Welcome to the fifth post in the Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air – A New Zealand Perspective series. Today we’re summarising the numbers on wind, hydro and geothermal potential in New Zealand (and finding they’re pretty big!). For the background to the work please our introductory post here. Also check out our earlier posts on the potential of hydro power, geothermal and wind. Note: the units are in kWh/day/person – ie. if you ran a 40W lightbulb for 24 hours, it’d take ~1 kWh over the space of a day. We then divide it by person to give you a sense of the scale of the resource proportionate to the size of the population. Be sure to check out the methodology.
So, after going through the numbers for hydro, geothermal and wind, we find that we have a total realistic extra potential generation of 59.4kWh/d/p (hydro 23, geothermal 4.4, and wind 32kWh/d/p), without considering offshore wind. So, if we don’t mind parts of the country covered with windmills, multiple new hydro schemes, including all those proposed for the Clutha and Waitaki Rivers, and new geothermal schemes, we can readily get more than our required 55kWh/d/p from hydro, geothermal and wind alone.
We don’t have to say yes to every wind and hydro proposal but we have to say yes to a great many of them. And if we want power to be affordable for everyone, we have to say yes to proposals in places where it is cost-effective to generate power.
In other words, it’s a feasible possibility.
The important point to make here is that much of the energy we’ll be generating will be in different forms to those we will be replacing – i.e. we’ll be generating a lot more electricity, but moving away from energy in liquid fuels. It’s worth noting that even if we manage to find a significant resource of oil in our offshore drilling efforts, this will be sold on the international market. Also, because they’re finite won’t change the long term requirement of having to transition towards renewable energy sources.
Aside from these options, there are other possible sources of power that will become more important over time. We’ll be having a look at them in our next post.
Summary: We could meet of our energy requirements (note: not including our air travel, diesel fuel used for shipping or the embodied energy in imported products) almost exclusively on a hydropower, wind and geothermal. It would mean saying yes to schemes that are in places where it’s cost effective to generate power.
Up next: We crunch the numbers on solar for New Zealand and find it’s a pretty massive resource.