Articles about Energy

Searching for ecological nirvana in energy supplies

Posted 14 August 2019 by David Spratt

“A society grows great when people plant trees whose shade they know they will never lie in.” - Greek Proverb I spent the best part of Saturday planting trees, flaxes, and ferns along a stream bank with my son, Tom, and his best mate. The task was “wholesome” according to Tom, as the plantings should facilitate the recovery of a stream that was once badly polluted but now runs mostly clear following positive steps by my dairy farmer neighbor to abide by the Fonterra clean stream accords. As I patted my own back for my newly enhanced green credentials, I turned my...
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Sustainability now considered economic and environmental

Posted 7 August 2019 by Chris Hargreaves

New Zealand has set a target under the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to adopt increasingly more ambitious targets in the future. Per capita, New Zealand's emissions are one of the highest in the world with an output of <1% of the total world's emissions. Business New Zealand recently released a report which concluded that "opportunities to improve our performance in productivity and renewable penetration lie in every part of the energy supply chain. While productivity and renewables are not necessarily mutually...
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Tech That Keeps The Planet Cool

Posted 31 July 2019 by David Spratt

I lit my first fire at home for the year on the unusual date of May 31, just one day before the official beginning of winter. I live in the sunny north side of Auckland, but I would have expected to see my dog sleeping in front of the fire by around late April. There are some of us who believe that to the detriment of future generations the planet is suffering from global warming and others who feel that the scientific consensus is still a long way from being agreed. Either way, I do believe there is a general accord that we can’t keep consuming the planet’s resources at the rate...
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Can New Zealand Electrify Industry?

Posted 20 May 2019 by Chris Hargreaves

The Government has set a target for New Zealand’s economy to be net-zero emissions by 2050. Does our current approach stack up? Methanex - adding 15% to national electricity demand? In a recent submission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Methanex, New Zealand’s largest single gas user suggested that should the company transition from gas-based manufacturing of methanol to electricity, this would increase New Zealand's national electricity demand by around 15% (5,800 gigawatt-hours). In other words, there would be a Rio Tinto Aluminum Smelter-sized...
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New Zealand electricity prices: so high and still rising

Posted 9 May 2019 by David Spratt

When we look at New Zealand electricity prices, it is important to consider lines companies in the equation. The lines company or electricity distribution business (EDB) operates and maintains the transformers, power poles and copper wires that keep our local electricity networks running and delivering reliable electricity to the door. Examples in the EMA membership region are Northpower, Vector, Counties Power, WEL Networks and Powerco. Lines companies in your power bill Take my last home bill. The energy component, which is the part provided by my retailer, was $184.76. This part...
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Energy Price Review – arguments against electricity pricing

Posted 1 May 2019 by David Spratt

In 2009 a visiting expert on commodity studies from Stanford University, Professor Frank A Wolak, opined that each year New Zealand’s electricity consumers were paying around $700 per household more than they should. This figure also applied to the tens of thousands of small businesses using small amounts of electricity. What followed was a studied silence from the industry. Government's Energy Price Review In April 2018 after years of consumer electricity prices continuing to rise at a rate far exceeding inflation, the Minister of Energy and Resources appointed Miriam R Dean...
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Electricity spot pricing – rip off or reasonable?

Posted 4 March 2019 by David Spratt

 [Electricity] Demand has, year on year, been steadily rising. This trend is likely to continue, so don’t look for much relief from higher electricity prices in the near term. I recently talked to a businessperson who had signed up to an electricity contract that had his company effectively speculating on the spot market. What the company didn’t realise (and wasn’t told) was that playing the electricity spot market was fraught with upside cost risk. In their case they are now paying more than three times the standard retail electricity rate for business, and facing significant...
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Hardworking and efficient hybrid SUV – Mitsubishi XLS SUV PHEV Review

Posted 10 February 2019 by David Spratt

Warning! Formidable Japanese electric vehicles (EVs) are coming to a dealer near you this year. After reviewing European and American EVs last year, I was offered the Mitsubishi XLS SUV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to test during my holiday break. The XLS currently retails at $50,990 plus on-road costs (NZD). This puts it right in the sweet spot for businesses looking for a workhorse, four-wheel drive SUV. Unlike two years ago when high prices and low residuals were a real turnoff for businesses, electric and hybrid SUVs are now in high demand on the second-hand market, and...
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The Power Plant Next Door

Posted 15 January 2019 by Chris Hargreaves

Throughout history technological advancement and change that has lasting impacts on humanity has largely come about through critical mass. As a child, I distinctly remember visiting a friends house and seeing their newly installed solar PV system on the roof. 25 years ago, this seemed like the future as I had only seen photos of such things in books about NASA and science fiction. While some technologies are adopted quickly into day to day life, it seems to be taking an age for solar systems to become common place. Obviously cost is major driver of this but then so too is how seamlessly...
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Is There a Magic Bullet for Energy Pricing?

Posted 14 November 2018 by Chris Hargreaves

The following post was written by Bryan Leyland for KiwiBlog. Bryan is an engineer with over 60 years experience in the energy sector and regularly comments on various topics. He is a strong believer in a single payer market and Carl Hanson, former head of the Electricity Authority argues against this here. At Total Utilities, we track the competitiveness of contestable costs and been doing so for nearly 20 years. While this data is representative of our customer base (which is made up of small and large commercial and industrial customers and does not include residential customers) we...
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