In a move that has stunned environmentalists, Genesis Energy has announced a plan to keep burning coal for power generation until 2030.
Genesis Energy had previously promised to turn off its coal-fired units this year, however after a series of closed-door meetings with power companies including Meridian Energy, the deadline was extended.
Greenpeace climate campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says continuing to burn coal at Huntly Power Station for another 12 years demonstrates a company out of touch with the times.
"The fact that Genesis Energy, one of New Zealand’s largest electricity generators, is celebrating this plan as a positive step forward for the climate is farcical and misleading," she says.
"The UK has nearly 30 times the scale of New Zealand’s coal-fired infrastructure and has committed to closing all its coal power stations by 2025. If Genesis is still burning coal at Huntly by 2029, that would mean holding our country back from the clean energy future we deserve.
"According to the Electricity Authority, over 3GW of renewable power generation already have resource consents in place, but are not being built. Keeping these dirty power stations running is preventing important investments in clean energy.
"We have the technology and resources to power New Zealand without coal, gas, or any other dirty fossil fuels. What’s lacking is leadership from the industry and Government."
This summer, coal-burning at Huntly reached a two-year high.
Larsson says this means New Zealand was belching the dirty fuel during some of the hottest and sunniest days, which could have been instead harnessed for solar energy.
"This is 2018, and coal is the dirtiest fuel on the planet. We’ve got to be more ambitious when it comes to tackling climate change. Over the past year in New Zealand we’ve experienced a series of extreme storms, floods, droughts and fires," she says.
"Real ambition on climate change means Jacinda Ardern’s Government legislating to stop electricity generators burning coal by 2020, ending the search for new oil, and putting an immediate moratorium on new gas generation."
Greenpeace is also calling on the Government to boost investment in clean wind and solar energy.
"We need to make it easier for households and communities to produce their own clean, solar energy, and ensure that they are being fairly compensated for adding new, clean energy to the grid," says Larsson.