Burn­ing more gas sim­ply cre­ates big­ger prob­lem

Taranaki Daily News - - Opinion -

Re­tired en­gi­neer and a mem­ber of the Labour Party

In the Taranaki Daily News of Mon­day, De­cem­ber 3, Jonathan Young con­tin­ues to pro­mote the won­der­ments and ben­e­fits of burn­ing more nat­u­ral gas.

The re­think­ing which he calls for needs to be on his part.

How does Jonathan Young ex­pect to achieve a sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion in green­house gas emis­sions by 2030 if we con­tinue to burn more gas, both in the ex­ist­ing gas burn­ing power plants and in the pro­posed new 8 Rivers Al­lam Cy­cle plant?

More elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from wind and so­lar sources is the vi­able and nec­es­sary so­lu­tion to some of our green­house gas prob­lems.

Burn­ing more gas will sim­ply pro­duce a big­ger prob­lem to be tack­led in the 2030s and 2040s.

The ar­ti­cle states that ‘‘the Gov­ern­ment needs to en­able car­bon cap­ture and stor­age so that nat­u­ral gas can be­come a truly clean fuel’’.

I doubt that there is any sig­nif­i­cant reg­u­la­tory bar­rier which has pre­vented car­bon cap­ture and stor­age up to the present time.

Rather, it has been a mat­ter of eco­nom­ics and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, to­gether with an in­dus­try re­luc­tance to act on cli­mate change, which has re­sulted in no car­bon cap­ture and stor­age.

If any new reg­u­la­tion is needed then why is it not al­ready in place after nine years of a Na­tional Gov­ern­ment?

Jonathan Young says ‘‘gas is needed not just for in­dus­trial users, but it is also im­por­tant for elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion’’.

Fair enough up to a point, but also some­what mis­lead­ing.

There will be more gas avail­able for in­dus­trial and do­mes­tic users, avail­able for a much longer pe­riod, if we stop wast­ing it to pro­duce elec­tric­ity.

Cur­rently about 20 per cent of our gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity is based on coal, oil and gas which to­gether sup­ply about 15 per cent of our to­tal elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

Over time it will eas­ily be pos­si­ble to in­stall 2000 to 3000 MW of wind power and up to 1000 MW of so­lar power, more than enough to re­place the ex­ist­ing 1800 MW which can cur­rently be gen­er­ated by diesel, coal and gas.

It is true that the wind does not al­ways blow and the sun does not al­ways shine, but this is a prob­lem that is easy to solve thanks to our abun­dant hy­dro re­sources.

With the pro­vi­sion of ad­e­quate wind and so­lar power ca­pac­ity it will be pos­si­ble to con­serve wa­ter in the hy­dro sys­tem for elec­tric­ity sup­ply when the wind is not blow­ing.

In or­der to sup­ply likely higher peak loads from the hy­dro sys­tem it will be nec­es­sary to in­stall extra gen­er­a­tors at some of the hy­dro pow­er­houses.

This will en­able higher short term peak sup­ply with­out any in­crease in to­tal wa­ter flow through the hy­dro sys­tems.

This is the sort of re­think­ing which is needed, not the ‘‘8 Rivers burn more gas’’ type of think­ing.

If th­ese pro­pos­als are not eco­nom­i­cally vi­able then that is proof that the mar­ket is fail­ing and the Gov­ern­ment may need to step in to achieve what the en­ergy in­dus­tries have so far failed to do.

Fi­nally, there is the ar­gu­ment that the 8 Rivers scheme will pro­vide much needed em­ploy­ment. It will be bet­ter to pro­vide em­ploy­ment by means of al­ter­na­tive, en­vi­ron­men­tally ac­cept­able de­vel­op­ments, rather than by con­tin­ued flog­ging of the dead horse which the oil and gas in­dus­try will be­come.

Con­struc­tion of 15 or 20 Waver­ley-size wind farms will pro­vide con­sid­er­able em­ploy­ment, as will the in­stal­la­tion of 10,000 so­lar pan­els on com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial build­ings through­out New Zealand. It is time for our lo­cal MP to stop act­ing as a lob­by­ist for the oil and gas sec­tor and start think­ing se­ri­ously and re­al­is­ti­cally about the cli­mate legacy for our grand­chil­dren.

With the pro­vi­sion of ad­e­quate wind and so­lar power ca­pac­ity it will be pos­si­ble to con­serve wa­ter in the hy­dro sys­tem for elec­tric­ity sup­ply when the wind is not blow­ing.

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