14 Jul 2021

Whole energy sector needs to change to fix coal problem - campaigner

From Morning Report, 8:10 am on 14 July 2021

Despite declaring a climate emergency last year, Aotearoa imported more than one million tonnes of low grade coal from Indonesia.

Imports of the fossil fuel in 2020 were six times larger than in 2016.

The fuel was burnt at Huntly, filling the gap left behind by renewables during calm, dry weather. At the same time, problems at gas fields meant there was less gas to burn.

The government says the problems are complex, but it's working on longer-term solutions that should help reduce the sector's unsatisfactory reliance on fossil fuels.

That's not good enough for Cindy Baxter from the Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

She spoke to Corin Dann.

The Energy and Resources Minister, Megan Woods, declined to come on the programme this morning, but said in a statement:

"Unfortunately fossil fuels continue to play a prominent role in the security of electricity supply due to the structure of New Zealand's electricity system, especially in providing cover for dry hydrological years, such as we have been experiencing.

"This Government has not been satisfied with this reliance on fossil fuels and last year we backed up our goal to have a fully renewable electricity grid with a $30 million investigation into solving the dry year problem."