Last year, coal and gas produced 12.71 percent of New Zealand’s electricity, at the Huntly plants and others, but poor conditions for hydro pushed that to 23 percent last week.
And to make matters worse some of the coal that we were burning was shipped from Indonesia. So, not only are we burning coal, the coal had a pretty big carbon footprint by the time it even got to our shores.
And when we talk about carbon footprint, coal is the ‘bigfoot’ of fossil fuels. It is the most carbon intensive. For the same amount of energy produced, it releases more C0² than oil and twice as much as gas. Don’t get me started on the difference with hydro or solar.
We need to start taking climate change seriously. In a country that sells itself as 100% Pure we are a long way from it. The solutions are available to us. The single biggest source of power (solar) goes largely untapped. In fact there is enough sun that hits the earth to power the world for a year, yet we let it go by with hardly any attempt to seriously harness it.
Installing a solar power system is worthwhile for all areas of New Zealand. Invercargill gets a lower proportion of sun hours and intensity compared to other parts of New Zealand, but still gets more sun than Germany, which is one of the world’s top solar power installers, with almost as much installed solar power systems as the rest of the world combined. (source: mysolarquotes)
Almost 100 years ago, Thomas Edison said. “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
What he didn’t know at the time was that the issue would not be a lack of coal and oil but the devastating impact those fossil fuels have on the world we live in.
While we have started to see great innovation in energy, fossil fuels still fill the gap and this needn’t be the case.
New Zealand is one of the few countries in the developed world that doesn’t subsidise solar consumption. We don’t insist on it being installed in social housing. We don’t encourage home-owners to sell electricity back to the grid. We don’t help develop the technology that is destined to be the future of our world’s energy requirements.
Instead, we are happy to subsidise oil companies and their exploration for new sources of oil, while ignoring the opportunity blazing in the sky over our heads.
If we are to introduce electric cars to New Zealand in any serious way we will all end up using twice as much power as we do today, yet there’s no attempt to ensure home owners, commercial buildings and social venues even consider solar power.
The election is fast approaching. We encourage all New Zealanders to ask their politicians what they’re going to do to ensure we don’t have to import more coal from Indonesia and what their plan is for our solar future.