A recent article in the Australian newspaper highlighted the problems that country is having with renewable energy sources.  The Labor Government has put up funding for research and development of renewable, only to pull the same funding just as companies are getting ready to bid.

Naturally this has caused some frustration, and seen a number of innovative ideas taken offshore.  One particularly clever solar energy project had the rug pulled from under it at the last minute, only to be offered a substantial amount of funding from Welsh authorities instead.  So the company has moved to Wales, creating jobs and providing energy use alternatives in that country.

Australia has realized creating energy from coal isn’t a viable option.  But it appears there is a lack of will to use the other options Australia has in abundance – sun (and plenty of suitable desert to set up solar capture sites), strong tides, and geothermal assets.

How does this relate to New Zealand?  After nine years of umming and aahing under the previous Government, we are finally seeing a committed platform of sourcing our energy needs from renewable resources.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has been given the lead in helping Kiwi businesses to develop  our own renewable solutions.  In most areas, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  Tidal turbines and other wave energy sources are already tested and developed in Europe.  The advances in solar energy systems are getting better faster than we can keep up, and biofuels from our waste streams are a better idea than clearing rainforests to grow feedstocks.

We just need to make some decisions about how (and where) they can be used to best effectiveness.  For instance, even though Blenheim is the sunniest place in the country, I could foresee a major uproar if someone attempted to install giant solar panels in the Rai Valley.  However, tidal turbines off the coast might produce enough energy to replace most of the town’s current supply needs.

We have the tides, enough sun, and in some places the wind to make renewable energy a live prospect to power Southland.  It will be interesting to watch the developments.