Geoff Bennett - Editor

Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

Firstly, we would like to welcome Wellington City Council as our latest subscriber to e-Bench™

We open this week with the announcement that Australia is going to introduce a carbon tax as of 1 July 2012 on the top 500 emitters starting at an initial AU$23 (NZ$30) and increasing by 2.5% per year in real terms until 2015. This is a brave step by the Gillard Govt, as some are suggesting this could be tantamount to political suicide…. This AU$23 is substantially higher than the subsidised NZ rate of NZ$12.50 and is sure to drive our rates higher post 2012. Remember you read it here first…

Our main theme this issue is renewable generation. Last week the United Nations published the ‘World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Green Technological Transformation’, calling for investments of at least $1.9 trillion per year to avert a “major planetary catastrophe”. That is headline grabbing stuff in anyone’s terms, yet I failed to see it appear the mainstream media. J-walking – yes, phone hacking – yes, planetary catastrophe – nope.

Anyway, the main thrust of the report is to highlight the world’s rapidly expanding energy use, mainly driven by fossil fuels and that a comprehensive global energy transition is urgently needed.

As demand is unlikely to reduce anytime soon, especially from developing countries, there needs to be a massive growth in electricity generation from renewable sources. Which is fine as another United Nations report, this time from the IPCC, is confident that renewables can meet global demand, with solar offering the greatest scope for this.

Our next article examines how it is likely however, to take a period of thirty-years for the various technologies and sources to reach dominance as coal and oil use fall away. In the left corner we have natural gas, nuclear power, wind, solar, biofuels and algae, hydrogen and in the right corner the most effective of them all - energy efficiency. Why energy efficiency? Well energy efficiency has been proven to cost only 30% of building new generation and it never runs out.

My money however is on solar. Despite the overwhelming advantages of energy efficiency, people are reluctant to do without or change habits. Meaning we will still need to provide more generation that we really efficiently might require. Well, the good news is that the available solar resource is simply staggeringly, humongously large. Human civilization only uses one six-thousand of the energy available from solar sources. That is 15 Terrawatts of power out of the available 89 Petawatts that lands on earth each year. In only 88 minutes, the sun provides as much energy as humanity consumes in a year. Think of that when you slip slop your sun protection before heading down to the beach.

Our next couple of articles also look at other renewable options including geothermal, which is really stored solar anyway. And now the World Bank is coming under fire for continuing to finance fossil fuelled generation in developing countries. Calls for generational change are reaching a crescendo.

Our next set of articles examine another form of consumption – water and how its use is simply unsustainable. Or as the first article puts it – a gigantic environmental Ponzi scheme. The best example is Libya, where consumption is 700 times more than what they receive. This is only possible by extraction of water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifier System, thought to contain 150,000 cubic kilometres of water and the world’s largest fossil water aquifer system. If Coca Cola managed to bottle this and sell it on the service station forecourt that would cost $4,500 Petadollars. Makes the US deficit at $14.3 trillion look like small change and even Zimbabwe never got to print a bank note that large.

Next up is the news that both Google and Microsoft have pulled the plug on their on-line energy monitoring services due to a lack of interest and adoption. For us here at ETSL reading this made us think ‘welcome to the real world’ and ‘you thought energy management was easy’? Seriously, I would have thought both companies would have shown greater determination and tenacity and tried to understand how to create greater interest. As after all one of the greatest challenges in energy management is positive engagement with stakeholders and getting them to take energy efficiency seriously.

Which is what our next articles discuss. Such as making energy management fun and fulfilling, making it really easy, understanding what customers want and the one we really like – make it mandatory (oh if it was ~ but not in the foreseeable future). And it’s not as if the rewards for those that embrace energy management aren’t there.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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