New Zealand’s last remaining coal fired power station, Huntly, was due to be shut in 2018. But after colluding with other power companies in closed-door meetings, Huntly’s owner, Genesis Energy, is reconsidering those plans. We say that’s a well bad idea: Genesis must get rid of this coal-belching dinosaur and #ShutHuntlyCoal.
Update: Genesis has announced that it will keep the coal burners going until 2022
Head on over to the Genesis Energy facebook page and let them know what you think.
Here’s 10 reasons to shut the Huntly coal burners …
1.What The Pope said
Coal is one of the worst carbon polluters. In June 2015, Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, warned of “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems” and “serious consequences for all of us” if humanity fails to act on climate change. He later said that; “Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation”. Currently, NZ is one of the worst emitters by population in the world. High time to shut Huntly!
2. Coal kills people
Coal burning emits all sorts of nasties including heavy metals like Mercury, which end up on the land and in our bodies. These can make us sick, and are known for causing cancers. The particles from coal fired power stations also pollute the air and cause respiratory disease. There are compelling statistics from the The American Lung Association and the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) stating that 13,000 people die each year from coal pollution, and it causes 20,000 heart attacks and over 200,000 asthma attacks in the US. Impacts are worse for the people living right alongside coal burners. We’d all live healthier happier lives without Huntly.
3. Coal is Inefficient
Despite what Big Industry might have you believe, as well as being dirty, coal is actually as inefficient as it gets when it comes to creating energy. In 2013, coal produced just 3% of New Zealand’s electricity but accounted for a shocking 28% of the industry’s CO2 pollution. That’s plain nasty!
4. Coal blocks a cooler future
Huntly staying open blocks the construction of new wind and other renewable energy projects in the near future. Not only are these way more modern and stylish, but they also help to combat climate change and urgently cool the planet to safe levels. 2015 was the hottest year on record and it’s going to keep getting worse (at a scary rate) unless we shut old coal dinosaurs like Huntly.
5. Coal is expensive
*These costs are from analysis in the USA. New Zealand figures are not publically available and will differ slightly because of the scale of geothermal here and the need to ship wind parts from overseas. Citation: Median cost of electricity (per MWh) of Wind is $38.50, for Geothermal, $58.5 and Coal is $75.00USD
Coal doesn’t only cost us when it comes to our health and the climate, but it’s also more expensive for electricity users. Wind, for example, only costs about* $38.50 per MWh compared to coal’s $75.00MWh – one reason for this is that the wind itself is free once you’ve built the wind farm. This is all clear evidence that clean energy is cheaper in the long run, and we do not need Huntly.
6. Huntly keeps Auckland dirty
Did you know that Auckland gets the majority of its electricity from gas and coal?! Shocking isn’t it! Far from being clean and green and renewable, only a fraction of our beloved national metropolis’ power comes from clean energy. Huntly is a big part to blame for that. If Aucklanders want a future with snazzy electric cars and oh-so-shiny electric trains, they’d better get some clean juice to fill them, right?! Turning the lights out at Huntly would go a long way to cleaning up Auckland.
*Citation: “Low Carbon Auckland” March 2014 Auckland council p33
7. Coal is bad for workers
In Indonesia, where a proportion of Huntly’s coal has comes from, there are appalling safety standards in much of the mining industry and terrible health outcomes for mine workers. In 2009, 32 miners were killed in an Indonesian coal mine blast. If we free ourselves from this dirty fuel we also stop being complicit in the human harm caused by this inherently unsafe and unnecessary industry. We are in full support of a just transition for workers and communities to clean energy jobs.
8. Huntly increases the risk of the lights going off
Contrary to energy industry propaganda, Huntly actually reduces our energy security because it is a major single point of failure
- Huntly going down would result in a voltage collapse which could lead to a cascading failure, causing blackouts across the North Island. This happened in 2011, and inside sources say it came close to taking down the nation’s electricity grid.
- During the 2011 incident, Huntly was only half-on (500MW generation), and the failure caused a blackout for 200,000 people.
- If Huntly was replaced with various smaller distributed generation sources like wind farms and increased solar, then the risk of this sort of power failure would be greatly reduced.
9. This is NZ, WTF!?
We are meant to be clean, green NZ – not to mention 50% of our jobs and 70% of exports rely on this reputation! The world sees us as this lush, beautiful, middle-earth type place. So let’s make it so.
10. There are more jobs in renewables
Clean energy would create four times more jobs than fossil fuels. With 236,963 in NZ people currently unemployed, it’s a complete no brainer. Huge local job opportunities will be gained, pollution will decrease and our global green reputation will be strengthened.
Had enough? Sign the petition to shut Huntly