Doubling of coal use shows need for local natural gas

New figures showing a near doubling of coal-fired electricity generation highlight New Zealand’s energy shortage and the need for natural gas as a lower carbon alternative, according to Energy Resources Aotearoa.

“It doesn’t seem right we are importing boatloads of imported coal when local natural gas has half the emissions,” says chief executive John Carnegie.

“We are disappointed in reported comments from Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods that ‘the reason we’re burning so much coal is because of a failure of gas to deliver that security of supply.’

“Quarterly figures released today by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) show this is not the full picture.

“According to MBIE, in the March 2021 quarter there was a near doubling of coal-fired generation compared to the same period a year earlier because of low hydro lake levels and low wind, together with a temporarily reduced supply from the Pohokura gas field.

“It hardly seems fair to criticise natural gas for not providing enough supply when the industry has faced a range of policy headwinds including a 100% renewable electricity target that climate experts have warned against, and a range of proposals to phase out gas from industrial use.

“In the last week we’ve seen New Zealand Oil and Gas commit to investing in new natural gas projects in Australia. It would be ironic if they end up exporting natural gas back to New Zealand in the form of LNG.

“Locally produced natural gas will be essential in providing affordable and reliable energy as we transition to new forms of energy and lower emissions when they finally become economic. It is especially important in providing a back-up to renewable energy sources when the weather isn’t co-operating.

“We agree with both the Gas Industry Company and the Climate Change Commission that more investment will be needed into natural gas production, otherwise we’ll end up even more dependent on imported, expensive and high emitting sources like coal in the future.”