Seven keys to green growth in NZ: Pure Advantage’s new economic analysis

Last week business lobby group Pure Advantage launched [Herald, Stuff] a specially commissioned report, Green Growth: Opportunities for New Zealand, which presents, they say, “an exhaustive, objective economic argument for embracing green growth”. The report was produced by a London-based economics consultancy in conjunction with the University of Auckland Business School, and is the culmination of two years work to identify the most effective ways of implementing green growth business strategies in NZ.

Launching the report, Pure Advantage (PA) chairman Rob Morrison said:

We firmly believe on the basis of this significant macroeconomic report that New Zealand has the potential to generate billions of dollars in new high-value economic growth, whilst at the same time improving New Zealand’s environmental performance.

Morrison said that PA intends to use the report as “a basis to establish, in consultation with industry, seven industry-specific green growth programmes”. The seven key ‘advantages’ are (links go to PA web explanations):

  1. Home Advantage: Retrofitting an efficient building environment;
  2. Geothermal Advantage: Creating a significant geothermal export industry
  3. Agricultural Advantage:
    Investing in sustainable and efficient agricultural technologies
  4. Waste-to-Energy Advantage: Installing bio-energy and waste-to-energy infrastructure
  5. Biofuel Advantage: Establishing a woody mass biofuel and bio-products industry
  6. Smart Grid Advantage: Installing the building blocks of a smart grid
  7. Biodiversity Advantage: Establishing a world-class biodiversity driven ecotourism and conservation education programme.

PA note that the report was “not driven by environmental idealism or fear of climate change”, yet the recommendations look a lot like the sort of joined up thinking on environment and emissions policy that has been so lacking from the present government. By making the business case for green growth, perhaps PA can start a bottom-up change of economic direction that will do for NZ what the government will not. It’s certainly a worthwhile effort, but while there are other lobby groups out there promoting rampant population growth as the way to stop economic decline, it will continue to be an uphill struggle.

Rebutting myths and misconceptions about wind energy

I’ve been listening to a lively keynote address given to the NZ Wind Energy Conference earlier this month. The speaker was Lawrence Jones from Alstom Grid. He’s an expert on integrating variable renewable energy sources into global power grids. It was a heartening talk for anyone concerned to see renewable energy, wind in particular in this case, advance rapidly to take the primary position it must do if we are to have any hope of staving off the worst effects of global warming. All the more heartening because it was based on a major research project conducted by Alstom Grid on behalf of the US Department of Energy exploring the challenges and best practices for grid integration in many countries of the world.

I’ll offer a brief overview of the talk here, but I recommend it as worth listening to in full. There’s an audio of it on the Wind Energy Association website, and the accompanying slides are on this pdf file. Continue reading “Rebutting myths and misconceptions about wind energy”

Obama’s new pathways for power

Barack Obama is matching his words with action. Four days after his MIT speech on renewable energy he has announced, under the Recovery Act,  $3.4 billion in grants to improve the US electricity grid. The grants go to 100 partners with plans to install smart grid technologies in their area. The government money will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion.

The announcement was made in a speech at Arcadia, Florida, where he was visiting a solar energy centre to open a large-scale solar power plant. In a vigorous statement he explained why the improvement is necessary and what it will accomplish. Continue reading “Obama’s new pathways for power”