The Government has confirmed it has little idea on how to solve the emerging energy challenges, in spite of its plan to phase down non-renewable electricity generation around the country, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“The Government has promised to make New Zealand carbon neutral by 2050, including by phasing down non-renewable forms of electricity generation like gas-fired power stations. But in what’s become a startlingly regular refrain, it’s given frighteningly little thought to how to deal with the consequences of its ill-thought through decision.

“What we know is shutting down these energy sources and relying solely on renewables will put New Zealand at considerable risk of energy shortages. That’s a real concern.

“Gas supplies are looking at coming off their current plateau within the next couple of years and that combined with increasing electricity demand based on the drive to electrify New Zealand’s transport and economy, means we’re heading into an energy squeeze sooner rather than later. 

“But Energy Minister Megan Woods yesterday claimed her answer to filling the energy gap the Government are creating is through consented but yet to be built wind turbines.

“Minister Woods says the planned wind farms could potentially provide 3,000 MW of electricity – however Transpower data shows they typically generate at only 30% of their capacity due to intermittent wind patterns and sometimes drastically less.

“The operator of New Zealand’s electricity network, Transpower, says the Government needs to more than double its present electricity generation, adding an extra 50 Terawatts to meet the net zero carbon goal. Essentially that means nearly eight times as many wind turbines in New Zealand than the Minister is counting on. Or if not wind turbines, then 25 more Clyde dams.

“It’s appalling but unsurprising that the Government does not have a stronger grasp of these very real issues. High level rhetoric about net zero carbon in 30 years’ time is one thing but having a plan to get there which doesn’t expose New Zealanders to real risks is another.

“The worrying lack of thought going into ensuring New Zealand has security of electricity supply should have households, hospitals, schools and businesses increasingly concerned.

“Ms Woods needs to be less gung-ho about the future and more focused on the present. She needs to pull her attention back to 2018 and her Government’s duty to New Zealanders.”

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