June 2, 2023


Moving Forward

Minister says $15b Lake Onslow investment decision should be above politics

Any individual shocked by the feasible $15.7 billion price tag tag of the Lake Onslow energy scheme should recall it would “serve New Zealand for 100 years or more”, Vitality Minister Megan Woods states.

Woods introduced on Thursday that the Cabinet experienced agreed to attract up a detailed business case for the achievable pumped hydro plan in central Otago.

“We advantage from the variety of infrastructure imagining that former governments experienced in this nation and we’ve unsuccessful to believe in conditions of people long-expression strategic horizons,” she said, commenting on the chance of monthly bill shock.

“We’re chatting about a form of asset that people’s kid’s kid’s kid’s small children will get the gain of. When was the final time we talked about essentially constructing a thing that was likely to established us up for a century? We haven’t built any selections, but that’s how persons have to have to assume about it,” she said.

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The only past try to estimate the attainable value of developing Lake Onslow experienced recommended it could come to about $4b, but Woods stated that determine dated back to 2006.

The strategy of harnessing the substantial purely natural rock basin at Lake Onslow to generate a larger synthetic lake capable of keeping adequate water to protect the country’s electrical power demands for about six months through “dry years” when hydro lakes were low has been very seriously in enjoy for a handful of several years.

The Cabinet’s determination to give the inexperienced for a comprehensive organization case at a expense of about $70m delivers it nearer to fact, but a report by the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Work indicated there would be no ultimate investment decision choice until all-around the conclusion of 2026.

Megan Woods: “When was the last time we talked about actually building something that was going to set us up for a century?”


Megan Woods: “When was the past time we talked about truly setting up one thing that was likely to set us up for a century?”

Woods announced that the Govt would at the very same time also proceed investigating an alternative set of energy-storage initiatives which would expense an estimated $13.5b to create but which she claimed would come with bigger managing expenditures.

That option strategy could see a lesser pumped hydro scheme developed on the Upper Moawhango in the central North Island, together with investments in biomass-burning electrical power stations, “flexible geothermal electricity and green hydrogen”.

Woods voiced hope at a decide on committee that the financial commitment selection could transcend social gathering politics.

“This is a very severe, long-expression asset that we’d be chatting about. The prudent issue is we have to obtain a resolution and we have to do this in a arduous and methodical way that I consider can take the politics out of it,” she reported.

But Countrywide Get together electrical power spokesperson Stuart Smith prompt the idea Lake Onslow may possibly go ahead was “tone deaf in the center of a cost-of-residing crisis” and Nationwide would quickly terminate the business enterprise scenario if it received the election.

He stated Lake Onslow was “a return to the lousy outdated times of highly-priced federal government financial commitment in a very well-operating electric power market” and mentioned previous 7 days that any resolution to the dry-yr trouble could be still left to the industry to provide.

Electricity Resources Aotearoa (Period) was in the same way opposed.

Its main executive, John Carnegie, reported Lake Onslow would make justifying expense in new technology harder and would press up electrical power selling prices, describing it as “a cloud hanging over the electricity system”.

“The notion of a federal government-owned, taxpayer-funded behemoth dominating the current market is poor for enterprise and households,” he said.

The govt director of BusinessNZ’s electrical power council, Tina Schirr, stated the dry-year trouble and demand from customers peaks were being really serious concerns for the sector that will need to be dealt with.

But she stated it was essential the Authorities thought of alternatives that ended up “modular, decentralised and distribute danger throughout the region to develop resilience”.

Onslow carried a large cost tag for a resolution that “wasn’t modular and won’t supply in the subsequent number of years”, she said.

Woods said no-one particular really should be astonished by the response from the Era provided it was the “peak physique for the fossil fuel industry”.

“It is definitely crucial for people to realize that there is a enormous rate tag to carrying out almost nothing,” she stated.

Woods claimed the state necessary to shop electricity in some sort to cope with “dry years” when hydro lakes were being small and to date that experienced been reached by stockpiling and burning coal, but there ended up no cheap alternatives.

Officials had estimated that the cost of relying on coal to include times of very low renewable era would climb to $2.2b a calendar year by 2050, creating that the two economically and environmentally unsustainable, she reported.

“Continuing the way we are, employing gas and coal as our way as a result of a ‘dry year’ or to meet demand peaks is what will drive up the value of energy in excess of the prolonged term.”

Waikato University professor Earl Bardsley, who to start with determined the opportunity of the pure rock basin at Lake Onslow to create an artificial lake, said the small business case for the plan would want to choose a “wide look at of the countrywide benefits”, offered the cost.

That could incorporate the economic get from electric power staying much less expensive than it otherwise would be, and the standard strengths of the eco-friendly changeover, he reported.