Graeme Titcombe introduced our own member and Past President, Prof Jim Johnston, Professor of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria University with a long list of outstanding achievements Jim has chalked up in an outstanding career to date in chemistry in New Zealand, including the Bayer Innovation Award in 2009 for Research and Development, Wellingtonian of the Year for Science and Technology in 2008, and the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Industrial Chemical prize in the year prior, and several more recent prizes for achievements in his field of work in New Zealand.
Jim opened his address on the current energy scene in New Zealand by not offering his personal opinions to our energy challenges, but to give a comprehensive picture of the varying forms of energy being used and the facts as presented to us by Government reports and strategies up to 2030 and to 2050.
It was very clear from the picture Jim gave us of our long dependency on fossil fuels and the huge costs to industry and the nation, from the development of hydro dams and requirement for water, of electricity charges, and looking for alternative means of power that New Zealand still has a long way to go to step up to some of the more cleaner means of power delivery, namely the harnessing of geothermal power, the use of solar power and the development of wind power from wind farms across the country. Jim said we are clearly world leaders in the growth of geothermal power and this is this growth path that we need to watch closely over the next few decades in New Zealand.
Jim spent a considerable amount of his presentation on developments at Wairakei and the work that he has been doing there with his PhD students extracting silica from geothermal power generation to process into specialty silica products to be used as fertiliser additives on farms. This has been a very exciting development with very significant marketing returns for our agricultural industry and for export. Geothermal power and what we may gain from the further expansion of wind power will be closely watched.
Questions from members closed in on the strategies being set for New Zealand up to 2030 and 2050, very much dependent on our future political leadership. It certainly had members thinking deeply as we have yet to see how we are going to recover from covid 19 and the huge expenditure invested in our the economy for survival in the short term and how we progress from here towards a long term energy vision for New Zealand.
The Club has always enjoyed these presentations from Jim setting us up for important debates.
Following this presentation members were given an update on possible plans being discussed with the Wellington City Council around tree planting at Ben Burn Park, more information to come further meetings and consultation with residents in the area.