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.

Well, I guess we should open up the first issue of 2012 with a warm welcome to the year. Warm in temperatures would have been nice, but NZ weather appears to be a fickle beast and so it turned out to be over the New Year. Damp too, but not everywhere. Like the lower half of the South Island. It looks like the lack of rainfall here may mean we could be heading into winter with lower than ordinary storage levels in the hydro catchment lakes. Something to keep an eye on as the year progresses…

Anyway, we start this issue with a recap of 2011 and what a year that was!! As our first article states ‘2011 rewrote the record books’. Record greenhouse gas emissions, melting Arctic sea ice, natural disasters and extreme weather – and the world’s second worst nuclear disaster. Plus from a strictly NZ perspective, additional earthquakes for the Canterbury region, continuation of the Pike River Mine disaster and the grounding of Rena on the Astrolabe Reef. 2011 - you sure made your mark. I guess winning the Rugby World Cup was some small consolation.

So, we say haere ra to 2011 and Kia ora! to 2012 and speculate what might be ahead. And our next four articles does just this, from looking at the core drivers behind sustainability, how IT might be changing and the dawn of the ZetaByte, to a NZ focus on business and key developments for the year ahead.

As we are already looking to the future, we also include a discussion on where the three major sources of energy conflict hot spots might be and the reasons behind them. These are the Straits of Hormoz, The South China Sea and the Caspian Sea Basin and needless to say, they all centre around our depleting and still most valuable energy source – oil.

Our next four articles get back to basics and that is energy management. The first is something we have been saying for some time and that is the energy debate must consider demand and just not supply. As after all, it is about a third of the cost to introduce energy efficiency than it is to build new generation.

Given these compelling financials, it is therefore not so surprising that spending on energy efficiency is predicted to boom in the next five years. And there are lots of ways to improve the energy efficiency of a building such as through introducing better control systems, adding better standards of glazing or insulation, reduce air infiltration, etc.

Not to be overlooked however in all of this is the difference the behaviour of the employee can make. This next article looks at the fundamental elements essential to introducing an effective energy management regime which engage with employees and can provide some staggeringly positive outcomes.

We wrap up this week with the story of a thirteen year old who was inspired to build a new way of collecting solar energy based on the branch patterns on trees. Fair enough, a good idea, but what was the disturbing part was that he was criticized rather than lauded when he measured the wrong thing when proving his hypothesis. I wish every thirteen year could be this smart and be given the grace to get things wrong. I mean when I cast my mind back to when I was thirteen and what I was up to on the farm and the stuff that I got up to I cringe. But it sure was fun.

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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