Friday on my mind

Meridian got the resource consent for its 176 turbine, $1.5bn Project Hayes wind farm on the Lammermoor Range, 70 km north west of Dunedin in Central Otago, but only on a split decision. Next stage: almost certainly the Environment Court. [Herald , The Press , Southland Times] Meanwhile:

  • Brian Fallow follows up on fast following in the Herald, and gets it right.
  • Desmogblog highlights an excellent NASA animation illustrating the sheer extent of this summer’s Arctic ice melt.
  • Technology Review covers MIT’s Smart Cities group design for a folding, stackable, electric city car (and scooter).
  • The Guardian [UK]reports on a list of the top 50 things to do to save the planet, drawn up by the Environment Agency [full list(PDF)]. Toppermost of the poppermost? Dramatically improve the energy efficiency of electrical goods. In the charts at number 2 (with a bullet)? Religious leaders to make the environment a priority for their followers.
  • The Guardian [UK] also has an interesting feature on plans to collect solar energy in space (thus avoiding the losses caused by passage through the atmosphere) and then beam it down to earth via microwave or laser beams.

New energy and energy efficiency strategies announced

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 08 WindturbineRenewables are the key to New Zealand’s future energy needs, according to the government’s new energy strategy, published today [HTML, PDF]. No new thermal generation should be built over the next ten years, the government is going tell the power generation and distribution state owned enterprises. New generation capacity is expected to come from an expansion of wind and geothermal generation. The energy strategy is complemented by the new energy efficiency and conservation strategy (EECS) [web, PDF], designed to help homes, businesses and transport reduce their energy use.
Announcing the energy strategy, David Parker said (Scoop audio):

The government does not believe it is in the interests of the country for the SOEs to build any more base-load thermal generation. The government will be writing to the SOE generators to make it clear that it expects them to follow this guidance. We are also considering additional measures to ensure our message is loud and clear, for all generators, not just SOEs. Competitive neutrality between the private sector and SOEs is important.

In the transport sector, the government wants to encourage biofuels, greater fuel efficiency, and low-carbon vehicles. It foresees as much as 60% of the light vehicle fleet being electric powered by 2050. The strategy also call for the development of a domestic sea freight strategy, looking to build an integrated rail/sea freight system to reduce reliance on roads. [“Key points” press release]

In her speech launching the EECS, Jeanette Fitzsimmons said:

“This is an action plan to make a real difference to Kiwi families so that they can live in warmer, drier, healthier homes that cost less to heat; for business to become more competitive; and to save money and emissions in the transport sector. The strategy is set to deliver annual non-transport energy savings of 30 PetaJoules per year by 2025. That’s the same as the electricity used by 30 cities the size of Nelson in 2006 or 18 months of coal-fired production from Huntly, at 2006 levels. In transport, cumulative savings by 2025 will be around 4.8 billion litres of fuel.”

All good stuff, but someone should tell her officials that a PetaJoule is a bit more than 1015 Joules – as defined at the back of the strategy document. That should be 10 to the power of 15, a thousand trillion joules, or 1,000,000,000,000,000 joules. Either that, or Nelson is the most energy efficient town in the known universe. Mike Ward clearly doesn’t need to be mayor…

Reaction so far seems mainly positive. More from me when I’ve had a chance to read the strategy documents in detail.