So how about this picture. If the Government gives us interest free loans to install solar panels on roofs, we could reduce the need for expanding coal and oil based electricity, whilst maintaining our geothermal and hydro production.
The Government would set up Feed In Tariffs enabling power companies to purchase spare power units to feed in to the grid to supplement its own resources and those of the community as and when required.
The technology would include smart meters where appliances and power consumption may be monitored by the consumer This is already available in NZ from companies such as SmartNow. This is very important because it educates consumers of all ages as to the impact of each household appliance.
You would be able to monitor this on your SmartPhone as well as the touch screen in your home, perhaps even control appliances remotely. Now you will know if you turn your 3 TV’s off instead of having them on stand by, exactly how much energy and cost you are saving.
Many of our household devices are developing sufficient intelligence to be turned on and off remotely. This can apply to anything from your stove or microwave, to your TV Set Top Box, washing machine, heating etc.
Kiwis are very clever. With a little encouragement and support, we could have people coming up with new technologies for smoothing power, sharing and reticulating, designing solar panels that look good and work more efficiently in our environment.
Whole new industries and thousands of jobs would come out of this. Educators, estimators, designers, manufacturers, installers, inspectors, service people, finance companies, new boutique electrical companies, to name a few.
New Zealand is an island and we can be potentially isolated from gas and fossil fuels, especially if the worst happened and a serious war broke out somewhere on the planet.
Do you think that in the Middle East, Europe or USA, they would be saying, oh don’t forget New Zealand, we must set aside x number of tonnes of crude for our antipodean mates down under? But I digress. We are smart people and I think we could create not only some serious domestic growth, but our inventions spawned from this adventure could also contribute to some huge potential export revenue through the innovations that we would produce.
We also made a commitment to being clean and green. Digging up coal and gas doesn’t exactly honor that commitment, although I agree we need the money. Maybe we can’t do it with solar and wind alone, but if we could produce even half of our requirements from our roofs whilst at the same time reducing power consumption through smarter use and education, wouldn’t that be cool?
We could also lead in international design and R & D, with companies like Fisher & Paykel in the development of new technologies that burn much less power, including heating, consumer electronics and more. We need revival of new companies like Gallagher, Rakon and Taits, which have shown that we can be world leaders in technology. Those number 8 fencing wire companies we are so proud of.
The problem is that all of this needs to start with the politicians and all I seem to hear from them is that the coal, oil and gas is worth a lot of money and we should sell them. OK, if we need to do that because New Zealand is insolvent, then do it, but put the money earned into renewables, try to make ourselves self sufficient and then develop export revenues by exporting the technologies we built and developed locally, exploiting our IP. Kiwis are smart people.
Come on National, Labour and Green Parties, lets take a long term view beyond the next election. Change only happens when you do something different. Make it happen and you can have the credit if that is what drives your ambitions, but lets show our leadership.
I didn’t mention tourism, but I don’t think people really buy into clean green anymore. Lets show them we can be clean and green and beautiful and then generate export revenue out of our new skills and industries.
As a footnote, a quote by Farrell J. January 2011 on the Ontario FIT which started in 2009 from New Rules Project:
Ontario’s clean energy program encourages local ownership and distributed generation, in part to broaden support for renewable energy and in part to capture the increased economic impact generated from local ownership.
The domestic content requirement has already resulted in the promise of 43,000 jobs and dozens of new manufacturing plants to support the 5,000 MW of new clean energy.
As a footnote, imagine if the panel didn’t have to be on your roof, but could be on every one of your windows and you could see through it? That’s what MIT is hoping for.