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Innovation needed to solve NZ’s power problem

3 July 2024
advocacy media

Master Plumbers is calling on the Government to consider renewable gas and biogas as viable alternatives to strengthen the country’s power network.

“Energy diversity is essential to ensuring the country is not at the mercy of an overtaxed power grid and that means looking to other fuel sources,” Master Plumbers chief executive Greg Wallace says.

The country has seen a cold and wet start to July, with warnings to expect temperatures to drop further as a subantarctic system moves in. Colder weather puts more demand on the power grid and can lead to energy shortages like the one experienced in May when New Zealanders were called on to conserve electricity following a sudden cold snap. 

Consistent with New Zealand’s transition to a net zero carbon economy by 2050, the use of fossil gas in New Zealand is to be phased out by 2035. There is an increasing reliance on electricity and the country is importing record amounts of coal to generate electricity as gas supplies decline and there is not enough renewable electricity to meet growing demand.

Mr Wallace says gas is an effective alternative energy source. “Exciting advances have been made in the field of renewable gas, and low and zero carbon gases, such as hydrogen and biogas, are already being developed and trialed for energy supply in New Zealand and abroad.”

He says the Government needs to signal it will invest in renewable gas technology and infrastructure so manufacturers and suppliers continue to promote and develop specialised renewable gas appliances.

Mr Wallace says the commitment needs to flow through to the training sector as well. “In order to upskill existing gasfitters to work with renewable gas, a robust training system must be created and enforced.

“Uncertainty around gas has already resulted in a reduced number of signups for gasfitting apprenticeships. It is imperative efforts are made to support the workforce as it will be needed to maintain and service future renewable gas infrastructure and appliances.”

He says gas continues to play a vital role in building resilience and diversity in the country’s national energy supply. “The Government needs to acknowledge this importance by providing confidence to the industry and investing in the development of renewable gas.” 

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