Fonterra’s coal-fired climate folly

By Jeanette Fitzsimons

Cross-posted from Coal Action Network Aotearoa 

Why would Fonterra spend several million dollars on a process lasting nearly a year, seeking planning consent for a huge new milk drier that it knows will never be built? Perhaps that’s not a lot of money to them – after all, one million is only three months’ salary for their CEO.

Fonterra’s proposed Studholme project, just outside of Waimate in South Canterbury, would see two new spray driers powered by two immense coal boilers – one 65MW, the other 50.

one lump or twoThis is the biggest new coal burning project in the country, with the hearing happening just as our Minister for Climate Change is about to travel to New York to sign the Paris agreement where we undertook to reduce our greenhouse emissions a totally inadequate 11% below 1990 levels. (It’s even more inadequate when creative accounting turns this into more like +10%).

Fonterra is already the second biggest coal burner in the country and grew its coal use by 38% between 2008-2013. They pay lip service to climate change but in practice are totally wedded to coal. Continue reading “Fonterra’s coal-fired climate folly”

Sustainable Energy NZ #7 – Biofuel Bonanza? – NZ’s bio-energy potential

Welcome to the seventh post in the Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air – A New Zealand Perspective series. Today we’re crunching the numbers on the potential for biofuels in New Zealand. 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, and the summary on the big three. Yesterday we dealt with solar (and found it was pretty big!). Note: the units are in kWh/day/person – that is, 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. For reference – we’re looking to replace around 55 kWh/d/p of energy currently generated by fossil fuels. 

Energy problems are just one of the significant challenges facing our civilisation so we are reluctant to consider options that affect food production or contribute further to soil degradation. However, as we transition away from liquid fuel-based transportation, biofuels could play a role in keeping us mobile.

Continue reading “Sustainable Energy NZ #7 – Biofuel Bonanza? – NZ’s bio-energy potential”

Aquaflow: next-gen biofuels a commercial reality

Positive news this week from the Nelson-based algae company Aquaflow whose fortunes we have followed on Hot Topic over the past three years. I last reported on them in August 2011, when they had signed an agreement for joint testing and evaluation with Texas-based CRI Catalyst Company (CRI). Now they have announced a full technology cooperation agreement with that company which they believe leaves them poised to make refining next generation biofuels a commercial reality in New Zealand and in overseas projects within the two to three years it takes to build a refinery.

That’s big news if it comes to fruition. Director Nick Gerritsen says: “We should be able to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuel that is equivalent to fossil fuel at a cost that is highly competitive with the current per barrel price of crude oil.” He adds that New Zealand could turn its biomass into enough carbon-neutral biofuel to meet its renewable fuels requirement within ten years.

Continue reading “Aquaflow: next-gen biofuels a commercial reality”

Here comes the sun: 100% renewables by 2050

Is a fully sustainable global energy system possible by 2050? It’s hard to imagine a more important question if we entertain hopes of avoiding the worst effects of climate change. It is the question addressed by a new and substantial report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the sustainable energy research and consultancy company Ecofys.

The answer to the question is a careful yes, with a caveat. The Ecofys team writes:

Continue reading “Here comes the sun: 100% renewables by 2050”

Games without frontiers


Jeux sans frontières realised in Clim’ City, an interesting learning game with obvious antecedents from Bordeaux’s Cap Sciences centre: reorganise the energy sources and economy of this French city and its surroundings – from ski field to beach resort – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without crippling the economy. According to the Technology Review story, it’s not easy to “win”, but if you don’t speak at least a little French it’s impossible… 😉

I hope one of the English-speaking science centres does a translation: I can see this being a great teaching tool. Now, do I create an association des citoyennes or go straight to shifting the centrale thermique to burning biomass, but that means expanding the forestry sector, and perhaps I should make sure that the forests are protected against forest fires, what with the warming in the pipeline…

[Peter Gabriel]