Credits Only Where Credit's Due
10 December, 2003
Credits only where credit's due
Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons is calling on the Government to come clean about whether Meridien Energy's controversial Project Aqua power scheme is one of the 15 ventures to have been awarded Kyoto Protocol carbon credits.
Green Party attempts to find out the identity of the 15 companies to successfully bid for the credits have met with a wall of silence, with officials refusing to divulge details until contracts have been signed.
"Why make such a song-and-dance about announcing the award of credits, if the deals are not certain?" Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Co-leader and spokesperson on Energy, asked.
"In fact, there is mounting concern that Project Aqua may be subsidised with carbon credits to make it look cheaper than it really is. It is the largest so-called 'renewable' energy scheme on the drawing board but even apart from its dire consequences for the Waitaki River, it is hard to see how it could meet the Government's other criteria.
"Priority is supposed to be given to projects that make electricity supply more secure in the next few years, but Project Aqua will generate nothing for several years even if it gets rapid approval, whereas wind turbines can be up and running much faster.
"Neither will Aqua improve energy-security when it most matters, in a very dry year. In a very dry winter there will be little and possibly no water available in the lower Waitaki for diversion into the Aqua canal.
"Paradoxically, Aqua will increase our greenhouse emissions. By generating low cost power in summer it will discourage the building of wind farms, which have a higher cost but generate all year round.
"In fact, by generating little at the crucial time when it's needed, Aqua will increase the need for stand-by plant which will be mainly coal fired," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Awarding Aqua carbon credits would be a travesty of the whole Kyoto process."