I see myself more and more as simply a chronicler of stupiity and criminal behaviour as the Titanic sinks and the world burns while everyone looks on with disinterest.
The latest report from the EIA whatever Robertscribbler may say indicates that use of fossil fuels is set to increase.
The U. S. Energy Information Administration foresees continued dominance for coal, gas and oil
The only thing that will stop this from happening is a deep Depression or a sudden halt to industrial activity brought about perhaps by a sudden climate emergency.
In the midst of this the government of New Zealand and major corporations such as Fonterra are playing MORE than their role in assisting this headlong rush to oblivion.
In reaponse to Alexander Ac who alerted me to the main article I responded with this:
“The NZ government makes a mockery of the Paros Agreement by appointing a former Minister of Social Welfare as Minister of Treaty Negotiations and undermining the agreement before the inks even dry. The dairy giant Fonterra is building a coal-powered plant in addition to this. At the same time one of the electricity companies is putting a tax on users of solar power”
The following items in my opinion reinforce this impression
NZ’s emissions reductions go up in smoke as generators keep Huntly coal burning
4 May, 2016
The decision to keep the Huntly coal thermal power station open for another four years is not only contrary to all New Zealand’s commitments and climate targets, it also sends the Ministry for the Environment’s projections of stabilising energy emissions to 2020 up in a cloud of coal smoke.
We seem to have had an extra dose of announcements and activities about climate change in an action-packed month of April.
Climate change minister Paula Bennett signed the UN Paris Agreement. The Morgan Foundation’s “Climate Cheats” report made a big splash. That lead to Jack Tame’s grilling of Paula Bennett. And the Royal Society of New Zealand released two major reports on climate change; one on impacts and another on policy responses. The business-backed Pure Advantage group released a report about enhancing forestry sequestration.
So what did the New Zealand energy industry do to elbow it’s way into the climate change spotlight? How do you beat signing the Paris Agreement or compete with climate fraud?
You just say you are going to burn more coal!
On 28th April 2016, Genesis Energy and Meridian Energy announced they had reached an ‘arrangement’ that would keep the coal-burningHuntly thermal power station open for an extra four years. This deal postpones the expected shut down from the planned 2018 date to 2022.
Patrick Smellie notes two interesting details in the story. First, the irony that the “100% renewable” generator Meridian Energy had led the process of negotiating with Genesis. And second, that the public announcement of the shut-down by Genesis was probably just some signalling ‘code’ within the negotiations to get Meridian to share more of the cost of keeping Huntly as a back-up generator in the event of low hydro lake storage.
Gareth Hughes, the Green Party MP points out that on the basis of generation of 1,277 GWh of energy in 2015, pulling the plug on Huntly power station would have lifted New Zealand’s proportion of renewable electricity generation from 79.9 percent to 84.5 percent. So unsurprisingly the Meridian-Genesis deal is just 180 degrees in the wrong direction in terms of the 90 percent renewable target and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenpeace has given us ten reasons to shut Huntly and have started an on-line petition to keep to the plan and shut Huntly.
But what effect will this have on the Ministry for the Environment’s projections of energy emissions out to 2030? These are part of the December 2015 report “NZ’s Second Biennial Report under the UNFCCC”. This chart shows projected “with measures” emissions and “without measures” (i.e. business as usual).MfE GHG emission projections to 2030
In the chart, the projected “with measure” emissions for each sector are the circles and lines. The projected ‘business as usual’/’without measures’ emissions are the lines between the data points marked by triangles on 2020 and 2030. That’s because the without measures projections are for only two years! It is almost as if they are an after-thought.
The other thing to note is that for agriculture, transport and industry, there is no difference between “with measures” and “without” projections. This is of course because the Ministry is reflecting the Government’s intention to exempt those three sectors of the economy from any climate change policy.
However, have a close look at the energy sector projections. There is some ‘daylight’ visible between the ‘with’ and ‘without’ projections. The “without” trends ever so slightly upward and the “with” trend is a plateauing. So something is expected to change the slight upward emissions trend to a plateau. The Biennial Report states on page 39;
“Energy emissions are expected to increase between 2013 and 2015, but then fall between 2015 and 2020. The remaining coal-fired power plant in New Zealand is expected to be decommissioned by 2018, reducing emissions from coal. Coal-fired electricity generation is expected to be replaced mainly by a combination of hydroelectricity, geothermal, wind, and gas-fired peaking plants in the modelled scenario”.
In other words, the ‘something’ was the close-down of Huntly. The Ministry for the Environment was relying on Genesis Energy to honour its public statement that it was closing Huntly. Which of course would then be attributed to the New Zealand emissions trading scheme. However it looks like the projections are now out-dated.
The 2030 emissions projections show that New Zealand’s climate change policies are intentionally not affecting three out of five sectors of the economy. With two power generators reaching a private agreement to keep the Huntly thermal power station emitting carbon dioxide for another four years, the projected savings in energy emissions out to 2030 have gone up in a puff of coal smoke
New minister for Climate Change Paula Bennett confirms NZ uses ‘Hot Air’ creative accounting to meet emissions targets
Fonterra’s coal-fired climate folly
by Jeanette Fitzsimons
Coal Actiion Network,
17 April, 2016
Why would Fonterra spend several million dollars on a process lasting nearly a year, seeking planning consent for a huge new milk drier that it knows will never be built?Perhaps that’s not a lot of money to them – after all, one million is only three months’ salary for their CEO.
Fonterra’s proposed Studholme project, just outside of Waimate in South Canterbury, would see two new spray driers powered by two immense coal boilers – one 65MW, the other 50.
This is the biggest new coal burning project in the country, with the hearing happening just as our Minister for Climate Change is about to travel to New York to sign the Paris agreement where we undertook to reduce our greenhouse emissions a totally inadequate 11% below 1990 levels. (It’s even more inadequate when creative accounting turns this into more like +10%).
Fonterra is already the second biggest coal burner in the country and grew its coal use by 38% between 2008-2013. They pay lip service to climate change but in practice are totally wedded to coal.
This new plant, if it is built and runs at capacity, would produce some 100,000 tonnes a year of greenhouse gas emissions (similar to its Darfield plant), plus the much more global warming potential of the methane and nitrous oxide from nearly half a million new cows that would be required to supply the milk.
But that isn’t the reason the plant will never be built. In New Zealand, increasing greenhouse gas emissions are never a reason for anything the dairy industry or Government does – they just aren’t on the radar.
Coal Action Network (CANA) put a major effort into submissions with two expert witnesses at the hearing in Waimate last week. We argued, supported by dairy economist Peter Fraser, that there is no milk available now to supply this behemoth and that, contrary to Fonterra’s submissions, milk supply is dropping and farmers are shedding cows.
That’s not rocket science, given the price farmers receive for their milk solids has plummeted to $3.90 from a high of $8.40. Fonterra says it expects, supported by no evidence at all, that historical growth of 4-5% a year in South Island milk production will resume soon. It offered no evidence of what sort of price rise would be needed for farmers to add more cows or undertake very expensive land conversion, and no evidence that prices would rise at all.
It fell to CANA to bring the only economic evidence on this to the hearing. Peter Fraser, an economist with experience in Treasury, MAF and several positions in the industry, Peter Fraser argued convincingly that the new driers would need more than half a million new cows to supply the milk to run them at capacity; that his best estimate was that prices would recover to ~$5 +/- $1, and that new dairy farms needing irrigation were not economic at less than $6.50 and, in many cases, much more.
Further, the EU farmers – whose quotas have just been removed – are planning to meet any growth in demand that does occur and the cost structure of intensive dairying in NZ is now higher than theirs. We are no longer the low cost milk producer feeding on grass. If prices do rise substantially, the US is poised to enter the market ahead of us.
(On the other hand if we are wrong and prices do rise and the extra half million plus cows do materialise, we have an unmitigated disaster in Canterbury with the human equivalent of those cows and their water impacts being equivalent to plonking a city the size of Jakarta on the Canterbury plains.)
Peter’s evidence is why I am sure this plant will not be built. So why are we going through this charade?
Even though Fonterra does not have a great reputation for strategic thinking (they are still making low value commodities like milk powder when successful companies are adding value and paying their farmers much more), they have heard Peter’s analysis before and it is hard to believe they are incapable of understanding it.
I can see two possibilities:
needs to portray the image of a successful and expanding company to
keep investor confidence. Its debts are currently roughly equal to
its assets so it is in a parlous financial state. If they do grow
milk supply the farmers with new cows will have to buy shares to be
able to supply Fonterra, and this will help the company get out of
its mess. Perhaps they really think wishing will make it so?
- In case we are
all wrong and milk supply does expand, if they already hold a
consent for a processing plant no-one else will try to capture that
milk as they couldn’t catch up and build a new plant first. So it
may be an anti-competitive move.
Waimate is left expecting jobs and economic development, and so is not pursuing any other strategy. This state of affairs could last ten years before the resource consent would lapse. But the jobs and development will never materialise. This is known in the trade as “planning blight”.
In this case, whether Fonterra run its new factory partly on wood waste is irrelevant. But most of the discussion focussed on that, rather than the lack of milk. That elephant in the room, like climate change, is just too big to be on the radar.
Correction: this blog has been corrected on 20 April to change the “million cow” figure to “half a million” – see comments by Peter Fraser below. Thanks to George Williams for pointing out the error.
The media summary of CANA’s evidence to the hearing in Waimate.
All evidence by CANA, CANA members, and experts to the hearing
Fonterra a large scale coal user
New solar panel charge kicks inHawke's Bay lines company Unison is introducing an extra charge for solar panel users, in a move Greenpeace says is wrong.
1 April, 2016
People install the panels to reduce their power bills. But Unison fears this will reduce its income and make its assets hard to maintain, so it is bumping up its charges to make up the difference.
Photo: 123 RF
The electric lines industry has said many times that people using solar panels and batteries pay lower power bills, making less money available to pay for the electricity grid.
Yet most solar panel users still need that grid to be available as a fallback when solar power dries up overnight or on cloudy days.
Senior Unison manager Nathan Strong said his firm was acting now to protect its income and make sure the customer got a good idea of the real cost of providing an electricity network.
"Currently it costs us about $900 a year to serve a typical residential customer," he said.
"Under our old pricing approach, someone putting a solar panel on a roof would reduce their contribution by $300 and that $300 would have to be made up by someone who does not have solar panels on their roof."
Mr Strong said changing the rules brought fairness.
Unison said it was still calculating the exact figure, but network charges could rise by up to $150 each year.
From today, the scheme would affect the company's 110,000 consumers in Hawke's Bay, Taupo and Rotorua who put solar panels on their roof.
It would only happen if they used their panels to generate surplus power and feed it back into the national grid.
Greenpeace's Russel Norman said Unison was doing the wrong thing.
"The impact of Unison's solar tax is to change the economics around the installation of solar panels, when in the interests of climate change what we want to do is make it easier."
The move was incompatible with recent international pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Mr Norman said.
But the idea of charging solar power users extra money was an anathema to the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand.
Chairman Brendan Winitana called the Unison action a solar tax.
"That solar tax is a 26 percent increase in a lines charge and we believe that is a very strong move to make, especially when the Electricity Authority called for submissions on distribution pricing," he said.
"That solar tax is a 26 percent increase in a lines charge" - Brendan Winitana on Morning Report 2 min 43 esc
Unison said that was not correct and people would still save money on their power bills.
Solar panel installation company Solar City chief executive Andy Booth said Unison was being disingenuous and imposing an unfair tax.
"Customers who use low-energy light bulbs and energy efficient fridges to reduce their consumption aren't getting taxed, customers who put solar systems that generate power to reduce their energy consumption are. We believe fundamentally that's anti-competitive," he said.
Unison would be the first lines company to do something like this, but others were understood to have similar plans in train.
The company is a member of the the Electricity Networks Association and Its chief executive Graeme Peters said Unison was acting within its rights.
"Distributors are entitled to make their own decisions about pricing in their own areas," he said.
"But collectively, we are trying to bring about a menu of pricing options they can choose from."
There are 28 lines companies in New Zealand all facing falling revenue and static fixed costs.