Retirement of Huntly power generator

Energy News has announced an inaugural survey of the electricity industry. The headline promised to test the market on “renewables, smart grid, Huntly retirement, Brownlee reforms”.

Some folk saw “Huntly retirement” and took it to mean the station was about to be closed. Understandable, but that’s not the case. The first clue was in the description of the survey:

Key topics covered in the inaugural survey include the options to replace Genesis Energy’s coal-fired Huntly units

So the unadorned “Huntly retirement” becomes “replacement of Huntly coal generation” – not the whole plant, just the coal-fired parts of it! Big difference. It’s covered in the first survey question:

1. With the impending retirement of the Huntly coal-fired units (1000MW) this raises some questions around generation fuel mix. What should replace it? Taking an NZ Inc view and thinking about transmission capacity, dry-year risk, fuel diversity, smart grids and fuel availability what do you think Huntly should be replaced with as it’s phased out?

  • One new mainframe gas-fired generator (assume gas availability)
  • Lots of small sub-25MW generation
  • 8 mid-sized, geographically positioned gas-fired peakers (assume gas availability)
  • Demand response and energy efficiency
  • Solar PV and battery storage at a residential level
  • Scale renewables

Industry insiders wouldn’t have been confused but this clears things up for the rest of us. When they’re filling out their survey, let’s hope those insiders aren’t persuaded that avoiding about 1 °C of warming is better than the multifarious benefits brought to us by public power reticulation. In other words, let’s hope they choose a properly reliable source of base-load power generation like gas, oil, coal or nuclear. Oh, that’s right, nuclear’s verboten in God’s Own. – h/t Robin Pittwood