New Zealand’s capital city of Auckland has announced a major expansion of its power generation capacity as it pushes for more power from renewables to reduce its reliance on coal and fossil fuels.
The city-state announced in its capital development plan this month that it will expand its power grid by 40MW in 2020 to meet demand for the first time in more than 30 years.
It will also expand its coal-fired power plant by up to 40MW to meet its new targets to reduce carbon emissions.
Auckland Mayor Paula Bennett said the city’s new power plant would be the first of its kind in New Zealand.
“Our city’s population has grown to more than 1.5 million people, and we need to be able to produce electricity, we need it at the peak, and so the power plant will be an important part of that,” she said.
Auckland has been aiming to increase its renewable energy capacity by 20 per cent by 2020, and has invested heavily in the expansion of the city-region’s power grid, building a new power station at Ravenswox in the centre of the town.
The power plant is being built in response to a number of New Zealand power station accidents.
Last year, the Queenstown power station in the north of the island collapsed during a fire and killed 40 people, including seven firefighters.
The previous year, another fire at Ravenwox led to the deaths of two firefighters.
This year’s plant will replace one that collapsed last year.
The new plant will not be operational for several years.
Mayor Bennett said a new Ravensworn power station would be a symbol of the progress New Zealand had made in reducing its carbon emissions since it joined the Paris climate accord last year, and would be an example of what could be achieved if New Zealand continued to build and expand its electricity grid.
New Zealand’s carbon emissions per person fell from 842 tonnes in 2012 to 605 tonnes in 2015, but are still the highest in the world.
The country has pledged to meet the Paris agreement by 2025.
More than 70 per cent of New South Wales is covered by renewable energy, and the state has committed to doubling its solar power capacity by 2020.
Bennett said the new power facility was also a testament to the strong support the city had received from the public since the announcement.
She said the Mayor had been pleased to receive the support of all the local and national political parties, including the Greens and National, as well as business leaders, as the council was taking a lead in the effort to reduce emissions.
It was hoped the new plant would allow the city to meet more ambitious targets set out by the country’s climate change action plan.
Read moreNew Zealanders are increasingly embracing renewable energy sources, with the state-owned utility, RWE, announcing it would invest more than $2bn in solar power over the next three years, including a $1.4bn investment in the city of Dunedin.
The utility said this would allow it to reduce electricity demand in the region and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.