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New Zealand Coal-Fired Generation Coming To A Close

New Zealand energy utility Genesis Energy has revealed that it intends to shut down the country’s two remaining coal-burning electricity generators by the end of 2018.

HuntlyGenesis Energy announced Thursday that it is permanently withdrawing the remaining two coal-burning electricity generators at the Huntly Power Station, in the north of the country. Genesis Energy plan to permanently withdraw the two stations by December 2018, which will bring coal generation for electricity to a close in New Zealand, and reduce a significant contribution to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions figures. At its peak, Huntly generated around 5,000 kilotonnes of CO2 per year, which amounted to around 5% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

“While the Huntly Power Station has been, and remains, a great asset for Genesis Energy, the Board has taken the decision to retire the remaining Rankine Units,” said Genesis Energy Chairman Dame Jenny Shipley. “New Zealand’s changing electricity market has seen improvements in the management of dry year events, along with a significant decrease in coal-fired generation, and by 2018 the two coal units will no longer be required unless market conditions change significantly.”

In fact, plans to retire the two coal-burning generators has been on the books since 2009, according to the company’s Chief Executive, Albert Brantley.

“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,” he said.

The disappearance of coal-fired generation might seem like a big deal to many of us, but according to figures provided by the New Zealand Government earlier this year, it’s not quite so surprising if you know your New Zealand energy figures. According to the New Zealand Government, renewable energy sources contributed approximately 80% to the country’s total electricity generated in 2014, thanks to technologies like geothermal, hydro, wind, and biogas.

New Zealand Renewable Energy

The figures were published in March of 2015 by the country’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.

Huntly will continue to generate electricity for many years to come, thanks to the two gas-fueled units that run onsite, and Genesis Energy also notes that Huntly could be further developed for thermal peaking capacity.

“The decision to close the Rankines has been taken after significant assessment of the Company’s generation position, our ability to meet our ongoing commitments to our customers, and the impact on our loyal employees who have skillfully run these units for many years, as well as external stakeholders,” added Mr Brantley. “These units have largely been operating at the margin of the market for a number of years, at very low utilisation rates. We expect this decision to produce operational and capital cost savings of approximately $20 to $25 million per annum.”

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