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New Zealand is finally bidding coal-fired power generation farewell. Genesis Energy indicated that its last two coal-fired units will be shut permanently by the end of 2018, tapping energy from renewable resources and overcoming energy demand.

The chairman of Genesis Energy, Dame Jenny Shipley stated that if the hydroelectric capacity in the dry season is managed well, the two coal-fired generators at Huntly in the centre of North Island will be redundant “unless market conditions change significantly”. Coal is the dominant source of energy in Waikato district of Auckland. It is noted that the coal-fired facility which significantly emits greenhouse gases have not been operating consistently over the last several years, as a result a greater amount of the power is generated from gas-fired plants at the site.

Chief executive Albert Brantley stated that Genesis Energy had this plan of shutting down its 4-coal and gas-fired Rankine plans since 2009. It is noted that two of the facilities are currently not in operation, with the remaining two ready to be permanently shut down by 2018. Genesis Energy has the confidence of saving about $NZ20 million ($17 million) to $NZ25 million a year, when these two coal-fired plants are completely shut down.

“The development of lower cost renewable generation, principally wind and geothermal, investment in the HVDC link, and relatively flat growth in consumer and industrial demand for electricity have combined to reinforce the decision to retire the remaining Rankine units, which will deliver further operational efficiencies to Genesis Energy,” Mr Brantley stated.

New Zealand’s dream of reaching 90% renewable energy target might be accomplished, should Genesis close down its last two coal-fired generators. The two facilities are said to emit approximately 5-million tonnes of CO2 annually, constituting approximately 5% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In the previous financial year, it was discovered that the total GHG emitted at Huntly facility was 2.3million tonnes a year and the company has predicted that this will decline swiftly after the complete close-down.

New Zealand is blessed with enormous hydroelectric capacity, and they are reliant on renewable energy to generate most of their electricity which is contradictory to Australia who generates about 70% of electricity from coal.

In Australia, the increase in coal power generation over the year to July is due to the low coal cost and high gas costs in Australia. Coal now emits about 76.3% of GHG from power generation, Pitt& Sherry consultancy said this week.

State-owned Solid Energy is already struggling to stay afloat, with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key reportedly stating earlier this week that the company was “in a precarious position” and its future depended on deliberations under way among its lenders and the government.

Source:
A. Macdonald-Smith, August 6, 2015. Genesis Energy to close last coal-fired power stations in NZ: http://www.smh.com.au/business/energy/genesis-energy-to-close-last-coalfired-power-stations-in-nz-20150805-giso0e.html. Accessed on August 8, 2015.

AUTHOR: DOUGLAS YEBOAH

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