Government’s 100% renewable energy target would be very expensive

This shouldn’t be a surprise, but an Interim Climate Change Committee report due out on 30 April is expected to point out that getting to 100% renewable energy could be very expensive – and i think the estimate of boosting power prices by up to 39% could be conservative.

New Zealand currently has about 80% renewable electrical energy.

From the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

3. Request the Climate Commission to plan the transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 (which includes geothermal) in a normal hydrological year

Green naivety has always been questioned on energy policies.

RNZ:  Government’s energy policy could drive electricity prices up 39 percent

A government body is poised to announce that a core of the country’s energy policy will be prohibitively expensive to implement.

The Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC) will make this announcement on 30 April.

But a preview of the announcement was presented to a conference on agriculture and the environment in Palmerston North last week.

It showed one aspect of government policy would push electricity prices by 39 percent for hardly any environmental gain.

At stake is a plan to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.

This was agreed in the confidence and supply agreement between the Labour Party and the Greens after the 2017 election.

But the chairperson of the ICCC, David Prentice, told the Palmerston North conference the cost of the final stages of that proposal would be exorbitant.

“(Prices would rise) 14 percent for residential electricity, 29 percent for commercial, and 39 percent for industrial electricity.

“The emissions abatement cost of getting the last one percent of renewable electricity is prohibitively expensive … at a cost of over $1200 per tonne of Co2 or equivalent.”

He said the reason for pushing up electricity prices would be the cost of what he called the “overbuild” – a the need to have far more power stations available for a crisis.

Electricity experts have long produced several scenarios to illustrate this. One would be a need for wind turbines in remote corners of New Zealand, straining to catch the lightest of breezes. Alternatively, it could be solar panels residential roofs.

I wonder if this report could have been leaked in advance of the report to soften the impact of reality.

Of course availability of effective cheap alternative energy could change all of this, if nit eventuates.

27 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  16th April 2019

    Mouths with no financial responsibility will blithely deny reality, promise nirvana and create catastrophe. Similar airheads will vote for them.

    • Duker

       /  16th April 2019

      There is some level of dream heads not thinking it all out. The other side is the Paris Climate Treaty signed off by national in 2016 which means we are in the hock for $1.5 bill per year for the next decade buying other countries CO2 credits. I think its more hot air but thats the reality, why wouldnt we reduce the CO2, even if it means spending the same $1.5 bill per year ( Jones Trees!) here.
      No politician is brave enough to take on the climate mafia, as a worse fate than being held by ISIS awaits you

  2. artcroft

     /  16th April 2019

    All will be well, trust in Gaia, and all will be well.

  3. FarmerPete

     /  16th April 2019

    I am all for investing in alternative energy research. At some point we will need to transition from reliance on traditional fuels, but that time is not now. It is a huge black mark against this government that they would basically discontinue all gas and oil exploration without a viable plan, and worse without public discussion. Pick your adjective – dopey, looney, crazy, irresponsible.
    The hypocrisy of government astounds me. If they are so wedded to alternative energy as a public priority where are the massive research grants, and the tax incentives to encourage individuals to install solar for example? I don’t see any coherent plan, beyond the usual Green Party rhetoric.

    • Duker

       /  16th April 2019

      Gas comes in ships as LNG like a lot of imports. We are close to large exporters like Australia and Indonesia but we could get it from Middle East as well.

      Solar doesnt need incentives like Australia does as they have around 80% electricity from Coal. We have 80% wind/hydro/geothermal now and its pointless subsidising solar when the peak loads are morning and evening in winter after the sun goes down, and ‘solar homes’ will still require wired energy

      • alloytoo

         /  16th April 2019

        Exclude wind as well, the wind rarely blows when you need it.

        • Duker

           /  16th April 2019

          NZ is favoured location by the Wind Gods. At night often the Cook Strait power runs from North to South because of excess wind energy in NI.
          What seems to happen is say half or 2/3 the wind turbines are braked during the day and as evening peak builds they release the brakes on more turbines to get more MW output. Automation plays a big role now.
          We are lucky as well with hydro distributed throught out country and as they are large generators set to run at 50 cycles per second they maintain the national grid frequency- lose that out of small limits and you get a blackout.

    • Duker

       /  16th April 2019

      Do you know National had similar election promises… % and timeline differed but essentially was the same.
      https://www.interest.co.nz/news/87611/election-2017-party-policies-energy-electricity

      • David in aus

         /  16th April 2019

        Your reference doesn’t support your claim.

        • Duker

           /  16th April 2019

          90% by 2025, while governments one is 100% by 2035.
          Thats the same sort of time line .
          For the Paris Accord National committed to spending something like $15 bill over 10 years for ‘carbon offsets’ , ie buying our way out increasing CO2

          • David in Aus

             /  16th April 2019

            You seem to ignore the article’s main point: “The emissions abatement cost of getting the last one percent of renewable electricity is prohibitively expensive … at a cost of over $1200 per tonne of Co2 or equivalent.”

            The report suggests that going to 100% renewable energy will be prohibitively expensive. 90% is nowhere near 100%, It is the final percentage points where the costs rise exponentially.

            That being said, I am not sure I agree with the analysis. NZ has significant resources of hydropower, shouldn’t that source be ideal for peak power demand? I am not an energy analyst, I would like people to explain why hydro cannot be a peak demand solution. Perhaps they are modelling drought conditions and are assuming that we would not consider once-in-a-decade drought-related power shortage.

            As a solution I suggest that Greens/Labour voters will have their power cut first in any shortage, I think the majority of people could live with that.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  16th April 2019

              Hydro doesn’t solve the cost of having to duplicate generation capacity to cope with wind and solar unreliability.

            • david in aus

               /  16th April 2019

              Geothermal is more promising and the main driver of increased renewable energy utilization over the past decade. I do not think 100% renewable energy is feasible or smart. 100% renewable energy target is the triumph of ideology over pragmatism.

              If the Greens can go 100% without fossil fuels for their everyday life, then it will be doable. That would mean no computers, limited medicine choices; petroleum products touches nearly every aspect of our lives.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  16th April 2019

      The massive grants will be paid for by us, so it would be the taxpayer, of course, paying for it one way or other.

  4. NOEL

     /  16th April 2019

    Oh so that’s just to have 100 percent now with current consumption.
    There goes the aspiration to follow Norway with high electric car fleet not forgetting they have tax rebates on purchase, able to drive in bus lanes, no fees on ferries etc etc which the Greens here are silent on.
    .

    • alloytoo

       /  16th April 2019

      converting out current vehicle fleet to electric will effectively double demand.

  5. we need to go balls out on expanding renewable power just to keep up with the looming transition to plug in hybrid and all electric cars.

    Aim so high that even failed targets look like success. (unless of course its as bad as kiwibuild)

    • alloytoo

       /  16th April 2019

      How?

      Current Hydro and Geothermal are reliable and useful, but there appears to be little room for expansion.

      Wind and solar are a waste of time and money.

    • alloytoo

       /  16th April 2019

      How?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  16th April 2019

        Solar is all right on a small household scale. but it didn’t occur to me that wind turbines need wind all the time ! Today would be useless and yesterday would have been, too.

        • alloytoo

           /  16th April 2019

          Apparently wind blows more during the day (on average), due to increased thermal energy, (go figure wind power is second hand solar)

          The biggest problem though is when you put wind into the grid you need to have a reliable standby to plug into grid on demand if the wind stops blowing.

          Typically the standby power is generated through conventional fossil fuel plants.

          Therefore supposedly “free” wind power needs to carry the overhead cost of the idling standby power plant when the wind is blowing and the cost of the plant plus fuel when the wind stops.

          Solar is at least more predictable, I suppose we could use it to pump water.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  16th April 2019

            Or just heat it…

            The obvious flaw with wind turbines is glossed over, I feel,

  6. FarmerPete

     /  16th April 2019

    The government objective is to boost electric cars (which is basically good) but it is reported to take up to 25 % of hydro capacity if future goals are met. There is no plan for significant additional generation. Additionally once all these motorists are incentivised into electric there is going to be a very large hole in petrol tax and RUC. There is no escaping the fact that road user charges will be coming for electric vehicles at some point.
    Solar adoption has been slow. What happens when natural gas supplies are exhausted and extra burden is placed on hydro? The fact that we cant answer these questions is not very promising. A little known fact is that we are important 000’s of tons of dirty Indonesian coal for generation at bathe moment because we are too ‘green’ to extract our own coal. Just nuts!

    • alloytoo

       /  16th April 2019

      It’s that nice dirty coal which is going to power all the electric vehicles.

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  16th April 2019

    In other Environmental news:

    Judge finds for Peter Ridd unlawfully sacked by James Cook University for disputing climate alarmists’ claims that Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed by global warming:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/04/15/victory-climate-skeptic-scientist-peter-ridd-wins-big/

    Let’s see if Stuff reports this.

  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  16th April 2019

    And Attenborough is now just another climate alarmist manufacturing fake news:
    https://polarbearscience.com/2019/04/14/our-planet-film-crew-is-still-lying-about-walrus-cliff-deaths-heres-how-we-know/

  1. Government’s 100% renewable energy target would be very expensive — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition