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Energy Efficiency First - a path not a bridge

Energy Efficiency First - a path not a bridge to a low carbon economy

Molly Melhuish

The planet needs paths, instead of a bridge, to a low-carbon economy to keep its temperature rise to under 2 degrees.

There are many paths towards the goal which together will be cheaper and more environment-friendly and which will offer many more jobs and better health for all, than the “bridges” promoted by Big Oil.

The easiest and cheapest path is “Energy Efficiency First” – a principle set out by the European Commission in its November 2016 Directive, which says -
“the EU has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 while modernising the EU's economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens. The proposals have three main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and providing a fair deal for consumers.”

New Zealand is outstandingly set up to explore and develop these paths. Our wind and solar resources are more abundant and cheaper than Europe’s. More important, we have some 600,000 houses that need more insulation and clean heat to make them warmer and drier and to cut electricity peak demands.

The “Low Carbon Economy” promoted by the Productivity Commission is based on electricity scenarios all of which would build seven or eight gas-fired peaking stations to meet residential demand before 2050.

Do the numbers! What are the dollar costs and the climate-change emission costs of gas exploration and development, building those power stations, and expanding electricity networks to meet their forecasted demand?

Compare that to the dollar cost and emissions cost of reducing peak demands by insulating the 600,000 under-insulated houses and installing clean heaters, whether heat pumps or ultra-clean wood burners.

Compare the dollar and emissions costs of local energy supply from solar, wind power, and wood-fired residential, institutional (especially rest homes) and industrial heat, compared to the costs from gas sourced from new gas fields promoted by Big Oil’s “bridge” philosophy.

Then, if you dare, add in the health, environmental and labour implications of the clean-energy path, comprising energy efficiency, small-scale renewable energy, and pricing that encourages residential electricity consumers to reduce their demand during peak hours.

And commit New Zealand to choose the clean-energy paths whenever objective analysis shows them to be more cost-effective than the corresponding Big Energy “bridge” proposals.


some sources:
from Fossil Fuels Aotearoa Research Network
an update on a year’s progress on the EU directive
high energy and embodied energy in gas-fired energy
embodied energy of insulation options,%20Steve%20Batstone.pdf
A presentation linking the electricity market to electricity demand trends.

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