“High time” for a Solar Revolution as coal and gas burning for electricity peaks
4th August 2017 - Reports that up to a third of electricity generated for New Zealand this winter has come from the burning of coal and gas have prompted Greenpeace to call for a Solar revolution.
Extreme weather events mean that New Zealand's massive hydroelectric resources are less reliable. Utilities have responded by increasing the burning of fossil fuels like coal and gas, and at one point in July even diesel generators were fired up to fill the gap in supply.
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says this means our celebrated “clean-grid” is getting dirtier as more polluting fuels are used to power our homes and industry.
“The world urgently needs to cut carbon pollution to avoid climate disasters like floods, droughts, fires and rising seas. But here New Zealand our emissions are still increasing,” she says.
“Climate change means we are going to see more extreme weather, such as low rainfall followed by very high rainfall. That is exactly what we’ve had in the South Island in the last year.
“These low-rainfall periods impact our hydro storage. For us to have resilience, security of supply and much needed clean electricity, we need to start seeing real investment in new, clean generation and an end to coal burning.
“There is a huge opportunity with solar and battery storage for household electricity bills to drop and clean energy supply to increase. From the UK and Germany to states in the US, we are seeing political leadership to reform outdated electricity regulations so they can seize the opportunities provided by these new technologies.
“But here in New Zealand, the big utilities and electricity regulators are stalling. We’re seeing some lines companies - with the support of the Electricity Authority - actively discouraging households from installing solar by slapping unfair solar taxes on their customers. Over 80,000 New Zealanders have signed a petition against this solar tax.
“We have large generators choosing to extend the life of coal burning at Huntly or build new gas plants instead of investing in clean power.
“The solution is waiting in the wings. It’s high-time for New Zealand to join the global Solar revolution.”
Greenpeace is calling on all parties vying for Government to commit to removing the barriers that are currently blocking clean power.
Larsson says New Zealand needs bold policy commitments that seize the opportunities of new technology to help make our electricity cleaner, more affordable and more resilient.