Domestic solar PV: practical for NZ?

This is a guest post by Jason Kemp of DialogCRM. It originally appeared at Jason’s blog last week, but I thought it deserved an airing here because it directly addresses many of the issues HT’s readers have been keen to discuss. With luck, this won’t be last time Jason’s work pops up at Hot Topic

Many NZ consumers will be wondering if solar power for the home is a practical option. In simple terms despite New Zealand having mostly renewable energy our power costs to the home have continued to climb in the past few years despite low inflation. In real terms power costs have pretty much doubled for me in the last 4 years and some of that is due to changing power use but most of it comes from cost increases made by the lines companies and the electricity retailers.

According to one source: Andrew Booth of Solar City re intelligent roof tiles

“The price of power in New Zealand is more than 70% higher than in Australia and the United States. There is very little point switching power companies in the face of such high prices. Homeowners would be far better off switching to solar.”

I suspect having an unprofitable aluminium smelter sucking up huge amounts of power at a huge discount and a government hell bent on selling shares in power companies ( that we already own – double dipping anyone?) complicates the math on why NZ power costs are extortionate but having high power costs should incentivise us to investigate alternatives – shouldn’t it? Continue reading “Domestic solar PV: practical for NZ?”

Nick Smith fails the smelter spin test

What does The Hon Dr Nick Smith, Minister for Climate Change Issues, say when the Greens accuse him of subsidising greenhouse gas polluters. Well it seems he denies it and he produces instructive soundbites of spin. I am informed that at Wellington’s Oxfam election and climate change debate he said that the NZ Aluminium Smelter Ltd’s operation at Tiwai Point is the only aluminium smelter in the world exposed to a carbon price.

He has used this soundbite a few times. For example, in Parliament on 29 September 2011:

“..the aluminium smelter in Bluff is the only aluminium smelter in the world to face any price at all for its greenhouse gas emissions”.

TV One’s ‘Q and A’ programme:

“the New Zealand Aluminium Smelter in Bluff, it is the only one in the world that pays any face at all for carbon pricing”1

Parliament on September 2009:

“…the Bluff smelter, on 1 July next year, will be the very first to face a carbon price for its pollution. The European scheme excludes aluminium smelters until 2013…”

Does Nick’s soundbite stand up to scrutiny? Not very well…

Continue reading “Nick Smith fails the smelter spin test”

  1. NB By ‘pay any face’ I think he means ‘face any price’ []

120% Pure Subsidy

Nick SmithLast week, (29 September 2011 to be precise), Green MP Kennedy Graham was questioning Climate Change Issues Minister Nick Smith over his apparent lack of consistency on subsidies for fossil fuel industries. Graham was wondering why Nick Smith and Climate Change and Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser were happy on the one hand to oppose billion dollar subsidies to fossil fuel industries on the international stage, while on the other hand have the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme include subsidies in the form of generous free allocation of emissions units to big industrial emitters of GHGs.

Nick Smith replied:

“…this Government is not providing subsidies to greenhouse gas polluters. I remind the member that we are the only country outside the EU to have an emissions trading scheme. Our aluminium smelter in Bluff is the only aluminium smelter in the world to face any price at all for its greenhouse gas emissions”.

Lets examine this assertion in two parts; that the Tiwai Point Aluminum Smelter, receives no subsidies from Government and it faces a carbon/GHG price.

Continue reading “120% Pure Subsidy”