$4b dam above Roxburgh ‘only way’ to net zero

Lake Onslow, in Central Otago. Photo: Supplied
Lake Onslow, in Central Otago. Photo: Supplied
The only way for New Zealand to reach its net-zero 2050 emissions target is with a proposed $4 billion-plus hydro-electric storage lake above Roxburgh, Environment Minister David Parker says.

In Dunedin yesterday with Climate Change Minister James Shaw, Mr Parker said he knew Project Onslow was unpopular with some conservationists.

The project would destroy habitat around the Central Otago lake, including a wetland, Mr Parker said.

But without Project Onslow, the country would not be able to break away from its use of fossil fuels.

"People should not just dismiss it out of hand, because I don’t know another route to net zero, and I’ve been doing this for decades," Mr Parker said.

Once again Otago was being asked to bear the local environmental damage, but there could be offsets, including protection for the Upper Taieri scroll plain, he said.

Mr Parker and Mr Shaw were guests of the environment branch of the Dunedin Labour Party at the University of Otago yesterday.

They addressed the Climate Change Commission’s forthcoming advice to Government to be used to make national emissions budgets at the end of the year.

The consultation this year attracted more than 10,000 submissions.

The draft advice included planting permanent native forests, ending imports of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to shift the country into electric vehicles, and a major uptake of wind and solar energy.

The Government last year announced $30 million for a business case to investigate the proposal to build the scheme at Lake Onslow.

It was advertised as a means to achieve a fully renewable electricity system, and to solve the problem of dry hydrological years.

Because the country lacked adequate hydro storage, one out of every 10 years was dry enough that it had to rely on fossil-fuel derived energy from Huntly.

This year would be one of them.
There was not enough rain falling into the country’s largest storage lake, Lake Pukaki, Mr Parker said.

"It’s sad to say, but this year we are going to burn more coal in New Zealand than we have for a few years because we are short of fuel - water - in our hydro system."

Wind and solar farms between them were the cheapest sources of new power generation, but were intermittent.

When the wind did not blow, or the sun did not shine, there needed to be stored energy.

The proposal was to "overbuild" wind and solar, and when the water was available, to pump it out of the Clutha into a big dam on Lake Onslow, which could cover either a dry year or intermittent periods when wind and solar were not producing. Lake Onslow would be able to store twice the amount of water as Lake Pukaki.

Mr Shaw said key decisions were expected to be made before the end of the year.

New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan was required under law to be tabled in Parliament by December 15, he said.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

 

Comments

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So basically it comes down to which is the least destructive; burning some coal every few years, or building a huge dam for $4 billion, destroying a wetland and submerging a lot of land.
I'd go with the former, every time.

Absolutely. Especially as energy has been covered by the ETS for 11 years, a fact this government, not to mention the climate commission, seems unable to comprehend.

You all realise us going to zero means absolutely nothing right?
One small volcano, turns to custard (or China or USA)
And the fact that having no co2 will not make a difference to weather or global climate.

While sulfur dioxide released in contemporary volcanic eruptions has occasionally caused detectable global cooling of the lower atmosphere, the carbon dioxide released in contemporary volcanic eruptions has never caused detectable global warming of the atmosphere. In 2010, human activities were responsible for a projected 35 billion metric tons (gigatons) of CO2 emissions. All studies to date of global volcanic carbon dioxide emissions indicate that present-day subaerial and submarine volcanoes release less than a percent of the carbon dioxide released currently by human activities.
The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens vented approximately 10 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in only 9 hours. However, it currently takes humanity only 2.5 hours to put out the same amount.
You are right though in pointing out that the climate emergency is a global one and not limited to NZ. Which is why it is so important that all individual countries meet their obligations made at COP25 and further strengthen them in the up and coming climate submits.

I'll be clearer..... Co2 does nothing compared to water vapour.
You can through stats about amounts of co2 being thrown out etc etc, but it doesn't have any effect on weather.
In the 70's they claimed all the "crazy weather" was do to global cooling because of co2, the sycophants need to do some research instead of believing one in-the-pocket shonky scientist.
You don't still believe in Manns disproved hockystock and the data NASA is taking and changing on a daily basis.
This is a virtue signal exercise, albeit a 4bn dollar one, that won't do anything, even if the entire world followed.
Oh, and to add, the nutters back then wanted to put soot over snow to warm.the planet up, only 50 years ago
Open your eyes to the ongoing scam people.
Every ten years since the 50' we've been told we have ten years before it's too late.
Believing this claptrap proves that humans are inherently thick and braindead

"Studies" carried out by whom for whom and how much money was involved. The way you are banging the global warmi... err "climate change" drum makes one wonder if you are paid by the same ones who finance the "studies".

Oh, and the fact that because of dear leaders idiotic "captains call" (I know, which one right?)
That under this government, we are now importing low grade coal from indonesia to run our boilers and Huntly etc.
But that's ok, because we can say those emissions are Indonesian as it's their coal, how silly of me to forget that.... And the transport of the coal...
The list of lunacy grows large with this lot of incompetents

It is a great idea. Coal etc cost money, pollutes and is unsightly/unhealthy when burnt near you. Securing our long term power generation future just makes sense. This is why we have Government, to make long term investments that do now what future generations need. Too often we have Government that looks at the next fiscal year and says “no we can’t invest in infrastructure.”

The worry about today’s bottom line is how we end up with the likes of a housing crisis, because we rely on market forces (who want high prices for everything to reap high profits). They will not invest money up front to get ahead of problems in the mid to distant future but Government can and should. But this brings out those of us who are equally short sighted as many of our business elites who cannot stand spending now to save later.

What happened to the old ethic of working hard now (investing) to enjoy a future reward (secure future infrastructure)?

To those who say, going to zero emissions does not matter. It does matter. Our reputation for clean and green is our greatest trading and tourism asset. Investing in moving away from fossil fuels boosts that image to the world and our GDP.

While little NZ does pretty well in curbing pollution, the same old question comes up---how do you get China, India, USA, Germany and others who apparently don't give a tinker's curse, to follow?

China’s President Xi Jinping will attend a US-led climate change summit on Thursday at the invitation of President Joe Biden, in the first meeting between the two leaders since the advent of the new US administration.

Biden has invited dozens of world leaders to join the two-day virtual summit starting on Thursday, after bringing the US back into the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting global carbon emissions. - The Guardian

Pat, they are all attending a conference with more hot air and promises, nothing will happen, China and the US will put their economy's first in the quest to be world leaders, while ideologs like our Government will continue their quest to run the country into the ground to make themselves look good on the world stage.

And every once of North Island rivers have been investigated and absolutely none are suitable without a major environmental protest? It would seem that the South Island is just an easy place to do this.

How about the north island agrees to pay a fair share of the costs of getting the energy they use across the creek first . Until recently the SI was paying the full cost , even now only a small proportion is paid by the NI and even that was fought tooth an nail even once it was reduced from the proposed 50% of the cost . So before we defile the SI even more for the NIs' benefit how about they pull their weight.

How about we cut the cable and let the north float away.

Politicians wanting to build a storage dam on top of a mountain of schist rock reminds me of building a Dam over a fault line to create a lake up an unstable gorge of schist.
Back to the Think Big days !!!
How much did that cost the tax payers and the country???
When will they ever learn ???

No consideration of solar - no encouragement of solar by government because big business is organised for electricity companies and hydro. Big dams are past tense in society - we have got to move forward into self-sufficiency more which the home-owner can do easily with encouragement but for industry ahh how would they then pay for the transmission costs without the homeowner? that is the question. Remember "think big" and how times changed or not now.

Many years ago I was interested in solar. Fortunately it was well beyond my budget. Now it is affordable, readily available, and a range of more efficient systems are available.
In the meantime the house and the entire rear of the section including clothesline and vege garden are shaded up to 90% of the time from late autumn to early spring by neighbours' evergreen or very densely branched trees grown high above the skyline..
Even the simple "solar clothes dryer" no longer works!
Until there are regulations preventing neighbours from destroying a home-owner's investment in solar, I strongly recommend against making that choice.

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