There is much hype about hydrogen as a future energy carrier for New Zealand. The Government's consultation document "A vision for hydrogen in New Zealand" repeats a number of myths about the merits of "Green Hydrogen". Hydrogen is not green; literally or metaphorically.
Converting electricity into hydrogen for use in a fuel cell vehicle would use three times the electricity needed to charge an equivalent battery electric vehicle. NZ's electricity system includes natural gas generation for peak-load operability. Using the hydrogen route to get electricity into the transport sector would increase, not decrease, NZ's carbon footprint.
Using electrolytic (green) hydrogen in the refinery instead of fossil-fuel (brown) hydrogen, would reduce the direct carbon footprint of oil refining in NZ. But it would be cheaper and more climate friendly to just use that electricity to offset the refinery's demands from the grid. There are better ways to reduce the refinery CO2 emissions.
Hydrogen is a valuable chemical. Using it only for its energy content is like using pieces of kauri as firewood. Carbon-fibre hydrogen tanks can weigh 20 times more than the hydrogen inside them.
The claimed climate benefits of a hydrogen economy sound too good to be true. They are.
Steve Goldthorpe, Warkworth
I refer to the recent emotional contribution from Mr Troy Bowler. I was genuinely surprised by his article in which he slammed electric cars in such a weird manner. That was until I reached the end and noted his credentials as being executive chairman of a company with interests in petroleum equipment services and the development of the hydrogen fuel option!
Mr Bowler, I don't think that you need worry that New Zealand will soon be having to work out how to safely dispose of four million electric car batteries for two reasons; Firstly, it will be years even with all the will in the world before New Zealand can reach such scale. Secondly, we can be certain that the batteries of today will not be the batteries of tomorrow. Such is the pace of innovation in this technology. There are well funded laboratories throughout the world focusing on these issues. Electric cars will become significantly cheaper and their batteries more efficient. Technology will be developed to recycle them safely.
The child labour and human rights issue Mr Bowler presents is a red herring. In the same way that consumers ask today where and under what conditions their running shoes are made, will be applied to how car batteries are produced.
What we can also be certain of is that we must drastically cut our emissions now. Major problems rarely have one solution but are addressed by the combination of many.
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Mr Bowler joins Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner and other self serving status quo merchants of doom. They've slipped their moorings on this issue and to rally against electrical cars and the "feebate" proposal is to be on the wrong side of history.
Bill Mathews, St Marys Bay
Government legislation requires parents not to smack their kids. Why can't government legislate requiring parents to vaccinate their kids? If not, what's next - a polio, dyptheria, or whooping cough epidemic?
Kids don't deserve unpleasant and avoidable diseases. Health officials don't deserve avoidable epidemics. Taxpayers don't deserve additional costs.
Patricia Schnauer, Milford
The $100 million initial upgrade of rail to the north of Auckland is excellent news (NZH September 6). It includes 13 tunnels and five bridges. NZ First's Shane Jones has taken a lot of flak as champion of the provinces but who else is doing the hard yards? The terrain is difficult but better transport options will enhance the region's natural attractions such as its deep water port, horticulture, forestry, fisheries, limestone and porcelain clay, and the surf and sand of its magnificent beaches. The "Neglected North" needs development. As far back as the '80s, it was proposed that Whangarei become a free port. That would revolutionise the north and would be a welcome release of pressure on Auckland. Ports of Auckland does not need to cringe; it can invest in Northport.
David Howard, Pakuranga
Having announced an upgrade to the rail line from Swanson to Whangarei wouldn't it be a good time to upgrade the tunnel between Swanson and Waitakere to allow electric trains to run through to Waitakere and Kumeu and perhaps later to Helensville.
I dare say Phil Twyford who seems completely opposed to any heavy rail upgrade or line extensions in Auckland would be opposed but perhaps the Mayor Phil Goff could contribute some of his $140m petrol tax take to help. It seems precious little of it has been spent on anything else in West Auckland.
Brian J Edwards, Henderson
National's protestations over the current investment in the North Auckland railway line in favour of a four-lane motorway is disingenuous. It is a bit like taking money from education to spend in health. Both need funding. Compared to roading investments this is small potatoes, but is vitally important to Northland business owners who have long complained of the transport costs to Auckland. Many exporters are forced to truck their goods to Auckland where it is railed to Tauranga Port. Rail is the cheapest form of transport and Northland businesses, especially exporting businesses, deserve that opportunity. KiwiRail are looking at handling 1 million tonnes of the Northland freight task of 18 million tonnes, so roading investment will continue. As rail has been badly neglected, but can actually stimulate the Northland economy, not only with freight, but also with rail tourism, this recent modest investment will go a long way. Hopefully, ongoing incremental investment will keep rail relevant for future need in the Northland and Auckland regions. All power to NZ First for their investment in this vital New Zealand infrastructure.
Niall Robertson, Balmoral
World Cup refs
I was very interested to read the column in the paper about the outcome of the World Cup being decided by poor referee decisions, as it was a sentiment I had previously expressed myself. To that end, I have a suggestion to make to Steve and the boys to overcome this.
It is well known that our neighbours over the Tasman are prone to cheating and doing everything they can to influence referee's opinions, such as appealing on nearly every delivery at the cricket until they get a favourable result. Michael Hooper was heard to scream from the middle of a ruck in the Bledisloe game.
Therefore, in order to attract the officials' attention to foul play, perhaps Steve should tell our players to yell out whenever a foul is committed against them. I am sure the officials would not be able to ignore repeated yells of "neck roll" or "late tackle" whenever they occur. It would certainly attract the video ref's attention as well.
Bill Morgan, Whangarei
Lessons from history
I wonder why your correspondent Gary Hollis thinks that history can only be learnt if we have special memory skills. Long gone are the days of remembering, and being examined on, dates of battles and British kings. Probably memory skills are more important in maths or science or trades. Without some knowledge of our history we have no idea why certain issues become problems. In New Zealand it is often about justifiable Maori grievances. In Britain the impasse over Brexit is because of a divided Ireland brought about by English actions in the past. The formation of the EU has come about because of knowledge of wars between neighbouring states, throughout the past, has only brought bloodshed and disaster.
Leaving history to the few who have a particular interest means an ignorant voting public unaware of the consequences ensuing from their decisions. It is difficult to reconcile differences when one side has the knowledge and the other is ignorant. By not knowing about our past means we do not fully understand the present and are doomed to make the same mistakes again.
Phyl Belsham, Mt Albert
Australia's big issues
Are the three biggest issues facing the NZ-Oz relationship all trade-related (Fran O'Sullivan, Weekend Herald)? How about the continued deportation of NZ-born, Oz-raised crims with few links to NZ by ASIO-responsible minister Sen Peter Dutton? Or, worse, the export of a white supremacist terrorist who had links to major neo-Nazi groups in Australia and beyond, went on to attack in NZ, but was "not on anyone's radar", according to PM Scott Morrison?
Outweighing both of these issues in the elephant stakes might be the recent move to explore a nuclear option for Australia by Sen James McGrath (Twitter August 2019), presumably limited to energy at this stage. That would be the same Sen McGrath who appeared on stage with supporters displaying the same white power hand sign made at his first court appearance by the Christchurch terrorist. Definitely at least three elephants in the room.
Lori Dale, Opotiki
In his most recent column on the Mayoral election, Simon Wilson urges us to vote for the candidate that appears to take the threat of climate change most seriously. Given New Zealand is responsible for 0.17 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, one could reasonably expect that Auckland's contribution would be no more than 0.05 per cent. One can also assume that the Council would have the ability to mitigate only a fraction of this. So by Wilson's logic, we should vote for a Mayor that would focus on policies that would have zero impact on our climate, but which in all probability would have significant negative consequences on our way of life. Me, I'm voting for a candidate that is serious about dealing with the issues we face now, gridlocked traffic, dirty beaches, homelessness and spiralling debt.
Malcolm Pollock, Mount Eden