2 Feb 2024

Winter is coming, but how prepared is the country's energy system?

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 2 February 2024
Alison Andrew is the chief executive of national grid operator Transpower.

Photo: Supplied

Transpower is signalling there could be power cuts this winter to manage supply and demand of electricity if the wrong conditions combine. 

There is significant pressure on hydro lakes to deliver the electricity required as well as thermal generation - burning coal and gas - to get through the winter.

That's because key power plants like Contact Energy's Tauhara geothermal plant have had delays and the grid has had more intermittent sources - including its first producing solar farm late last year - added in to its electricity supply stack.

But plant outages happen every year and combined with a situation where the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing - the grid owner isn't ruling out using power cuts to get through. 

There are other pressures on the grid operator. It needs to spend billions on creaking infrastructure - a lot of it built in the 1960s and 1970s - and is facing headwinds in recruitment and supply chains.

Kathryn talks to Transpower's chief executive Alison Andrew.