mokai greenhouses and Taupo Prawn Park gets fluid that has too little heat to generate any more electricity. There are places like Tikitere, Ngawha and Hamner that use geothermal to heat pools. Those there could also be done as net heat flow relative to the source. Note that water above 30°C is considered geothermal.
Taking all of the above into account, I would say the contribution of geothermal is about 15%of the power (there is about 500GWh difference between what is generated and what is used each year from losses) and maybe 3- 5% of process heat. It would be very difficult to get significantly more than that. Other than Tauhara, most of the other unexploited geothermal fields have protection orders on. And though there is dreamers who go on about deep drilling - the technology doesn't exist - and hot dry rock projects haven't been got to work yet despite billions spent on them.
And for your last question - yes.

Interest.co.nz teaser headline ......'Woods fails ............'

So apt !

I use gas for hot water and cooking, trust a commie to come up with a less efficient and more expensive solution. This is what happens when you replace common sense with social signalling and posturing. Sadly I get the feeling the worst is yet to come.