Reducing electricity emissions vital for achieving target

Tuesday 11 August 2009, 7:11PM
By New Zealand Wind Energy Association

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector will be a vital aspect of reducing overall emissions, says the New Zealand Wind Energy Association as it welcomes the announcement of the Government’s 2020 emissions target.

“In identifying a 10-20% target for reducing emissions, the Government has clearly signalled doing nothing is not an option. What we need now is a plan for achieving that reduction,” says Fraser Clark, NZWEA’s Chief Executive.

“With nearly 900 megawatts of capacity consented, and more than 2000 megawatts seeking consent, wind energy will play a significant role in reversing the trend of rising emissions from the electricity sector.”

The electricity sector is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions – increasing 123% since 1990 according to the Ministry of Economic Development’s latest Energy Greenhouse Gas Emissions report. The rise is largely a result of increasing thermal electricity generation. In 1990 about 80% of New Zealand’s electricity was generated from renewable sources. In 2008 the proportion was 65%.

“There are readily available, relatively low-cost options for reducing emissions from the electricity sector,” says Mr Clark. “Wind energy uses a proven and mature technology, and is being developed on a large scale throughout the world.
“However, ongoing policy uncertainty impacts on investment decisions, contributing to delays in the development of new renewable generation in New Zealand.

“To reduce electricity sector emissions, the Government must progress the implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme, along with the reform of the Resource Management Act and the National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation,” says Mr Clark.

“In addition the Ministerial Review of the electricity sector is an opportunity for the Government to ensure that renewable generation can compete against thermal generation on a level playing field. Ensuring renewable energy has access to transmission and is not disadvantaged by market arrangements are essential.
“Unlike abatement opportunities in other areas of the economy such as agriculture, renewable electricity will enhance New Zealand’s competitiveness.

“It provides important infrastructure and a low-cost electricity supply that will contribute to economic growth while providing long-term reductions in emissions. It will also help to improve security of supply by reducing reliance on hydro generation and acting as a hedge against future volatility in the supply and price of fossil fuels and the cost of emissions,” concludes Mr Clark.