Sunday, February 11, 2007

Marsden B doomed?

It looks as if the government's clear signal that it is planning to internalise the cost of carbon will spell doom for Marsden B - the power station is just uneconomic if the true environmental costs of its operation are taken into account. Which really makes you think about how things might have been if the government had been able to internalise that cost back in 1997, when it was first proposed. Our electricity sector would be looking quite different, with more hydro and wind, and significantly less gas than at present. And of course there would have been no question that Huntly would switch back to using coal. Unfortunately, ten years of dithering have allowed fossil fuel emissions to grow unchecked, and it will now be that much harder to force them back down than if we'd done it right the first time.


I thought the main Huntly unit could only run on coal (or maybe oil)? The new combined cycle generator runs on gas, but that's a different unit on the same site.

I think we need:
- more wind power (but there is a natural limit to this)
- more/enhanced hydro
- an upgraded Cook Strait cable
- look at end-life for the aluminium smelter
- building standards requiring adequate insulation/double glazing/central heating in cooler areas.

All of that will of course cost money and have its own environmental impact. There has to be an understanding that we will have to trade loss of landscape values against the prevention of global warming.

Posted by Rich : 2/13/2007 10:49:00 AM

Rich: It's dual use, and ran on cheap Maui gas for much of the time. They have a special pipe running all the way from Taranaki just to feed it. But since the price has risen, they've found it cheaper to run on coal. If the cost of CO2 had been internalised, that equation would look rather different.

As for loss of landscape values, not if we shut down the aluminium smelter. That's 10% of our electricity usage right there. Of course, in order to make use of it, we'd need a seriously upgraded Cook Strait cable...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/13/2007 11:25:00 AM