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Government jumping the gun over proposed ban of new gas connections in homes

2 February 2021
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The Climate Change Commission’s proposal to ban new gas connections to residential homes within five years is short sighted and ill thought out, says Master Plumbers.

CE Greg Wallace is warning if the Government goes ahead with the proposed timeframe, there is a real risk that New Zealand will lose the opportunity to use its existing gas network when carbon-free ‘green’ hydrogen is ready to hit the market.

The Commission released it's first official report this week proposing ways to slash emissions and meet the target of New Zealand being carbon neutral by 2050, acknowledging current measures are falling short. Included in the proposal is the ban on new residential gas connections by 2025 and the phasing out of existing gas in homes by 2050.

CE Greg Wallace says Master Plumbers supports steps towards a sustainable New Zealand and sees a future in green hydrogen being an alternative to gas as a way to heat water and homes. However the proposed timeframe does not provide enough time to make the switch.

“Green hydrogen is being seen as the rock star of the fuels of the future and there’s some exciting work going on in Australia and in New Zealand looking at green hydrogen and investigating new technologies. There are trials in Australia looking at the use of hydrogen in new suburbs and there is a strong focus on seeing how hydrogen can be incorporated with the current gas network and appliances.”

He says the fact existing infrastructure can be used to move to green hydrogen is very appealing, but its introduction is likely to be beyond the five-year timeframe proposed in the report.

“The Government would be advised to be patient to ensure the gas network is maintained and still available when green hydrogen is ready to hit the market. If it sticks to the proposed timeframe we run the real risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The proposal to ban gas in domestic use is jumping the gun without a tried and tested alternative.”

He says current residential use accounts for just 3% of New Zealand’s total gas use, and the proposed changes would also have cost implications for both current and new homeowners, with very little benefit. “Homeowners want instant, reliable hot water and like the space and energy savings of gas continuous flow systems, which mean they don’t have to store large amounts of water in cylinders.

“Surely the right order of doing this would be providing a renewable energy source that offers these same benefits, rather than saying you can’t use gas but we don’t really have an alternative that offers the same benefits.”

Master Plumbers is urging people to have their say on the draft report at https://haveyoursay.climatecommission.govt.nz/, with submissions closing March 14.

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