Following some torrid debates in Parliament, with Energy & Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods, the National Party spokesman on Energy issues Jonathan Young asked for Government support to the proposed natural gas fed plant that 8 Rivers wanted to build in Taranaki.
Young claimed Dr Woods that while she claimed she has never said she wouldn't support it, however she added the Government has sent a clear message on the future of oil and gas in NZ.
Young, who is the MP for New Plymouth, had an opinion piece in the Taranaki Daily News after the Government used its numbers to verify there would be no new petroleum permits issued for offshore or for onshore areas outside of the Taranaki.
If the issue around climate change is emissions, he said, then one might think the Government would be encouraged to learn that the proposed 8 Rivers facility “is built around the world's highest-efficiency hydrogen production process coupled with a cutting-edge natural gas power generation system that includes inherent 100% carbon capture.”
(Greenpeace, which is high on anti-development issues, and low on financial logic, ran a series of announcements debunking the 8 Rivers proposal).
Young urged the Government to rethink its rationale of the exploration ban, especially concerning NZ's “vulnerable energy security and affordability.”
He claimed Woods' “ambiguous answer” to whether she was for or against an emissions free natural gas plant, only creates the perception that the Government prefers abolition rather innovation in the hydrocarbon sector.
Young said there are several things that need to happen to facilitate an 8 Rivers type plant to be built in Taranaki.
Firstly, the Government needs to enable carbon capture and storage, so that natural gas can become a truly clean fuel. This will require some regulations put in place. None currently exist.
Secondly, the future exploration ban needs to be repealed, as gas reserves are decreasing and need increasing.
“National has pledged to do this and I will be leading the charge on this. We fundamentally disagree with the Government's ban at every level, be that lack of consultation, lack of scientific evidence, lack of economic analysis and lack of democratic process.
“Gas is needed not just for industrial users, but it is important for our electricity generation.”
Young said an 8 Rivers size project needs a guaranteed supply for gas, as does Methanex Corporation.
“Production from both Methanex and an 8 Rivers plant, would displace higher emitting products that are currently on the market, with methanol also contributing significantly in reducing emissions in liquid fuels around the world whether that is land transport or sea.
“More successful carbon capture and storage would enable gas peaker power stations to help us reduce our emissions footprint in electricity generation.”
He said the 100% renewable electricity goal by 2035 being promoted by the current Government is not as widely supported in the electricity sector as Young believed the cost of achieving that would increase electricity prices substantially.
That would deter industries transitioning to more expensive electricity. In turn, that slows down a transition to a low-emission economy.
“Natural gas electricity generation needs to stay as part of our energy mix.” Young added, pointing out he has discussed this with over 150 energy sector leaders in the past year. The overwhelming majority see a future for natural gas in NZ.
Sources: stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news; nzresources.com