A report that pours cold water on the effectiveness of solar water heating in reducing New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions throws up a number of issues that deserve further consideration, Labour’s Energy and Climate Change spokesperson Moana Mackey says.
The report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment challenges preconceptions about the extent to which solar water heating reduces the need to build more fossil fuel power plants.
“It also suggests that while solar water heating has a role to play in meeting renewable electricity targets, the Government should be looking at other, additional measures.
“Of particular importance is the recommendation that the Minister of Energy investigate whether the way the electricity market is regulated sets the right incentives or constrains the potential for load control and demand management.
“While the technology exists to better manage demand and smooth out the peaks, the application of this technology is patchy and inconsistent.
"Something as simple as heating your hot water cylinder at night when demand is low instead of during the day when demand peaks could save householders money and reduce the use of thermal peaking plants as well as reduce the need for new thermal generation plants to be built.
"With power companies being readied for sale it is even more urgent that the Government investigate how best to provide the right incentives and remove any barriers to such common sense practices.
“Once these electricity generating assets are privatised it will be hugely difficult for any government to influence their use of renewables and energy conservation measures.
"Subsidies for solar heating have been around since the 1970s and only ended in Budget 2012. This report is a timely reminder to the Government to show some leadership on the crucial issue of climate change and the role renewable energy can play in meeting New Zealand's greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Moana Mackey.