The future of Huntly?

Last week I spent a fascinating day at the Huntly power station meeting workers and researching one of our biggest contributors to climate change. With Genesis next on the asset sale block I wanted to visit their major asset and learn more about what may be our best known power station. It truly is a behemoth with 6 different generating units, chimneys 150m high, hundreds of workers, and miles and miles of steel and pipes. It has a varied fuel source and can run on coal, gas or diesel and as I discovered, potentially wood chips too.


Huntly has played an important role in our electricity grid since it was commissioned in 1982 but now is the time to be discussing its future. It’s larger than any hydro dam, generating about 1400 MW, but it’s expensive to run and has a  phenomenal appetite for coal. Huntly alone is responsible for around half of our greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, which since 1990 have increased 463%! Huntly is a major reason why we now have a smaller percentage of renewables than we did in 1980 or 1990.

Despite a new 25 year consent I believe Huntly’s days are numbered. It’s a symbol of the ‘think big’ centralised fossil fuel-dominated electricity system that served us reasonably well for its time, but like the faded and peeling paint inside the station, it is an old-fashioned reminder times have changed. New Zealand’s future is to think smaller, smarter and more efficiently in terms of energy and actively plan for 100% renewables in wet years. New Zealand is blessed with a wealth of clean energy options from greater geothermal baseload, hydro storage linked with wind, small scale distributed generation from solar to demand side reductions. We don’t have to burn fossil fuels for electricity anymore and moving towards 100% clean electricity makes good economic, branding, and climate sense. 100% renewable electricity is possible, affordable, and desirable…we just need to get on with it. Without a price on carbon or any Government leadership pundits seem to agree if the Tiwai aluminium smelter closes, Huntly will be one of the first cabs off the rank for closure.

It is a large-scale and high-visibility symbol of New Zealand’s energy history, and also a public prompt that we can look to the future and embrace clean energy and build sustainable jobs in this thriving trillion-dollar sector.

Do you think Huntly has a future?

56 Comments Posted

  1. Any control system based on frequency cannot respond to local conditions as the frequency is the same throughout each island. Therefore Wellington loads might disconnect even though Auckland needs the power and the lines into Auckland are overloaded. The use of frequency sensing is a useful tool for handling sudden changes, but local price signals sent to the local consumers provides a much better way of controlling the whole system.

    Unfortunately demand management is only part of the solution. There still needs to be enough despatchable supply to keep the lights on even if the water heating is turned off.


  2. AUFLS doesn’t work exclusively on frequency (any more); it works mostly on rate of change of frequency, which actually reflects grid imbalance. Same as customer boxes would in the proposed scenario.

    I’m talking cycle by cycle response here; there are no contactors, there are solid state controls and VSDs. Ripple control is not a model for a responsive load situation. This is so much faster.

    The internet provides a core connectivity role, it sets the parameters of the customers demand management boxes, provides NTP time sync (enabling long term frequency measurement to a few decimal places), and of course transporting billing and crediting information.

    My first goes at theorising this kind of thing back in 2008 I thought the internet would be the ideal control conduit; that was then and this is now, frequency response is such a better approach. Work directly with the source data, not a processed, delayed version of it.

    I’m not the only nutter pushing this; search the IEEE library, ther have been proposals going back years. Theres a Wikipedia aricle. There is this pretty web site, sadly not updated for a while. This is going to happen. It really is. The only question is when and who benefits. The problem really isn’t technology, is vested interests, who really dont want to see a smart responsive grid, because it is financially disruptive. (Why? Bacuase grid and generation investment is required to handle the peak load, yet the average actual load is much smaller. Operating costs are based on actual loads, whereas capital investment and return on such is based on peak load. Thus the bigger the peak, the more money is involved, both in investment, and in returns, whilst holding the return percentages constant so as to make the consumer costs look reasonable)

    This is one of those areas where New Zealand could become a model.

  3. The use of frequency to control loads in real time under normal conditions won’t work. The frequency averages 50Hz, so there is no average control signal to control the loads. Phase sensing might work (comparing the time on an electric clock with say GPS time), but the easiest approach is to let consumers receive the price signal from the system operator via internet (and whatever local data connection you choose). This signal must reach beyond the metering unit. The consumer’s equipment must be able to receive the signal, and this might be a dishwasher (via wifi) or a building air conditioning unit (possibly via ethernet), or an electric car charger, or just a hot water cylinder via a relay.


  4. I also suspect we are going to have to upgrade the HVDC link even further, with a second set of pylons. Having 1400MW of supply to the North Island dependent on each of the multitude of pylons between Benmore and Heywards is quite a high risk to manage.

    Indeedy. The impact of the loss of HVDC link was demonstrated on the 12th of November when a part of the North Island was out (shedded by AUFLS) when the HVDC link failed during testing, with a GW going north [Notice of Testing] [Notice of Under-Frequency Event]. And that was a techncial failure; it wasn’t that long ago a few plylons were blown over…

  5. Trevor29 notes:

    dbuckley – that FCDM sounds like Automatic Under Frequency Load Shedding…

    Not really.

    AUFLS is a grid protection mechanism used to (attempt to) prevent total grid collapse. Those customers on the shedded side of the protection have their supply interrupted, and the interruption counts in the SAIFI and SAIDI stats. Customers suffering an outage receive no recompense, other than getting to vent on the six o’clock news.

    FCDM works to prevent an under-frequency event requiring an AUFLS response, by reducing demand, and, in effect, contribute a bit to the frequency stability of the grid. The customers that partake in the scheme are paid for their participation. There are no outages, and thus nothing that counts towards the reliability statistics.

    As I said, this is just a start, but it is an example of where a useful customer response can be provided with the right tariffing and price signals. What I really want is tariffing allowing widespread use variable load governed by grid frequency. So every hot water heater, swimming pool, vehicle charger, storage heater, industrial heat, building aircon all becomes part of the solution of frequency stability, not part of the problem, as it is today.

    That variability is what will allow widespread use of intermittent generation without the need for increasing amounts of spinning reserve. Thats what is really important.

    Will all this get rid of Huntly? I very much doubt it, Huntly is a very handy thing to have in one’s back pocket, but it should reduce its running hours and average output (and thus emissions).

  6. Draco

    It would help a lot to actually get what you linked to correct before criticising others. AR4 is not the latest report. The technical summary of AR5 says:
    “Global mean sea level rise for 2081–2100 (relative to 1986–2005) for the RCPs will likely be in the 5–95% ranges derived from CMIP5 climate projections in combination with process-based models (medium confidence), i.e., 0.26–0.54 m (RCP2.6), 0.32–0.62 m (RCP4.5), 0.33–0.62 m (RCP6.0), 0.45–0.81 (RCP8.5) m (see Table TS.1 and Figure TS.15 for RCP forcing). For RCP8.5 the range at 2100 is 0.53–0.97 m. Confidence in the projected likely ranges comes from the consistency of process-based models with observations and physical understanding. It is assessed that there is currently insufficient evidence to evaluate the probability of specific levels above the likely range.”
    This looks to be 95% confident of less than 10cm per decade under all scenarios, so your numbers are not supported by the literature, the models or extrapolating actual measured data. As the preceding discussion was about Kiribati, Here is what NOAA have the data as: which is about 6cm by 2100.

    With regards to your post of 14:17 yesterday and solkta’s as well, what confidence can we have in anything you write?

  7. Trevor

    Looking at the detailed generation data – very rarely are Benmore and Aviemore even now running at rating. Remember in Benmore was baseloaded, it would only be about 250MW. Waitaki generally does one flow change a day, probably consent constrained. Waitaki is probably just getting new runners that are more efficient to increase their rating, like MRP are doing on all the Waikato dams. I note that the data shows that most of the dams on the Waikato are also two shifting where they can, but they are a lot more consent constrained.
    If you want to put in more peaking generation (Like Maraetai II) and a whole new transmission line with the latter costs now about $10M a kilometre, how are they going to be paid for? There are also a lot of technical problems with the load a long way from generation. Nothing insurmountable but they also cost money to fix. The lines will also mean a lot of tree felling and access roads built in Conservation land, as well as opposition from local landowners who will have the lines in their view. It is hard to square that with the Green’s opposition to other power proposals and their statements that the power prices to the consumer won’t go up. You aren’t trying to square the circle are you.

  8. ChrisM – thanks for the info. I haven’t been to Huntly, so I wasn’t sure about the railway line. I am surprised they deliver the coal by truck.

    You are right in saying that the problem is north of Taupo, but the solution could be to enhance the grid to allow more of the variations to be taken up by the power stations further south. If Benmore and Aviemore are already operating across their full range, then perhaps they should be upgraded to increase their peak output power. I know that the next (and last) station – Waitaki – is already being upgraded slightly.

    I also suspect we are going to have to upgrade the HVDC link even further, with a second set of pylons. Having 1400MW of supply to the North Island dependent on each of the multitude of pylons between Benmore and Heywards is quite a high risk to manage.


    PS: I missed your post earlier – do you log in before posting?

  9. BJ,

    Problem the average Joe Hunt has is that the science does not match his world experience. Science say sea levels are rising yet, no where Joe Hunt goes is it visible. So who does Joe Hunt believe, unseen science or his own eyes?

    It is a fundamental problem compounded by the Kiribati type stories where not ALL the facts are presented (over population, stupid causeways, etc.). For Kiribati to disappear beneath the waves requires a two meter sea level rise, something the Joe Hunt simply does not see locally. Thus he questions the “science”.

    If you are trying to get a message across, the first rule of marketing is DONT RUBBISH THE OPPOSITION. Didn’t spend corporate days in sales and marketing to learn that lesson.

    You by calling the ‘non believers” suckers or fools is doing just that, rubbishing the opposition.

    Offer alternatives and the benefits to the change, don’t ridicule.

    You may “know” a lot of scientists but do you know any Joe Hunts? When you get back to Wellington spend some time at the Mana marina and talk to the water users there and ask them if they have seen any sea level changes.

    You might be interesting to hear from the average Joe Hunt instead of “scientists”.

  10. People who play this game by reading and responding to the lies of the denialist shills who are PAID for that obfuscation, are suckers Gerrit. It is a common problem in New Zealand, the lack of real skepticism when something seems to be good, when something for nothing is offered, when the guy on the TV offers a special deal…

    You read through the history of CEI and Tobacco and Lindzen and the oil companies and Heartland. The lying for ideological reasons is happening too, but the lying about climate is also bought and paid for propaganda, purposely presented to prevent action being taken.

    People who believe liars might be “just gullible” but when the liars are so clearly exposed and the belief is still present, the word “sucker” does apply. If you don’t like it you have to experience a bit more paranoia and real skepticism about the motives of the participants.

  11. Gerrit – I have known a lot of scientists. I have not ever met one who was “promoting” anything but the science. Well, one was an born again Christian, but in a benign sort of way. If you understand that a consensus of science isn’t about the scientists, you get the right understanding of the situation.

    The problem Gerrit, is that there is no “alternative discussion” in the science. There is no competing theory that explains the data properly. There is no refutation of the theory. YOU are claiming based on a sample size too small and too localized to be even vaguely appropriate, that the sea isn’t rising. This is in contradiction to the global data. Parts of Scandinavia are experiencing tide gauge values that dont reflect the global reality.

    Your observations at the boat ramp are not adequate to back the argument you offer.

    I will point out further, that you will NEVER see higher tide marks at the boat ramp, as the rate which the increase occurs is slower than the rate the tide marks are established. When that ceases to be true (and it will later in this century), there won’t be anything we can do at all.

  12. dbuckley – that FCDM sounds like Automatic Under Frequency Load Shedding which is standard in New Zealand. It provides a backup against sudden loss of supply or generation, such as when most of Huntly was disconnected when a circuit breaker tripped that shouldn’t have and overloaded another one.

    What we need is price-driven demand management that encourages consumers to reduce their load when it is expensive to supply them with power, such as at peak times when the wind isn’t blowing, without changing the system frequency.


  13. Gerrit must have not seen the bit in the IPCC AR-5 report:
    “In agreement with climate models, satellite data and hydrographic observations show that sea level is not rising uniformly around the world. In some regions, rates are up to several times the global mean rise, while in other regions sea level is falling.”

    So it could well be that the Auckland sea levels haven’t changed on the slipways, either because of other changes that are keeping the sea level down locally, or because the land has been lifted up over the last 50 years.

    Which is why sensible informed people look at what is happening all over the world and not just rely on local observations.


    PS: Thanks for the link Draco.

  14. dbuckley The problem with demand management is it has little effect on energy consumption. It just spreads the load at some inconvenience.

    Absolutely! Yes!! Demand management is what enables non-dispatchable generation to become a more significant part of the generation mix, without needing enormous frequency keeping reserves. And that’s always been the killer, because of the intermittentcy of wind and solar, with the traditional paradigm of matching generation to load, as the percentage of intermittents increase there is no corresponding decrease in need for traditional generation. This is the experience the world over. This is usually portrayed as the failure of renewable generation.

    Demand management (more accurately, real time demand management) can break that cycle. There is plenty of high inertial loads that could be demand controlled. Anything with thermal inertia is game. Electric vehicle charging. For these kinds of loads, your “some inconvenience” pretty much dissapears.

    Smart metering, and most importantly, attractive tariffs will make this possible. The UK and USA are looking at this, we should be too.

    Though the theory is there indicating it should work, I don’t think there has been large scale domestic or commercial premises implementation of it.

    Once upon a time New Zealand had one of the most demand controlled grids in the world. Ok, it was not real time, in any sense, but it was enough to bend the established rules of power generation and transmission construction.

    Edited to add a link to the UK Grid Frequency Control Demand Management – a real example in current use, although not a very good one. But its a start.

  15. solkta,

    Cans stand real questions being asked so you default back to name calling.

    Yep, that is your (and BJ’s) level of counter argument.

    Those not off the faith are all fools and suckers. We (as in you and BJ), the converted followers and all knowing, know best and will brook no alternative discussion.

    So my 0.1% (sea level rise) versus 99.9% (man made environmental disatsters and over population) stand.

    Cheers for that.

  16. So Solkta, care to rationalise percentages. 0.1% sea level treat versus 99.9% man made structures of imported concrete degrading the environment plus gross over population.

  17. Gerrit has been very busy cherry picking his link re Kiribati. He chooses not to quote the introduction to the article:

    The stereotypical image of Kiribati is of classic pacific atolls, palm trees, coral reefs and people living a simple lifestyle, able to fish in abundant seas. But it is threatened by rising sea levels and facing the full force of climate change.

    All that is real, but in addition this island nation is one of the most populated places on earth.

    (my emphisis)

  18. Kerry,

    Neither, are you saying that the high water mark has risen in those places?

    Have launched from beaches and ramps all over the Haurki Gulf, Manukau Harbour, Firth of Thames, Kaipara Harbour, Kawhia Harbour, etc. and not a single instances of higher tide marks over 50 years of observations.

    Have seen beach erosions due to wind and spring tides and sinking wharfs due to short piles, but no change in the high water mark.

    If you want to see a sinking wharf have alook at the one (name escapes me) where they are shipping iron sand from in Auckland. A stockpile of more then 12000 ton on the wharf and she sinks into the mud.

    Harbour bridge pylons are a good indication. High tide not moved at all since being built.

  19. 2.4mm/year 3.2mm/year from satellite measurements

    Both are recent sea level trend measurements. If you go back to 1870, the sea level rise over more than a century averages out to around Roman’s 0.2-0.3mm/year. However looking at 19th century trends isn’t much use when considering the effects of 20th century CO2 emissions.


  20. BJ,

    Or maybe we should call you Bishop BJ?

    Your evangelical seal is showing through. Maybe not calling other people suckers would enable a greater conversion rate to your faith?

    Glad to see that your unfaltering faith to the global warming paid propagandists is righteously complete. Not even an inkling of doubt that the people paid to promote global warming might just be ever so slightly biased? After all if they were not strident missionaries their funding would be cut and livelyhood at risk.

    Global warming forecasting is now an industry that has totally captured you in its cult like embrace.

    Absolutely no alternative reasoning must be allowed to alter your devotion to your faith.

    Excuse us while we, the unwashed and suckered, look at all the evidence with a unfettered mind and make decisions based on ALL the presented facts. Not just those presented by the global warming paid missionaries.

    People like solkta (and no doubt you as well) have absolute faith that the paid global warming missionaries pulpit sermon about rising sea levels are threatening low lying coral atolls in the pacific is totally true.

    When the actual sinking of the islands is more rightly attributed to mismanagement of the island environment and infrastructure, plus gross over population (read my link pertaining to the Kiribati or Marshall Islands group in my comment above).

  21. Sorry Roman, I have examined the source, looked at the calculations and then repeated the effort myself just to be sure I wasn’t being suckered, because it sounded absurd to me. It isn’t absurd. The energy is equivalent.

    Then I wend to the further trouble of working out the thermal capacity of the ocean and the temperature rise expected in the deep ocean based on those numbers, because shouldn’t we see more heating in the ocean as a result? Well no. It is a VERY big ocean, so the temperature rise matches up well enough given the crudity of my methods.

    You however, are a sucker period. You’ve been lied to by paid propagandists and you’ve bought every word.

    Planet is warming. We are doing it. End of story.

  22. One of Huntly’s problems is that coal (or wood) fired power stations are inherently inefficient. Given that the time we most need the power from the coal fired units is during the winter, a more efficient option would be a combined heat and power (CHP) plant located where winter heating is required, such as beside a rest home, retirement village or hospital. However as such sites only have a limited heating need, each CHP unit would need to be somewhat smaller than Huntly’s 250MW units. This would also solve the cooling water issue. For limited winter use, the fuel could be wood chips rather than coal.

    However I suspect the CHP units would cost too much to be economical.


  23. Solkta,

    Kiribati is sinking into the sea due to over population and irresponsible sea wall development.

    All that is real, but in addition this island nation is one of the most populated places on earth. Current estimates suggest around 110,000 people live here, and half of these in South Tarawa – a chain of small islands, sharing a lagoon and coral reefs now linked by concrete causeways topped with a dusty road.

    ……”As a coastal engineer I would never recommend sea walls. There are a range of offshore devices that can dissipate the waves and soft solutions such as planting mangroves which encourage the formation of new land.”

    The causeways themselves can be considered the greatest environmental disaster, as they block the flow of water between the island’s lagoon and the ocean.

    Without the ocean’s washing effect the lagoon has become heavily polluted. There are serious problems with domestic rubbish human and animal excrement entering the waters. Bacterial infections and diarrhoea have the potential to be life threatening.

    Stupidity of people has caused the island chain to sink under its own pollution and over population. The lagoon was cut off from the sea and is now a festering pond.

    Still I guess one can take a simplistic view and blame it on localised rising sea levels.


    Rangitoto was formed by a series of eruptions between 550 and 600 years ago. The eruptions occurred in two episodes, 10–50 yrs apart, and are thought to have lasted for several years during the later shield-forming episode….

    In 2013, scientists said new studies showed Rangitoto had been much more active in the past than previously thought, suggesting it had been active on and off for around 1000 years before the final eruptions around 550 years ago….

    The volcano is not expected to become active again, although future eruptions are likely within the volcanic field….

  25. Some people who would disagree with Gerrit’s “observations”.

    “I say ‘welcome to climate change’ when people come here,” said President Loek whose home island of Buoj has almost been washed away in the last few years. “We will not stop telling people that it is a real issue for humanity. We will be the first to feel it, but it will come to them and they should realise it.”

    “This is the last resort, there’s no way out of this one,” Mr Tong said.

    “Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages.”

  26. solkta,

    I guess 800 years since Rangitoto lifted itself from the Hauraki Gulf can be called recent.

    Depends on how pedantic one wants to be, I guess, when forming an opinion on stability.

    Maybe you can call up a Ken Ring prediction of when the next eruption will take place?

    After all we want to be ready, no?

    We not only need all disciples to move to higher ground but also to a safer place such as Taupo (oh no, the lake crater may erupt) or Wellington, (nope earthquake risk). Nelson? (no Tsunami risk).

  27. That is why we love the Hauraki Gulf, peaceful, stable, clean, green and level.

    Stable? The whole place is covered in relatively recent volcanoes. Rangitoto Island, Lake Pupuke, Mt Victoria, North Head, Mt Eden, Mt Wellington, One Tree Hill – just to name the most obvious.

  28. Trevor unless something has changed in the two months since I was last there, the railway line doesn’t go to Huntly Power Station.
    It also takes about 12 tonne of tree to give the same calorific value as a tonne of coal. On full burn,a unit would consume a truck and trailer’s worth of timber a minute. When one looks at the cost on energy value at the farm/mine gate, pulp timber is about four times the price of coal. Burning wood to make electricity would double the price of power. That is without taking into account the capital cost of conversion. Benmore and Aviemore are currently used almost exclusively for load following so they can’t do more. To replace the thermals the need is for two shifting stations north of Taupo, which the South Island stations are of no value. Most of the hydro stations have maximum change in flow rate conditions in their consents which combined with minimal storage, are quite restrictive. Consents ignore uncontrolled inflows. That is why Mercer can flood while Taupo Control Gates are at minimum flow.

    dbuckley The problem with demand management is it has little effect on energy consumption. It just spreads the load at some inconvenience. Though the theory is there indicating it should work, I don’t think there has been large scale domestic or commercial premises implementation of it. It is still unproven in the operational sense. The consumer has not had a change to judge the benefits and downsides associated with it. Any adoption should only be done as fast followers at the earliest. Leading the pack is too fraught with risks.

  29. Trevor29

    I guess you found it difficult to interpret what I wrote.

    We just need to go down to the beach and compare current high tide with that of 50 years ago to show no sea level change. Just one question – what was the weather doing 50 years ago when you took that reading?

    It was not one single reading 50 years ago, BUT 50 YEARS OF OBSERVATIONS (see I can shout as loud as BJ) leading to the statement that high water marks are no different than 50 years ago.

    Ask any boaty, beachcomber, surfer, etc. if the high tide is any higher now then when they first took to the water.

    The second point you miss is that if peoples self interpretation and own knowledge of high water marks contrasts with that the Greens are preaching, then a credibility issue arises.

    Also I am glad to know that with all the tectonic activity around the country changing the very landscape, your part of Auckland hasn’t moved up at all.

    That is why we love the Hauraki Gulf, peaceful, stable, clean, green and level.

    Hey even the Manukau is getting cleaner, recently had a pod of Orcas way up past the Waimarie inlet.

    Wonder how many Greens are moving to higher ground, any signs of an exodus yet? For surely if you truly believe that sea levels will rise then a shift to higher grounds must not just be preached but for the faithful to act upon.

  30. Solkta
    “no extra extreme weather events”
    Tui billboard?

    You are welcome to prove me wrong by quoting a Peer Reviewed Research paper which details all these “extra” extreme weather events over a period of 100 years +.
    My source is NOAA, BOM Australia, WMO. Heard of them?

  31. BJ
    “We continue to add heat to this planet at a rate of 4 atomic bombs PER second every second of every day of every year’

    Statements like this prove you are a sucker for a meme. It is certainly not good science.

  32. Perhaps some of you should read IPCC AR5 which clearly states sea level rise is minimal at 2-3 mm per decade (source Grace), the global temperature has only moved .26 C since 1979 (source UAH and RSS)and extreme weather events have actually declined!(source NOAA)
    Artic Ice extent has also recovered back to normal-in fact has frozen ahead of schedule (source Denmark Meteorological Institute)
    They also discuss how Climate Sensitivity is a lot lower than once thought. (1.3 C per century)
    You were quite happy to quote the IPCC before but now they have the latest science and have changed their tune , no…
    Its quite obvious that some of you are being fooled by disingenuous articles from various web sites, (ie SKS, WWF, press releases from Munich Re etc)and are ignoring the IPCC report now as it refutes many of your statements.
    As Abraham Lincoln once said “If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.”
    Judging by the mood of the press, the worm has turned against the hyperbole expressed by organisation’s like Greenpeace and The Greens are in danger of getting caught up in that. In fact we are seeing articles which tear most of your policies to bits.
    It maybe that such hyperbole suits your political purpose but as Abe Lincoln says, once confidence has gone, you cant get it back.
    Look at Obama- the latest polls (CNN- hardly biased against Obama) show 52% of the American people don’t trust him anymore.
    Up to you.

  33. As I’ve whined on about several times, the key that will unlock the wind and solar renewables lock is not carbon charging, but demand management.

    Carbon charging assumes that the problem is a financial one, and application of price signals will make everything rosy. But its a false nirvana. The problem is that electricity storage is hard and expensive, so we have to match supply to suit demand. But, if one instead matches demand to suit supply, then the dispatch problems evaporate.

    We can do this electrical lark better. But blunt tools like carbon charging aren’t the solution, they are a band aid. This is why other countries are dumping green tariffs all over the shop, they are a rip off and don’t actually deliver the change that is required.

    Demand management through smart metering and appropriate tariffs to encourage appropriate behaviour can make our generation mix more environmentally friendly. It can be done. But while people keep thinking that carbon charges are the answer, then it simply wont be. We’re (supposed to be) environmentalists – we need to think smarter.

  34. ChrisM said “If the Greens want to use hydro to support wind, then they have to allow the flows downstream of all the dams to fluctuate.” I think you have it the wrong way around. The wind farms are useful to support the hydro. And it is not necessary to have the flows downstream of ALL the dams fluctuating, just selected dams such as those on the Waitaki, although pretty much any natural river has fluctuations in water flow anyway. Demand management can also reduce the amount of variation required in the hydro output.


  35. ChrisM – “At times over the last five years however, 1400MW has been generated there. Usually on those frosty nights.” That would be the STILL frosty nights when the wind farms have low output?

    I doubt very much that the CO2 emissions from the logging trucks would be comparable to the CO2 from burning coal. And if you are worried about having to truck the wood twice, set up the chipper at Huntly or make it portable and set it up at the logging site. Doesn’t Huntly have access to the railway lines?


  36. Gerrit – thanks for the enlightenment. Now we know that the money spend on barometers and GPS references and long term computer averaged sea height measurements at those carefully selected locations around the world has all been wasted. We just need to go down to the beach and compare current high tide with that of 50 years ago to show no sea level change. Just one question – what was the weather doing 50 years ago when you took that reading? We wouldn’t want a storm surge to have affected your result back then? Also I am glad to know that with all the tectonic activity around the country changing the very landscape, your part of Auckland hasn’t moved up at all.


  37. BJ,

    The Sea level IS rising……….

    Where? Certainly not here in Auckland where the high tide mark on the many beaches and boat ramps is no higher then in previous years.

    Therein lies the Greens problem, no matter how loud you shout IT IS, IT IS, the people are not seeing the effect you are talking about.

    The general populace (I know you think we are just thick sheeple and if only we knew what you know) just shrug their shoulders when looking at a high tide mark that has not changed one cm in the last 50 years and think, jeez another loony.

    Was launching from Takapuna last weekend and the ramp still has the same drop off at low tide to hook the trailer, and still reaches the same line on the top of the ramp at high water it reached 30 years ago.

    Nothing has changed. Reality does not fit the mythical rising sea level meme.

  38. @Roman – Try Sweden, and British Columbia in Canada, both of which put real prices on Carbon and got real results. Australia had a Clayton’s tax and we have done the same, but it has been done and has worked and if we get our thumb out it can work here.

    Examining the effects of CO2 as you do simply fails, you aren’t actually looking at the science. The Sea level IS rising, the temperature IS increasing and both these primary effects will be increasing while the forcing due to the excess CO2 is in place. There are additional “extreme” weather events in terms of temperature excursions. It takes much longer to determine effects in terms of Hurricanes and Typhoons and Drought and Flood.

    We continue to add heat to this planet at a rate of 4 atomic bombs PER second every second of every day of every year that we keep the CO2 over 380 ppm. As long as it goes into the deep ocean, we’re fat (it is a big ocean), but that is something we know it does not do all the time.

    the latest science which clearly spells these things out as not happening

    Sorry, but whoever tells you that fairy story needs to stop lying. There isn’t any SCIENCE out there that tells you that it isn’t warming, or the sea isn’t rising. Some may cast doubt on the strength/number of Typhoons predictions but in terms of statistical relevance we need another half century of data on those things to come close to using that prediction.

    As for energy poverty, we are in no REAL trouble because we have massive hydro and wind resources relative to a far smaller population than the UK or Germany. We can make ourselves energy independent far more easily than they can. They are almost required by their circumstances to go back to using nukes for significant parts of their power.

    We don’t really NEED Huntly in its present form. Auckland does need some method of having and using stored energy though, and Huntly may still have a role to play in such things. Coal however, does not.

  39. Trevor
    Remember there are also open cycle GTs and a CCGT at Huntly running on gas. They all take different functions within the generation mix and cannot be regarded as direct substitutes. At times over the last five years however, 1400MW has been generated there. Usually on those frosty nights.
    The Drax experience shows wood burning isn’t viable without massive subsidies. There would also be massive cost changing the fuel storage and handling, boilers and ash system. All this for a plant that only takes on a hydrofirming role with no guaranteed generation. If nothing else, the truck fleet to take the fuel from the clearfelled forest to the chipper then on to the plant would negate any carbon savings.

  40. Gareth – can you explain how you reached this conclusion:
    “Huntly alone is responsible for around half of our greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, which since 1990 have increased 463%!”
    – given that Huntly was commissioned BEFORE 1990?


  41. Draco Tb – typical wind turbines have a capacity factor around 30%, so 2GW name-plate rated turbines would generate around 600MW averaged. In New Zealand, our wind farms generally do better than that achieving 40-50%, but that still gives only 1000MW, significantly less than Huntly’s maximum output.

    Spreading the turbines around helps even out their generation but there will still be times of low output – probably just when demand is highest. We need a reliable source of power to run the country, and wind doesn’t meet that need. Sure it helps keep the hydro lakes full, but we need more than just the wind farms to meet the North Island’s needs.

    Running one or two of Huntly’s coal burners on wood chips could be the answer to our dry-year winter needs.


  42. upgrade huntly with plasma technology and use our landfills and chemical dumps as energy source. clean up the environment in more ways than one all at once.

  43. Right now, Huntly is generating about 500MW and more is being generated from coal than from wind. Wind has not got cheaper, nor has not got more dispatchable. The turbines also kill endangered species.
    If the Greens want to use hydro to support wind, then they have to allow the flows downstream of all the dams to fluctuate. The undeveloped geothermal fields left, except Tauhara, are under protection orders. Will the Green break those? They also have to support massive price rises to the consumer as well as unreliability. Ask Germany or the UK, where industry is leaving for cheaper coal burning countries. I note those countries have found that permanent “green” jobs cost about $1M per employee and normally displace 2-3 other jobs. That is the reality, not some political slogan.

  44. Regional/rural New Zealand has never fully recovered from Rogernomics and subsequent policies that exported jobs and whole industries offshore. Extractive industies and monoculture farming have hollowed out rural communities. The only way of dealing with Huntly fairly, without creating a lot of ill feeling, is to direct money into regional community development. I’d recommend we look hard at repurposing this facility & if that isn’t possible, seriously backing sustainable businesses in the region. If we are to win rural support, we need a comprehensive regional development plan.

  45. So, Gareth, let me get this clear: when the Green party opposed both Project Aqua (520MW), and the Mokihunui hydro dam project (100MW), it was clearly in favour of burning coal and gas rather than building dams, as that was (and continues to be) the remaining option on the table.

    Now it seems you want Huntly to go; today, would the Green Party support both of those hydro proposals? Or would the apparent party line continued to be toed, and they would still be opposed?

  46. So,if you close down Huntly what jobs do you propose for the incumbent staff and indeed, the welfare of a whole town? So many of you politicians fluff on about alternative energy and everything and some of it is pertinent and well intentioned, but people want a definite plan as to what happens to them when the alternatives come in…if they do.
    Many of the people working at the “coal face”, irrespective of industry, are not always able to meet the criteria for other positions and vocations many of which are, or have gone, offshore anyway (cheaper overseas labour etc) or rampant technological advance (the new God that is sometimes forgetting it’s place, methinks) is increasing overall redundancies.Elections are next year. Y’all gotta have a truly workable plan not the airy proclamations.

  47. Are there any other Countries left in the world who put a price on Carbon Dioxide?
    Australia is cancelling theirs so doesn’t that leave us the only ones with an ETS?
    Considering CO2 is not causing; temps to rise dangerously, sea levels to rise, no extra extreme weather events etc, why are we ignoring the latest science which clearly spells these things out as not happening.
    The last thing we need is to end up like the energy mess the UK and Germany have got themselves into. Brownouts and thousands of poor dying from fuel poverty.
    But hey if you guys want to chain yourselves to outdated science then the consequences are that your credibility will suffer.

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