New Zealand Aims to Transition to 100% Renewables by 2035

Electric Shock

Last month, New Zealand named Jacinda Ardern as its 40th prime minister. This week, she outlined a plan that will see New Zealand’s electricity grid completely transition to renewable energy by 2035.

The nation is well on its way to ending its reliance on fossil fuels, as it already harvests more than 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. However, the next big challenge is ensuring that New Zealand’s electricity grid is as dependable and affordable as possible without the safety net of traditional fuels.

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
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Figures from 2016 suggest that 60 percent of New Zealand’s electricity is generated via hydropower. When lake levels drop as a result of dry weather, coal and gas are employed to make up the difference, and if those alternatives were taken out of the equation, consumers could face steep price hikes when shortages arise.

This is a particularly contentious situation for the country, thanks to the experience of its neighbor, Australia. While the nation has rather ideal conditions for producing clean power, recent policy missteps have forced residents to pay unusually high rates for their electricity.

In comments made to Bloomberg, Wellington-based energy consultant Toby Stevenson warned that New Zealand could face similar issues, noting that renewables “may not deliver all the reliability that we’ve become used to.”

We Have the Power

Ardern’s focus on ecological issues was a key component of her election and increased her appeal with young voters, in particular. Transitioning New Zealand’s electricity grid to renewables is just one part of her plan.

Her long-term goal is for New Zealand to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050, and she has suggested the formation of an independent commission to help with that objective. No doubt the nation would need to phase out its usage of fossil fuels to power vehicles to meet it.

Governments all around the world are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, and New Zealand isn’t the first nation to pledge to pursue more environmentally friendly sources of electricity.

Scotland currently harvests more than half of its electricity from renewable resources and plans to completely transition its power grid to those alternatives by 2020. In November 2016, 47 of the world’s most economically disadvantaged countries committed to a future powered by renewable energy, and France plans to eliminate fossil fuel production by 2040.

To ensure any major change like a transition to renewables is successfully, though, nations must put the proper forethought into their execution and take the needs of their constituents into account. Setting goals that are decades away may seem like simply delaying action, but ultimately, they’ll provide the time needed to make what amounts to a massive change in how society operates.

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Philips Lighting looks at city life in 2035

Philips smart cities forecast

Big companies often put thought into what life will be like in the future. It helps them plan their own development. Philips Lighting has undertaken a complex ‘scenario planning’ exercise to come up with four different possible futures. Its focus is on city life and how the public sector might adapt to meet future challenges.

Connected cities, many futures

In the introduction to its report, Philips Lighting says “As the public sector enters a new era of connected infrastructures and technologies, including connected lighting, thinking about the future of cities is essential. The convergence of digital LED light sources, the proliferation of mobile devices, the exponential growth of data, and the miniaturization of information and communications technologies create a broad set of new opportunities and challenges.”

The scenarios that are the meat of the report have been developed using ‘scenario planning’ techniques. They are broad reaching and wide-ranging – ‘macro’ rather than ‘micro’. So reading the report you won’t find much mention of lighting specifically. But the scenarios can be interpreted to infer implications for lighting. The same goes for other service sectors.

Read more: Smart city of Aarhus uses Bluetooth sensors to improve traffic flows

Four scenarios and an ambition

The ambition from Philips Lighting is that organizations use the scenarios to challenge their current assumptions, and think about how they might respond to them. They’re designed to be used by all kinds of organizations, not just those who are interested in lighting.

Read more: NEC wins contract for Lisbon smart city project

The four scenarios that emerged are:

  • Fablab. Cities where municipalities provide basic infrastructure and citizens create local and virtual communities under their own initiative. Communities ally to innovative local businesses rather than municipalities to bring innovation into their lives. Citizens are attached to global communities more than where they live.
  • Sandbox. Citizens lead, working with the municipality as their main partner. User-centric innovation is important, and businesses are involved to improve city livability and experience. Municipalities make connections between different citizens, and run services and initiatives. Citizens feel attached to their cities.
  • Resort. Municipalities provide a guided and regulated city experience, maintaining quality standards and delivering personal recommendations for leisure, education, work and lifestyle. Businesses are regulated and steered by the municipality, and a balanced business ecosystem that citizens can enjoy.
  • Campsite. A few major platform providers take the lead, and public spaces and city infrastructures are corporate owned. Local and global partners join forces to provide urban experiences. Global plug-and-play services allow a nomadic lifestyle, and citizens aren’t attached to any particular city. People are ‘digital nomads’.

Scenario planning helps to shape future smart cities

Read more: Dutch city of Dordrecht uses IoT for smart city planning

The scenarios – and they are presented in more detail in the report itself – are intended to help organizations think about how they respond to change. So, the latter part of the report offers some ideas on how organisations might use the scenarios to support their own thinking.

Kees van der Klauw, head of research at Philips Lighting, told Internet of Business “In our experience, this scenario planning approach facilitates the engagement of different stakeholders such as mayors and aldermen, city government departments, city planners, suppliers of infrastructure and especially citizens as end-users, in shaping their future smart city.

“We have no doubt that lighting will play a key role in any future smart city, whatever scenario will evolve. But there is a difference in how we work with stakeholders and how much they will be empowered to define their future. This may be different for various regions in the world. We have now created a framework in which we can discuss the implications of each scenario in order to create innovations that are meaningful to all.”

The report includes a fair bit of technical detail on the scenario planning process, and a reading list for those who would like to understand the technique more.

Read the whole report here.

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Internet of Business

ARM: One trillion IoT devices by 2035, $5 trillion in market value


The Internet of Things will be the next stage in the computer revolution, this time focused on the “type of data we collect,” according to a whitepaper from ARM. The British semiconductor firm, recently acquired by SoftBank for $ 32 billion, estimates that one trillion IoT devices will be built between 2017 to 2035, adding $ 5 trillion to the global GDP. See Also: SoftBank wants autonomous shuttle on public roads by 2020 The estimate follows a comment by Masayoshi Son, the chairman and CEO of SoftBank, who said in the next twenty years that one trillion IoT devices are coming. He predicted…Read More

Connected Devices – ReadWrite

New Report Says Electric Cars Will Dominate European Markets by 2035

A new report, released by Dutch bank ING, predicts that electric vehicles (EVs) will become the new normal in Europe within just two decades. While that seems like slow progress, it’s actually relatively progressive when compared to other reports. The ING forecast pins the rise of EVs to the increasingly low prices of electric batteries, government support, and the ability to scale.

Between 2017 and 2024, completely electric cars are expected to “become the rational choice for motorists in Europe,” the report said, as EV showroom prices fall due to cheaper batteries and EV ranges increasing. Charging infrastructure is also expected to become more widespread, in part due to government support.

The shift from fossil fuel to electric-powered cars would create a disruption in the European automotive industry. In fact, this has already begun, with German manufacturer Volvo pledging to focus on hybrids and plug-ins by 2019. The ING report said that the cost of owning EVs in Germany in 2024 would be similar to owning fossil fuel-powered cars. Last week, France joined this movement, implementing a ban on new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Stanford University economist Tony Seba, who published a separate report on EVs, made a similar forecast for worldwide adoption. “Our findings clearly indicate that essentially all vehicle miles travelled will be electric by 2040 [worldwide],” he told The Guardian. “The car industry faces an imminent technology disruption by AEVs [autonomous electric vehicles] in the early 2020s. Even without autonomous technology, the internal combustion engine car industry will have been long decimated by 2040.”

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Researchers Say Big Energy Companies Must Invest Heavily in Renewables by 2035

Global Changes In Energy

According to a report from the research group Wood Mackenzie, the analysis of how worldwide changes in demands for energy will transform the sector in the next decade proves that the largest oil and gas companies should place at least one-fifth of their investments in wind and solar power. Dwindling demand for oil and other fossil fuels and rising demand for renewable energy will drive this change in the sector, which will, in turn, necessitate new investment strategies.

The biggest energy companies today now enjoy a market share in oil and gas of about 12%. To maintain that share, analysts say, the companies will need to spend more than $ 350 billion (£275 billion) on wind and solar power by 2035. Even if they don’t spend enough to maintain that market share, Wood Mackenzie forecasts that renewables may account for one-fifth, or more, of their capital allocation from 2030 onward.

*4* Largest Oil and Gas Companies Must Invest Heavily in Renewables by 2035

This level of investment arises from a recognition, even by fossil fuel companies, that demand, availability, climate change, and policies designed to cope with climate change are all permanently changing the industry. “The momentum behind these [renewable] technologies is unstoppable now,” Wood Mackenzie director of research Valentina Kretzschmar told The Guardian. “They [the oil companies] are recognizing it is a megatrend; it’s not a fad, it’s not going away. There is definitely a risk to their core business.”

Image Credit: Ben_Kerckx/Pixabay
Image Credit: Ben_Kerckx/Pixabay

The Immediate Future

Statoil of Norway, which currently employs around 100 people in energy solutions, including wind and carbon capture, will deploy the world’s first offshore floating windfarm this year. Shell is also investing in windfarms off the coast of the Netherlands and will spend $ 1 billion annually on hydrogen, biofuels, and renewables by 2020. In 2016, Total of France employed 13,000 people and spent $ 4.7 billion on batteries, biofuels, and solar along with gas. 62% of Exxon shareholders recently voted to promote more transparency on climate change.

Meanwhile, the future for fossil fuels is looking dimmer and dimmer. Oil and gas revenues are 33 times those of renewables right now, but will narrow to 13 times, or less, by 2035. As Wood Mackenzie points out, while returns for oil and gas production were twice those for renewables, renewable assets like windfarms enjoy long-life cashflow which boosts their dividends over time. Furthermore, renewables may end up growing far faster than predicted, leaving oil and gas giants in the dust if they fail to sufficiently diversify now. The bottom line for these companies may simply be that complying with climate change goals such as those set forth in the Paris Accord is better for business.

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