Zero-carbon – as much pie in the sky as CO2 in the sky

Greens have long been big on ideal but absent on credible costings for their policies. Until now they have not had to actually cost and budget for policies. Now they are in Government the cost of their primary policy, net carbon zero by 2050, gets important.

But does anyone have any idea what it will cost?

Some called (Stuff September 2017): What a zero carbon act means for New Zealand

HOW MUCH MIGHT IT COST?

The effects of runaway climate change will damage our economy much more than taking steps to reduce emissions. By joining the Paris Agreement, we’ve already committed to being part of the global transition to net zero emissions.

The zero carbon act will require the Government to set out a fair, sustainable and cost-efficient pathway for New Zealand to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. What will really cost is delay – delay in reducing our emissions, and in dealing with impacts of climate change that are already on our doorstep.

The longer we continue on our current path of emission growth, the more we lock in bad investments that will become stranded assets tomorrow. A smooth, well-managed transition is in New Zealand’s best interests – otherwise we’ll be forced to make a costly and abrupt transition later.

Insurers and local councils are also ringing the alarm bells that we need to get serious about adapting to climate impacts like sea level rise now. The longer we wait, the more risk and the more cost we are creating for ourselves.

That is alarmingly vague. There is no attempt whatsoever to cost the policy.

The author Leith Huffadine  reveals in the article: . “We [Generation Zero]…”. Greens credited Generation Zero for the formation of the policy.

The Spinoff (May 2018):  NZ has pledged zero carbon by 2050. How on earth can we get there?

The word ‘cost’ appears just twice in that.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) lithium-ion battery price index shows a fall from US$1,000 per kWh in 2010 to US$209 per kWh in 2017. This fantastic cost decline is a cause for celebration.

And:

Solar and wind offer a comparatively low-cost pathway to reduce emissions in most countries that currently have a high share of coal and gas-fired generation, but how we plug the gap between 95% and 100% in New Zealand isn’t obvious yet.

that was written by Briony Bennett: B.A. Political Studies, B.Sc. Physics, Mathematics, member of the Green Party, “I am for energy that is safer, cheaper and greener.”

What also isn’t obvious to me is how much extra electricity generation we will need if all our cars, trains, buses and trucks are run by battery (which need electricity to charge them). Important things like this don’t seem to have been quantified, or even estimated.

Earlier this month – Zero carbon: Policy meets science

For example, economics.

If “no further climate action is taken”, the per household national income will increase by about 55 per cent by 2050, models show.

No indication of what models show this.

If the the bill passes as roughly signalled, per household national income will increase by about 40 per cent, the same models show.

That’s a significant loss of economic activity and many have pointed out that New Zealand’s contribution to greenhouse gases is less than 2 per cent of global emissions.

Far less than 2% (actually less than 0.2%) according to New Zealand’s Environmental Indicators:

China produced 26 percent of global GHG (green house gas) emissions, nearly twice as much as the next- highest producer, the United States. New Zealand contributed 0.17 percent.

Today at Stuff: Zero-carbon economy may not be worth the cost

Before we decide if a zero-carbon economy by 2050 is worth the cost, we must know what the damage to our economy from global warming will be if we do nothing. Only then will we know how important and urgent action on global warming really is.

Estimates of the cost of global warming as a percentage of GDP to New Zealand are elusive. I drew a nil response when I asked for that information from James Shaw, the Minister for Climate Change, and from the Ministry for the Environment. Both said such an estimate was too hard to calculate.

Too hard to calculate?

Fortunately, the OECD rose to the challenge in its 2015 report on The Economic Consequences of Climate Change. The OECD estimated the cost of global warming to New Zealand and Australia between now and 2060 was a reduction of 0.9 per cent in their GDPs.

No details on that. And that doesn’t look at the cost of doing what will be required to get to zero-carbon by 2050.

James Shaw must come clean

It is time for the Government to fund an estimate of the cost of global warming to New Zealand.

Author Jim Rose (‘an economic consultant in Wellington) seems fairly negative about doing anything at all, but it’s more than fair to ask what it all could cost. there’s a lot of variables and unknowns, but surely there should be some estimates.

There are certainly risks of not doing anything, and also risks of spending a lot of money trying to do something.

I find the lack of information about possible costs quite alarming.

 

47 Comments

  1. David

     /  July 26, 2018

    Its too hard to calculate with any accuracy what the costs will be because we arent really sure how to achieve the goal, some of the technology needed hasnt been invented yet. We might have hydrogen powered cars instead of electric ones, do we count the massive environmental damage done overseas when they build a battery or a solar panel.
    If its a global problem then overseas costs need to be added, if we export a lamb chop where does the carbon cost of the transport lie given the sensible thing to do would be to grow the lamb chop locally.

  2. Gerrit

     /  July 26, 2018

    Amazingly after spending 250 million dollars on a Tesla solar and wind powered battery system for electricity supply in South Australia, they still need to spend 295 million dollars more on this

    https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/agl-to-build-new-295-million-gas-power-plant-in-south-australia-20180205-p4yzeb.html

    So much for relying solely on the much vaunted solar and wind generation.

    Griff, Come in spinner, this is your opportunity to push the barrow.

    • David

       /  July 26, 2018

      Trouble with Griff is he just flies in with personal abuse and labels everyone who doesnt agree with him dumb as a sack of spanners and hence persuades no one. He is a microcosm of the environmental movement and unless we actually see some of the doomsday scenarios start to occur in a dramatic fashion then they will be ignored as cooks or patted on the head by politicians.

      • Griff

         /  July 26, 2018

        Slowly Dave/Gerrit .
        I gave you shite yesterday for posting high snowfall events.
        Because it is smegging the result of CLIMATE CHANGE.
        No one has ever said it is going to be above 0C all the time right around the world.
        When it is below 0C rain falls as snow. More moisture in the atmosphere because it is warmer means more rain or snowfall . This effect is even measured happening in the year round freezing cold bloody Antarctic .

        If I posted every hot event I would be posting four times or more events than you guys do.
        I dont bother to post any the news tells you all you need to know..

        Hydrogen?
        You make it splitting sea water into oxygen and hydrogen.
        That takes energy.
        You then have to shift it to were you need it.
        That takes energy.
        You have to compress it to make the hydrogen dense enough to be useful.
        That takes energy.
        At the end you are going to waste more than 70% of the energy you started with.
        This is the result of unalterable laws of physics.
        Much more efficient to pump energy straight into a battery .

        Patted on the head Dave ?
        Hello Dave the bloody National party signed up to The Paris Agreement.
        There is no political party in our parliament that takes your world view over mine.
        This thread is on NZ passing a law to lock in zero emissions in 2050.
        You and the rest of those in denial are being totally ignored ! The opposite of what you just wrote.

        Dumb shite from those who live in fantersy worlds …

        • Gerrit

           /  July 26, 2018

          And in he spins…right on cue.

          As the South Australian example shows, it is not possible to generate enough electricity from solar and wind alone.

          In your “fantersy” world it might, but in the real world there are no fantasies.

          • Griff

             /  July 26, 2018

            Ever heard of hydro ?
            No obviously not.

            They are replacing a 50 year old plant at the end of its life.
            AU has historically made all its electricity from coal and gas.
            The new plant will be obsolete before it is paid for.

            • Gerrit

               /  July 26, 2018

              So not replacing the old with a new renewable generator?

              Why like for like, directly equal replacement if every other source is so much better.

              Maybe the South Australians are more up to speed and have more knowledge than…you?

              Plant wont be obsolete because the solar/wind powered battery is only good for 1 hours electricity supply for 30,000 houses?

              Hydro in South Australia is going through a planned upgrade but it wont be enough.

              https://reneweconomy.com.au/future-is-storage-sa-govt-pumps-for-four-more-hydro-projects-41345/

            • Griff

               /  July 26, 2018

              Gupta said that the cost of solar and wind was rapidly declining, but large-scale storage was essential to make “this revolution” complete and sustainable.

              “Using the empty mining pits from our SIMEC Mining division in South Australia as reservoirs for storing hydro power … we will balance power generated by our large-scale solar projects in Whyalla with despatchable hydro power generated in the Middleback range,” he said.

              Gupta’s company has predicted a fall in electricity costs of up to40 per cent through renewables and storage, and said that “a dramatic reduction in power price is the most important ingredient needed for an industrial renaissance in Australia.”

              Gupta’s SIMEC ZEN Energy has already won the contract to deliver electricity to the state government while waiting for the Aurora solar tower and storage project to be built in Port Augusta.

              Yates said that the Baroota Hydro Project would be a 50-year critical asset that “underpins growth in renewables, lower wholesale electricity prices and network stability.”

              The detail you missed in your gas plant comparison above is the capital spent in building a thermal plant is not the ongoing running cost .
              Thermal needs fuel to run and ongoing maintenance.
              A solar panel/wind and battery sytem runs at almost no extra cost above capital expenditure for its entire life , the fuel is free .

  3. Ray

     /  July 26, 2018

    There are no real risks on NZ doing nothing except maybe the perception by our overseas customers. Considering how little negative vibe countries that export coal, fuel, and terrorism get at the moment, why worry if we do nothing.

    The truth of the matter is that nothing NZ can do or will do will make any real difference of more than 1% of Worlds atmosphere.

    So the real question is why do the Greens and their supporters want to make us pauper peasants who have to walk everywhere while our lords and rulers fly round the world.*
    *The Parlimentary Environment Committee all just flew business class to London to view how their counterparts in London work.
    A simple Skype meeting could have sufficed and burnt up almost no carbon.

    • Gezza

       /  July 26, 2018

      I sometimes watch Skype discussions on programmes like The Stream on Aljaz tv. Bloody frustrating as signals fade & people talk over each other on the split screen because of the the time delay. Trying to coordinate a large group of people in a Skype conference to see what they all do is just impractical.

      I understand how important it is to anti-Green abusers to keep banging on about their apparent hypocrisy for flying & driving to this, that, and the other appointment or conference but keep things in perspective. Keep it real.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 26, 2018

        Don’t fly a committee. Send one person to study and report back. If you can’t do it via documents anyway.

  4. Seabird

     /  July 26, 2018

    How the hell can you have Zero Carbon? Carbon is one of the building blocks of life.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 26, 2018

      Of course you can’t. The carbon cycle is critical to life. They mean carbon output = carbon input but they will only get there by fiddling the books as we export a lot of carbon as primary produce, import a lot as manufactured products and we are a small dot in a large ocean which has its own carbon cycle.

      • Griff

         /  July 26, 2018

        “they will only get there by fiddling the books”
        Tell me Alan why does your world view rely so heavily on conspiracy ideation?

        Being a wingnut requires a particularly paranoid worldview, teetering on the edge of or falling wholesale into tinfoil hat territory, as wingnuttery causes the victim to refuse to accept any source of information that doesn’t back up their prejudices (essentially, wingnuts are almost always authoritarian as well as being politically right-wing). Constant gibbering about the “liberal media” as well as a slavish devotion to cognitive dissonance, conspiracy theories, global warming denialism, psychological projection, and crackpot theories of economics (e.g. Austrian school, Social Credit) are also, if not required, at the very least nearly universal symptoms. This is all usually accompanied by a side dish of a severe persecution complex.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 26, 2018

          RationalWiki has lots of one-sided rants, the kind of stuff Wikipedia is very good at weeding out. It tends to be very negative, most authors seem less interested in promoting truth than punishing falsehood. That means you can’t count on it to explain honestly and seriously what the opposing view is, nor to give arguments that will be convincing to someone who didn’t start out in agreement.
          -Quora

          Obviously made especially for you, Griff.

          • Griff

             /  July 26, 2018

            And Alan
            Why did you heavily edit your cutandpaste ?

            First of all, like Wikipedia, the quality of articles varies greatly. Also, like Wikipedia, you can usually tell from the tone and clarity of the article, plus the quality of the citations, whether to take it seriously or not.

            If you find an article in either place that has a calm, expert tone, and has citations to the reputable places you’d expect to find good information, and you check a few links and they actually say what the article says they say, then you’re on reasonably safe ground.

            RationalWiki has lots of one-sided rants, the kind of stuff Wikipedia is very good at weeding out. It tends to be very negative, most authors seem less interested in promoting truth than punishing falsehood. That means you can’t count on it to explain honestly and seriously what the opposing view is, nor to give arguments that will be convincing to someone who didn’t start out in agreement.

            On the other hand, on a lot of issues clear opinion saves a lot of time. Whereas Wikipedia works to get articles that reflect all points of view, for some topics that means treating nonsense seriously.

            For example, compare the articles on UFOs. Wikipedia gives a measured and accurate summary of evidence, but one that I would argue is too polite to people who believe there is any good evidence for sightings of extraterrestrial ships.

            Studies have established that the majority of UFO observations are misidentified conventional objects or natural phenomena—most commonly aircraft, balloons, noctilucent clouds, nacreous clouds, or astronomical objects such as meteors or bright planets with a small percentage even being hoaxes.

            Between 5% and 20% of reported sightings are not explained, and therefore can be classified as unidentified in the strictest sense. While proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) suggest that these unexplained reports are of alien spacecraft, the null hypothesis cannot be excluded that these reports are simply other more prosaic phenomena that cannot be identified due to lack of complete information or due to the necessary subjectivity of the reports.

            RationalWiki is mean and less accurate, but it saves a lot of time.

            Ufology is the “study” of UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects). This mostly consists of people saying “wouldn’t it be cool if they were alien spacecraft”.

            Similarly, the Wikipedia article is long and detailed with hundreds of authoritative links and citations. RationalWiki makes fun of UFO-believers for a few paragraphs, supported by four links (one broken) to laugh at.

            Indeed.
            Rational wiki is a good place to find humorous content giving you a good laugh at cranks and whacks ideas or lack of idea.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 26, 2018

              I quoted the bit relevant to the rant you cited – which actually carries its own health warning at the top of its page. I note you didn’t quote that.

        • Griff

           /  July 26, 2018

          I did not post that to convince you or the others that “think” like you.
          I posted it so rational readers of this blog are aware of what you are and can mentally tick of your behavior as confirming closely to the identity “wingnut”
          If your world view relies on nonsensical conspiracy gibbering it is safe to say a rational person would ignore what you have to say as being based on imaginary ideas found only within your head and among others who share in your fantastical altered reality.

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          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 26, 2018

            Silly stuff like that removes your credibility, Griff. Give it up. You don’t need it, really.

            • Griff

               /  July 26, 2018

              Credibility ?
              You accuse me of having none.

              Tell us all about your conspiracy’s again mate.

              Deem nasty scientists are all colluding to adjust the data so they can steal my money .
              Yeah we have these meeting in secret chamber under a volcano and Fat Al Gore gives us our orders.
              You should come along sometime ya get free hookers and bags of dosh .

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 26, 2018

              There’s nothing fanciful re the fact that carbon market accounting has been full of rorts worldwide from the start. Stop acting like a fool.

            • Griff

               /  July 26, 2018

              Yes national gutted the ETS.
              They allowed suspect cheap eastern European Credits and even created a scam for industry washing these credits into valuable NZ ones .
              That is why I no longer support the right here.
              They are crooks .
              I prefer a revenue neutral carbon tax used to dismantle working for family’s first.
              The WFF distortion on income makes it harder for a single person to stay in this country. The result is we are exporting valuable talent we pay to educate offshore before they add to our productivity.
              To replace the population drain we import low skilled labor from third world nations driving down real wages even more.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 26, 2018

              The same sort of political conjuring went on all over the world and certainly will continue which was my point.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  July 26, 2018

      I think they mean zero year on year net carbon emissions from industry. In other words any carbon released is offset by carbon collected or trapped so that overall CO2 in the atmosphere stops increasing.
      No-one is talking about removing all the carbon from the atmosphere.

      • Griff

         /  July 26, 2018

        Give that man a chocolate fish.
        Hence the push to plant out forestry.
        Much better than paying money offshore to someone else for offsetting our emissions .

    • Blazer

       /  July 26, 2018

      you CAN have Zero Coke …though.

  5. Zedd

     /  July 26, 2018

    Zero-carbon maybe seen as ‘pie in the sky’ BUT there are a few other words: sustainability, alternative energy, reduction by taking public transport etc.

    When I see folks driving about 100 yards to the local shop to get a loaf of bread & milk.. ‘because its convenient’ rather than stretching their legs..it just shows, how many just dont care about this issue or the potential impact it IS having 😦

    • Grimm

       /  July 26, 2018

      “how many just dont care about this issue”

      No one cares Zedd, and it’s because the argument is full of hypocrisy and nonsense hyperboly.

      For example: “When I see folks driving about 100 yards to the local shop”

      Sure, whatever. Maybe you can change the weather by regulating that they must drive at least 200m?

  6. High Flying Duck

     /  July 26, 2018

    This may help to explain to Griff why the plummeting cost of Solar and Wind is being accompanied by much higher power costs…

    “That leaves us with solar and wind as the key suspects behind higher electricity prices. But why would cheaper solar panels and wind turbines make electricity more expensive?

    The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013.

    In a paper for Energy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply.

    The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

    Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

    And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

    Hirth predicted that the economic value of wind on the European grid would decline 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity while the value of solar would drop by 50 percent when it got to just 15 percent.”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/04/23/if-solar-and-wind-are-so-cheap-why-are-they-making-electricity-more-expensive/#68111d2a1dc6

    • I must confess that the obvious obection to wind power hadn’t occurred to me; I lived in Welington for a long time.

      The turbines also make a noise that is intolerable for anyone close to it.

      It was only when I saw one being driven past that I realised how huge they are; it’s one thing knowing it intellectually and another actually seeing one in reality.

      I’d guess that they are made of some form of plastic or use it in some way (?)

    • Griff

       /  July 26, 2018

      Duck .
      The question is here in NZ not some other place.
      We live in a nation that is already 85% renewable for electricity.
      Our position as a long string of islands in the pacific ocean straddling the roaring forties means there is seldom a day when the wind does not blow.
      The only time wind does not blow somewhere in NZ is when we have an extremely large high over the country = sunny weather.
      Our Hydro even though a lot is run of river it still represents a huge amount of energy storage potential.
      Lots of wind and solar throttle back the Hydro not much wind and solar ramp up the Hydro to compensate .
      The dropping cost of solar and storage will means in less than a decade it will be cheaper for almost every one to go off grid not just me.
      I dont think getting to 100 % 100% of the time is going to be easy.
      I dont think it is impossible as many fear mongers claim.

      Always look for the barrow.
      Michael Shellenberger’s pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Environmental Progress
      https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/853/exposing-misinformation-michael-shellenberger-and-environmental-progress

      • High Flying Duck

         /  July 26, 2018

        Good points Griff, although I still think storage is a bigger issue than you give it credit for. There is progress, but it is a notoriously difficult area to get genuine gains from. A proper breakthrough will be required in this area to move things forward – and when it comes things will change very quickly.

        Michael Shellenberger is pro-nuclear, but is still very much an environmentalist and a greenie. Not sure you can put ulterior motives on the article,

        • Griff

           /  July 26, 2018

          Nuclear is his choice for making up for the loss of oil, gas and coal.
          He is a lobbyist for nuclear energy. I dont have a problem with that but it does influence his opinions.

          Nuclear?
          Not going to happen in NZ unless the populations opinion changes radically.

          Storage and disposal of waste* and decommissioning costs are still an issue.

          Of every 250 plants built so far one has has a catastrophic melt down. With the number that would be needed to be built to replace fossil fuels we would have one a month. Many perceive it as not worth the risk hence both Germany and Japan are moving away from it.

          Nuclear proliferation.

          It is always going to be uninsureable commercially. This means when the industry operates as a private enterprise the government always picks up the risk.

          Costs to build have been increasing for years it is getting more expensive not cheaper.

          Future tech like thorium or modular reactors are forty years away from commercial reality if ever.

          *There is a proposal to use directional well drilling tech developed for fracking to bury it deep underground that shows promise.
          http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/drilling-technologies-can-be-used-to-dispose-of-nuclear-waste/article/517869

          • High Flying Duck

             /  July 26, 2018

            I was a proponent of nuclear, but it does seem the model has fallen out of favour and costs are prohibitive. Also, from a NZ perspective, we are far too shaky and far to geographically spread to make use of that type of power.

            It would be nice to have some serious generation capacity Auckland and north though…

          • Pink David

             /  July 27, 2018

            “With the number that would be needed to be built to replace fossil fuels we would have one a month. ”

            By this logic, aircraft should be crashing every minute.

            • Gezza

               /  July 27, 2018

              Pink David

              Good man. 👍🏼

            • Griff

               /  July 27, 2018

              Care to point out some numbers backing your opinion?

              Number of nuclear plants built for electricity generation 450.
              Number of catastrophic meltdowns 2.
              That does not include the many reactors that have been shut down as a result of failures and will never be restarted .

              Number of commercial jets built since 1950 about 24,000.
              Number of accidents in that time resulting in hull loss where damage is bad enough the plane is written off about 900.
              Do your own math from there.

              Did you use logic?
              No.
              All you did is pull a number from your arse.

            • David

               /  July 27, 2018

              “Did you use logic?
              No.”

              The more you build, the more experience you have at getting them right.

              “All you did is pull a number from your arse.”

              I used no numbers, pulled from my arse or elsewhere.

            • Pink David

               /  July 27, 2018

              That worked better..

            • Griff

               /  July 27, 2018

              They thought they had them safe.
              Meltdowns.
              Enrico Fermi Unit 1 October 5, 1966
              Three Mile Island March 28, 1978
              Chernobyl April 26, 1986
              Fukushima Daiichi March 2011
              When will the next one be ?
              Because it will happen .
              Proliferation would mean more dodgy places running reactors.
              Do you trust Pakistan,Iran, or Korea with nuclear reactors ?
              They are bad enough.
              What about Africa or South America or rest of the middle east ?
              Nuclear is not safe and never will be.
              When you have a problem the result is humanity loses the use of 100’s of sq miles of land for 20,000 years.
              That is why.
              The worlds premium engineering country’s Germany and japan have walked away from the technology as to risky for future use .

        • Griff

           /  July 26, 2018

          Load shifting is probably going to become more important as we get closer to 100%.
          A smarter grid.
          For freight transport this may mean charging using mostly cheap solar during the daytime and running at night .

          VTC vehicle to grid has had some interesting trials. You could specify what you require for daily/weekly use from your car any surplus capacity could be used for Arbitrage on the power market. Battery range is heading towards 500km plus so plenty of spare capacity as most do less than 50km a day.
          Charging times is not an issue as the power grid is available every where already all you need is an standard power outlet.

          • Pink David

             /  July 27, 2018

            “You could specify what you require for daily/weekly use from your car any surplus capacity could be used for Arbitrage on the power market”

            Awesome, lets get everyone trading energy futures.

  7. wooden goat

     /  July 27, 2018

    Antimatter may eventually be a “dark horse” for energy production.
    A number of radioisotopes produce positrons (one form of antimatter) as they decay.

    The talk below is interesting – about “Positron Dynamics”, a company that is researching the use of antimatter for rocket propulsion. They have pretty much solved the problem of creating and storing
    antimatter –
    * Creating it – use a radioisotope to do this instead of doing it yourself.
    * Storing it. Don’t bother – just use it immediately.

  1. Zero-carbon – as much pie in the sky as CO2 in the sky — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition