It is a sad irony that in the first year of a Government that talks a big game on climate change, New Zealand burned the most coal in five years to keep the lights on, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“It’s a foretaste of the imbalances to come. New Zealand only has certainty of supplies of natural gas to generate electricity for the next six years. Beyond that Energy Minister Megan Woods has no way of knowing how soon new technologies and energy sources can fill the gap.

“Genesis Energy, which burns coal as the generator of last resort with 80 per cent of that going to other power retailers, is already stockpiling the fuel in preparation for next winter. While coal use jumped in the fourth quarter due to low lake levels and the Pohokura gas outage, increased use will become an ongoing theme as gas supplies deplete.

“That’s because Dr Woods doesn’t have a feasible plan to ensure new technology and energy sources will arrive soon enough and with enough scale to make up for the loss of gas.

Her answer in Parliament that New Zealand needs 4.5 new windfarms a year, but couldn’t say how much electricity that represented, shows us that she has no idea on New Zealand’s needs for electricity, and how to meet the growing demand.

“It isn’t good enough that Dr Woods talks up the promise of fuels such as hydrogen when her officials aren’t confident they will be in place in time. As a result, the outcome will be higher electricity prices and more greenhouse gas emissions – from imported coal.

“Dr Woods track record of refusing to listen to her officials means her decisions on New Zealand’s energy supply will put New Zealand’s economy and Kiwi jobs at risk.

“National would repeal the ban on new offshore exploration for hydrocarbons, and engage with all stakeholders in New Zealand’s energy sector to devise a rational and economically prudent path to low emissions.

“We absolutely believe the country has to respond to climate change but we need a solution that will work for New Zealand.”

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