The Productivity Commission on what we need to do to ensure we have enough electricity to power those electric vehicles and clean industrial heaters as we move to a low-emissions economy

The Productivity Commission on what we need to do to ensure we have enough electricity to power those electric vehicles and clean industrial heaters as we move to a low-emissions economy

New Zealand needs to generate up to 65% more electricity in the next 30 years as the economy transitions away from fossil fuels.

The Productivity Commission, in its final Low-emissions economy report, says electrification across the economy, specifically in transport and process heat, means electricity generation needs to increase by between 45% and 65% by 2050. Transpower puts this figure at 100%.

While the Commission says additional demand will likely be met by a mix of renewables - hydro, wind, geothermal and solar - it can’t say exactly what this mix will look like and how wholesale electricity prices will be affected.

“In the most favourable scenarios, prices fall; while in other scenarios, they rise,” the Commission says.

All the scenarios it considered involve substantial increases in wind and geothermal generation, modest additional investments in hydro and a modest-to-moderate increase in solar generation.

With “resource adequacy” (ensuring we can meet demand both over a long period of time and during surges) being the biggest challenge posed by a move to a low emission electricity system, all scenarios include some gas generation while some include coal. Gas and coal emit more carbon than renewables but give the system flexibility as they provide energy on demand.

The Commission acknowledges wind is relatively dependable over extended periods of time, but cannot be relied on to supply energy in a particular half hour.

Solar energy can’t provide capacity as demand peaks at night in winter for example, however it can be stored in batteries.

Hydro reservoirs are currently used to shift flows between seasons and geothermal energy can be provided on call at a cost.

Consenting changes needed

Looking to the future, the Commission says we will need more storage space to ensure hydro energy can be relied on regardless of the weather.

Specifically, it recommends: “The Government should issue a new National Environmental Standard for Renewable Electricity Generation that sets out the conditions under which renewable energy activities are either permitted, controlled, restricted discretionary or non-complying activities under the Resource Management Act 1991.

“This should be drafted to increase the speed, and lower the cost and uncertainty for obtaining resource consents for a significant proportion of renewable electricity generation projects that have only minor environmental and social impacts.”

The Commission points out the uncertainty that exists around water rights, saying this could dissuade further investment in maintaining hydro-electric generating capacity.

Looking at wind energy, the Commission also notes, “many of the current consents for unbuilt wind farms will expire over the next decade, and, in any case, more efficient technology may require consents for taller turbines than covered by the original consent.

“The costs of consenting for smaller community-scale wind farms are high relative to the economic benefits, and difficulties may easily stymie a project.”

Market should be driven by emissions pricing

The Commission says a raft of other electricity generation and storage options will become more economical in the next 10 to 20 years; the cost of wind and solar already falling to a point they're competitive with fossil-fuelled generation. We should therefore look beyond the technology before us, as we consider possibilities for the future.  

Some of these possibilities include replacing coal with bioenergy, relying on batteries with better storage capacity to smooth daily electric demand, producing hydrogen by the electrolysis of water (see more here about a New Zealand company that’s received government funding to do this), using tidal electricity generation, and connecting to international transmission grids.

Finally, the Commission says there are ways of managing demand to help reduce the need for for the likes of coal and gas to be used to plug the supply gap when demand peaks. For example consumers can contract to reduce their loads for a set time under defined circumstances.

All in all, the Commission says, “Given rapid changes in electricity-generation technology and potential effects of rising electricity prices on adoption of low-emissions technology in other parts of the economy, the Government should not use subsidies or regulation to favour particular technologies that generate low-emissions electricity.

“The Government should rely on an effective emissions-pricing system as the main instrument to achieve an efficient trade-off between emissions reductions in electricity and emissions reductions in other parts of the economy.”

The Commission recommends New Zealand’s emissions price is hiked from about $21 to at least $75 a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, and possibly over $200 a tonne, over the next 30 years.

For more on this, see the story did on the Commission’s draft report in April.

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End the RioTinto subsidy and release the power for Tiwai Point if they pack up their bat and ball and go home; wherever home is?

The line in/out however would need a substantial upgrade, I think it can only handle 15%? of the dam's output.

It is also a) a jobs thing and b) a transmission losses thing. So the way solar and wind prices are dropping and given the huge tidal potential right outside of Wellington's doorstep I suggest Rio Tinto may well be not a concern. I also suspect given the future that having a smelter on our soil could prove to be a strategic asset.


Thereby putting Invercargill on the benefit.


That much electricity may be an opportunity for invercargill with new industries of course.
Over the years there have been meatworks closures of a similar size and invers chuggs on..

Replace the aluminium refinery with.. a steel plant? Not a lot of industries use that much power. I guess it could be put to work providing heat for Fonterras milk powder dryers in the south island that are currently coal powered, but again, the link to the rest of the grid would need upgrading at quite some cost.

Oysters and Chips are the best in invers so I guess they could do silicon chips..

Invercargill are always telling us that they are short of staff for truck driving and primary industries so if we stopped immigration a lot of them could find work there, in industries that do not require a subsidy.

YES , yes and yes again , we have a great future in electricity as a commodity.

Those otherwise boring and pedestrian utility and power shares are going to keep me comfortable in my retirement .

And lets be frank , storing energy efficiently is likely to take years to get right , which means we will need more ( and more expensive ) new plants and equipment to do it

Rooftop solar (domestic and commercial) throughout sunniest parts of NZ would go a long way towards getting this done, and has economics that will probably make it worthwhile to homeowners in 10-20 years once installation processes, batteries, EVs and power electronics have all come down in price sufficiently, solar cells are already less than NZD$0.4/Watt which is cheap enough.

Solar is already the way to go, and we're late already. It just has to be done - pricing doesn't come into that. Funny thing I know, but physics/biology/chemistry/mother nature call it what you will, doesn't give a rodent's behind about what it cost. Sometimes, things just have to be done.

I've been trying to get the Nelson City Council to put solar on undeveloped, open, sunny land to no avail. Not big thinkers there.

councils generally not innovative at all

Damn those unintended consequences of those green EVs ...

"A global boom in demand for lithium has set off a scramble in Chile, which is home to nearly 50 percent of the world’s reserves of the metal.

Local indigenous groups, SQM and Albemarle, regional copper miners and newcomers to the region are all competing for water.

Just looking at the technological advances in batteries not needing lithium I wonder how long this "boom" will last anyway maybe 10 years? The damage done of course will be significant.

Lithium is way over rated for house size storage. Its great for cell phone , power tools etc, but notice how they are not even lasting expected life spans. Lead carbon and lead silicon are just 2 current technologies been developed that match Lithium in performance. But not in weight or size, which is not so important in large systems. .

Which lithium batteries aren't lasting their expected life spans.. please don't say nissan Leaf batteries..they are simply in adequate in design, batteries are too small for the power they draw from them, and no cooling. Tesla battery packs seem to be doing quite well.

I was part of a beta test for a battery solar system. Battery failed after two years, so bailed out on advantageous terms and linked solar output to a timer on hot water cylinder and only use washing machine etc during daylight hours. Power bills for a big home now range from $60 to $200 a month, using electric heater occasionally in winter. Have good insulation and led lights. Buyback for solar rate is tragic, though. Not convinced that power companies want solar customers.

I dont know where you get the info its not lasting (URL please?) but some Tesla users who monitor the batteries very closely (even anally) for instance are reporting mileage in the hundred's of K in effect stretching the life of a tesla car to 20+ years. Toyota Prus also seem to be lasting well if a bit spoty. Now chevy volt might indeed be 10~12 years but that's more of a quality issue endemic in cheap american cars by the looks of it.

There certianly are some very interesting alternative battery technologies (and chemistry) being worked on that will be coming to market I expect and are or will be desperately needed as the demand for batteries will be crazy IMHO.

"According to a presentation delivered by the American Chemical Society, it is quite reasonable to estimate to the lifetime of a battery pack of an EV to be up to twenty years. "

Lol really? - as opposed to fracking, burning stuff, polluting the atmosphere and fighting Middle East wars? Bring on the lithium ponds I say. At least it can be reused.

as in the tehnology of EV batteries is advancing so fast that its quite likely lithium with all its issues could be surpassed in 10 years with other chemistry. Not sure of course how this will indeed go but the scale and speed of the research is just astounding.

43% of the world's Lithium Oxide comes outta Talison's Greenbushes tenement in WA: one big hole in a 2.5m sq km territory. Plus there's a further percentage on stream at the Galaxy operation on Mt Cattlin near Ravensthorpe down south. So, no, there's no shortage or resource conflict over the stuff there: WA is highly prospective. There's a lot more where that all came from.

Cobalt may be even more of a scarce resource for batteries.

"All in all, the Commission says, “Given rapid changes in electricity-generation technology and potential effects of rising electricity prices on adoption of low-emissions technology in other parts of the economy, the Government should not use subsidies or regulation to favour particular technologies that generate low-emissions electricity.

“The Government should rely on an effective emissions-pricing system as the main instrument to achieve an efficient trade-off between emissions reductions in electricity and emissions reductions in other parts of the economy.”

The Commission recommends New Zealand’s emissions price needs to rise from about $21 to at least $75 a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, and possibly over $200 a tonne, over the next three decades."

So we don't use use subsidies or regulation; so what do you call ramping up carbon prices; introducing emissions standards for newly registered vehicles, a feebate scheme to accelerate the uptake of EVs, and mandatory climate-related financial disclosures if not a regulatory approach????

I also note no emphasis on better public transport to avoid vehicle use;or population control.

Oh wait, maybe all those jobs that will go in oil and gas will just move to electricity, just like in the Mid-west, oh shock - horror.


Ships, Off Road Vehicles, Aircraft all need dense fossil fuels. Nearly 3Billion litres a year just to get tourists to and from NZ (compare to ~5Billion litres a year total used for everything in NZ). We can import it from those lovely kind people in Saudi Arabia etc, but we don't have enough export earnings to pay for it - it's all borrowed off shore, ie selling bits of NZ to pay for it. If you have a plan to fix that then I am happy to alter my views on the stupidity of killing the industry, but at the moment it is just economic sabotage with no overall environmental benefit.

Sorry Foyle, that last bit is completely and utterly wrong.

Killing the fossil fuel industry has the benefit of perhaps - and it's only a perhaps - allowing our grandchildren to have a life. There are other problems in the mix for them, but that one is the top card in the pack.

And the first bit forgets that we can just stop. Stop flying, stop shipping. That will do it in a trice. So many folk start from the premise that we have to continue what we're recently done.

Cant argue with Foyle's logic globally... All our supply chains/jobs/food supplies sit on the back of fossil fuels. Thats the cul de sac we are in.

If you want to kill the fossil fuel industry (globally) you would need to collapse demand for high net energy ... which survival instinct says will only come along in tandem with population collapse

Unless we rapidly become a lot more sapient.......

It's the 65,000 dollar question, though: transition downwards or collapse then re-construct a sustainable society from the remnants. I prefer intelligent transition - the other may be more likely but it's a crap-shoot.

Sadly humans are too stupid. The various collapses will be dramatic. There may be huge decreases in our use of fossil fools but only if our world's militaries do not use our final reserves. My bet is with the militaries and a f@43 planet.

"fossil fools" Now that is a freudian slip.

Sorry to disappoint you but there are no global environmental catastrophes coming even in our children's lifetimes. But feel free to go live in a yurt on a mountain top eating dirt clod soup in your hair shirt and worshipping at the your doom-junkie altar-of-the-perpetually-wrong (popular with Paul Ehrlich and other fringing ascetic green misanthropes). Back in the real world we need energy solutions that are economically workable (of which current and future technologies offer many options), that improve rather than destroy voters standards of living.


Foyle. I hope you are young enough to see just how wrong you are.

I am so sorry you haven't had a proper education in science, technology, history and critical thinking like some of us have. The prophets of doom have always been with us. They change their garb, but sell the same lies and exaggerations. With our growing technological prowess there is more reason for optimism now than there has ever been in human history.

There's currently a set of unique challenges lining up for humanity - none of which have any parallels in our past history. Extrapolation based on historical trends is intellectually lazy. Still, it must be nice to inhabit such a happy bubble. Hopefully your optimism proves right but I think a blind faith in technology and continuing the status quo may solve this one.

Foyle. That you make judgements about my background without any evidence shows for example you would never survive as a lawyer and all that such implies. Also there are enormous disparities between idiots that predict the end of the world based usually on religious grounds and those that suggest societies may run out of food. That such latter events occur to the degree that civilzations collapse is part of history. The book "Collapse" by Jared Diamond is one that there is hope you might understand.

With population limiting (however that might happen) there is no global energy crisis, we will find(are already doing so) ways to capture and utilise the energy we need. Without population limiting we're screwed, on energy and environment.

Yet our 'western' societies are encouraging the proliferation of populations that have high birth rates because of thier ignorance or to use it as a tool of ideological dominance. Our elites are soooo stupid.

Yeah, but shooting the pope has been tried, and blowing up Catholics in Northern Ireland. Personally i'm all for getting rid of their religion, but meh, I can live with them not sticking it down my throat.

The Christian church has lost much of its power in this regard. Italy is a prime example.


I agree with many of your comments and there are limits to growth,but your last paragraph is simply unrealistic. We cannot just stop-it would be like driving a container ship at speed onto rocks.The result would be catastrophic.Yes,we must plan for a low-carbon future-and I have young grandchildren-but we will rely on fossil fuels for much of our transport for many more years.
Of the many books I have read on climate change,I think The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding gets it right. He believes that this will transform the global economy;that the coming decades will see a great deal of suffering and loss,but that as in war,it will bring out compassion,resilience,innovation and adaptability.

Indeed: kiss goodbye to long-haul air if no FF's. And then figure out what to do with the hundreds of thousands of minimum-wage staff that this releases into the remaining population: something the We Know Best crew have not given much thought to.

But glass half full: I'm sure they'll be happy bending over in the fields in the much much much hotter sun, all day, under the tender tutelage of the new feudal overlords. It will work out....and all that CO2 they exhale will increase the otherwise measly crop yields to be expected. Plus, if the old song is to be believed "you could find a dead body on ever' row" - Fertiliser! (No Mo' Cane on the Brazos).

Oh, and we'll have lotsa Good-Looking Horses to plough and cart with, assuming that the Minister for Racing gets talking to the Minister for Essential Food Production and adjusts the bloodstock profile in time - Clydesdales and Percherons would be my pick.

Invest Now!

Big container ships (Panamax sized beasts) could probably go nuclear, aircraft and off road vehicles will end up on some sort of liquid biofuel until some sort of lightweight battery technology emerges. Fossil fuels will eventually be replaced with alternatives as they stop being cost effective.. just not as soon as the DGM are predicting.

So your argument is we have to retain all of these, my counter-argument is we wont be able to afford to do it economically let alone environmentally even if there is any left to get. There are however some alternatives on the horizon for some of these like shipping. The Chinese are going gang busters building a rail line into the EU down the old silk road tht is apprantly looking quicker and cheaper and that could even be electrified. USA? well there is even an attempt to send rail north possibly to cross the Bering strait.

Off road vehicles? some of these will be dont in a different way or not at all, simple. PS there is a very nice electric off road bike but its about $7kNZ made right here in NZ Aircraft are IMHO toast, civil aviation anyway has at most 20 years and probably more like 10 years. Forget tourism its going bye bye.

Import oil? sure as long as Saudi has any left and if we can afford it. By that stage NZ oil and gas will be all gone anyway its output is in decline already and delaying that by sucking the last dregs wont matter.

Also we export our sweet crude and import the cheaper sour so really its simply an exchange we can exchange for something else like food. By moving more and more the renewable we will actually need less and less oil imports. Finally we have to get off it anyway its running out this just accelerates this process somewhat.

Shock, horror you're wrong. Wind & solar now employ more people than coal & oil.

Quite probably, which is what I was trying to get across.

Where did you get your facts on that statement???

Decision time. Who's in the decision space? Come on...

Interestingly, nobody has suggested doing with less per head. That can either be done by population reduction, or by being a bit cleverer about using energy.

As one who saw this coming, I went down that track and can report - 14 years down it - that it's miles cheaper, no less convenient, and very satisfying. For the record we live on self-grown firewood plus 1.6kw/h per day, but I had to build what may be NZ's most efficient domestic fridge to get there...

Of course, we are anything but good wee consumers of consumables - the 'economy' would collapse if everyone lived like me. But then, it's going to anyway. I find it interesting that Sherwin (speaking on Nat Radio today) avoided EROEI, avoided biofuel acreage...... Still, he's heading the herd in the direction of the gap in the fence.....

"the 'economy' would collapse if everyone lived like me. But then, it's going to anyway."

Exactly ... which is why NZ should collapse now to beat the rush .... ie try to attempt some sort of transition while supply chains still work before the wider world economy goes under ... but when you have Greens spouting sustainable growth you know theres absolutely no chance in hell of getting 1% of 1% on board with this.

Yes, the Greens are a waste space at this stage - all the sadder in that Jeanette Fitzsimmons knew and knows it all.

Well I am interested, what does NZ's most efficient fridge consist of / look like??

1 cubic meter of polystyrene with a tiny evap coil and a 6 pack in the middle? and the compressor is hand pumped?

It is in Dunedin, so bloody cold you don't really need a fridge :-P

But it is done like a fridge should be, built into the house rather than a throw away appliance. Phase change is a great system for getting a 4:1 ratio of energy input to work done. Combine that will using nature, such is using cold ambient air in the winter, then it isn't that hard. Just a change of mindset required, and a step away from the capitalist system that makes throw away crap that people are silly enough to buy.

A cage with a wet sack over it, called a"safe"

Almost worse than a waste of space.....hence I walked away. As long as they have co-leaders with 6 kids and a hard core left I wont be wasting my time with them again either.

You really don't have a clue do you? If you want to live in the 3rd world then go and live in the 3rd world - there are plenty of places to choose from, but leave me, my family and anyone who doesn't want to die of preventable diseases or childbirth out of it. High standards of living require high levels of technology which require high consumption of energy and a huge technology base created by the efforts and consumption of billions of people that your faux minimalism is riding on the coat-tails of. Thankfully energy is cheap, now, and in 10, 100, 100, 1million even a billion years using known technology. So long as you don't have irrationally misanthropic regressive eco-nazis preventing it.

Dreams are free.



I'm afraid that you are the clueless one. Just read this report;
EROI is falling and has been for years. Of course renewables will become increasingly efficient and this will reduce our fossil fuel dependence,but indefinite growth is just not possible. Population growth is slowing and is now a little over 1%pa,but that still means that some 83m people are being added to the population each year. factor in the increasing effects of climate change and,sadly, I see your vision as a chimera.

EROI is totally irrelevant as I have posted many times before as it does not have a price component.

Extracting 3 bbl of tar sands at US $ 10 / bbl to make 1 bbl of marketable oil selling for US $ 70 bbl makes perfect sense and has operated this way for many years with negative EROI's.

"EROI is totally irrelevant..."

Not so.
Youre basically saying we are gaming the pricing to get around the EROI problem (effectively using incorrectly priced debt). Which is correct.
But it doesnt actually fix the declining EROI problem.
It just buys some time while we destroy the integrity of DEBT. Which is what we are seeing.

You guys seem to be happy being willfully blind with the added bonus of cloth ears, but the reality is, you are simply afraid of the truth

Foyle - if it's based on draw-down. it'll stop.

If it's based on exponentially-increasing drawdown, it'll stop sooner than you think.

You need to re-read the Malthus quote in my 'padock' article.

So yes I except that we do indeed need fairly high levels of technology (but interestingly most of the public health advances came from clean water and sewage / waste disposal you dont need huge tech for these unless you have an excess of population). the point some of us are trying to make is there isnt the energy to continue with this as you would like even ignoring climate change impacts.

"now and even in a billion years" shows you do not understand the exponential function and doubling time.

How do you suggest we reduce population?

Contraception, pensions and women having full control of their fertility and lives. Easy, peasy, ask Japan

Not to mention educating women.

Educating women about birth control will prove extremely hard in at least one major religeon and in most of Africa.

It almost worked for China.

3 x choices. Voluntary via birth control(no sign of that), disease/famine or war. Take your pick from the last two.

Jeepers what a wet blanket discussion. Allow me to respond to myself:

Pricing carbon emissions is never going to work. You either spend money and build renewables, or you spend it on something else and burn the dirt.
Unfortunately the govt expects the market to provide, while the market doesn't see the need to build. So nothing gets done. Someone has to make a decision to spend money on something. will work if allowed to. Just what do you not understand about the scheme to say it won't?

It's an artifice, too easily dismantled by dissenting pollies and gamed by industry players. With enough heat, and pressure, everything becomes liquid.

What's new about that theory? On those assumptions absolutely nothing anywhere would get done about anything anywhere. Let the cap come off and watch all that rubbish land that is slipping and causing millions of dollars worth of damage get planted up as carbon farms. Maybe you don't understand the scheme?

I understand the scheme, I even think it's a good idea in theory. I just fear that carbon will be underpriced, and that it will be less successful than taking direct action at this present juncture.

have you followed the pricing on carbon comm? Its cut through the $25. Foresters are now buying instead of relinquishing credits. Loading up on the prospect of the cap coming off. Rumor has it big players may also be stocking up too. Of course the longer they wait to remove the cap the more us tax payers are going to be making up the diff. Very big bill building up for tax payers - a story in waiting for as no ones else is picking up on it.

“In the most favourable scenarios, prices fall; while in other scenarios, they rise,” the Commission says.
I wonder what assumptions were used in the prices fall scenarios!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As usual, there's more interest in what's not said than what is.
Anyhow, Labour Govts always tend to leave a legacy. This one could be the shutting down of the coal and oil and gas industries, then we can all pay even more for our cost of living, than we already do.

They sure do - universal suffrage, equal rights, equal pay, worker's rights, no child labour, 8 hour working day, minimum wage, clean air & water regulations, universal health care, old age pensions, public transport, giving us a kick in the pants to get off 19th century forms of energy.

The other crowd - pretend nothing is happening and rejoice in their mindless, "we're all rocking it out down here" approach to the issues of the modern world.

It's entirely possible to do much domestic consumption with solar plus batteries now. My own rig is already pushing all of our residual use (which includes a spa pool and other luxuries) into the wee small hours where power is around 12c/unit, though that's on a good insolation day. Plus self-consumption to the tune of 4-10 kWH/day during peak power price hours. It's not economically feasible for most folks, but I figured that the rig can't be OBR'ed....

What we need to avoid is the SA situation, where the penetration of wind has reached such an extent that it has completely destabilised both their grid, and bids fair to do the same to VIC's next door. Essentially, wind is not dispatchable, so when El Sol goes down and the demand ramps up, wind might or might not be there. And the interconnect will trip and island SA if things go too far, so they rely on gas plus diesel plus a stonking set of PowerWalls which provides frequency control while they get the gas and diesel gennies up and synchronised. Just take a look at the stream of notices issued by AEMO, to see what a knife-edge they are sitting on.

NZ is in a much better place, but Transpower's own predictions (especially the Vibrant Haven scenario: 10 million people - see P 36) imply that we are gonna need much more winter generation in particular: more dams, more bird-choppers, more geothermal, more gas peakers. Fairly much 100% of all of that infrastructure would have to be imported, (particularly the gas now that the We Know Best crew have deemed the local stuff Haram). And paid for outta exports.....including (drum-roll) Tourism....

Trade-offs, trade-offs.

most north island hydro has little storage, apart from Lake Taupo. Most of the dams are run of the river, not allowed to vary the level by much. Off river storage need to be developed , to increase storage. These could be old quarries , coal mines etc , or wetlands that can vary the depth without effecting the rivers. With the bonus of providing wetland habitat.

You need elevation change, so unless you are pumping uphill in daylight with excess solar/wind and generating at night with stored hydro I'm not sure what you think you will achieve?

That is an option as well , but I was talking about extending the storage capacity of existing dams. So they can either store seasonal excess water , or reduce flow in times of peak wind or solar, and store the water for later use. But current dams are limited by their surface area times the permitted change in water level. say a dam is 1000 square metres times 1 metre allowable depth change, you could double its storage capacity by having a 1000 square metre wetland 1 metre deep.

Yeah, I understand, but even a small resv is several million sqm in size. So you just need to find areas large enough with natural embankments that the tree huggers will let you flood. 1000sq m x 1m deep is about 3seconds worth for karapiro at full power.

The numbers were just to illustrate the concept, 1000m2 just a small example. Environmentalists will welcome the creation of wetlands. The biggest hurdle would be land price, for that reason I imagine they would be in hill country, perhaps above lake taupo. I was thinking maybe around the canals in the desert road area.

To be consistent:
Dams are too expensive and wreak the environment.
Tidal is bad for the sea bed, nature and expensive.
Wind is unreliable, expensive, unsightly and a large scale bird killer.
Solar is resource intensive and there is no immediate environmentally friendly storage solution.
Coal and gas are out because CO2 is pollution and bad.
Nulcear is expensive, waste and danger.

Meanwhile, in a related theme, the apparent battle between Infratil and Mercury over ownership and pricing of the shares of 11,000 minority shareholders in Tilt renewables could be revealed to have been more akin to a WWF staged match than the genuine wrestle it purported to be, as independent directors announce today they think the offer price is significantly under true value.

Not for a moment does this mom & pop Tilt (and Mercury & Infratil) investor now suspect the shiny suits at Infratil and Mercury could have engineered such an outcome in order to acquire my Tilt shares at an effective discount !!

Could save 30% of energy just by insulating and building proper houses. Truth is that Kiwis are too cheap to do any of that

Your so right and its what most of the posters here are missing. People can't or won't pay for change until you hold a gun to their head its human nature. Its inevitable the world will go to hell in a handbasket at some point and the population will crash. Pretty gloomy I know but make the most of every day.

Yes, but (war and being engulfed by refugee-streams aside) NZ has the chance to live renewably, and to do so from what we currently have. If we go with local solar/wind, use the existing hydro as the battery, and live within budget (energy budget, that is).

I've lived at a much lower level than Waymad (lower energy level, that is - superior in every other way :) for 15 years for a total to-date outlay of $6,600 and $1 a day avge running cost. It's eminently do-able.

Ian - yes, and passive solar costs no more (don't believe the architects who on-cost it as an 'option') while delivering cosy returns for free, forever.

Productivity Commission guesses seem higher than this MBIE report, it"s worth a glance.

Yet another incentive for the South Island to break away. That and increasing burden of subsidising Auckland in so many ways.

Lol whatever, like all the money that paid for that infrastructure came from 1.5m people. Stop being parochial - it's called the nation state and our ancestors fought hard to create it.

Interesting, innit, that PDK has, in his own words, lived at " lower energy level, that is - superior in every other way".

In other words, We Know Best. There's nothing one can say to convince a missionary type, so I don't bother. I live in a city, not on a subsistence farm, I ski, caravan and commute with a diesel SUV, fly to Oz when the fancy takes me, and I'm fully aware that this tars me in some eyes as a Frightfully Wrong-headed Chap. But this too will change as price signals dictate. Because no-one is immune to the zeitgeist, even when it has been taken over by monomaniacs..

The thing I find most Interesting is the lacunae in the supposed Way We All Gotta Live according to the prophets (amongst which, I'm sorry to say, we have to count the Productivity Commish, who have apparently drunk deeply of the Klimate Kool-Aid, despite it's decidedly dodgy basic in physics).

Where, f'rinstance, is the Fifty-Year-Plan for the cities, with their productivity gains, their agglomeration gains and their innovation? Where is the mention of Nuclear, specifically Thorium/liquid salt? Where is the notion that to get us from A to B we could dig up some of Southland (with Big Electric Gear, no less), convert the low-grade lignite into transport fuels, and thereby buy ourselves a few decades of Transition? Where is the social and cultural aspect to the Transition - what do we do with the large percentage of our workforce who will find themselves on the scrap-heap if, as upthread diktat would have it, we all 'stop flying, stop shipping'. What happens to the rural communities when large-scale forestry (harvested how - with two-person crosscuts and horses?) with its decade-long cycles where zero or minimal labour is needed, is mandated? How does NZ pay back its international debt obligations if it cannot Export (no shipping, remember?)? What will be the reaction of other populous and resource-poor nations when they see an isolated, undefended country with untapped resources just sitting there like - yes - a sitting duck?


This is not a plan or even a strategy. It's simply religion. As Chesterton intuited a century ago, "When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything."

Hey ho....

Great description, waymad.
Ironically I find PDK to be more dogmatic than the economists he despises for that very trait.

Exactly like a missionary; the downright dismissive and righteous belief that they are the true enlightened ones who cling to any abstract artifacts or personas who support their worldly view.

I too don't bother anymore, it's pointless arguing with someone who in their mind can never be wrong.

Perhaps the curious choices of waymad and nymad tell us much? Regardless, my bets are very much with PDK and the biological and climate etc scientists that support his views. Those that CHOSE to train in the pseudo science of guessonomics are simply not qualified or even have the correct social values to make ecological predictions.

I don't argue that climate change isn't real.
I only sometimes have a problem with the science of it and the incentives/prerogative for addressing it.

PDK is not a trained scientist, engineer or guessonomicist (coincidentally I have advanced degrees in two of those fields). Far from it - his prose clearly demonstrates this. This isn't neccessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you make many amateur errors.
He makes a critical flaw in his arguments - he assumes that no one understands the finite nature of resources. No one is arguing that this isn't the case. He just conveniently forgets about optimal extraction paths and why they imply an asymptotic convergence to resource depletion but never a total depletion.

..optimal extraction paths and why they imply an asymptotic convergence":

if in doubt, use big words.

My point proven.
If you can't understand it, ignore it.
Much better to use the schoolboy analysis of Gail Tversberg and Tim Morgan to argue your position.

im still waiting for an economist to predict something though...

Another great blogger buzz phrase.
You guys are just full of these bangers!

I just cant understand why you'd rather attack the unenlightened than share the vast depth of your knowledge?

Sigh. Theres just nothing coming through

It advances academia little, to make such comments. Good science is about ascertaining truths and facts - as near as possible anyway. I'd also suggest that disseminating such to the general public perhaps involves using common English, while avoiding denigration of those who do so.....

This fellow has long been a favourite - was once interviewed by Laidlaw:
You might spend some time there Nymad - his conclusions are the same as mine - but he's more qualified than you. How can that be?

And I'm off to this tmrw:

But I do admit to not often attending lectures in the dismal science.


"Good science is about ascertaining truths and facts - as near as possible anyway."
Tim Morgan (your messiah)
Gail Tversberg
etc, etc, etc.
Do not practice good science.
Often you do cite some more reputable people but again, by their own words they admit that the resources they provide in the context you quote them are not robust.

"But I do admit to not often attending lectures in the dismal science."
Well, that's ironic.
If you did lend your hand to a more holistic systematic understanding, perhaps you would understand why economic principles are so important in explaining the resource extraction process.
To ignore such an important field highlights that again, hypocritically, you practice exactly what you claim to despise - silo research agendas.

Very relevant to the discussion -

Can New Energy Technologies Save the Planet? Ask the Sperm Whale

One doesn't need credentials to recognize that without 90 mbpd of petroleum it will not be BAU.

One does to realise that we will never deplete oil reserves.
One also does to realise that that's not the point - oil isn't the only form of energy production.
Sure BAU may not be a viable assumption in the short(er)/medium term, but that will merely be transitory.

We are depleting oil reserves daily. What you meant to say was 'we will never exhaust', wasn't it? Plain English is often all you need.

Then: there are other forms of - oh,oh, 'energy production'.

You don't produce energy. You can extract concentrated forms of it, using energy to do so. You can collect less concentrated forms of it. You can use it to do work, usually turning it into low-grade heat.

But you never produce it. Unless you do funny things to matter, of course. :)

And our/my whole point is that BAU is not a viable assumption, indeed that it's not viable at all. Yes, it will be transitory, in that it is all we have to operate with, to effect a transition. I/we have seen that worship of 'the market' hasn't made to move, indeed it's increasing debt is just loading the future. Come on Nymad - use your obvious talent to help make the planet something you can be proud to hand on to your grandchildren.

Rather than a whole lot of empty mines (sorry, near empty :), a whole lot of monoculture where once was biodiversity, plus an altered climate and an oceanic soup minus fish. Oh, and an empty Yucca Mountain....

I doubt they'll thank us for all that - not even if they're all billionaires.

Sorry, semantics.
"fully deplete" and "transfer energy". However, we do technically 'produce' electricity. As in we take a primary source and use it to generate a consumable product.

You and I don't have different opinions on what the world needs to be for future generations. I agree fully that what is occuring is not at all ideal.
What we differ on is our ideas of how and why this can and will continue.

Nymad, I'm giving you a thumbs up for that.

But we don't produce electricity either. It's solar-derived - we turn solar energy into another form of energy, having stored it as potential energy in the lakes. I think one of the reasons our public discourse is confused is that we think of energy as just another 'consumable product'. It is the underwriting of everything. Get that and we start to see the problem.

That's why I mentioned the 'E' - it overrides. Just a matter of seeing things in proportion.



"Economists and economic experts have not lost their influence in recent years, despite the fact that most of them failed to predict the 2007-2008 financial crisis and have since then been struggling to make sense of it and its aftermath. On the contrary, they have probably never had so much influence over the policy conversation than they have today. ...

This, of course, has serious and unfortunate implications, because economics has become little more than a belief system that is increasingly incapable of grasping and accounting for the reality it pretends to study – and hence increasingly unable of informing us about the choices we face..

When all else is lost, use the words of a blogger.

Id suggest having a read and pointing out where hes wrong

EROI is a purely physical measure and not at all consistent across energy generation sources (or even within energy sources).
We also don't know what a minimum effective EROI is for sustainable growth. The best anyone can come up with is anywhere less than near artesian recovery and bio-fuel.
It ignores pricing effects of energy and technological advances.

Those things alone should be pretty good examples why we cannot rely on EROI alone as the one indicator of impending doom.

I don't care how many credentials you claim, but growth cannot be sustainable within a finite sphere of operations.

Please correct that. You can have temporary growth, you'll always hit a limit of some kind.

And you ignore the point that pricing is irrelevant. Try driving down the road, don't fill your tank but pull $10 from your pocket (I won't tell you where to put it). I can guess what will happen - you'll run out of fuel and coast to a halt. Now try the exercise with $100. 1 million.

And I'm sorry, but we've covered technonogy ad infinitum hereabouts. It doesn't create energy. It can, however, facilitate the more efficient use of same. Obviously - this being physical - limits apply.

And it isn't 'impending doom' - why do those who need to avoid always describe a predictable consequence as a mood? Merely pointing out that sustainability and growth are incompatible and that overshoot has repercussions

I'm going back to reading the report..

Did you notice the smiley face in my post?

Why do you think that was there?

" I ski, caravan and commute .... But this too will change as price signals dictate"

Trouble is Wayward, the pricing signals are no longer pure... ie Money printing / currency devaluation is being used to artificially lower the (true) energy cost of everything (let alone the drawdown cost of non replaceable resources)

If the system wasnt being gamed (and its only temporary) you wouldnt be currently doing any of this - we are all currently consuming and piling it on the tab ...

When I was a child we had snow high above my head outside our front door in the south of England. Yet now, even British farmers are complaining that their overly hot summers are reducing their productivity. Surely this is yet another wake up call. So much evidence from climate experts tell us that this heat is merely the start of EXPONENTIAL changes.

that have only minor environmental and social impacts therein lies a problem - definition of 'minor impacts'.

Sorry, y'all, I've tortured enough electrons ranting at Witnesses on My Doorstep today. I do note that Michael Reddell has voiced quite similar concerns about the Prod Commish report.

And for those who think that the Science is Settled, take a look at the 91 volcanoes recently discovered under Antarctica (I've used only the Grauniad reference to soften the blow - tip them a quid or three as the poor dears seem to be struggling with ECON101). Then consider the likelihood that one of them 138 hot spots blowing their cork just might affect things a fraction more than attempting to change the weather in 2100. And consider our human record in predicting volcanic eruptions.....There, I've given y'all some Mo' DGM to worry aboot.

If we think we Know it All about this huge world of ours, think again....

wrong place for post

If the productivity commission says we need it then it won't happen. History has proven that everyone ignores what the productivity commission says.

Like when they did that report on building materials. Who in the Bee Hive cares that we have the most expensive timber and cement. Let's just keep on doing more NZ specific paperwork.

More of the same: expensive electricity, poor allocation of capital into tax free housing, govt enabled cartel on building materials.