Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Power Cuts Coming

The announcement a new combined cycle gas turbine is planned for Auckland does not solve the very serious issues regarding electricity supply and demand North of Taupo. The new plant, once operational will generate 280MW - given NZ's demand is growing at 150MW pa this new capacity gives at best two years respite to running out. As NZ is currently operating at 94% of capacity on peak days (assuming all sites are up), the evil day of demand exceeding supply is likely to be still inside the consent and build time.

An industry working group had agreed that demand this winter is likely to peak around 1990MW, but it was still prudent to plan for a level of 2060MW. The record, hit in late June 2005, and not generally the coldest month, was 1955MW, north of Huntly.

The maximum electricity supply for the region is 2130MW, according to Transpower.

My maths says the most optimistic scenario is a gap at the peak of 146MW - one years growth. That might get northern NZ through this winter. There is precious little head room - especially when the calculations assume all stations are up and running.

How can Mallard say "...fears of 2007 power cuts were "well off the mark"."

This is a serious issue and Labour appears to be hiding something under the carpet. This problem requires a 'whole of Government' approach working with industry. Denial is no solution.

Nor sadly is the new plant any more than a finger in the dyke if you will pardon the metaphor/cliche.

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