Snippets for 16 December 2021






Thanks for reading our Snippets newsletter this week. We have once again included a mixed selection of articles we hope you find interesting.


Any doubt in the viability and scalability of renewable energy is silenced by a study out of Stanford University. Not only are renewables viable, they result in less blackouts, cleaner air, and lower energy prices. We can see this in practice in South Australia, which produces record breaking solar and wind generation, with little need for fossil fuel burning baseload generators. The notion that electricity grids need traditional fossil fuel generation to provide consistent supply, is a dying one.


And nations are catching on, with the past year setting another record for renewable energy growth according to the International Energy Agency. It’s not predicted to slow either, with renewables tipped to be more common than fossil fuels and nuclear power combined by 2026. Christchurch airport is getting on board as it will host New Zealand’s largest solar plant. At 50 times the size of any current solar plant in New Zealand, it is a game changer.


A 100% renewable grid also means truly clean automotive transport. But with large upfront costs yet cheap running costs, it makes no sense to leave EVs parked in driveways and garages for most of their life. The solution could be automation and the ability to order an EV straight to your door. Don’t get sucked into the myths that surround EVs either - as we have an article that will debunk the top ten. No, EVs don’t burst into flames more than ICE cars!


A lot is known about carbon credits, but something less discussed are plastic credits. Voluntary initiatives are helping to incentivise minimising and recycling plastic waste - a key to protecting our vulnerable environment and ecosystems. Thinking about what materials we use in construction is also vital to ensuring we are making smart, climate friendly decisions. It turns out wood might make a resurgence, thanks to its carbon sequestering credentials. With buildings and construction accounting for 38% of global CO2 emissions, replacing high carbon materials with carbon sequestering ones could be just what is needed.


Another potential option for lowering our carbon footprint is eating less meat. Turns out, meat consumption is positively correlated to GDP, meaning wealthier countries are emitting more carbon for their caloric needs. That is, until a tipping point is reached, where the trend starts going down again - a tipping point which it seems only a few countries have reached.

Finally, how do we strike the balance between effective carbon sequestration and protecting/expanding native forests? Well according to research from our last article, this is a false dichotomy and in the right conditions, with the right management, native forests can sequester as much carbon as radiata pine. That’s good news for New Zealand’s stunning native bush.



We open with the results of a Stanford University study that has demonstrated that the US energy system running on wind, water and solar, coupled with storage, not only avoids blackouts but lowers energy requirements and consumer costs while creating millions of jobs, improving health, and freeing up land. This would signal we have reached a significant tipping point where baseload generation, traditionally provided by coal, natural gas and nuclear, is no longer an essential ingredient of a modern-day energy system. Read more....


And as a case in point, South Australia is demonstrating how a modern grid can run with little or no thermal or synchronous generation, and how the term “baseload” has become a redundant concept. Furthermore, this is backed up by the Australian Energy Market Operator’s draft 2022 Integrated System Plan, which models the closure of all the grid’s coal fired generators within a decade or two. Worryingly, in order to maintain a politically driven future for the coal industry, the Australian Federal Government is now advocating for Brown Hydrogen. Read more....

Whatever the efforts of the Australian Federal Government, the end of the fossil fuel era is in plain sight. According to the International Energy Agency, 2021 was another record year for renewable energy with about 290GW of additional renewable energy generation capacity, mostly in the form of wind turbines and solar panels. On current trends, renewable energy generating capacity will exceed that of fossil fuels and nuclear energy combined by 2026. This level of growth however, is still only about half that required to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Read more....

And New Zealand isn’t about to be left out of this race into renewable generation, with the announcement by the Christchurch International Airport that it intends to develop a 400 hectare, $100 million, 150MW solar photovoltaic farm called Kōwhai Park. Located adjacent to the airport, it is all about enabling the economy to decarbonise at the fastest possible rate and leases will be offered to organisations wanting to generate and store “green fuels” such as green hydrogen or sustainable aviation fuels. Read more....

The future of cars seems to be heading away from a single owner/driver of ICE vehicles model, to a shared owner and autonomous EV model. The initial outlay gap for the EV compared to the ICE has a much smaller payback time if the vehicle is used more frequently, and software changes and mobile technology are making this possible. Lower battery costs from increased demand for EVs also decreases the payback time. Autonomous cars are soon likely to become more in demand, with Tesla leading the way in this area. Read more....

Thinking of buying an electric car, but you’ve heard some bad things about them? Many of these are just urban myths and are debunked in this article. For example, Electric vehicles in {name the country/state} are ‘dirty’, producing as many carbon dioxide emissions as a petrol or diesel vehicle; BEVs can’t tow; EVs catch fire a lot… all incorrect. Read more....



We finish with a few stand alone articles. You have heard of Carbon credits, well now there is a need for a system of plastic credits, which would attract investment into the waste sector. The current system for plastic credits is very fragmented, but those trying to create a credible system see the need to be able to show the credits have a measurable additional impact, are not double claimed, and are ethical – with safe working conditions for those involved. Read more....


Looking at alternative building materials, especially where steel and concrete are concerned, is an important step to reducing emissions. Wood could step up in this space, especially as technological advances are made. New techniques to trim, dry and glue planks of wood together, including waste wood, to create large "slabs," allows mass timber to be used for everything from floors, walls, and ceilings to entire buildings. An 18-story skyscraper has already been built in Norway, and Microsoft is building a 60,000 square metre campus, both using mass timber. Read more....




Meat: some countries eat a lot of it and others have reached a peak and meat consumption is going down. Environmentally, there are big impacts from its production - an estimated 34% of global emissions. Though high GDP per capita is generally correlated with increased meat consumption, in NZ consumption is actually going down. It appears to be part of a trend where countries reach a tipping point, with increases in GDP no longer correlating to increases in meat consumption, which is a real positive for the climate. Read more....




We finish up with a look at carbon sequestration by native forests here in NZ. New research demonstrates that well-managed planted indigenous forest is better at sequestering carbon and faster growing than is commonly considered. Planted native trees will store carbon at a growing pace as they age. It is estimated that today we have around 6.6 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent stored in our remaining native forests. Let’s add to that by planting more native trees. As we know, good things take time. Read more....








This week we have a few innovation articles we hope you enjoy:


Zero-carbon emission flights to anywhere in the world possible with just one stop


Honeywell Is Turning Low-Grade Plastic Waste Into High-Quality Oil


Researchers Develop Powerful and Affordable Pee-Powered Fuel Cell


$15b NT hydrogen project to suck water from air








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