A very dense thicket of Woods

Rain forest along the Milford Track

Jonathan Young continued his questioning of the hapless Minister of Energy and Resources in the house on Thursday when he picked up on her comment about the 6 TW of energy that Woods was intending to store in summer and use in winter.? (See yesterday’s post.)

After the usual, “Does the Minister stand by all her statements” and getting the usual, “Yes” he asked. Quote.

Is the Minister aware that 6 terawatts of energy is enough to power 60 billion 100-watt bulbs at the same time?over five times as many lightbulbs as are in use on the whole planet?and does she still stand by her statement yesterday that New Zealand produces 6 terawatts of surplus energy every summer? End quote.

Which was really a bit of a stupid statistic to use, he could have got some better ones from Whaleoil. (Just saying)? No one wants to turn on several billion 100 watt light bulbs at once; doesn’t he realise 100-watt bulbs have been replaced with LEDs?

Woods gave another of her long-winded non-answers: Quote.

What I said yesterday was that the capacity that we overproduce in the summer months, we actually have the technology coming on stream to store, and what the member needs to understand is that the amount that we need to produce by 2050 to meet the energy needs of this country is absolutely achievable for us. Transpower tells us that the nearly doubling of the generation of electricity that we need can largely be produced through hydro and wind and geothermal?80 percent of it?and we know that the storage technologies that are coming on stream such as hydrogen and batteries are more than up to the task of storing the overproduction in the times of surplus. End quote.

So Young cut to the chase: Quote.

Can the Minister point to anywhere in the world where capacity exists to store 6 terawatts of generated power, and, if not, how soon does she think this will be available in New Zealand? End quote.

And Woods basically said it was all in hand. Quote.

?The capacity to store our overcapacity is something that Transpower, in its recent report, said is certainly within our purview. So if we look at the generation scenarios that Transpower put out in its Energy Futures report, it talked about coal generation of electricity in 2015 being 6 percent, zero percent by 2030, and, by 2050, zero percent, and, likewise, a similar downturn for gas, but what it does show is a rapid rise in renewables and storage being a part of that. It is in our purview to do this, and that member should have some confidence in our ability as a country to do it. End quote.

A purview is “a range of experience or thought”. Storing 6 TWh of energy is certainly not in our (or anyone on the planet’s) experience so it must just be something the CoL have thought about. Quote.

Jonathan Young: So when the Minister said to me yesterday “I invite that member to join the 21st century.”, given that not a single large-scale or credible commercial molten salt or hydrogen energy storage facility is yet in existence, was she speaking to me from the 22nd century?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: If that member wants to have a serious conversation about something that is vitally important to this country, that member should well be aware?and is aware, I am sure?that this month we are seeing a sod turning on a hydrogen plant in the central North Island. This is happening, and I invite that member to ask for a briefing on this, and I’ll get my officials to give it. End quote.

So, in the context of questions about how New Zealand is going to have enough electricity in the future and how we could possibly store the summer surplus for use in the winter, the?Minister of Energy and Resources crowed about a new hydrogen plant yet to be built at Taupo.


This proposed plant will use electricity generated by geothermal power to “produce about 100t of CO2-free hydrogen per year”.

This wonderful project will use our precious electricity to produce a transport fuel for hydrogen-powered vehicles that are not readily available for sale and for which there is no refuelling infrastructure in New Zealand.? Brilliant!

But hey, it is CO2 free.? Wonderful.

So Young went back to yesterday’s statistic of 4.5 wind farms per year and wanted to know?how many megawatts of installed capacity would each of those 4.5 wind farms need to have.? Once again the Minister showed her lamentable understanding of her portfolio.? She simply does not have a clue.? Repeatedly saying we need 4.5 wind farms per year is about as useful as saying we need 17 batteries per month. Quote.

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: The Transpower report says we need to double capacity by 2050. What it says is that that equates to the equivalency of 4.5 wind farms from 2025. What the report also notes is that changing technologies means you cannot pin it down in the way that the member is asking. What it does say is that 80 percent of those requirements through to 2050 will be able to be delivered by hydro, solar, and wind technologies, and there will need to be storage facilities to make up the gap there. It also points to the fact that it needs Government is to back research and development in the area, which, of course, is what this Government is doing with over a $1 billion investment behind businesses that want to do that kind of research and development throughout our R & D tax credit.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, for a Minister to say on the one hand that we need 4.5 new wind farms a year and then not be able to say what capacity those wind farms would have, I think is not answering the question. While it might be convenient for the Minister to run to some of the more flowery paragraphs contained in the Transpower report, this specific point would be: what is the capacity of the 4.5 wind farms that this country requires each year, out to 2050? […]

Jonathan Young: Sir, so there is no requirement for the Minister, when she makes a very specific statement the day before, to quantify that the following day?

SPEAKER: Unless the member has the wit to put it down as a primary question, there is no requirement. End quote.

The Minister can say whatever she wishes but does not have to front up with the facts in the house when challenged; good to know.

A mallard joined the cuckoo in the woods.

(h/t to commenter john Doe for the post title.)