Power blackouts highlight urgent energy challenge

New Zealand’s energy shortage suddenly became very real for people shivering in their homes without power, according to Energy Resources Aotearoa.

“Until now it has been the industrial sector feeling the pressure of energy shortages, but the supply gap has now become a gulf,” says chief executive John Carnegie.

“It shows the crucial importance of natural gas in providing a back-up, literally keeping the lights on and saving people’s lives.

“Renewable energy is great but it can’t cope with current demand on a cold night.

“We are deeply worried over what will happen in a few years when electricity demand is even higher and natural gas supply even more precarious.

“As we become more dependent on electricity generated by the weather, the importance of natural gas as a readily available back-up becomes even more important. This was recognised by the Climate Change Commission who see this role continuing until at least 2050.

“Together with the IPCC’s new report, this is a sobering reminder of the challenges in achieving the balanced energy system we all want – reliable, affordable and sustainable.

“We just can’t afford to pick and choose favoured energy sources – we need all options on the table.

“The smooth transition we all want is suddenly looking quite lumpy. It’s time for the Government and industry to work together to encourage new energy investment, ensuring blackouts remain a third world phenomenon.”