New Zealand to ban coal and gas power plants

Goal: 90% renewable energy by 2025

The New Zealand government is working on a 10 year ban of new construction of gas and coal fired power plants. State owned power generators are already banned from building gas fired plants and the decision whether to extend the ban to private companies will be made soon.

The goal is to reduce carbon emissions and generate 90% of the country’s power from renewable sources by 2025. New Zealand currently produces 70% of its electricity from wind, hydro and geothermal generators. The hope is the ban will speed construction in wind turbines and steam fields.

The ban affects two gas fired power plants currently under consideration. Genesis Power, the government owned utility, and Contact, New Zealand’s largest commercial power company, had planned to spend NZ$1 billion on the projects. Now the companies will need to look for renewable sources for their investments. Contact’s share prices rose on the Wellington stock exchange with news of the ban.

In New Zealand gas prices have been rising and gas production falling over the last 5 years. The higher gas cost has made renewable power cost competitive and Contact has spend NZ$2 billion on wind and geo-thermal electricity production capability. The company want the government to speed up approval of two new steam plants on the North Island.

New Zealand is well on its way to a renewable energy future and this step increases the pace of getting there. Let us see if other countries can take similar steps.

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