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Aqua - Engineers Call For Sustainable Alternatives

Energy After Aqua - Engineers Call For Sustainable Alternatives

"There are more options to meet New Zealand’s energy demand than Project Aqua provided," according to Gerry Coates, Immediate Past-President of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ).

Mr Coates has led a team of engineers over the last year, looking at how sustainability could be more effectively implemented in New Zealand. "Sustainability seemed to have slipped off engineers’" and the Nation’s "agenda," he said. The outcome of the year’s work was presented to the IPENZ Convention last week in Christchurch, at which noted American sustainable protagonist Hunter Lovins was the keynote speaker, and supported the IPENZ initiative.

Although Project Aqua, as a hydro scheme, was ostensibly a renewable energy project, it would have generated so much collateral damage that people did not accept that it was the best solution to a perceived coming energy shortage, he said.

However there are a number of more sustainable ways to meet New Zealand’s energy demands. These include:
Looking at other renewable resources

Using alternative renewable energy sources such as wind, small hydro, and direct solar for water heating

Turning apparent waste to energy, using dedicated biomass as fuel, using combined heat and power generation (co-generation) Managing the demand for energy

Charging more for power at peak times of the day

Targeted system integration and operation to ensure that the right price signals are given to generators Using energy efficiency and conservation techniques

So-called ‘lighter living’ using less energy with more efficient lights and appliances

Reviewing operations at Comalco which uses 15% of NZ’s power, and Methanex which uses 40% of NZ’s gas demand

Coal is also not a long term answer if we are to meet our Kyoto obligations, although it may buy us time to investigate renewable alternatives.

"The difficulty so far in lowering our demands for fossil fuels shows that well-engineered implementation policies and strategies must be developed without delay.

"Under-utilised cleaner technologies exist, but what is needed is the resolve to use them. We do not want to look back in ten years and find that the pressure for business as usual has swamped our resolve for change."


"Engineers are crucial to providing the clear analytical thinking needed to arrive at sensible policies for future energy supplies," Mr Coates says.

The government last year, under the Kyoto Protocol, signalled its commitment to a transition to renewable energy beyond 2012 – and to increasing it from the present 29 per cent to 31 per cent by 2012. Engineers have the skills and knowledge to help implement this.

Notes to journalists

About IPENZ

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) is the professional body which represents professional engineers from all disciplines in New Zealand. The Institution sets internationally bench-marked qualifying standards for degree qualifications in engineering and thus serves engineers by securing formal recognition for their professional standing. IPENZ provides services for about 9000 members.

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