Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: Audience wanted for lively TV discussion

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  • andin,

    should we look to an abundant resource virtually untapped, right on our rooftops?

    Yes, and could we get rid of the elecricity market free-for-all while we're about it.

    What if we made a concerted effort to eliminate every opossum, rat and mustelid not just from outlying islands, but from the entire country?

    Yes, but could we have a possum farm area they're got excellent fur.

    do New Zealand’s technologies and expertise put it in a unique position to teach the world to feed itself?

    No, what sort of silly hippie dream is this?

    Should New Zealand stop being a ‘town in a country’ and increase the population – i.e. 15 million people in the next 50 years?

    Mixed feelings about this one. I wont articulate them and I wont be there to either for reasons...well.

    And what does ‘brand New Zealand’ really mean?

    Not what johnnygoldentonsils thinks it does. God I hate that word "branding"

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1234 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    should we look to [ solar, presumably PV ] virtually untapped, right on our rooftops?

    Well, you can look up the numbers. Indicates that solar is at least 50% more expensive than wind/hydro/geothermal and maybe double. Specific NZ figures would differ from these, but are certainly calculable.

    Isn't this a matter of maths, not opinion?

    do New Zealand’s technologies and expertise put it in a unique position to teach the world to feed itself?

    I think the problem in much of the developing world isn't a lack of technical knowledge on how to farm effectively, but rather economic and social conditions that militate against doing that.

    Should New Zealand stop being a ‘town in a country’ and increase the population – i.e. 15 million people in the next 50 years?

    Yes. We could house 15 million on the footprints of our current cities, and energy use per capita would drop substantially from more viable public transport and other improvements.

    (Barcelona carbon emissions p.p. = 3.4 tonnes, NZ approx 18t)

    Selling New Zealand

    If we sold it, where would we go and live instead?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I think the problem in much of the developing world isn’t a lack of technical knowledge on how to farm effectively, but rather economic and social conditions that militate against doing that.

    I don't know about "much of the developing world", but one concrete example I can give is what I saw in Pakistan, where ex-Fonterra guys are boosting farmers' milk production up to 400%, virtually overnight, with simple advice, such as "give your cow more water". And this is in a place where water is freely available, so it's not an economic issue, it's just they keep doing things the way they've done them for thousands of years. So as for having the sort of technical knowledge that even NZ farmers are only just starting to come to grips with - when to spray effluent, precisely when and how to plant crops, fertiliser uptake and so forth, no I really don't think most developing countries have an abundance of technical knowledge. Not that it won't also take money to implement some of these things of course.

    Solar might be more expensive, but costs have been dropping massively of late (far more than gains in efficiency that were predicted). And what we're talking about specifically, is individual households choosing/being encouraged to invest in solar for their own homes - where for most people, hydro/wind/geothermal etc aren't backyard options. Israel has done it, 90% of homes have solar hot water heating.

    I'm not saying we should do it, or that it's the best use of our household's economic resources, but that's the nature of the discussion anyway.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    That logo is soooo how a broadcasting engineer would imagine the future. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I probably shouldn't, but I do love the stat about how dangerous solar energy is compared to other forms of energy, in terms of deaths caused.

    Coal is generally most dangerous, and nuclear least, but solar is up there because of all the deaths of installers falling off roofs.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Barcelona carbon emissions p.p. = 3.4 tonnes, NZ approx 18t

    Weird comparison - surely Auckland versus Barcelona would be more relevant? It's easy for a city to show low emissions if they're importing everything they consume from some other place that cops the emissions incurred in production.
    If you only include emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel use (eg. ignore methane from agriculture) then Spain and NZ come out about the same per capita emissions.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 204 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    At least under currently available technology, solar makes more sense as an assist to (water) heating than as a main source of electricity.
    (The economics are a little more persuasive in say, Arizona.)

    Decreasing energy use per capita by increasing the number of people doesn’t seem an ambitious target, nor easily achievable given other limits on city infrastructure, most notably sewage treatment.
    Increasing the population to 15 million while preserving a functioning economy would also require that NZ find other sources of income than agriculture (e.g. it’s not likely we could have 3x as many cows without stuffing up our environment [more]).

    We should be aiming to decrease energy use per capita, period – and thereby decreasing NZ’s total energy and resource use.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I probably shouldn’t, but I do love the stat about how dangerous solar energy is compared to other forms of energy, in terms of deaths caused

    I wonder if it’s from the same people who think the internal combustion engine will have a 1000-year reign.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to linger,

    At least under currently available technology, solar makes more sense as an assist to (water) heating than as a main source of electricity.

    I was talking this through with a mate who's very involved in solar, he says that with the costs dropping as much as they are for PV, the electricity will be so cheap that it's easier just to turn it into electricity and use what's needed for hot water heating, rather than have that as the as the only option. On the other hand, just cos it's 'so cheap' doesn't mean you should use it inefficiently...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to st ephen,

    Auckland versus Barcelona

    I couldn't find CO2 per capita numbers for Auckland - if you have them please post.

    My point is that if we had 15 million people all living in existing urban areas then our CO2 numbers would be a lot better.

    The problem with I have with 'future cheap home PV' and all other technical promises is that they're a distraction. We have the ability to go to 100% renewable electricity *now*, with existing, off-the-shelf technology on identified sites. What's stopping us is a lack of political will - the electricity pseudo-market makes it appear cheaper to just keep Huntly running.

    If in the future, we have PV that's too cheap to meter, we'll be able to restore wind farms and dams back to their original state. Until then, we should just get on with it.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Don Bain,

    Talking of Solar heating and since hot water is a major percentage of household energy use. This link shows how a simple water heater can be made for far less than the expensive panels...

    http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/solar-technology/how-make-simple-solar-spa-heater-your-roof/

    Avondale • Since Jul 2010 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If in the future, we have PV that’s too cheap to meter, we’ll be able to restore wind farms and dams back to their original state. Until then, we should just get on with it.

    So you'll be coming along to the show on Sunday then? :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to st ephen,

    It's easy for a city to show low emissions if they're importing everything they consume from some other place that cops the emissions incurred in production.
    If you only include emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel use (eg. ignore methane from agriculture) then Spain and NZ come out about the same per capita emissions.

    If you wouldn't count a city's emissions without reference to it's imports (and exports), then why settle for country figures with the same flaw?

    Carbon Footprint of Nations lists Spain at 10.9 and and NZ at 11.4, which is still quite similar. This figure includes the methane from NZ's agriculture, which is mostly exported and therefore counts against the consumer country's footprint.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I couldn’t find CO2 per capita numbers for Auckland – if you have them please post.

    Sorry, I don't have them either but (as your linked article pointed out but then seemed to forget) using estimates based on a production rather than consumption approach is silly; the reason that western cities have low emissions per capita is that they've pushed manufacturing out of the city boundaries (often as far as China) and don't produce things like rice or milk either. So instead of factories consuming fossil fuels they have people consuming food produced elsewhere (eg. NZ). But whereas fossil fuel use is counted against the region consuming it, food fuel use (and wood, wool etc) counts against the producer.
    Our emission accounts (total and per capita) would look much better if the extra 15 million people were spread across our farm land and we just imported our food. But these people have to come from somewhere - if we added them to our cities Earth Inc would only be better off if they came from countries with even more extravagant lifestyles than ours and they accepted a "lower" standard of living once here.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 204 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Not in Auckland, I'm afraid.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    Thanks for that link. Looks like we're doing better than Denmark and the Netherlands, despite their cycle paths and public transport...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 204 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    "Back In Wellington", sorry, should read.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Isn’t this a matter of maths, not opinion?

    Cost is certainly a factor, but may change. So may efficiency. You're still stuck with the upper bound of how much solar power falls on each square meter of kiwi soil.

    David Mackay calculates an average of 13kWh/day in Britain for a person who can find 10 square meters of equator-facing roof. That will go some ways towards powering your house, but will never cover 100% of our energy needs.

    (Or is the idea to have solar on 100% of roofs? I'm down for that. Leaving aside the grass-roofed lacto-pharmaceuticals building in ChCh, of course.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to st ephen,

    despite their cycle paths and public transport

    Maybe they don't hang their laundry outside.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    David Mackay calculates an average of 13kWh/day in Britain for a person who can find 10 square meters of equator-facing roof. That will go some ways towards powering your house, but will never cover 100% of our energy needs.

    Sounds pretty good to me! And that's Britain... (We use about 7 Kwh a day, but it's a small part of our energy use- doesn't include cooking (mostly gas) heating (mostly wood-burner) or water heating (solar and wood-burner).
    FWIW it cost about $6k for half a kva of solar in 1998 when we moved here; a few years later we doubled that, and it was about the same. Now half a kva of solar can be had for about $2k, mostly I think because China had moved into it in a big way.
    Solar hot water was a much better bet until recently- surprised that's changed, but pleased to see PV come down so much.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1582 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    half a kva of solar can be had for about $2k

    Can you recommend some suppliers - is that NZ or overseas sourced?

    I've been looking at the idea of a portable solar rig to take to festivals and so on - basically a battery/inverter setup and panels that can replace a generator (with improved reliability, no messing with petrol, etc). We had this in Spain in '07 with two door sized panels (about 250w IIRC) charging all day and running a floodlight overnight - lots of sun and long days though.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    Or is the idea to have solar on 100% of roofs? I'm down for that

    Yeah, sorry, that's the idea - to have 100% of roofs having solar panels on them. Not that we can supply all NZ's energy needs with sunlight. Few issues on the frequent cloudy days... :) But as I might have said above, Israel has 90% penetration, so it's definitely near-achievable, if we wanted to.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

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