Friday, August 15, 2008

A solution for a non-existent problem

National's energy policy [PDF] is based around lowering environmental standards (and in particular, gutting the RMA to allow developers to run roughshod over local communities) in order to guarantee "security of supply". But do we actually have a security of supply problem? According to National, yes - and they have a lovely graph on page 3 to prove it. But as Just Left points out, according to the place they got that graph from - the Electricity Commission’s Survey of Market Performance paper [PDF], we don't. While the historical data (figure 42, p. 3.3) shows a downturn in 2006, their later assessment of future construction (pp 3.7 - 3.11) shows it had already bounced back to higher than the recent average by 2007. As for the effects of that construction, they show security of supply (as measured by dry-year energy margins - the same statistic National is crying "crisis!" over) increasing significantly due to committed projects, and returning to levels not seen since the early 80's even if only the "highly likely" projects go ahead:

(The decline post-2011 is because that's as far ahead as they are looking)

Their assessment:

Even with the deferral of these projects by one and two years, it appears that, if they did proceed, security margins would rise through the foreseeable future.

It seems unlikely that all these projects would in fact proceed, even with some delays. However, Figure 44 does suggest that market participants are considering projects that collectively have the potential to provide adequate security margins for the foreseeable future.

Which rather blows National's cries of "crisis" and claims that we need to erode environmental protections out of the water, neh?

Basically, National's policy is a "solution" for a non-existent problem. As for their key policy - burning more gas - as Just Left points out, there's a very real supply problem there. National claims to be "excited" about the potential for finding more gas, but excitement doesn't keep the lights on. If we want to do that, then we need renewables, not a dirty, short-term, limited resource.

Update: Somehow, I'd managed to leave the end off this...