By Robert McLachlan 01/07/2019

There’s an old joke set variously in Maine, in Scotland, and probably in any number of other places, about some city folks asking directions from an elderly local. After several lengthy, confusing false starts at directions, the local finally concludes, “You know, you really shouldn’t be starting from here.”

This, to me, is the central joke of climate change mitigation. If only we were starting from somewhere else, say from twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, or if our economic, social, and political systems were set up slightly differently, things would be so much easier.

The problem is particularly acute in New Zealand where we haven’t really begun the actual work of cutting emissions yet, and where the range of allowable strategies is unreasonably restricted. There are many actions that have been tried and tested in most other developed countries (such as solar incentives, electric vehicle incentives, and vehicle fuel efficiency standards) but which are very far from being acceptable in New Zealand.

However, the rash of climate protests and councils declaring climate emergencies is about to force the moment to its crisis.

One flashpoint is the election pledge of 100% renewable electricity by 2035. The Interim Climate Change Committee reported to the government on this target in April. The press are now reporting on a leaked copy of the report, resulting in an all too familiar media circus.

National’s climate change spokesman Todd Muller said the report exposed the “economic lunacy” of being fixated on greenhouse emissions from electricity generation, which formed only a small part of New Zealand’s overall emissions. “The report talked to the economic lunacy of seeking 100 per cent renewable energy in the first place,” Muller said, with New Zealand’s large generation from renewable giving a significant strategic advantage.

The issue has enough ingredients – a large industry that is complicated technically, economically, and politically; an election promise; obvious pollution by large companies; the price of an essential consumer item – to guarantee a classic stoush.

Setting aside Muller’s use of “renewable energy” when he means “renewable electricity” (“energy” includes things like petrol), does he have a point?

Unfortunately the ICCC report is not available yet. However, the ICCC website does host a report by the New Zealand Initiative, a libertarian think tank formed out of the Business Round Table, that comes to similar conclusions. That report, virtually a hatchet job on the whole idea of renewable energy, devotes a lot of space to criticising two of the more successful decarbonisation efforts underway worldwide, those of the UK and Germany.

For about a decade, the percentage of renewable electricity has been rising slowly, partly in response to the present target of 90% renewable (on average) by 2025:

Source: NZ Energy Quarterly, March 2019

It is now regularly over 80%, and the addition of more wind power is predicted to cut into the remaining fossil fuel baseload, cutting emissions further. Unfortunately, those emissions are still 5 million tonnes of CO2 a year. Is that really a small part of our overall emissions, as Muller claims?

The Huntly coal- and gas-fired power station before the Waikato River, a familiar sight from State Highway 1.

Here are a few different ways of looking at the significance of our electricity emissions.

  • As a proportion of our 85 million tonnes (Mt) of gross emissions, they are small but not that small.
  • On the other hand, 34 Mt of those emissions are biogenic methane, which has been set aside. That leaves 51 Mt.
  • But the important target is zero net emissions. Those are currently 24 Mt. Suddenly the 5 Mt from electricity is looking more significant.
  • In addition, some of our emissions such as aviation and shipping (6 Mt), trucking (8 Mt) and many industrial emissions (12 Mt), such as those arising from producing steel, aluminium, fertilizer, and paper, are hard to eliminate and/or protected as trade-exposed industries.
  • Some obvious uses of fossil fuels, like natural gas used to heat homes and workplaces, are possible to eliminate, but turn out to be quite small (1.6 Mt).

Taken together, we are left with only two sources that are large and possible to start eliminating right now: electricity (5 Mt) and cars (7 Mt). That requires tackling these two institutions head on.

So, to paraphrase the situation in terms of the old joke I started with: How can we get there, starting from here?

0 Responses to “100% renewable electricity: A classic kiwi stoush in the making”

  • A reader has written in to correct the emissions figures for land transport – in 2017 they were 9.4 Mt for cars, 3.5 Mt for light trucks, and 1.5 Mt for heavy trucks and buses, having risen a total of 0.85 Mt in one year.

  • Subsidies for EVs aren’t really economically viable for NZ. The better strategy is to wait for richer countries to supply sufficient subsidies to allow EVs to become economically viable in their own right and then jump on the band wagon.

    On the electricity front, shut down Tiwai Pt and build the proposed pumped hydro system in the onslow/manorburn depression. Top up with tidal, wind and geothermal.

    On the methane front – tell the greens they can’t have their cake and eat it. In short kick out the GMO rules and bring in the special grass from the US.

    Do all of the above and throw in a few more native trees and NZ inc will be all good.

  • The problem that those proponents of wind and solar won’t face, and this includes you Robert, is that of unreliability.; An electricity system cannot work on average GWh. It has to have power generated when it is needed. And it has to be predictable. The hydro systems are currently ramping up and down at near maximum levels (Waikato typically 800MW peak, 60 -100MW off peak) to meet the variability. That adds greatly to their running cost. The CCGTs and Rankines are two shifted, making their operating costs higher and increasing the cost of power. Then you have to have all the machines in backup or voltage support because of the asynchronous generators. That support is why power prices in places with very high wind or solar penetration is so high.
    Try telling everyone the price of power will go up 5 cents a unit to decarbonize (it will actually cost a lot more than that) and see how much support it gets.

  • Did some fag packet numbers shown below giving the most favourable costs for replacing thermal with wind. The elephant in the room is resource consents which would be a decade long very expensive process with no guarantee of success. I disregarded solar as that cannot provide useful power in winter when needed.
    To replace all of NZs thermal generation by wind with pumped storage to back it up.
    Average thermal generation about 1000MW Transpower counts on thermal plant having 98%
    availability over the winter months 24GWh/ day
    For wind to do this needs 1000/0.4 load factor = 2500MW new wind
    To allow for calm periods need pumped storage for 5 days wind generation from full to
    empty 100GWh (Taupo is 410GWh full range). NZ uses about 105GWh/d. Pumped hydro
    storage only viable battery storage system. To fill these pumped storage lakes at 80%
    efficiency (90% fill, 90% generate) from “surplus” wind needs additional 700MW wind
    So wind needs 3200MW total new build.
    At 5MW each generator, needs 640 turbines $3M/MW
    These turbines have 150m dia rotors, 135m tower. 10D clear air and valleys means say 1 per
    2km2, assume 16 windfarms, each 200MW and 80km2 land area spread throughout NI
    Each wind turbine needs double width road access >150m radius bends, less than 5% slope
    and no significant changes in gradient all made into hilly terrain
    For pumped storage, Rotoaira, 15.8km2 is 8GWh /m for 200m head so:5GWh/ 10km2/ m
    range/ 200m head
    5 pumped storage sites needed, each 500MW, 20GWh storage at each plus there would need
    to be an additional 2 sites to cover for the existing windfarms as these can’t be covered by
    non-existent thermal.
    10m working range, ave 200m head, twin 4km2 lakes. That is each of the 14 lakes about ½
    size of Lake Karapiro or Lake Whakamaru. No recreation use because of working range.
    They need to be spread throughout country to support grid. Cost $10M/MW $35B
    Single circuit 220kV power lines $3.5M/km, Double circuit for pumped storage $5M/km
    undergrounding 10X that so not done
    Power lines to pumped storage, ave 50km, wind farms ave 100km (no 220kV on East Coast
    except at Napier. With additional switchyards, filters, protection, transmission upgrades etc,
    say cost $10B
    Total Capital Cost $55B plus consents, Assume $200M pa O&M
    Pay off over 25 years (life of wind turbines 20y, hydro 50y) 5% cost of capital
    Need extra $5B year from consumers – at most $0.5B fuel saving
    so cost to consumers $4.5B
    Additional power cost ~extra 9c unit plus margin (doubling the wholesale cost)
    And all of this assumes resource consents will be granted speedily at little or no cost. And
    there is no growth in electricity demand.

  • Chris, thank you very much for such an interesting analysis. You seem to know enough to perhaps be able and willing to give me an informed answer to a couple of questions.
    Apart from the enormous $$ cost of putting in a pumped hydro storage system to enable wind generation to fully replace all our thermal generation I do wonder if it is even remotely possible to find sites where the nominal 14 new dams, lakes, and power stations might reasonably be placed. (or whatever other combination of sizes and heads might be possible?)
    However might there be another option to do the same thing? (maybe at least partly?) Along with the nominal 16 wind farms, could new generators and pumps plus nearby bottom-side lakes be installed alongside the existing hydro generators at the existing stations (or maybe at only some of them) in sufficient amount to take up on the required occasions what thermal generation does now? (ie. pumping back up to the lake where the water recently came down from) Of course this would result in the storage lake levels often dropping more rapidly than now, but in this suggested scheme these lake levels might then be restored quickly enough by having the wind generators kick in again in a sufficiently timely fashion. Could the total storage capacity, through their working ranges, of our lakes (those which might be augmented as above) cope with your nominal 5 days of zero wind generation in this suggested scheme? How might the relative $$ cost look?

  • Further to Ron’s question Chris, and again on the back of your fag packet, what COMBINATION of reduced consumption per capita through insulation, energy-efficient applinaces; micro-generation and/or domestic storage; local area distributed networks; transmission system upgrades would be required to get to a point where carbon-fuelled generation support was at an “acceptable” level – say, 8% and reducing?

    Always assuming that some of these options will be driven by pricing signals ie, nationally distributed electricity becomes expensive enough that consumers seek out and apply conservation or alternative generation methods.

  • Ron – I don’t profess to be an expert but being in generation for 40 years, you pick up a lot and I listened to what guys in System Control told me. I also retained all the NZE and CEGB training manuals. . I had dinner with an old flatmate who has had even longer in the transmission side of the business the other night, and he agreed that things are now so complex that there is probably no-one around who understands the lot. But if it is a simple solution, it is definitely wrong and not worth considering.
    I haven’t got the numbers handy but the storage on the NI river hydro lakes is only a few GWh each – some less than 1GWh. Some of them only hold a few hours storage at full load. If you take it from a practical sense, if you pump water from Karapiro back up into Arapuni, where would the water to continue past Karapiro come from? It would rapidly dewater the Waikato. You also have to store the water for periods of weeks to months to counter the wind variability, which was the basis of my calcs. That would mean the hydros couldn’t help do the daily ramp up ramp down of 3000MW.

    I don’t think there are the lake sites – there may be the opportunity to build bigger ones somewhere (Karapiro sized and 1000MW) but the fewer there are, the bigger the security risk. They almost certainly would not get resource consents without a lot of objections as many would have to be built on Conservation land.

    Ashton – Transpower and AEMO have a lot of documents on their sites – read them and do the maths yourself with whatever assumptions you want. However, if electric vehicles take off and decarbonization is to occur, the generation load will markedly increase . Electric cars will add about 3-5000GWh to the annual load. If that is all wind, then the grid will collapse.
    All the easy pickings on load reduction have gone unless high power using industries go offshore – the new domestic loads will increase – for example, changing log fires and gas heaters for heat pumps will put load up. Microgeneration and solar will make the problem worse, not better, as there will be a lack of voltage control management. Powerwalls are just virtue signaling as they are useless in winter at 7am when they are needed. Distributed grids and domestic load management other than ripple control has been promised for thirty years with it getting no closer.
    Making electricity dearer doesn’t give more generation options, just gives the very real problem of fuel poverty.

  • Ashton – though the thermal plant produces about 10,000GWh a year, the ancillary services they provide is often a lot more important than the MW. NZ needs Huntly running to give both inertia and voltage stability. Wind cannot provide that and hydro doesn’t do that good a job. That is why AEMO dispatches wind off to keep GTs running in South Australia.

    The domestic load in NZ is about 2M households, each consuming 8-9000kWh a year. A 10% reduction there would have no significant benefit in the big scheme of things. Even shutting down Tiwai would need $10B of transmission lines and new Cook Straight cables to get the power to North Island. It still couldn’t be used as it wouldn’t support the grid as it is asynchronous, the same category as wind. Getting the DC north at present is limited by the number of thermal units on. Cut back on those and the power north has to drop.

  • So could it be that nuclear fission energy is the only viable option which could enable NZ to decarbonise electric power generation in sufficient amount to reliably meet demand –taking on the majority of base load requirements and so freeing up hydro to come and go as needed?
    Or is there a remote possibility that geothermal could be adequate, safe enough, and not too polluting in this role?

    Regarding ‘nuclear-free NZ’ the regrettable reality is that we here are so badly served by such a generally scientifically illiterate group of journalists that the public, and consequently politicians, will probably need decades to come to see sense. As is the situation with genetic engineering.

  • Ron – There is only maybe another 300MW of geothermal available but undeveloped. There are a lot of fields but most of those like Waiotapu or Waiamangu have Conservation orders on. Geothermal is baseload power 24/7 at full load. Very hard and expensive for it to do anything else. Nuclear is the same. The problem with NZ is the very daily big peaks we have. This time of year, it is about 3500MW at 3:30, 6000MW at 8am, 5000M at noon and 6500MW at6:30pm then dropping again after 10pm. There has to be the generation mix to meet this. Here is the last 24 hours
    At present, about two thirds is met buy ramping up and down all the available hydros. The rest is by ramping the CCGTS, Rankines and start/ stop on the OCGTs. Get rid of the thermal plant and it would be near impossible to use hydros to fill the gap – especially with any degree of system security. They need thermal plant running to bring the DC north.
    And that is without even worrying about the voltage control problems there would be from lack of generation north of Whakamaru if Huntly wasn’t there.
    They could all be “solved” but the cost would be eyewateringly high. Fuel poverty would be very real and no energy using industry for people to work at. And it would take decades because of the BANANAs (aka Greens) who would object to every consent, even though they caused the need for them.

  • Chris, thanks again. I appreciate learning from someone with experience and understanding, Taking the matter a bit further, might it still be useful in terms of physics and economics for NZ to put in some nuclear so as to take away most of the thermal requirements?
    Also in this regard I add the following.
    For each energy source, the average number of fatalities per Gigawatt-year of energy produced (counting accidents of 5 or more fatalities from 1969 to 2000) are:
    Coal (without China) = 0.60
    Coal (with China 1994 – 1999) = 6.1
    Oil = 0.90
    Natural gas = 0.11
    LPG = 14.9
    Hydro = 10.3
    Nuclear = 0.048
    Source: Nuclear Energy Agency. “Comparing Nuclear Accident Risks with Those from Other Energy Sources” (OECD, 2010)

  • Ron – The practical problem with nukes (disregarding all the political and people issues) is that the ones available as standard models are far too big for NZ. With our grid size, you don’t really want anything bigger than 400MW. The standard ones on the market now are 2-3 times that size. So anything built would need to be downsized. And that is not an easy thing to do as reactor physics is very size dependent. And that means we would have specials, with all the problems that causes. And they would still be base load, which isn’t really what we need.
    You would also need a lot of trained engineers, operators, technicians and the like, as well as setting up a massive infrastructure to support it and do things like fuel storage and nuclear island mtce. That means you need 3-4 reactors as a minimum to make the development worthwhile. NZ isn’t big enough to do that. If Australia built a lot of the right size, we could piggy back on them, but that is very unlikely.
    I am always wary of those tables giving things like fatality figures, especially as you don’t know what is behind them. Even if you take single events like Chernobyl explosion, the number of deaths that caused, depending on source, is anything from 100k down to 29.

  • If New Zealand is not capable of going 100% Renewable Electricity – what hope is there for the rest of the world..?

    Build more Wind and go to minimum flows on all the Hydro so they are full all the time
    Turf out the Todd Family and their criminal “Take or Pay” gas contracts
    Abolish the smelter and connect Manaipori to the Grid

    Its pretty sinple

  • Hi Justin. Good to know that your expertise has found the mix of solutions required. Experts have been working on it for years – if only they had your perceptive capability.

  • Hi Chris.

    Indeed. As you have probably surmised over time I am pro-renewables including wind and solar, but I also have a bit of a grasp on the physics and economics. Hence, the only solar and wind power I have is on a yacht.

    Thanks for your informative analysis over time – its been enlightening.

  • Ashton – I am not anti renewables (which is solar and wind). They have revolutionised electricity supply, especially to remote sites. Your yacht is a good example. I am anti-biomass as done at places like Drax – it is good at Kinleith with their black liquor and waste wood boilers but they are limited sites where it can be done. However, for a whole lot of technical reasons, the renewables will only ever be boutique for the grid supply. That is, if people want cheap & reliable electricity. On the distribution side, large amounts of uncontrollable renewable generation would be even worse.
    People who talk in Teeshirt solutions like Justin can be disregarded, because like you pointed out, even the experts haven’t been able to sort out the technical issues. The quote about “The murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of brutal facts” comes to mind.

  • Thanks, Ashton and Chris, good to see my 7 years working at Mighty River Power on the existing Hydros and new Geothermal stations, and 8 years developing and building wind farms in Australia is appreciated. Perhaps when I finally have my sailing boat system up and running, I will become truly energy enlightened.

    Again, if New Zealand can’t go 100% renewable electricity there is no hope… It really is very simple in the NZ system.
    My key points again…

    Build more wind and use less Hydro for baseload… Thus, NZ already has an inherent massive Pumped Storage system in place with all the Hydro.
    Only use Gas as back-up for a complete emergency, not on a “take or pay” basis.
    Get rid of the Alcoa smelter, which is having a free ride on the backs of the NZ taxpayer who built Manapōuri.

    Chris, your calculations should stay on the back of a fag packet…. for starters, “These turbines have 150m dia rotors, 135m tower. 10D clear air and valleys means say 1 per 2km2″… This is incorrect, Turbines with Diameters of 140m are placed at much less than 5 Rotor Diameters… “less than 5% slope, and no significant changes in gradient all made into hilly terrain”… Again, this is utter nonsense, you can deliver components to a gradient of 15%, which means short distance terrain of 22% can be considered for cut to fill. You can build a double circuit 132kV line on poles which is capable of running 500MW of power for less than $1.7 Million per km including easements, so your costs are also terrific nonsense…

  • Hi Justin. How are those Australian wind farms working out?

    I think (and hope), over time, NZ WILL move more towardmore renewables including wind and solar and away from dirty electricity. We will also do more around energy use reduction.

    We continue to have issues with transmission (long skinny network, burden of consumption in the north, generation in the south, bottleneck between the islands etc). We ARE restrained by ecological considerations – these constrainsts limit wind, solar and hydro new builds. They also constrain your proposed witholding of hydro – minimum river flow is a thing.

    There is an old saying – you can have it fast, cheap and good. Pick any two. This is one of those situations.

    Anything can be overcome if price is no object. The situation here is that price IS an object. To acheive technically capable generation and distribution with a mix of large scale, mini and micro hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, potentially tidal, etc is a complicated and expensive undertaking. It means completely reconfiguring our distribution system, our retail system, and our generation system.

  • Unlike you Justin, I still work in the power industry and my experience only goes back to commissioning of Huntly.
    I note that you have provided no costs for your suggestions while I did. Especially no costs from you of pumped storage (and location) and resultant extra transmission lines to cover for the unreliability of wind. I used as my transmission costs Transpower estimates and the actual Wairakei Whakamaru double circuit line. How much do you think a 500MW line from Benmore to Whakamaru will cost? And how will you do voltage control for Auckland with no generation north of Karipiro and most of the generation is in the South Island. What will be the cost of that?Where will you get your inertia from?
    I am talking of array type farms where there is a downwind effect. That is the noted effect from the offshore farms like those in the North Sea. They can be closer if there is a predominent wind direction on just a single line across it. At the spacing for windfarms you say, there will be both turbulence and noise – at least going by this.
    I took my roading requirements from those published for Scotland.
    And if you think the existing NZ hydro generation system can be used for pumped storage, you really do have no understanding of how things work.

  • Ashton -further to your comments. I am not sure whether you have seen it but Transpower had deferred the upgrade to Livingstone sub for a nominal 5 years, despite partial funding from Contact and Mercury. This means that even under current Tiwai loads, Clutha and Manapouri will be spilling at times because they can’t get the power north.
    The other really big constraint you didn’t mention is resource consents. The upfront cost and uncertainty of those is deferring many projects.

  • Ummmm – yes I am still working in the Renewables Industry…. Currently building a 500MW Wind Farm in Australia.. When I say the existing Hydro Schemes in NZ can be used a “Pumped Storage” what I mean is not operating them in reverse (although this could be also done to an extent by installing pumps and pipelines in the lower dams and then pumping back up river when windy). I mean operating them with a different philosophy after building out more wind… i.e. minimum flows when the wind is blowing, and then spilling like crazy if required for periods of high demand or low wind… The Waikato scheme, for example, is run in a very conservative manner which is To Avoid Spilling at All Costs, at bottleneck stations such as Waipapa and avoiding keeping Taupo fill to the brim in case it rains… Chris, your analysis assumes BAU (no spilling) at the existing hydros. NZ could get oodles more overall generation out the system by operating in the manner I have described after more Wind (by far the cheapest form of generation) is constructed and which NZ has a great resource… Regarding your life work in the fossil fuel industry at Huntly and the other obsolete Thermals, these I would keep spinning with no fuel as a Synchronous Condensers to provide the inertia you require… Just like Marsden Point oil burner was for years. Of course, we get rid of the so-called “Market System” and run the system with an actual overall strategy to achieve 100% (or very closw to) Renewable Power… Gas we leave available for emergency back up… The market system works pretty well for coffee shops and lemonade stands where anyone can have a crack – Natural Monopolies like large scale generation in a tiny system like NZ, not so much….

  • Justin – you are more of a vested interest than I am. I haven’t worked on fossil fuel plant for 30 years.
    You also have no understanding of how the industry works. That isn’t helped by you using words in totally different meaning to that of the industry. Take or pay finished when Otahuhu and Southdown closed. Most of the time the Waikato stations run at >600MW during the day and 100MW at night. Waipapa is shut down to 0MW from about 3am to 530. Rest of time, it is load following. How much would it cost consumers to modify, then run the Huntly units as synchronous condensers ? It takes 3 days to get water from Taupo to Karapiro. What will be the wind generation (to within 10MW) in 72 hours time?

  • Chris – If you can not envisage a 100% Renewable Electricity system in New Zealand, you seem to be out of touch… it is the simplest of all things… More Wind and Solar installed, and then utilise the existing hydro schemes in a coordinated way that holds back the water (when it is windy and sunny), and therefore allows for significant hydro peaking generation (and hydro spilling if required).. Gas remains in the ground as an emergency back up.. And close the free ride Aluminium Smelter.

    If New Zealand can’t figure this out because of too much negativity like your own, there is not much chance for the rest of the world.. If NZ does not get this done, then one day someone will be constructing an LNG import terminal when the Taranaki gas runs out – which will be a very sad day for NZ.

    Converting obsolete Thermal Generators to Synchronous Condesors is a piece of cake.. You just gas axe off the steam turbine, chuck a starter motor on it and some excitation you are away.. Or otherwise, give GE a phone call who have systems like this off the shelf for very little.. Again, do your research before responding.

    Will you be heading off to the Waurbra Foundation for some more quotes now? Or getting with the 100% Renewables Program.

  • Hi Justin. Given the simplicity you claim and a government committed to reducing carbon, why is it not being done?

  • Ashton – The dismantling of the single decision making entity, the New Zealand Electricity Department and subsequently Elctrocorp into the Multi Mini Toy Market System that now exists was essentially completed after all the Hydros and Huntly were built by the taxpayer (late 80’s etc). At the time of dismantling, the existing electricity system basically just had to be managed efficiently – steady as she goes, there were no big decisions to be made.

    The Multi Mini Toy Market System that was established, and we are now apparently stuck with, did not anticipate that in the future, a single Controlling, Planning and Dispatch Entity would be needed to ensure that the overall NZ Electricity System is managed in a common-sense way, with some sort of intelligence (other than dumb profit-making) to achieve 100% Renewable Output.

    The reason that no one is able to execute the very simple plan I have described above is because of the multitude of CEO’s, CFO’s, Shareholders shouting “Sovereign Risk” and other Administrators, whose particular company would lose money under such a plan within the existing Market System Framework. The market framework is essentially set up to maximise profit – and not Renewable Energy.

  • Hmmm, you seem to have a very angry relationship with capitalism.

    Renewable energy, by its very nature, should be very profitable – there are no costs of fuel to be met. Approximately 82% of the system is already renewables of one form or other – a balance that is very unusual in a developed country globally – so there doesn’t appear to be a philosophical roadblock.

    Big chunks of the electrical system remain SOEs – network being one of them. As the major shareholder and the largest single owner and influencer of the electricity sector, a government of any stripe has the power to alter the market structure assuming it is technically feasible and economically and financially prudent.

    I’m certainly not sufficiently qualified in the engineering sense to directly validate or question any facts you put forward. Fortunately for me, you haven’t done this yet so my lack of engineering background is moot.

    I am not convinced the current market based (but moderated) structure is ideal – if it were, we would not be having this discussion. But to baldly state that it is imperfect by perfidious design alone stretches credibility.

    Chris has put forward consistent technical and financial explanations for the limits we currently have on renewables – and specifically weather-powered renewables. His explanations broadly align with published research and industry analysis of the problem from NZ and overseas.

    I’m a bit of a leftie, greenish-tinged and pretty liberal. But in this case, I haven’t seen hard data that supports the technical claims you make for an easy 100% transition, market and government wonks willing. So I’m inclined to go with the data that has been made available.

    In anticipation.

  • Ashton – Yes, Capailasim as we know it will come to end in some way, shape or form if we are going to survive as a Species.. A system that is based on the presupposition that Individual Greed and Selfishness is the optimum driving force to manage all things is extremely questionable… But let us not get bogged down in this self-evident and interesting truth..

    The particular flavour of Capitalism currently embraced by NZ does not appear to be working out very well to me. The price of milk, the price of timber and hardware etc etc… When I came to Australia I was blown away at how much cheaper most things are over here.. The fact is, NZ does not have a population large enough to support the assumed competitive benefits of Capitalism, and in NZ we have Duopoloies and artificially manipulated markets with the common man paying a premium for everything.

    Take electricity, the topic at hand, it is fairly simple to point out the shortcomings of the system.. The Waikato scheme operators conveniently hold back water to prevent Huntly from generating on a warmish day (their intakes require a certain river level) pushing the market dispatch price stack up. A certain generation plant is conveniently scheduled for prolonged maintenance at a time that will push up prices etc etc..

    It cannot be debated that the current Mini Market Toy System system in NZ strongly incentivises the power companies to collectively manipulate overall generation dispatch arrangements, such that the last megawatt of power needed to match supply and demand is always generated by the power source which has the highest marginal cost of production, which is Gas Generation. This is self-evident from the Dispatch Graph which shows Gas (Cogeneration) as the final unit to contribute all of the time..

    The system is not set up and managed to produce 100% Renewable Power… It is set up to encourage that Gas is always the last unit being dispatched – much to the happiness of the Todd Family, ex used car salesmen family now turned NZ Energy Magnates.. This not Capitalism in its working form, it is an Artificial Market, that certainly has no incentive to do as I am suggesting, which is again…

    Build More Wind and Solar (not much is needed to create a surplus), Hold Back Hydro Water, Close Alcoa, Convert Huntly into Synchronous Condensor, and Only Ever Use Gas as an Emergency Supply…

  • Justin You do not understand how things like the grid work, nor the cost of operation. You haven’t even read the documents that many experts have put out showing why it would be very expensive to go to 100% renewable. All you have is your mantra. That could be why you don’t work in the industry here.

  • Chris – I know exactly how the Industry works and about Transmission… what are your credentials? I looked for Chris Morris NZ on Linked in and found a guy that worked in Health and Safety selling High Viz PPE and another one that works for Pepsi Cola – which one are you..? Or perhaps you are a Geothermal Generation Engineer working for Contact Energy and hence are part of the Status Quo in New Zealand? Or perhaps your just a retired gent who enjoys saying how hard this all is ?? The reason I moved to Australia was to get involved with some large scale Renewable Wind Projects and your right, I am not beholden to the NZ Electricity industry so can speak freely about the suspicious system which is structured to sell electricity at the highest possible price rather than produce renewable power…

  • Chris – it’s OK, I figured it out… your the Chris Morris that works at Contact Energy in Taupo (very nice place by the way).. is it one of your KPI’s to debunk 100% Renewables in New Zealand, seeing as Contact and Genesis Energy (you formally having been involved with Huntly 30 years ago) are in the top 10 big emitters in New Zealand….? Do you get a company bonus for every bit of neigh saying against 100% Renewables you do in this forum?

  • Justin
    You do not know how the grid works, even in a simplistic sense. Being a junior engineer for Mercury 10 years ago does not give you any special knowledge. You don’t know how generation is currently being managed. You don’t even know simple operational details like why Whirinaki has had to run for a lot of peaks over the last month. You can’t cost out your silly ideas. I put numbers up. All you do is wave your arms and accuse me of holding the unicorn dreamers back. I wish I had that much power.

  • Chris – I am not backing down to your arrogant statements about what you think I have been or was doing, or for how long, and that I don’t understand the grid “even a simplistic sense” I know your an old guy and that perhaps years and years of maintaining and servicing Geothermal Plant with your NZCE in hand has sent you to the outer edges of reality where all ideas other than your own are “Unicorn Dreaming”.. I understand that you are fiercely trying to protect and justify your filthy Coal Burner at Huntly and criticise the notion of More Renewables in the system by finding every single problem (real or dreamt up) you can with the idea. I have already debunked some of the numbers you “put up” as dubious (at least in terms of costs for transmission line and permissible inclines of Wind Farm access roads for example)… Anyway, let’s try to be nice to each other – we can agree perhaps that Gas is good as a backup?? Whirinaki that you mention above for instance.

    You computed on your fag packet that NZ needs 3.2GW of new nameplate wind installed at 40% CF – or 11.2 GWh per year to displace all the Thermal, and then you would build an extraordinary amount of Pumped Storage and New Transmission Lines to capture all this New Wind capacity as some a sort of stand-alone system… I say, yes probably we need about that much more Wind (and / or some solar) but that none of that Pumped Storage is really required. Rather existing Hydros can easily be used differently as I am about to show below.

    As an aside, your Capacity Factor assumed for wind is a moot point as it depends on the size of the wind generator, the diameter of the blades, average wind speed at rotor height etc… Turitea I think is noted to be 45% CF, not the 40% you have noted. In any case, let’s just say NZ was to build much more new wind overall in terms of output – 11.2 GWh per year and we build it in the North Island.

    Coal currently “contributes” about 2GWh per year and Gas provides 5.4 GWh per year to the NZ mix – so only 7.4 GWh per year of Thermal needs to be mothballed or benched in New Zealand overall (but not entirely – I am saying Gas peakers stay and used as back up from time to time if necessary).

    You are assuming that it is impossible to get any of the 850MW Manipori power up North when it is needed if Tiwai is closed. While that may be partially true under the current set up during massive peak load times, overall, the Tiwai smelter load gobbles up (at a massive $ discount) about 4.9GWh per year. This is a large proportion of the Thermal that needs replacing.. and nearly 2.5 times the amount of Coal as a minimum… So for the sake of simplicity lets assume the Tiwai closure in net displaces all the coal and at least 1 GWh of Gas per year very easily.. Perhaps some minor grid upgrade work is required also.

    Therefore, we now only have 4.4GWh per year of Gas to get rid of. The 11.2GWh per year of new wind build is way more than enough in an overall sense… You are certainly going to be able to keep all the Hydro lakes topped up to the brim under this excess scenario.

    So now we consider the peak load times which occur daily – and assume only the North Island is relevant. We should be able to have the DC link maxed out at 1.2GW importing from the Mainland, but we still need about another 2.7 or 3.5 GW in the North Island. For most days these peaks will easily be met with New Wind installations in the North Island (the 3.2 GW of New Build) alone and North Island Geothermal… without even running the North Island Hydros in anger (but yes they could still be providing inertia).

    I am pretty sure that 4 days with zero wind hardly ever happens in New Zealand (roaring forties and all that), but when it does, then yes, from time to time Gas would be utilised because the North Island Geothermal and North Island Hydro being run at full capacity (including spilling) may not be able to keep up during these peak periods of zero wind. But you would not have to worry about the water running out as all the Hydros would always be full and so you can afford to Spill.

    This plan does not require anything major to happen other than the New 3.2GW of Renewables build which would not cost as much as your overestimates (should be more like $6 Billion for that much new wind, 3,2000MW, not the $9.5Billion you have quoted). And perhaps some minor engineering tweaks to Hunty etc as we have “discussed” above.. The plan would generally require Hydro to spill at peak times and more often.. and perhaps minimum river flows to be looked at. It certainly does not require Billions and Billions of Dollars of Pumped Hydro and new Transmission that you and you fag packet bang on about to the tune of $55 Billion.

    So my plan can be done for about $6 Billion – which is supposedly about the amount of rent taking (over the reasonable odds profits) that Generators may have extracted from consumers between 2010 and 2016 by “gaming the system” according to the Dr Stephen Poletti study “Market Power in the New Zealand wholesale market 2010-2016”. What it does require however is strong intervention by the government and the willpower to make it work.

  • Thanks Justin that’s better – numbers! I have some questions. Please note this is not to dispute your claims, but for my education and clarity.

    “…let’s just say NZ was to build much more new wind overall in terms of output – 11.2 GWh per year and we build it in the North Island.”

    Is there any information on existing or proposed sites that could provide this generation? If so, what estimates exist for costs of build to operation stage?

    A report by Deloitte’s ( discusses the need for “firming capacity”. I assume that this need increases proportionally to the amount of wind energy being used. Is this correct? The report says that firming capacity is not directly costed to the wind energy generators but the report looks to be a little elderly. Is this still the case? And if so, how would this capacity be provided and what would it mean for your model?

    “You are assuming that it is impossible to get any of the 850MW Manipori power up North when it is needed if Tiwai is closed. … Perhaps some minor grid upgrade work is required also.”

    To me, this is kind of the essential bit. My layman’s eyes look at Manapouri in the bottom of the SI and the thermals all spread across the central northern NI, and I see a transmission problem. The problem includes transmission losses, the limits of the HVDC cable, and limits on the transmission backbone.

    As I understand it, we have an increasing proportion of energy being consumed north of Taupo. Certainly, if we move over the next 15 years to electric cars, that is likely to continue and possibly accelerate. My question therefore is – what is the “minor grid upgrade work” that you have factored in and what is the cost of that?

    I’m a bit confused following how much additional wind generation you are modelling. You say “let’s just say NZ was to build much more new wind overall in terms of output – 11.2 GWh per year and we build it in the North Island.” but you later say “This plan does not require anything major to happen other than the New 3.2GW of Renewables build which would not cost as much as your overestimates (should be more like $6 Billion for that much new wind, 3,2000MW, not the $9.5Billion you have quoted).”

    What did I miss?


  • Hi Ashton – I thought you might like some numbers… However, I was so upset with Chris’s negativity, I was a bit flustered and got my T’s and G’s mixed up on the annual productions which may have confused you. Wherever you see GWh in the above comment, it should say TWh. The corrected prefix calcs are repeated below with some more comments – none of the actual maths or numbers change… so hopefully that makes it clearer now.

    One has to talk in terms of both overall production figures MWh (or TWh or KWh etc etc) and instantaneous capacity MW, KW etc to understand anything basic about the energy system (and your electricity bill). I am assuming you know the difference… I have met many Engineers that don’t really have a great grasp of it.. The video below explains it
    Also, wherever I talk about TWh.. I mean TWh per year…
    Source for generation production figures below is –

    New Zealand Currently Uses 7.4 Terawatt Hours of Power Per Year from Thermal Coal and Gas, 7.4 TWh.
    Comprised of about 2.0 TWh per year of Coal and 5.4 TWh per year of Gas..

    Tiwai Point Smelter Consumes approx 4.9 TWh of Power per year (560MW x 365 x 24 = 4,905,600 MWh per year = 4.9 TWh per year).

    Being conservative I have assumed closure of Tiwai offsets only 3 TWh per year (out of a possible 4.9TWh available from the closure) of North Island Thermal. The remaining leftover Tiwai savings goes into South Island Hydro Storage overall let us say..

    I have also assumed this 3 TWh from Tiwai displaces is Coal first. finally – goodbye you dirty old Huntly Units 3 and 4.

    Thermal remaining to be replaced by New Renewables (in the North Island) is therefore 7.4 TWh – 3.0 TWh offset by Tiwai Closure = 4.4TWh of Gas to be replaced.

    Now, Chris and I both suggest you need 3,200MW of New Nameplate Capacity Wind (3.2GW Nameplate – i.e The total aggregate size of the generators installed) at 40% Capacity Factor converts to 11.2 TWh per year. Or another way… 3,200 MW (max possible output at any one moment) x 0.4 (40% of the time it achieves this output on average) x 365 days per year x 24 hours per day = 11,200,000MWh per year = 11,200 GWh per year = 11.2TWh per year.

    So, we have 11.2 TWh of new renewable generation resource available in a typical year. After displacing the remaining of the 4.4 TWh of Gas, it would leave an overall average excess of 6.8TWh per year to keep all the hydro lakes topped up!!! The Total controllable Hydro Storage in the entirety of New Zealand is about 3.8 TWh so the “leftover” Renewable Power from the new install would theoretically be able to fill up all the Hydro Lakes in NZ twice over if they were empty. And given that New Zealand consumes about 0.12 TWh per day on average… It would be the equivalent of about 56 days theoretically, just to give a sense of the scale of the excess I am proposing.

    But as we all know, and you point out, we are also interested in Daily Peak Loads, not just the Annual Average. I think what people do not realise is that nearly all the Gas Thermal used in New Zealand for electricity is used as a Base Load type of supply (because it is in all the other Generators commercial interest to make sure they don’t bid too much Hydro into the dispatch “Market” stack at its true minimal hydro value thus completely displacing the Gas from the system) .. Gas is not just switched on for an hour or so every day when needed it or when the Hydro’s and HVDC can’t cope (which is what I am advocating it should be used for), Gas runs nearly all the time…!!! Yes, it can be ramped up and down quickly but this is not done to any extreme extent… This is complete and utter madness in New Zealand because we are basically squandering the Taranaki Gas and not using it wisely – we should be using it only as a backup Peaking or Firming supply…

    So the Peaks – here we are talking about instantaneous MW load, rather than total MWh, GHw, TWh consumption over the course of time. And the need for firming loads as you have noted comes in.. I will talk in straight MW regarding the peaks…

    In terms of peaks loads, I have assumed the South Island takes care of itself with Tiwai out of the picture, it is absolutely swamped for power peaking ability.. So we don’t even need to consider the South Island for the Peaks. And, I have also assumed the Mainland has so much power on hand with Tiwai closed that the HVDC link can always be available to transfer 1,200 MW into the North Island during the peaks… The HVDC link can also be upgraded to 1,400 MW as I understand..
    When the HCVD is running at full capacity of 1,200MW, it supplies mainly the Lower North Island load which consumes most of its capacity, so you don’t have to worry all that much about the “long skinny” Transmission Backbone all the way up to Auckland…

    For argument’s sake.. I considered the North Island as a whole.. but it is more accurate geographically to think about north of Taupo as you point out.

    Total North Island Peak remaining after the HVDC is subtracted ranges between 2,700MW and 3,500MW approx.
    But there is always about 900MW of Geothermal that runs 24/7 (thanks to Chris) north of Taupo …
    So the peak load we are left to deal with in the North Island after deducting the Geothermal and HVDC and on a typical peak day is let us say 2,200 MW.

    There is, of course, 1,800MW of North Island Hydro Available also. It is easy to see that with 3,200MW of new Renewable Wind (so long as it is built in the North Island) along with the available 1,800MW of Hydro (combined this is 5,000MW!!). It is easy to see how this can cover the 2,200MW remaining North Island peak hours even when the wind is low. Wind Turbines will start to run at about 2m/s of wind and then reach full output at about 9m/s… (again I need to check the exact numbers on that but you get the point).

    The Residual North Island Peak can not be covered 100% however if there is zero wind – no matter how much wind you install…

    Thus the need for the Firming Gas Capacity. A number of the existing Gas generators need to be retained or modified, etc to fulfil this role. That is, to make up the shortfall from time to time during North Island Peaks when there is Zero Wind and when North Island Hydro can not quite get there alone… The actual amount of gas gobbled up, if it was to perform this peaking or firming function alone under this plan would be absolutely minimal. We would be nearly at 100% Renewables…


    So long as the New 3,200MW of Wind is built in the North Island (and preferably North of Taupo), there is not too much Transmission Work you actually need to do..

    Regarding Transmission losses, these only really occur for those short times when things are on Peak Load and even then they are not that significant in the Grand Scheme of things we are talking about here (maybe 4% max I am guessing).. But that exists in the system currently also.


    Probably one of the key considerations under this scenario – other than building the $6 Billion of New Wind would be the fact that it relies on the HVDC link more heavily than we currently use it for under the so called “market” system. Chris has also pointed out the fact that the HVDC link is also asynchronous (that is, it is not inherently operating at 50Hz being DC and all) and possibly needs some inertia in the North Island system if it is to be used in anger… (see comments above about Synchronous Condensers and converting Huntly).. but also, if the HVDC link trips out or has a fault, one needs to quickly shed load (night night Wellington) or quickly turn on more generation to avoid Grid Frequency collapse.. This Service is called Instantaneous Reserve. I am not sure which generators provide this service at the moment… I need to try and find that out.

    Also need to check on the constraints of getting the Tiwai power north to Christchurch and / or Benmore, from memory I think this was a bit of constraint but I don’t think this is a massive or impossible undertaking..


  • Hi Justin – meh, what’s a couple of orders of magnitude, really? 😉

    Thanks for clarifying. Now I have to do more homework to grapple fully with both your and Chris’s positions.


  • Correct Ashton – grapple is a great word here.. Actually, the whole of NZ needs to grapple with this Issue, or one fine morning an Executive from Contact Energy or Genesis will sign a long term contract for LNG import into Taranaki and NZ becomes beholden to Fossil Fuel (and a fossil fuel premium on its power costs) forever.

    Under my plan, which includes strong government control of the overall NZ Energy System (and results in not squandering the gas we have), NZ would have extremely cheap power going forward into the future..

  • Justin it does not surprise me that you haven’t read the Transpower documents. It just reinforces my view that you know next to nothing about the NZ grid and its operation, especially the constraints and limitations. Your thinking is at the level of Teeshirt slogans with no idea of costs or restrictions. Your facile statement about turning Huntly into synchronous condensers show this.
    And after you have read all the Transpower documents, read the 2019 Green Grid report by Schipper et al. The used three years of actual generation data to see what effect adding more wind to the grid would do. Even at 4000MW wind, they found that significant thermal generation would still be needed, and a lot of the time wind would need to be constrained off. This is in addition to all the operational problems wind causes (all of which add significant costs) and which they detail.
    New Zealand may be able to go to near 100% renewables in the medium term, but it won’t be by adding significant wind. And the cost of getting there may be prohibitively expensive, not just in the cost to power consumers, but in environmental terms. South Australia is an object lesson in how to create a failed system.

  • Chris – “Higher shares of intermittent solar and wind generation will also reduce system inertia (stability of grid frequency), although hydro’s significant generation share will help prevent New Zealand being the next South Australia.” – straight out of the hopeless Matt Burgess report referred to in this Sciblog and which, unsurprisingly suggests no direct government intervention in the very profitable electricity system) …

    If you think Obsolete Thermal can not be converted to SynCon… you are so very wrong… it has been done many times before. And in any case, per above, with all the Hdyro and Geothermal in the NI you don’t have a major issue with System Strength in NZ. Even if it requires some small amount of effort and engineering (which you appear loath to put in or consider), or in the very very worst case, new SynCon units needs to be installed, in which case all the key Electrical Infrastructure is already in place – the cost is Minimal in the scheme of things….!

    Once again, it is very very simple in New Zealand to move to an abundance of cheap renewable electricity… Just need some proper co-ordination of the amazing electrical system built by our predecessors… T-shirts getting printed now Chris, what size are you?

    A – Build More Renewables in the North Island, 3,200MW = $6Billion (cheap as chips son)
    B – Turf out the Alcoa freeloaders
    C – Save Loads of Hydro Storage Water (and remove the ongoing, age old and boring “water shortage” excuse used by the Gentailers to crank up the Spot Price)
    D – Get rid of Coal First and use Gas only as an Emergency Back Up
    =99.8% renewable power… or 100% renewable power for nearly every day of the year…..

    Chris – I am not advocating 100% renewables with absolutely no back up from gas thermal – yes I agree that would cost a lot more than $6B.

    $6 Billion = the approximate amount of market rents (gaming the system) that the Gentailers currently extract from New Zealanders over the course of about 7 years.

    Easy Peasy…..

    I have looked into the Transpower Tiwai Closure “constraint” of moving power north… its a piece of cake.. just up-rating / duplexing of a few existing lines which are probably coming to end of their life soon anyway.
    What other major obstacles are there with this plan?? If Renewables are built in the NI you don’t even need to touch the DC link…

    Get on with it New Zealand!

  • You actually need to go and read the documents Justin, not just skim them.
    Here is what Transpower says about the constraints on the lines north from South of South Island.
    SC2: Livingstone–Naseby–Roxburgh transmission constraint
    In most normal operating scenarios, the capacity of the Livingstone–Naseby–Roxburgh circuit
    constrains the maximum generation export from the lower South Island.
    The Livingstone–Naseby–Roxburgh circuit operates in parallel with two higher-capacity Clyde–
    Cromwell–Twizel circuits, and will overload for a Clyde–Cromwell–Twizel circuit outage if
    northward transfer from the lower South Island exceeds approximately 625 MW in summer and
    795 MW in winter26 (with both stages of the Roxburgh Export Overload Protection scheme
    SC2: Clyde–Cromwell–Twizel transmission constraint
    The Clyde–Cromwell–Twizel circuits are usually next to constrain the maximum generation
    export from the lower South Island, the limiting factor being the Cromwell–Twizel sections, which
    have a lower capacity than the Clyde–Cromwell sections.
    The Cromwell–Twizel section will overload for an outage on the other Clyde–Cromwell–Twizel
    circuit if generation export from the lower South Island exceeds approximately 700 MW in
    summer and 855 MW in winter (with both stages of the Roxburgh Export Overload Protection
    scheme operating).
    Now the generation down there is 1850MW- close Tiwai and how will the power get north? Transpower have in their long term plan building a new double circuit from Wellington to Auckland and a fourth Cook Strait cable. Why do you think they need that?
    With regards synchronous condensers, you do know the generators at Huntly are hydrogen cooled, don’t you. They have a lot of smaller condensers at Haywoods and they are expensive to run, especially with their parasitic losses. That is why everyone did away with them as soon as the static banks came along. They only came back because of all the problems windfarms cause on the grid.
    With regards your windfarm prices, year right. That is why they need so mucch subsidy in Europe, the UK and Australia to build, isn’t it. .

  • Chris – The price of that renewables build is accurate.. yes, $2Billion per GW all up including transmission…. Turitea Section 1 is costing $256Million for 119MW (which also includes some enabling works for later development).

    I am not convinced that Hydrogen Cooling of a generator is a fundamental impediment to the conversion of an obsolete Thermal Generator to operate in Syncon mode.. A lot of the new SynCon units are hydrogen cooled. As you are aware, the obsolete thermal Marsden A was operated in Syncon mode for many years until Transpower got sick to the stomach of paying Millions and Millions of dollars for this so-called “Ancillary Market Service” that had no competition…

    Speaking of Marsden A, and if you want to consider further the absolute lunacy of the NZ Electricity “Market”.. look no further than the fact that the people of NZ pay for “Black Start”…. While this is not a large sum of money, it is comical in the extreme that Kiwi’s with all of the Hydro Generation installed by our parents have to pay anything whatsoever for such a “Market Service”… It is clearly indicative of the sad fact that Accountants, Futures Traders, Analysts and various other Economic Boffins are now fully in charge of what is an Engineering Asset and Issue… These types of people have successfully overcomplicated the NZ Electricity Industry to the point where very few people can be bothered to try and understand how it all works… and such “Market Anlsysists” try to make us believe that so-called “Market Signals” will see us right in terms of a logical long term Strategy for NZ’s energy future.. The only market signals I can hear are “lets keep burning baseload gas to keep this party going!!”… While humans have a remarkable propensity to collectively believe in absolute fabrications, the belief that Market Signals will create a good long term strategy for NZ’s energy future is right up there with your Magic Unicorns…

    Anyway, let me take a little break from replying to some of your Storm in a Teacup system strength and transmission constraint non-arguments against the North Island Renewables Overbuild Plan I have described above… And let’s review your “Head in Sand Do Nothing Plan”…

    Let us keep using coal for as long as possible and polluting the Waikato river with Mercury
    Let us keep using baseload gas for as long as possible, and squandering as fast as possible, NZ’s one and only decent and accessible Fossil Fuel resource and then…
    Let us proceed to build an LNG import terminal and enter into a long term contract to ensure that the escalated price for electricity remains forever and ever
    Let us keep on peppering the TVZ with Geothermal holes forever in a day (not exactly cheap)
    Let us keep giving away Free Renewable Electricity to Rio Tinto one of the worlds biggest Mining companies and plunderers of the earth

    Not many people are buying that Tee Shirt…

  • You can’t even get your “facts” right Justin so no hope for your other statements.
    The major input of mercury into the Waikato is from natural geothermal weepage. Huntly on coal put next to nothing. It would go into the atmosphere.
    There is next to no baseload gas generation. Almost all is two shifted.
    As far as I know, there are no plans to build an LNG terminal though many have floated the idea.
    Geothermal is cheaper than wind on a GWh basis and is actually dispatchable and adds inertia/ voltage control to the grid.
    The price paid by Tiwai for electricity is a real market price.
    But you keep believing all your little wee bubble stuff. It is why you don’t work in the NZ power industry.

  • Chris – have you ever been to the enormous Coal Ash Disposal Ponds at Huntly that have accumulated over the years? They are toxic and leach into the River.. (check them out on Google Maps – about 2km north of the Station on the West Bank of the River). I don’t bother to mention the atmospheric pollution of your obsolete Thermal, this being self-evident to most people with common sense, but some may not be aware of the Toxic Ponds…

    What do you think that Todd Energy, Contact Energy and Genesis have in mind for when the various Taranaki Gas Fields are further depleted? LNG IMPORT… So New Zealand can pay for the entirety of its electricity generation (including the almost free Hydro) at the price of Gas… Transpower refer to “Baseload Gas” in their reports and the need to only use Gas as Peaking Plant… According to MBIE stats there has not been a single quarter go by for the last 40 years without about 30% or more of NZ’s gas resource being used for Electricity Generation!!

    Tiwai Piece for you here..

    I think we are done here…

  • And now Rio Tinto out by August 2021.

    World’s biggest battery recharging station perhaps?

  • Chris Morris says: 06/07/2020 at 2:44 pm

    The major input of mercury into the Waikato is from natural geothermal weepage. Huntly on coal put next to nothing. It would go into the atmosphere. Into the environment; I suspect the atmosphere is worse.

    Geothermal is cheaper than wind… Geothermal releases CO2. Average costs here:

    The price paid by Tiwai for electricity is a real market price. “Money or your life” said the highway robber, “It’s the market price.”