Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Done like a dinner

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    Another question is why, back in 1971, the government built and owned the dam and the aluminium company the smelter? Things might have worked better if they'd had the same ownership (either both government or both aluminum company).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Without having looked too closely at the economics, I agree with you - I wouldn't subsidise the smelter to any huge degree. It should be left to fail if it can't land a commercial - not political - deal with Meridian. But to be honest, that kinda feels like where we're at - a basic subsidy was offered, rejected and the Govt seems to have left it at that for now...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I don't think the government has any special immunity: both the Companies Act and the Securities Act bind the Crown. I don't believe the formal prospectus has been issued, but when it does there will probably be some sort of clause indicating that the government may have undisclosed knowledge or take actions which may be to the detriment of a shareholder.

    (Legislation could in any case never bind future from taking action to the detriment of purchasers).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Another question is why, back in 1971, the government built and owned the dam and the aluminium company the smelter?

    Check out these links i posted:
    http://publicaddress.net/system/cafe/hard-news-done-like-a-dinner/?i=50#replies

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to BenWilson,

    Russell wrote:

    But we had to let go of solar water heating – it was just such a big investment that would take a long while to pay off.

    Ben Wilson asked :

    How much, how long? How does it compare to money in a term deposit? Or even the stockmarket?

    Before we put in our Solar Hot Water I did the sums and found that it would never pay for itself. We would be better off financially, by investing the money that the Solar would cost, and using the income from that to pay for electricity (and have a bit left over). But we wanted Solar Power and knew that our existing cylinder was quite old, and it was in the way of our kitchen re-development so we went ahead and got solar anyway.

    It has been great. We turn it off (ie turn off electicity to the element in the cylinder) in early November and turn it back on in late April, so we 6 months of completely free hot water. Our power bills during the Summer are around the $70 mark. It makes us feel good - seemingly saving money (even if we aren't actually) and helping the planet and the country. Sometimes there are considerations other than purely economic ones.

    I'm sure Solar will continue to get cheaper, so hopefully more people can take it up.

    We're also keen to get an electric car, but the price point for those seem way too far above break even point at the moment. We've never been early adopters, so we'll bide our time on that one for now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    The mystery is that, inspite of it all, National and John Key look likely to get a third term.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    Bjorn Lomborg provides a perspective on where we are currently at with renewables:

    GLOBAL warm­ing is a prob­lem for the future but a ben­e­fit now. Lots of peo­ple like to point out that global warm­ing means more deaths from heat­waves, but they for­get that fewer die from cold. In the UK and almost every­where, more peo­ple die from cold than heat.

    Like­wise, higher tem­per­a­tures mean higher costs for air-conditioning but lower costs for heat­ing. Tem­per­a­ture rises will push some crops beyond their opti­mal range and reduce yields, but CO2 in the atmos­phere acts as a fer­tiliser and has increased global yields significantly.

    When econ­o­mists esti­mate the net dam­age from global warm­ing as a per­cent­age of GDP, they find it will indeed have an over­all neg­a­tive impact in the long run — but the impact of mod­er­ate warm­ing (1-2C) will be beneficial.

    It is only towards the end of the cen­tury, when tem­per­a­tures have risen much more, that global warm­ing will­turn neg­a­tive. One peer-reviewed model esti­mates that it will turn into a net cost only by 2070.

    We need to stop claim­ing that it will be the end of the world. Just as it is silly to deny man-made global warm­ing, it is inde­fen­si­ble to describe it as the biggest calamity of the 21st century.

    Here is how to quan­tify this. The most well-known eco­nomic model of global warm­ing is the DICE model by Pro­fes­sor William Nord­haus of Yale Uni­ver­sity. It cal­cu­lates the total costs (from heat­waves, hur­ri­canes, crop fail­ure and so on) as well as the total ben­e­fits (from cold waves and CO2 fer­til­i­sa­tion). If you com­pare these over the next 200 years, the total cost of global warm­ing is esti­mated at about £22 trillion.

    While this is not a triv­ial num­ber, you have to put it in con­text. Over the next 200 years, global GDP will run to about £1,500 tril­lion, so global warm­ing con­sti­tutes a loss of about 1.5% of this fig­ure. This is not the end of the world but a prob­lem that needs to be solved.

    Next, con­sider CO2 lev­els. With huge, green sub­si­dies show­ing up on our elec­tric­ity bills, you would be excused for believ­ing that we have man­aged to cut CO2 sub­stan­tially. You would be wrong.

    Global CO2 has risen relent­lessly since 1950. In 1997 the Kyoto pro­to­col put legally bind­ing lim­its on rich-country emis­sions. But Kyoto and all our fine poli­cies have had no real impact, as you can see in fig­ure 1 of the graphic.

    Kyoto is the lit­tle dot in 2010 that the rich world had promised to strive for. We shot right past it. The only indi­ca­tion of a CO2 reduc­tion was in 2009 when the global reces­sion put us on track to ful­fil Kyoto. Had the reces­sion con­tin­ued to cause more job losses and GDP reduc­tions, we might have been able to achieve Kyoto. Not sur­pris­ingly, such a pol­icy has no appeal for politi­cians — or vot­ers — in the real world.

    Kyoto set a tar­get of 36.6% for the rise in global emis­sions since 1990. In fact they have gone up by 45.4%. With no Kyoto at all, they would have increased by only about half a per­cent­age point to 45.9%. Put sim­ply, the past two decades of cli­mate dis­cus­sions have had vir­tu­ally no impact on global emissions.

    But you look around and see lots of solar pan­els and wind tur­bines. In the UK, more than 6,000 mas­sive onshore and off­shore tur­bines will be raised over the next seven years, despite increas­ing oppo­si­tion. Surely this will quickly change the pic­ture? Well, no.

    The Inter­na­tional Energy Agency (IEA) in its lat­est esti­mate shows that in 2010 the world got just 0.7% of its energy from wind and a minus­cule 0.1% from solar. The vast major­ity of renew­ables are hydro and espe­cially bio­mass (largely poor peo­ple burn­ing twigs and dung).

    Look­ing for­ward to 2035, even with an opti­mistic (and some­what unre­al­is­tic) green sce­nario, the IEA does not see much change. We will get 2.4% from wind and 1% from solar. The world will still run mainly on fos­sil fuels. In 2010, 81% of all energy came from fos­sil fuels; by 2035, 79% will still come from the same source.

    Many peo­ple ask why we do not go more green. The sim­ple answer is that it would cost too much. If you look at fig­ure 3, you can see a strong one-to-one rela­tion­ship between eco­nomic per­for­mance and energy emis­sions. Renew­ables can­not deliver a steady sup­ply of power. Plainly put, nations burn fos­sil fuels not to annoy the envi­ron­men­tal­ists but because they sup­port eco­nomic growth.

    Fun­da­men­tally, no mat­ter what car­bon cuts we make in the next cou­ple of decades, they will make no mea­sur­able dif­fer­ence until the sec­ond half of the cen­tury, because the cli­mate sys­tem is such a super-tanker.

    This means that a smart cli­mate pol­icy is not about doing just any­thing now but doing some­thing sig­nif­i­cant that will be sus­tain­able and cut a large amount of CO2 in the long run. This is the dif­fer­ence between doing some­thing that feels good and focus­ing on some­thing that will do good.

    Sim­i­larly, the emis­sions that mat­ter in the 21st cen­tury are from the devel­op­ing world. Yes, we in the rich world emit­ted most of the CO2 in the 20th cen­tury, but we are slowly slid­ing towards insignif­i­cance. Today we emit just 43% and by the end of the cen­tury, we will be down to 23%, as you can see in fig­ure 4.

    Fun­da­men­tally, UK cli­mate poli­cies (and even all the rich coun­tries’ cli­mate poli­cies) will not mat­ter much unless China, India and the rest of the world are in on them. And they really are not right now, because our feel­good poli­cies are all high cost for lit­tle ben­e­fit, which poor coun­tries can­not afford.

    There is another point to make here. When the EU con­grat­u­lates itself for cut­ting car­bon emis­sions sig­nif­i­cantly, this is mostly hypocrisy. We have sim­ply exported most of our emis­sions to China.

    Take Britain’s car­bon emis­sions from 1990–2010. You like to brag that your emis­sions are down some 14%, as you can see in fig­ure 5. Yet this counts only the pro­duc­tion of CO2 inside the UK. Ever more of your respon­si­bil­ity for CO2 pro­duc­tion comes through imports — typ­i­cally from China.

    If we count that CO2 as well (and deduct the CO2 emis­sions that you export), we see a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. Britain has increased its CO2 emis­sions over the past 20 years by 18%. You are not the good guys, it just feels that way.

    Den­mark, my own coun­try, has the same pat­tern, so we are just as hyp­o­crit­i­cal. And this is true for most nations in the devel­oped world.

    EU emis­sions have declined (as the EU con­stantly intones) but the entire reduc­tion from 1990–2008 is exactly matched by the increase in the CO2 from imports from China.

    SO, REALLY, what should we do about global warm­ing? For a start, we must accept that the cur­rent, old-fashioned, approach has failed.

    This approach, attempted since the 1992 Earth Sum­mit in Rio, is to agree on promises of large car­bon cuts 10–15 years into the future. Only one real agree­ment, the Kyoto Pro­to­col, has emerged from 20 years of talk and — as I have shown — it really did not do any­thing. The 2009 Copen­hagen follow-up turned into a spec­tac­u­lar failure.

    The Kyoto approach is not work­ing for three rea­sons. First, cut­ting CO2 is expen­sive. We burn fos­sil fuels because they power almost every­thing we like about mod­ern civil­i­sa­tion. Cut­ting emis­sions with­out afford­able, effec­tive replace­ments for fos­sil fuel means expen­sive power and lower growth. The only cur­rent com­pre­hen­sive global-warming pol­icy, the EU 20−20−20 — which aims to cut green­house gas emis­sions to 20% below 1990 lev­els by 2020, and ensure 20% renew­able energy — will cost about £165bn a year.

    Sec­ond, even if suc­cess­ful, this approach would not solve the prob­lem. If every­one imple­mented Kyoto, tem­per­a­tures would drop by the end of the cen­tury by a minus­cule 0.004C. The EU pol­icy will, across the cen­tury, cost about £13 tril­lion, yet will reduce tem­per­a­tures by just 0.05C.

    Third, green energy is not ready. It is gen­er­ally much more expen­sive than tra­di­tional sources, its deploy­ment does not cre­ate new jobs — its higher, sub­sidised costs destroy jobs in the rest of the econ­omy — and it does not reduce oil depen­dence, because it typ­i­cally pro­duces only elec­tric­ity, which is rarely gen­er­ated with oil.

    Fun­da­men­tally, with the cur­rent poli­cies we pay way too much for way too little.

    It is also easy to show how even indi­vid­ual cli­mate poli­cies are sim­ply silly. Look at the dam­age from an extra ton of CO2.

    The lat­est peer-reviewed overview of the 311 pub­lished esti­mates show that the entire cost of the most likely future dam­age is about £3.50 a ton. This means that cut­ting CO2 for less than £3.50 a ton is prob­a­bly a good idea, whereas cut­ting for more is prob­a­bly a bad deal.

    Unfor­tu­nately, almost all cur­rent poli­cies for fight­ing global warm­ing are bad deals by this £3.50 yard­stick. The UK and most other large nations have man­aged to enact cli­mate poli­cies for elec­tric­ity that cost a lot more than the good they do.

    China has one of the most effi­cient cli­mate poli­cies on elec­tric­ity. Yet it still pays about £26 to cut a ton of CO2, which is nearly eight times more than the global, long-term ben­e­fits. The UK pays more than £1bn to cut about 10% of its elec­tric­ity emis­sions, essen­tially pay­ing about £81 a ton of CO2, or more than 20 times too much.

    On bio­fu­els, the excess is even greater and emis­sion reduc­tions even smaller. The UK pays 57 times too much at £193 per ton of CO2, cut­ting just 0.4% of its total emis­sions at a cost of £391m. Amer­ica pays a stag­ger­ing 133 times too much, at £456 per ton of CO2, cost­ing £12bn a year and cut­ting just 0.5% of its total emissions.

    The cost is not just eco­nomic: pub­lic resent­ment at high energy costs is ris­ing. In Ger­many elec­tric­ity prices have gone up 61% in real terms since 2000 (shown in fig­ure 6). A quar­ter of the price is now direct sub­si­dies to renew­ables. These prices means that upwards of 800,000 Ger­man house­holds can no longer pay their elec­tric­ity bills.

    In the UK, there are now more than 5m fuel-poor peo­ple, and Ofgem’s chief exec­u­tive, Alis­tair Buchanan, pub­licly wor­ries that envi­ron­men­tal tar­gets could lead to black­outs in less than eight months’ time. This makes the cur­rent poli­cies unsus­tain­able in the long run.

    You will often hear that we just need to put a price on car­bon, either through a car­bon tax or an equiv­a­lent cap-and-trade. This argu­ment typ­i­cally assumes that a tax would be a sig­nif­i­cant step towards solv­ing global warm­ing. It would not.

    If the tax were high enough to cur­tail emis­sions sig­nif­i­cantly, it would also curb eco­nomic growth sig­nif­i­cantly — polit­i­cal sui­cide as well as poor economics.

    If the tax were equal to the £3.50-a-ton real cost of CO2 dam­age (or less than a penny on a litre of petrol) it would make lit­tle dif­fer­ence. If enacted across the world, it would cut global emis­sions by less than 10%. If just one coun­try or region adopted the tax, the effect would be unnoticeable.

    More­over, in most rich coun­tries taxes on fos­sil fuels such as petrol are already much higher than a penny, so you could argue that we already have the cor­rect car­bon tax.

    Any­way, the proof is in the eat­ing: car­bon taxes have not worked where they have been imposed. They have led to polit­i­cal break­down (in Aus­tralia), cli­mate pol­icy break­down (in Amer­ica) or to expen­sive poli­cies with lit­tle ben­e­fit (in the UK and the rest of the EU).

    So the bot­tom line is that the old-fashioned poli­cies have failed. Cur­rent green tech­nolo­gies just do not make it.

    THE only way to move towards a long-term reduc­tion in emis­sions is if green energy becomes much cheaper. If it cost less than fos­sil fuels, every­one would switch — includ­ing the Chinese.

    This, of course, requires break­throughs in green tech­nolo­gies and much more innovation.

    At the Copen­hagen Con­sen­sus on Cli­mate, a panel of econ­o­mists, includ­ing three Nobel lau­re­ates, found that the best long-term strat­egy was to increase dra­mat­i­cally invest­ment in green R&D — research and development.

    They sug­gested doing so 10-fold to $100bn (£66bn) a year glob­ally. This would equal 0.2% of global GDP, with a com­mit­ment of about $5bn from the UK. Com­pare this with the cost of the EU cli­mate poli­cies: just for the UK the bill is $34bn annually.

    Of course, R&D holds no guar­an­tees. We might spend bil­lions and still come up empty-handed in 40 years’ time. But it has a much bet­ter chance of suc­cess than con­tin­u­ing the futile efforts of the past 20 years.

    The anal­ogy here is the com­puter in the 1950s. We did not get bet­ter com­put­ers by mass-producing sub­sidised vac­uum tubes. We did not pro­vide grants so that all west­ern­ers could have a com­puter in their homes in 1960. Nor did we tax alter­na­tives such as type­writ­ers. The break­throughs were achieved by a dra­matic increase in R&D, lead­ing to many inno­va­tions, which enabled com­pa­nies such as IBM and Apple to pro­duce com­put­ers that con­sumers even­tu­ally wanted to buy.

    This is what Amer­ica has done with frack­ing. It spent about $10bn in sub­si­dies over the past three decades on inno­va­tion, open­ing up huge new resources of pre­vi­ously inac­ces­si­ble shale gas. Despite some legit­i­mate con­cerns about safety, it is hard to over­state the over­whelm­ing ben­e­fits: a dra­matic fall in nat­ural gas prices and a shift in US elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion from 50% coal and 20% gas to 37% coal and 30% gas.

    This has reduced US annual CO2 emis­sions by 400m-500m tons — about twice what the rest of the world has achieved over the past 20 years.

    The frack­ing bonanza also cre­ates long-term social and eco­nomic ben­e­fits through lower energy costs: US con­sumers ben­e­fit by about £66bn in lower gas prices. By con­trast, esti­mates show that a 330m-ton CO2 reduc­tion in the EU using car­bon taxes would cost £165bn.

    It illus­trates why we must con­fess to the fail­ures of the past 20 years. As long as renew­ables are not ready, we are spend­ing vast sums of money on tiny cuts in CO2. Instead, we should focus on invest­ing dra­mat­i­cally more in R&D into green energy over the next 20–40 years.

    The solu­tion is not to make fos­sil fuels so expen­sive that nobody wants them — because that will never work — but to make green energy so cheap that even­tu­ally every­body wants it.

    Dr Bjorn Lom­borg is direc­tor of the Copen­hagen Con­sen­sus Cen­tre. He is the author of The Skep­ti­cal Envi­ron­men­tal­ist and Cool It

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Farmer Green,

    . As long as renew­ables are not ready, we are spend­ing vast sums of money on tiny cuts in CO2. Instead, we should focus on invest­ing dra­mat­i­cally more in R&D into green energy over the next 20–40 years.

    The solu­tion is not to make fos­sil fuels so expen­sive that nobody wants them — because that will never work — but to make green energy so cheap that even­tu­ally every­body wants it.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DexterX,

    Breakfast in the ruins…

    inspite of it all, National and John Key
    look likely to get a third term.

    Noooooo, say it ain’t so…
    <fug sets in>

    Go wash your mouth out!
    <angrily, he lashes out>

    Who can stop them, their Everyman appeal works somehow…
    <resignation washes back in>

    Oh! Phew! I see what you were saying…
    1: feckless
    2: hapless
    and now the third term
    3; brainless
    <straws clutched>

    …now I need a strong drink,
    maybe that new Kool-Aid flavour,
    …Lethe

    <and so it goes…>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    Before we put in our Solar Hot Water I did the sums and found that it would never pay for itself. We would be better off financially, by investing the money that the Solar would cost, and using the income from that to pay for electricity (and have a bit left over)..

    And I largely did the same math when I bought a Prius 8 years ago - but we did anyway because we saw it as a technology that needed to be bought into because it was bound to get cheaper and more common over time - if no body bought them we'd be stuck with the traditional technology

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    When a registered business does the same sums , it can claim the interest and the depreciation as expenses, reducing taxable profit and thus taxation, while enjoying the reduced cash outgoing on energy expenses. It can make economic sense.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    We’re also keen to get an electric car, but the price point for those seem way too far above break even point at the moment. We’ve never been early adopters, so we’ll bide our time on that one for now.

    Yup, early adopters are righteous, but it's not usually a financially sound decision, in much the same way that owning a new car, period, is not financially sound (it is perfectly sound in other ways, not least, because you might just like it). The Cost vs Age curve is U shaped, and the best place to buy to keep the cost of car ownership down is at the bottom of the U, which is usually between the 10-20 year old mark. I was hoping this might also apply to electric cars, but I'm not so sure - the most expensive part by far is the batteries, and that's the very part that wears out the fastest. So this curve may be a much shallower U.

    And I largely did the same math when I bought a Prius 8 years ago – but we did anyway because we saw it as a technology that needed to be bought into because it was bound to get cheaper and more common over time – if no body bought them we’d be stuck with the traditional technology

    I've kept my eye on second hand Priuses. They're still a reasonably expensive car second-hand, considering the class of vehicles they are effectively in, in terms of the priorities of customers - a Toyota Corolla is probably a better buy at the same age, it will last 10 years mechanically, has similar petrol efficiency to the Prius, and will most likely be cheaper. It's also a devil that is known. The Prius is a very complicated vehicle, there's so many ways it can go bad.

    Also, I insist that my first electric car is a plug-in. That's just basic to the whole idea of fuel efficiency in electric cars. Converting a Prius for that is an added cost that should never, ever have been there. Why, oh why did Toyota not make this a standard feature?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to BenWilson,

    . Why, oh why did Toyota not make this a standard feature?

    Possibly because in the majority of the target market locations 70% of the electricity was NOT coming from renewables. Godzone is exceptional.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson,

    Is there a way to do spoiler tags on system?

    Would be nice to collapse copy-paste chunks.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R,

    We own a boring (reliable) Toyota Corolla 1600 hatchback. Thinking of getting a Prius, we hired one for a week last time we went to Christchurch. I kept track of the fuel use and distance travelled and decided that it was actually comparable to the Corolla for fuel efficiency per km travelled. And the Corolla (2nd hand, one careful owner) was a lot cheaper than we could get a Prius. I think one difference is that the Prius is a bigger heavier vehicle, so we weren't really comparing apples with apples. Unfortunately for the Prius, we don't need a people mover.

    Much as I'd like to have an electric car, or even a hybrid, I can't really afford one yet. I still wait in hope though.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Possibly because in the majority of the target market locations 70% of the electricity was NOT coming from renewables. Godzone is exceptional.

    Perhaps not, but the efficiency is still far greater in a plug-in, even if coal is being burned to charge it up. A coal fired power plant is far more efficient in producing energy from fuel than a petrol engine is. People who have converted their Priuses to plug-in (at considerable cost, considering that this is just electronic stuff, the parts are not expensive), have got far greater savings on their fuel bill (including whatever part of their electricity bill that goes into the car). Also, the carbon conscious consumer in the industrialized world may prefer that their car gets it's power from nuclear plants, despite the fuel being non-renewable.

    Furthermore, a plug-in electric vehicle makes a hell of a lot more sense in much more densely populated countries, because the commute distances are often smaller, and the emissions are close to zero.

    I don't know the reasons it was left out. But it was the most important flaw in the Prius, to me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    power play...

    I insist that my first electric car is a plug-in.
    That’s just basic to the whole idea of fuel efficiency in electric cars.

    Oh?
    ...when were we promised a power grid for life?

    ;- )

    ...and it's not like 'we'* haven't sold (or long term leased) bits off for short term book gain before...

    *represented by some bean counter at the SOE


    but as it is Friday, let's run some current thru this sucker...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen R,

    My understanding from research a few years back was that plug-in converted Priuses got a reliable 75km/liter for regular commuter use. That kicks any petrol vehicle's arse. But the stock Prius was somewhere around 20km/liter, which was not exceptional at all.

    It breaks down if you're doing long distances, but therein lies the main beauty of the Prius, that it was an electric vehicle that was even capable of long distances. If there were a plethora of reasonably priced choice, though, I think I wouldn't bother with a hybrid - I'd have a pure plug-in EV for commuting, and a petrol vehicle for longer hauls. Until the battery-only EV gets a reliable range in the 4-500 kilometer spot, I'd probably want to own a petrol. After that, though, I'd probably hire one if I ever wanted it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    …when were we promised a power grid for life?

    Plug-in doesn't have to be grid connected. Plug into your windmill.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    My understanding from research a few years back was that plug-in converted Priuses got a reliable 75km/liter for regular commuter use.

    Note: The electricity costs were not included in this calculation. For comparison, the current Prius Plug-in, that was produced (finally) in 2012 claims electric-only efficiency of around 61km/l of petrol equivalent. So it's damned energy efficient. But it's still lugging that petrol engine around for commutes...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    When it came time to retire the car we'd been driving for 13 years we looked at the various electric option and decided against them. They are expensive, but more important is their cost of manufacture makes the environmental equation very dubious.

    At this stage I still think it's a better environmental choice to buy a two or three year old car and drive it for a long time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Heh. For me the environmental factor is secondary to cost. Electric should be cheaper to own, because it's cheaper to run, and fuel costs far outweigh capital costs in cars in the price range I'm prepared to pay until the day I become a millionaire. But currently, except for the very newest ones that can be plugged in, electrics lose on that score. I'm gonna wait it. Gut feel is that it's gonna happen this decade.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Well I live in a hill in Dunedin, in my (old model) Prius I can drive down town without turning on the petrol motor - by the time I get there the battery is full to overflowing (just from the braking) and I have about enough of a charge to drive the length of town (if I'm careful - it's a small battery) - I use petrol when I go back up the hill

    I'd love a plug in Prius - maybe the next car - but ideally I want one that I can set to charge 3/4 full so I can claim that bonus from the hill - I'd probably never put petrol in it when driving around town.

    In the US there's no road-tax on electric cars (yet) it's done on purpose to encourage them - we should do the same, it would encourage us to moving to local energy independence - importing oil has a really bug effect on our foreign balance of payments - we could do the same as we do with the excise tax on cigarettes - keep increasing it as the pool of non-electric car users gets smaller to encourage more and more adopters and then when it reaches some preset limit (say 40% adoption) switch over to a regime more like diesel

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to BenWilson,

    At $80,000 + , the Chevy Volt then is not what you are looking for, even though it can be purely plug-in , up to a point.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    No road user charges on electric cars until 2020 in Godzone.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

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