New Zealand’s hydropower project is not smart – Trustpower Chair


By Stephen Wright

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The New Zealand government’s plans for a giant new hydropower lake in the south of the country are a potential waste of billions of dollars and not smart, according to the chairman of a key electric utility.

Paul Ridley-Smith, chairman of Trustpower Ltd., which generates around 10% of New Zealand’s hydropower, said the company’s strategy to invest in renewable power assumes that the government’s plan does not never gets the green light.

“There are smart things New Zealand can do to ensure security of supply and provide an enabling environment for the construction of new renewable energy projects, but it is not spending billions of dollars on the bigger one. New Zealand civil works project, ”he told the company’s annual meeting.

Trustpower is optimistic that “smarter solutions” will emerge from the government’s study on the feasibility of the project, he said.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has promoted the Lake Onslow project as a possible solution to the recurring problem of dry years in New Zealand’s hydropower-dominated electricity supply.

Costing at least four billion New Zealand dollars ($ 2.8 billion), the pumped hydropower project would act like a battery and largely discharge in dry years. Proponents say its construction could help lower electricity prices and facilitate the electrification of transportation and industrial heating processes.

Coal-fired power generation has skyrocketed in New Zealand over the past two years due to drought and gas shortages, beating the government’s target of 100% renewable electricity supply. by 2030.

Mr Ridley-Smith said 100% renewable electricity is not the right target if New Zealand is to achieve overall reductions in carbon emissions. Leaving gas in the electricity supply will facilitate the creation of new renewable energy production capacity and reduce overall emissions more quickly, he said.

Mr. Ridley-Smith is also a senior executive at Morrison & Co., the manager of infrastructure investor Infratil Ltd., Trustpower’s largest shareholder.

Write to Stephen Wright at [email protected]

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