Monday, 23 May 2011

WEP Column

By Scott Willis

New Zealand Energy Strategy
The new New Zealand Energy Strategy, accidentally released by a
government official, should really be called "The Dig for Victory
Economic Policy". While the non-renewable energy industry globally is
suffering badly (in economic terms) in the world recession, and with
the strong economic returns being demonstrated internationally by
clean technology, is the new NZ Energy Strategy what we need?
Dr Eric Martinot, an international energy expert who visited NZ
recently didn't even bother talking to government officials. Virtually
every other country in the world is desperately seeking ways to
develop renewable generation but we seem to be mired in a 19th century
optimism of salvation via fossil fuels.
However it's a question of basic economics – with known upfront costs
and very low ongoing costs (potentially forever) renewable generation
is the path to energy security and economic sustainability. Why gamble
on finite resources in an incredibly unstable market? So, I'm
disappointed that this government hasn't realised the opportunity, or
taken on board the WEP submission and many other submissions made last
year, to develop a path to build energy resilience for New Zealand.
Nevertheless, locally things are much more positive.

Renewable Generation
Alongside new offers of community support (thank you!) there's further
local energy action – LED lighting, energy monitoring tools – things
that the passionate individuals involved intend disseminating once
developed. BRCT is supporting the development of a comprehensive
engagement process and materials, and discussion with the DCC is
underway, with the goal of finding ways in which the city could
facilitate a community owned wind cluster at no cost to ratepayers.
The Powerhouse Wind team continue their fine-tuning of the Thinair
turbine at Hagen and Sabina's place and have a special offer (once
they go commercial) for Blueskin residents wanting to buy their
household scale turbine.
On April 21 Chris Freear of Our Wind Limited delivered a 10 metre
tower and wind testing equipment for the next stage in precise wind
testing at Blueskin Bay. There was a touch-and-go moment in the
journey in Gerry's Series 1 LandRover to the test site, with a stop on
route to allow the engine to cool. We all had real concern that its
cameo in the Zombie movie the next day might be compromised by the
unreasonable work demands we were making of it. Admirably, it
delivered its load safely to the site where the tower was unloaded and
safely stored ready for installation.
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