Friday, March 03, 2006

Slighty confused energy op-ed

at Stuff nz.
Rod Oram is kinda like a NZ trade happy-camper - always ready to pop up and tell you how great things are. He's an adjunct professor at Unitec and contributes to Unlimited magazine (which last time i read seemed only unlimited in its capacity for binding more dribble in one magazine than i would have thought possible - its editors also pontificated about how global warming was codswallop, kinda ironic given the above link) feel free to google for him, he gets plenty of hits.

This editorial is close but still flawed in a number of ways.
Enlightened nations know only a world-wide response will conquer climate change. But whatever their size, they know they can contribute with policies of their own. So the state governments of New South Wales and California, among others, have committed to a 60% reduction in their economies' greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050. About 195 US cities, home to 50 million people, have made similar pledges.
Not sure who believes NSW or California will reduce by 60%... and by 2050? good grief.
To avoid greater climate change, the world has to drastically reduce those emissions. The bad news, science tells us, is that astonishing new technologies such as hydrogen power are largely irrelevant to our response in the next 50 years.
I agree with him here.
"Efficiency is and will remain our greatest source of energy," Richard Bradley, head of energy efficiency and the environment at the OECD's International Energy Agency, told the conference.
This is just so stupid it beggars belief. No amount of 'efficiency' will push $hit uphill. Good grief, it's not an energy source (I expect it's quoted out of context and he is obviously referring to wasted energy thats already being produced) but this is where this piece goes a bit haywire so i can't be sure RO is thinking the same thing.
What Dr Bradley didn't point out was that New Zealand is a glaring anomaly. On average, OECD countries use today one-third less energy to generate $US1,000 of economic activity (at 1990 prices) than they did in 1973. But we use more because we use a lot to process low value primary products and our transport fleet is inefficient.
So? If we're using our hydro resources to generate wealth what's the big deal, we've got bugger all else to do with it, it's a competitive advantage for us. I think RO is getting a little confused about what 'efficiency' means. If rainfall is free, anything I do with it is profitable and thats a good start... could it be more profitable? almost certainly, a more 'efficient' use of your free energy if you will, but the abstractions are starting to pile up.
Elsewhere in the world, energy efficiency is seen as a significant business opportunity, a spur to investment in new and better technology, in New Zealand its is grudgingly seen as a minor tool in reducing the cost of using old technology.
ahhh, probably because they have to build coal or nuclear power stations... NZ isn't that efficient cause our power has been relatively cheap and relatively benign in origin. That's starting to change now and hence much confusion over what 'efficiency' means ensues.
Trading mechanisms are huge drivers of changes in technology and business practices. And they have become big commodity businesses in their own right. Since, the EU started its carbon market a year ago, it has traded two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide credits worth $US60 billion. That's double the value of the entire US corn, wheat and soybean output.
Absolutely agree!
The steep rise in US petrol prices is equivalent to placing a $US250 a tonne carbon charge on petrol. Yet, business and the public did not riot nor inflation soar. In contrast, New Zealand business was apoplectic about a proposed $15 a tonne charge that would have raised petrol prices 4c a litre.
Ah well, some high points and some low - pretty standard when it comes to energy discussions.


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