Posts by Moz

  • Hard News: Te Reo Māori in schools:…, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I suspect the bigger problem here is not the failure to communicate the importance of learning one language or another... High school students need to learn to construct a logical argument based on factual evidence.

    That's a whole different meaning of "language" though. I agree it's important and sadly missing in many education systems, though.

    Nelson in the 1970's and 1980's was very monolingual. I learned a little Maori at university but it's mostly gone now - living in Oz doesn't help. At school I had more formal instruction in French than Maori, and was firmly pushed towards the STEM stream which I'm still not wild about (although I would have preferred Japanese or Maori to French, which really was the option).

    I think NZ should take advantage of having nearly-one indigenous language and teach it to everyone. The same argument in Australia falls apart because of the 580-odd languages most are extinct or nearly so. Plus it's big enough to sustain communities in immigrant languages in a way that NZ really struggles to do, so it's quite possible to live in (some parts of) Australia speaking only Greek, Italian, Cantonese or Vietnamese. Probably others. My mother in law has slightly better English than my Maori, and she gets by. Which makes "which second language to teach everyone" quite fraught. Or maybe we should allocate one language to each school? Just because having multiple languages really means multiple teachers and that gets expensive and complicated. Better IMO to have "the other" language at each school or district.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Good ideas and grumbles, in reply to Russell Brown,

    can’t ALL venues, promoters and others follow Blinks lead and publish ya bloody set times... I like the early-and-late shows idea too. It would be fun being able to rock up for a 6pm start.

    Very much so. No offense to intro bands, but I'd rather be at home having a nap if the lead act is only going to play from 11:15-12:00 and the doors open at 7:30. And if I could go to a gig that ran from 6pm-9pm rather than 7:30-ish...9:30 until midnight I'd be very happy indeed.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Good ideas and grumbles, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    I'm with him on the crazy low admission prices bands charge. $5 for a gig? That's what I was paying in the mid '90s, - and even that was cheap student prices. It's nuts that a band wouldn't charge at least $15 today.

    For comparison, most Elefant Traks gigs around Australia are $30-$40, often plus a $5 booking fee. I've paid $60+ to see some local bands and ~$100 for people like Sarah Mclachlan and Ani Difranco.

    How do those prices compare with other performing arts like theatre and dance? It's been a while since I saw anything non-free in NZ but I vaguely recall $30 being cheap for Fresh of the Boat in Wellington circa 2000.

    FWIW venues in Oz are really struggling because pubs find it much more lucrative to steal from pensioners and addicts via pokie machines than to fight NIMBY residents to play live music. {insert rant here}. I saw Joelistics in the basement of a gay bar the other day, a venue that sucks but the choices are very, very limited.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?, in reply to Andrew C,

    showing forecast bau prices quite a bit higher than most forecasts I have seen lately.

    That $120 is $/MWh wholesale in Australia, for those who (like me) needed to look it up. I'm interested in the numbers you've seen so we can compare. The report talks about the price increase in these terms:

    This increase is less than electricity price increases already experienced by household consumers. For example the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal in NSW has proposed annual tariff increases of between 7 and 10% over 3 years to June 2013. This rise was motivated by the need to “enable higher levels of investment in the electricity distribution networks”. The price increases mean that after 3 years the price of electricity will increase by up to 42% which equates to a 8.6 c/kWh increase.

    A significant chunk of the price rises you're talking about have already happened. Although the BZE modelling was not quite right, the actual prices doubled over 5 years. Admittedly that retail price increase had little to nothing to do with generation costs, it was mostly network costs. But now we're starting to see generation costs rise as Australia starts to sell gas internationally so the local price is going up. Suggesting that prices rises will be more restrained in future means you have much more confidence in Australian politicians than I do.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?, in reply to Andrew C,

    their claim seems to rest considerably on the assumption that their price forecast is not much higher than the bau will be

    That's right. Remember that their study is primarily an answer to two claims: first, that 100% renewable can't be done at all; and second: if it can be done it will be economy-wrecking expensive. It's also a 40 year forecast, so if it's within a factor of 2 it's a great deal better than most long term economic forecasts.

    For context, in Australia we've just backed away from spending $40 billion on a national fibre to the home project, but in the last 10 years or so we've spent $45 billion upgrading that electricity grid to deal with twice the demand we currently have. Demand is dropping{1}, and that seems likely to continue in the short-to-medium term (5-10 years).

    So the question "what if we spend $40 billion on the electricity sector and it turns out we didn't need to" has already been answered: power bills double. We did that as a result of political error, and it seems increasingly likely that one consequence was the election of Abbott (people wrongly linked the doubling of power prices to the carbon tax, when it was the states linking grid owner profits to the capital value of the grid).

    {1} in some areas peak demand is growing due to air conditioners - our peak load is hot summer afternoons. Which is exactly when PV is most effective, meaning that home PV is not just reducing the need for new peak generation capacity, it's reducing the need for grid expansion. We all save twice... except those off the grid, obviously.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?, in reply to Andrew C,

    What exactly do you mean by this? To be profitable, what happened to the price in this study?

    "profitable" meaning people made money out of it. Primarily electricity consumers, in this case, meaning the price of electricity was lower with 100% renewable than with the current approach (subsidised coal and gas with legislated advantages in terms of access to land etc). The full study is here

    Note that they also assumed people would do things like insulate their homes, and that there would be a change in government intervention in the market (requiring rental WoF, charging for carbon emissions, etc). Any 30 year forecast is necessarily a very political document.

    BZE left a bunch of advantages out of the study because they're contentious - the falling price of renewables, any generation that isn't already commercially available, the secondary costs of ie converting farmland to wasteland when fracking for gas.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?,

    One retailer in Victoria is charging 14c/day if you have solar because they own Australia's dirtiest coal plant (Hazelwood) and solar is cutting into their peak demand profits.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?, in reply to Stamper Stamp,

    Maybe green energy isn't a reality after you have looked at the whole picture - a bit like the bio-energy fiasco.

    You mean like the 80%+ hydro that NZ ran on for 50-odd years last century?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?,

    Actually, from a completely different point of view: right now, if I could, I would cheerfully invest in a company or do it myself, if I could buy panels to put on someone else's house. The economics are there, it's just a difficult thing to do in practice because the margins are not so large that you can afford a string of profit-takers in the middle (and the rules are so unstable in Australia that the main risk would be sovereign). One issue with "community solar" in Sydney is that every time a group identifies a site that they could put panels on, they approach a supplier company and the site owner... and in many cases where the site is viable those two do a deal that cuts out the neighbourhood solar scheme. So yes, it is profitable.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?, in reply to JonathanM,

    Folks - if it was a 'no brainer' to move to solar - every one would do it; instead we have the arguments for/against for trying to save planet/energy/money.

    The problem is that there's multiple levels that the argument is taking place at. Purely financially, and for a single homeowner it's currently marginal in Australia (given the current subsidies to coal, oil, gas and pv) and similarly in NZ. If you assume a grid connection it becomes marginal in NZ and worth while in much of Australia. But there are a lot of arguments like the above about whether people should be allowed to do it and how much they should pay and be paid. And it's money that (for most people) would be better spent insulating their house to reduce demand and increase health and comfort.

    At a neighbourhood level it's worth while financially for both countries, but legislatively it's impossible. The fees and regulations for grid operators are designed for national or state level operations, and they just don't work even for a new subdivision, let alone an existing one. Which means that until it's financially overwhelming it's not going to be possible to bypass the national; grid. It's illegal to throw a cable over the back fence and sell power to your neighbour, in other words.

    At a national level it's a whole different ball game. Technically NZ should already be at 90% renewable, as we were in the 1980's. But politically? That's just not an option. The question is more whether we will destroy the economy to build more stranded assets (fossil generators), or see it grind slowly to a halt as foreign owners let assets decay. I can't see the current brown parties even allowing a big solar generator to be built, let alone change the subsidy model away from fossil fuels towards solar. Although again, technically a CSP+storage plant in Northland would work very well. It would effectively be a combination peaking plant and baseload, because you can "spend" the storage whenever you like. So if there's a peak you can dump the storage to service it, but if there's not you can bleed it out overnight ready to charge up the next day. The political consequences of a major job-producing investment in Te Tai Tokerau would be interesting as well.

    In Australia Beyond Zero Emissions did a major study showing that a transition to 100% sustainable electricity by 2050 would be profitable even with unfavourable assumptions. That was later verified/reproduced by the Climate Change Authority. But right now both NZ and Australia have governments committed to favouring fossil fuels over sustainable ones, and they are the people who control the economics.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

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