Genesis’ “appalling” record coal burn reveals urgent need for solar – Greenpeace

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The revelation that coal burning at Genesis Energy’s Huntly Power Station is the highest in five years is proof we need to fast-track the rollout of solar energy, says Greenpeace.

Genesis Energy has been powering its two Rankine units at Huntly on coal for most of the last part of 2018 and ordered 120,000 tonnes of coal from Indonesia to maintain supplies, driving up electricity prices for New Zealand households.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the revelation New Zealand has been burning record-setting amounts of coal during the sunniest months of the year is “appalling”.

“Summer is exactly the time of the year we’re being flooded with clean energy from the sun. With proper investment in solar, we could have been protecting hundreds of thousands of people from rising energy bills, and alleviating pressure on our environment,” she says.

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“We’ve met less than four percent of our solar potential here in New Zealand. It’s time to get building.

“It’s appalling that in the year 2019, companies like Genesis Energy are narrow mindedly relying on fossil fuels and putting profits before people, rather than investing in the clean energy that even our national grid operator Transpower says provides the most affordable future for New Zealanders.”

This latest controversy follows the shutdown at Pohokura – New Zealand’s largest offshore gas platform – last October, which caused a 13-month price spike and wholesale power prices averaging a whopping $290 a megawatt-hour.

Prices are set to go up yet again this February as maintenance work is undertaken on Pohokura, which is run by oil giant OMV.

Larsson says it’s clear fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal can no longer deliver reliable energy for New Zealanders.

“The oil and gas industry is pushing hard to try and convince the Government that we need more gas to keep the lights on, but actually we’re seeing more and more that dirty fuels can be incredibly unreliable and New Zealanders are paying the price in higher energy bills,” she says.

“Rolling out more locally-produced energy from solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage is the key to creating a more resilient and reliable energy system. But, while the rest of the world is embracing clean energy, neither the Government nor our large power companies have a plan to rapidly boost renewable development in New Zealand.”

A report released by international science journal Nature last week revealed no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built anywhere in the world if we are to stay under the 1.5 degree temperature rise recognised as the limits of human safety.

Greenpeace is calling on the Government to solarise half a million New Zealand homes over the next 10 years. The plan would see a Government interest-free loan on panels and a battery deliver solar power with no upfront costs for the homeowner.

If implemented, Larsson says it would contribute 1.5 GW of new clean power – or one-and-a-half times the capacity of Huntly Power Station – and significant grid-stabilising battery storage to New Zealand’s electricity grid over the next decade.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Well siad Amanda; –
    Genisis is a dirty company that has been found to break the rules of customer rights when we had problems with them.

    Tjhey cut our power off without advising us of the cut.

    We had a seven year account with Genesis and never missed a single payment, but they came while we were out of the region and changed our own self owned meters to put a smart meter in withouit our consent.

    We lost several electronic devices when the power was cut and lost our security system aslo while we were away so we were in risk of being robed and loosing our insurance cover so this company is dirty.

    Change to NOVA is my advice here.

    “Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the revelation New Zealand has been burning record-setting amounts of coal during the sunniest months of the year is “appalling”.

    “Summer is exactly the time of the year we’re being flooded with clean energy from the sun. With proper investment in solar, we could have been protecting hundreds of thousands of people from rising energy bills, and alleviating pressure on our environment,” she says”

  2. So the greens answer is to subsidise the middle class to put solar panels on their roof!!

    The recent spike in power prices had two causes – the shutdown of the Pokohura gas field and insufficient lake storage for our hydro.

    If we really want to address energy security in NZ and meet our global warming commitments we should subsidise the construction of pumped storage in the onslow depression of the South Island and use this as a wedge to undermine the profit models of the commercial power companies.

    It’s not sexy like “subsidising solar panels onto peoples roofs” but it would provide NZ with the largest “battery” in the world and complement both wind power, hydro and undermine the business case for additional gas peaker plants.

    http://earth.waikato.ac.nz/staff/bardsley/download/EEA_conference_pumped_storage.pdf

    • Pump storage, could get down to $118/kWh, so when you’re talking utility scale, depending on area, batt + solar should be out to around 72 cents for storage (to accommodate seasonal insolation variation) and 60-100 cents for panel installation. Using a 25-year utility life (actually, panel cost should be doubled because the panels will fail before pumped storage), you should get a cost around 5 cents / kWh. You probably can boost it to 10 cents / kWh when considering the installation / replacement costs of panels, but this is roughly competitive with natural gas, our favored non-renewable non-nuclear energy source.

      The two caveats are: first, pumped storage are not the same as hydropower; usinb multi-cycle configurations, so the power grid is designed to take specific loads. Second, it’s possible that I’m just plain underestimating the storage capacity needed to provide enough energy to cover base-load.

      • No. Your figures are wrong.

        Lithium batteries are orders of magnitude more expensive that what you’ve quoted – 72 cents per kWh versus $118 per kWh. That’s just not even close to being correct.

        As mentioned already there are the significant equity issues with direct subsidies for solar/battery installations as well as the environmental issues from panel construction and battery disposal.

        Far better to build pumped storage at scale and blow up the business model of the power companies in the process.

        • ….we should subsidise the construction of pumped storage in the onslow depression of the South Island and use this as a wedge to undermine the profit models of the commercial power companies.

          I think you are dreaming if you think whoever or whatever entity that ends up controlling such a large scale enterprise will not behave in the same manner as all the other big players. Hello new master, same as the old one.

          If you want to bust their profit model the only answer is putting generation in the hands of the people through distributed generation (small scale solar wind etc) or restoring the power companies back into public ownership. I support both options.

  3. importing coal to NZ is a crime. It is because of Greenpeace that we do not have our own cleaner burning coal. Gas is reliable but Jacinda has pulled the plug on that to keep the long greens on side

    • So you subscribe to clean coal and gas? Laugh out loud. There is no such thing as clean coal. There’s carbon capture, but there’s no such thing as clean coal…

      I’d actually prefer nuclear power over carbon capture, way more efficient.

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