Woods cannot see the wood for the trees

Question 10 in the house on Tuesday was entertaining and enlightening.? ?Jonathan Young asked Megan Woods, the Minister of Energy and Resources about any reports?she had seen on the state of the electricity market, and whether she believed Government policy had the ability to impact the market positively or negatively?

Woods reply was to the effect that it was all the fault of the previous government and vulnerable people were being left behind and the winter energy payment was wonderful etc etc and that, Quote.

… we are leading a transition towards affordable, renewable energy like hydrogen and away from expensive and vulnerable fossil fuels. End quote.

Then Young pressed for details about electricity futures prices for next month and Woods mentioned $600 due to problems in the gas infrastructure but that all will be well shortly.

My follow-up question would have been: If a short-term problem with the gas infrastructure has pushed electricity prices through the roof, what does your government think is going to happen when the gas tap is turned off due to your government’s policies?

Instead, there was a period of argie-bargie with points of order and speaker’s rulings.

Another question from Young on electricity futures was answered by a rather odd dissertation about hydro lake levels prompting Gerry Brownlee to come to his feet.?Quote.

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a most fascinating answer from the Minister. Perhaps you’d like to tell the House what question she was answering. End quote.

With an interesting response from Mallard:?Quote.

Well, I think we’ll go 1-all there. I won’t punish the Minister for her interjection during that, and I won’t punish the member for his disorderly point of order. End quote.

David Seymour then drilled into the nitty-gritty:?Quote.

If the electricity market will be back to normal by December, why has Genesis Energy ordered four shipments totalling 120,000 tonnes of Indonesian coal to be delivered between December and February? End quote.

Importing 120,000 tonnes of coal!? When did we change our name to Newcastle? Apparently, we have 8 billion tonnes of the stuff here already.?Quote.

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Sorry, the member knows that that’s not this Minister’s responsibility.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has made a claim that the current problems are due to a gas shortage which will be alleviated by December. I’m asking how she can reconcile that with other facts that she should be across.

SPEAKER: No, that’s not what the member asked. He said, “why”. He didn’t ask how it could be reconciled.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The “why” question goes directly to the prime purpose of having a Minister of Energy and Resources?it is to make sure that there is security of supply in the market. Now, the question is?and I think Mr Seymour’s hit it on the head?if there’s no problem, as the Minister said?

SPEAKER: I accept that?that point of order is a much better one than the one we had previously. The Minister will address the question.

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Well, quite clearly, Genesis Energy does not have the kind of confidence in the infrastructure around the gas supply system that the Opposition and the fossil fuel industry seem to have. What recent events are showing us is what a precarious security of supply situation we’re in when we need to rely on gas for peaking. That’s why this Government is intent on building a resilient energy system with more resilient forms of renewable energy. End quote.

Really?? Really?

What more resilient forms of renewable energy? Minister Woods?? Wind – nope, it is no good for ‘peaking’, you can’t simply turn it on and off when you need it.? Solar?? Ditto. Hard to quickly ramp up solar when everyone boils the kettle in the Coronation St ad break. (Hint, it’s dark outside.). Hydro? We sometimes have dry years. Hydro is pretty darn good but it does need the water behind the dam. Geothermal?? Yes, now we are getting somewhere as geothermal can?load follow and can be reduced during low need time and increased without much effort.

Currently, New Zealand’s annual geothermal power production is approximately the same as our oil and gas power production, around 7500 GWh.

Will that amount of generation capacity have been replaced in 6 or so years time when our current gas reserves begin to dwindle?

Given all the iwi consultation that has to happen with geothermal, all the RMA hurdles, the build times and so forth, I think that they are going to be scrambling.

Buy your candles now, you may be reading Whaleoil by candlelight.