Ministers differ on banning coal

Megan Woods, the Minister of Energy and Resources, interviewed on Q&A this morning and was asked about the future use of oil and gas, and coal.

She gave an assurance they (the Government) “we have done no work on banning coal” and “there are no plans to do that”.

CORIN Where does coal sit in this? Will you ban future exploration of coal?

MEGAN Look, this isn’t a decision about coal; this is about block offers. And this is about offshore oil and gas.

CORIN This is important, though, because you need that coal, as we mentioned earlier, in terms of electricity supply in the event of a dry year. And the papers that were given in terms of the Greens’ questioning during the coalition was that if we didn’t have any more, if you stopped coal exploration, you’re talking 2028, there’d be no more coal.

MEGAN Look, one of the things that we are seeing, Huntly is transitioning to a gas peaking plant, away from using coal. Gas is about half the emissions of coal. But it still is half the emissions, so we’ve always said it’s part of the transition, gas. But I think one of the things that we need to be really clear on, that a transition is not status quo. The status quo is doing nothing, burying our heads in the sand and not having the long-term future-proofing plans for the economy. So we are absolutely accepting that gas will be used as part of that peaking.

CORIN I don’t mean to be rude – I just need an answer on coal. Is there a future for more exploration of coal?

MEGAN Oh, look, we have made no announcements about ending coal, and we certainly haven’t done any work.

CORIN Are you ruling out that you won’t ban coal exploration?

MEGAN Oh, we have done no work on banning coal.

MEGAN No, I’m not saying it’s a possibility at all. What I’m saying is there are no plans to do that. We haven’t done anything.

But this has been questioned: ‘Incredulous’ for Energy Minister to say no work on coal ban been done – National MP

Energy Minister Megan Woods says there’s been no work, plans or announcements around banning coal exploration yet Climate Change Minister James Shaw has signed New Zealand up to phasing out coal by 2030.

In November shortly after the Labour/NZ First/Greens government was formed, Shaw headed to Germany where he told the COP23 conference that New Zealand intends to become a leader in the global fight against climate change.

While there he signed New Zealand up to the international “Powering Past Coal” alliance, which is committed to phasing out the use of coal for electricity generation.

At COP23 Shaw said, “we know that the future of our electricity system is in renewables, not coal, so I was delighted we could recognise that formally at this important international meeting”.

NZH: Shaw to UN conference: NZ now a leader in climate change

At COP23, New Zealand has also signed up to the Powering Past Coal alliance, which is committed to phasing out the use of coal for electricity generation by 2030.

Shaw told the Herald New Zealand’s only coal-burning generators at Huntly are to be decommissioned by 2025.

“But symbolically it is really important, and the more countries that get in on it, the better.”

Newsroom: Our Inconvenient Truth: NZ will keep burning coal

Green party leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw was unconcerned by the announcement when interviewed before question time on Wednesday.

“We want to get out of fossil fuels by 2035. I think the Genesis announcement is consistent with that,” he said.

He hoped that technological advances would help Genesis get out of fossil fuels before 2030.

Full interview: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1804/S00238/qa-megan-woods-interviewed-by-corin-dann.htm

38 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  April 22, 2018

    Sounds like New Zealand Steel will be either be shut down (about 5000 jobs gone if it does) or they will have to import coal to make steel, from Australia.

    “The mill has a capacity to use 800,000 tonnes of coal a year. The coal is used as a source of carbon in the reduction process.”

    https://www.nzsteel.co.nz/sustainability/natural-resources-and-energy/

  2. Zedd

     /  April 22, 2018

    sounds like they dont ‘want to frighten the horses..’ anymore than they may have already.
    they want to achieve zero carbon emissions but it could take 40 years.. “too long !!” sez ai

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 22, 2018

      Zero carbon emissions would require killing all vegetation. I presume you mean net zero carbon emissions?

      • robertguyton

         /  April 22, 2018

        “Coal is sexy” – Gerry Brownlee.
        (“Gerry Brownlee is sexy” – Coal)

        • robertguyton

           /  April 22, 2018

          Fonterra burn mountains of coal to make … milk powder (to be sold in China).

          • robertguyton

             /  April 22, 2018

            Brownlee’s comment is infantile?
            I suppose it is…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 22, 2018

              That would have to be judged by its context. Do you know what it was? Ten years ago he was pointing out that coal generation would be necessary until at least 2020. Looks like he was correct.

              So no, his comment wasn’t banal. Yours was. Regretably, as usual.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 22, 2018

              Alan, this is the man who has four nests in his beard. There can’t be two Robert Guytons who do this.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 22, 2018

              “Coal is sexy” is not a banal comment?
              Phew!! Breathtaking!

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 22, 2018

              It wasn’t a comment. It was a title for a video clip explaining the renewable generation shortfall. But I’m done with you today. God help the SRC. I’ve no idea how they put up with you but I’ve a pretty good idea of what they think of you.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 22, 2018

              They haven’t much interest, given I don’t sit with them. Put your feet up tonight, Alan; you’re sounding tired.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 22, 2018

              They’ve put you in a high chair outside the door?

            • robertguyton

               /  April 22, 2018

              That is quite funny, Alan, but do you really think your jibe is not a put-down, intended to demean?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 22, 2018

              Yes, I was grumpy
              But you do sit with them so you deserved it for fibbing.

  3. chrism56

     /  April 22, 2018

    Megan couldn’t lie straight in bed. Though I suspect it may be that she isn’t bright enough to understand what she is saying.
    The Rankines at Huntly are not transitioning to a gas peaking plant. They are, and will continue to be, hydro firming; with gas line outage contingency as a secondary role. That is why Meridian pay a lot of money for them to be available to run. Now when the gas line is out, like it recently was, will Huntly be burning gas to support the electricity system?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 22, 2018

      Much as I hate to agree with Trump, coal can be clean. If it’s ground up into tiny particles and then used, it doesn’t pollute as coal usually does. The ‘smoke’ in the Huntly chimneys is actually steam, and once one knows this, it’s obvious. No stink, for one thing, and if it was smoke the sky would be grey.

      • robertguyton

         /  April 22, 2018

        Methane
        is
        invisible
        Kitty.
        God help us all!

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 22, 2018

          It’s detectable. though ! Had you not realised that ?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 22, 2018

          What has methane got to do with smoke from coal?

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 22, 2018

            Don’t ask or he’ll tell you.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 22, 2018

              Increasing the methane level thereby.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 22, 2018

              Ok, stand clear and pretend we haven’t noticed.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 22, 2018

              Let’s just walk away casually….

    • Griff

       /  April 22, 2018

      The Rankines at Huntly are not transitioning to a gas peaking plant. They are, and will continue to be, hydro firming; with gas line outage contingency as a secondary role.

      Rankine units – Two 250MW units (gas/coal) with an additional 250MW unit in storage

      The Rankine Units utilize boiler and steam turbine technology and are capable of using coal and gas to generate electricity. The two Rankine Units currently in service were commissioned between 1982 and 1985 and can each generate 250MW. These units have the capacity to operate in a range of roles, including Base-load, Hydro-firming and Peaking.
      https://www.genesisenergy.co.nz/assets

      • chrism56

         /  April 22, 2018

        That is wrong again Griff – they have just recommissioned U4. And they can do 275MW if they switch some of the preheaters off.
        Genesis dumb down the stuff on their website – peaking doesn’t mean the electricity industry meaning – it means two-shifting, which is beyond the comprehension of people who use the websites as their source of information. .

    • Griff

       /  April 22, 2018

      Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has acknowledged Genesis Energy’s continuing commitment to phasing out its two remaining coal units by 2022.

      “It is clear that this transitional arrangement is a short-term security of supply solution and the removal of the coal units remain a matter of when, not if,” Mr Bridges says.

      Last year Genesis proposed closing their two Rankine Units at the Huntly Power Station by 2018, but the industry has signalled it requires further time to ensure security of supply issues can be managed.

      “The announcement today is a pragmatic response that will provide breathing space, while ensuring New Zealand continues down the path of greater renewable generation,” Mr Bridges says.

      “The decision, which continues to signal the end of coal-fired power generation in New Zealand, will give market participants the certainty they need to plan for the near future.

      “Significant market investment in renewable energy has increasingly reduced the need for coal as a backstop in dry years when our hydro-lake levels are low. Huntly’s coal-fired units accounted for just 2.6 per cent of generation in 2015, compared to around 12 per cent ten years earlier.

      “I’m confident that as demand rises, new generation will increasingly be renewable – such as geothermal and wind – as these are generally the lowest cost options.

      “The Government is committed to our ambitious but achievable goal of 90 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2025. In 2015, renewable generation reached 81 per cent – the highest level in two decades and an increase of 16 per cent since 2008.

      https://www.bec.org.nz/news/media-releases/huntly-power-station-operational-life-extended-to-2022
      National policy….

  4. David

     /  April 22, 2018

    Either this government has some secret about pushing us to extreme energy efficiency by literally having no way of keeping the lights on like some Green utopia or they havent actually got the first clue of how to run things. Both scenarios are just plain dumb.
    Labour banning gas and Greens banning coal and the Greens will not accept damming any river for further hydro how do we not become a 3rd world country.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 22, 2018

      By praying that they will see sense.

  5. robertguyton

     /  April 22, 2018

    Labour have banned gas and the Greens have banned coal?
    Cool.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 22, 2018

      What sparkling wit and incisive wisdom you think that you have.

    • David

       /  April 22, 2018

      Well dont bitch and moan when poverty increases, hospital waiting lists increase etc…actually you wont be able to because the big bonus out of brownouts for Gaia is you wont be able to infest the internet with your inane commentary.

      • robertguyton

         /  April 22, 2018

        I never “bitch and moan”, David; rest easy. Poverty, btw, inceased significantly during Key’s reign. Did you b&m about that?

        • David

           /  April 22, 2018

          No it didnt, we got through the GFC and quakes shot out the other end with labour shortages, rising wages, increasing house prices, 4% economic growth and record consumer and business confidence.

        • David

           /  April 22, 2018

          ” Poverty, btw, inceased significantly during Key’s reign”

          Poverty is not measured in NZ. It is a marker of inequality that is used. It doesn’t tell you anything about poverty.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 22, 2018

            And John Key wasn’t the king at any time, so didn’t ‘reign”.

  6. Kitty Catkin

     /  April 22, 2018

    I have already stocked up on incandescent light bulbs and am going to buy some more tomorrow, in case the Greens have another go at banning these. I dislike ecobulbs’ ugly light and don’t want to risk damage to my eyes so am being like the eye specialists in the UK who have stockpiled the incandescent ones.

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