Genesis decision creates renewable opportunities

  • Simon Bridges
Energy and Resources

Genesis Energy’s decision to close its two remaining coal units by 2018 is a sign of the times and reflects the growth of New Zealand’s world-leading renewable energy industry, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says.

“Historically coal has played an important role in ensuring the security of New Zealand’s electricity supply, particularly in dry years where our hydro-lake levels are low.

“But significant market investment in other forms of renewable energy in recent years, particularly in geothermal, means that a coal backstop is becoming less of a requirement,” he says.

Geothermal generation has more than doubled over the past decade and for the first time in 40 years, geothermal electricity generation contributed more electricity than natural gas during 2014.

“The advance notice of the unit closures will give the energy industry time to consider further investment in renewables. There is a significant amount of consented geothermal capacity ready and waiting for development.

“The share of renewable electricity generation at nearly 80 percent in 2014 is the highest it has been since 1996 and a major advance on the last decade where it was in the 60-70 per cent range. This compares to an average of 22% in the OECD during 2014.

“New Zealand’s share of renewable electricity generation is already the fourth largest in the world and the shift from coal will help us to achieve our ambitious goal of having 90 percent of New Zealand’s electricity supply generated by renewables by 2025.

“It will also help to reduce carbon emissions. The Huntly plant produced around 1,624 kt of carbon dioxide from coal in 2013. 

“Its closure marks the end of coal-fired power generation in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s abundant energy resources give us a renewable energy advantage that we need to make to the most of.  This decision creates further opportunities to do that,” Mr Bridges says.