Green Party – Clean Energy Plan

The Green Party announced their Green Energy Plan yesterday. As for any small party policy this is subject to the Greens making the 5% threshold to get them back into Parliament, and is then subject to being able to negotiate this with the Labour party if they get to form a Government, and don’t get blocked by NZ First if they are also in the governing mix.

James Shaw says their policies would be funded from the Covid Recovery Fund, and would cost about $1.3 billion in the first three years.

And ditching fossil fuels will take time as they are phased out.

Clean Energy Plan

Powering Climate Change Action

When all our energy comes from the sun, the wind, and the flow of rivers, we won’t need to burn the fossil fuels that cause the climate crisis.

For decades, governments have chosen to keep burning last century’s dirty fuels. Many factories still use huge coal boilers and our largest power plant relies on 1970s coal technology. But clean alternatives exist and the Green Party understands that change is needed. The climate crisis demands urgent action to decarbonise the energy system. As we reset the economy after COVID-19, investing in clean energy will help tackle the climate crisis to build a stronger, more resilient economy. The Green Party will:

  1. Bring forward the Government’s target for 100% renewable electricity from 2035 to 2030 and re-instate the ban on building new fossil fuel electricity generation.
  2. Equip all suitable public housing with solar panels and batteries, saving people on their power bills and enabling them to share clean energy with their neighbours.
  3. Make it 50% cheaper for everyone to upgrade to solar and batteries for their own homes, with Government finance.
  4. Create a $250 million community clean energy fund to support communities, iwi, and hapū to build and share low-cost, clean energy with their neighbours.
  5. Train thousands of people for clean energy careers with a clean energy training plan, developed with the energy industry, training providers, and unions.
  6. Ban new fossil-fuelled industrial heating systems and boilers in our first 100 days in Government, end industrial coal use in Aotearoa by 2030, and end industrial gas use by 2035.
  7. Triple existing financial support for businesses to replace coal and gas with clean energy alternatives.
  8. Stop issuing permits for new onshore fossil fuel extraction.
  9. Update planning rules to make it easier to build new wind farms.

Affordable home solar

Grants will cover 50% of the cost of a standard sized solar and battery system, including for rental homes. These grants will be delivered in partnership with existing solar companies and not-for-profit energy organisations, who already have the skills and experience needed to scale up.

Solar state homes

The rooftops of the 63,000 state homes throughout Aotearoa are an untapped opportunity to create free electricity from the sun. The Green Party will put solar panels on every suitable state house, along with a battery pack to store the power for when it’s needed. The rooftops of our public houses will become a huge Virtual Power Plant, sharing clean electricity with neighbours. This will save households $1,000 each, a year.

Community Clean Energy Fund

A $250 million Community Clean Energy Fund will empower communities, iwi and hapū, and local councils to build small-scale clean electricity generation and smart grids. Community groups will be able to apply for a grant or a loan to get good projects built. These could be local wind turbines, community solar systems, or community-owned batteries that store and share excess power generated by household rooftop solar panels. The fund would also be available for people who live in apartment buildings and papakāinga who want to share access to rooftop wind or solar electricity.

Clean industrial energy

Burning fossil fuels generates 60% of Aotearoa’s industrial heat, making it Aotearoa’s second biggest energy-related contributor to climate change. Replacing coal with clean alternatives is one of the best ways to quickly reduce Aotearoa’s carbon emissions.

The Green Party will triple current government support for businesses to replace coal and gas with clean alternatives, and to increase their energy efficiency. We expect many businesses to choose electricity, while others might burn biomass and wood waste. We will also modernise grid connection rules, making it easier for businesses to switch to electricity.

A Clean Energy Industry Training Plan will be developed with working people, energy companies, unions, and local government to help create sustainable careers and ensure a just transition to new clean energy jobs for people currently working with fossil fuels.

I had to search the full policy to find the projected costs. Some costs are vague.

Solar grants would be funded from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, and would cost $45 million in the first year, increasing over time as more people take up the offer and the solar industry expands to meet demand. The Crown would seek to recoup half the subsidy over 15 years, from a small levy.

The solar state home plan would be funded from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund at a total cost of $1.27 billion for all 63,000 state homes.

The Green Party in Government will triple the Government’s financial support for businesses making the switch to clean energy, from $33million to $100 million a year.

Building on the $200 million Clean Powered Public Service fund announced by the Government in January 2020, we will continue upgrading government buildings to be more energy efficient.

The Green Party in Government will work with Transpower to solve this problem so grid upgrades can happen faster and their costs get shared fairly.

This will cost users.

How we’ll pay for it

The cost of doing nothing to stop climate change would far exceed the costs of upgrading to clean energy. Increased droughts, floods, and storms are already taking an economic toll on Aotearoa, and around the world.

I keep hearing this claim from Greens but It is probably debatable. They link to OCDE (Organisation for EconomicCo-operation and Development) – Climate change: Consequences of inaction

Read the full Clean energy Plan policy here.

 

Solar is not smarter for me

There’s no doubt that solar energy is worth considering, and the Green policy of providing low interest loans to install solar has some merit.

See Green Party launches Solar Homes policy and Russel Norman’s speech announcing the Solar Homes plan.

But is it “smarter”? For some it may be, for others it may not.

The projected savings of $100 per year doesn’t sound compelling, but probably over the life of the solar cell installation (about 25 years) it makes economic sense.

It appears as if the loan will be secured on the property and paid back as rates. This appears to mean that if you sell your house any outstanding loan is taken over by the new owner. That may help selling your house, but it could put some people off.

My biggest problem with installing solar is personal. When I would most benefit from solar, the winter, I don’t get much sun so the benefits would be far less for me than people in sunnier locations.

I would get far more benefit from better insulating my house and reducing the need for energy.

I have already added ceiling insulation, installed new underfloor insulation, installed a heat pump and installed the most efficient wood burner I could find (I grow my own wood supply).

But I still have poorly insulated windows. Double glazing would make the biggest difference for me, but the initial cost puts me off.

If a similar scheme was available for double glazing that would be a much smarter choice for me. It would significantly reduce my energy needs, and it would last longer than solar panels.

UPDATE: I tweeted this post and Russel Norman responded:

Can’t do everything at once. We did solar hot water, then insulation, now solar electricity. One step at a time.

I replied “I understand that, but I would prefer to see reducing energy needs as a priority rather than additional generation.”

@RusselNorman:

Well we did achieve 230,000 homes retrofitted with insulation, ie energy efficiency. Solar Homes next part of journey.

I’ve done the insulation on the scheme, added heat pump and efficient fire. Double glazing is smarter next step.

Why not offer either solar or double glazing? It’s just a loan, simple to offer for the best choice for individuals.

Andrew Robertson @Unimatrix_0:

Why not offer either solar or double glazing?” Good idea! I’d be much more likely to go for double glazing!

I get the impression that offering the most sensible choice doesn’t fit with carefully packaged Green marketing. I hope they will consider widening and improving their policy.