Tim Dower: Are the Greens dreaming about their reneweable energy plan?

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jul 2020, 1:47PM
Can we rely on solar panels year round? (Photo / File)

Tim Dower: Are the Greens dreaming about their reneweable energy plan?

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jul 2020, 1:47PM

Act is up and running for the General Election, but there's also been a major announcement from the Greens on energy.

This is core Green Party stuff, a plan they say will speed New Zealand's exit from the use of fossil fuels.

If the Greens get all of the stuff they're looking for, and they say they'll be negotiating hard if they're in a position to, they want to get us out of coal altogether by 2030.

So, that's the end of the Huntly Power Station for starters, and no new coal burning boilers for industry.

The Greens want a clear plan to put us on a track to 100 percent of our electricity coming from renewables.

But here's where reality has to kick in. And the reality is that renewables, and the natural processes that drive them, aren't 100 percent predictable.

Solar, for example, what we can generate ourselves from panels on the roof. The Greens want to massively subsidise solar, so more of us will get it installed.

All well and good, but solar comes and goes. In the summer we could be generating far more than we need, while in winter, not so much.

Stand-alone domestic solar also needs batteries, not just expensive but also with a limited lifespan, and packed with nasty chemicals we haven't yet found good ways to dispose of.

So in our rush to fix one issue, we could find ourselves creating another.

I like the broad approach and I like the boldness of what they're offering. But is setting us on a path to be totally reliant on something that is not totally predictable – such as the weather – totally responsible?

Or are they, as usual, dreaming?