Coal use rises as renewable electricity generation falls

Published: 09 September 2021

Low hydro lake storage levels combined with a tight gas supply led to a big jump in the use of coal to generate electricity in the second quarter of 2021 compared to a year earlier, according to the New Zealand Energy Quarterly released today by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The latest New Zealand Energy Quarterly covers the period April-June 2021 and provides quarterly data and analysis on energy supply, demand, prices and associated greenhouse gas emissions. 

“The constraints of low lake levels and gas supply were evident again in the June quarter with electricity generated from coal at its highest level since June 2008,” says Daniel Griffiths, MBIE Manager of Markets, Evidence and Insights.

“The share of electricity generated from renewable sources for the June 2021 quarter was 75% which was 6% points lower than the same quarter a year earlier.

“Hydro generation was down 5% on a year earlier, while electricity generated from gas fell by 13%. Coal, which usually makes up around 6% of the generation share, contributed more than 12% this quarter.

“Coal imports also increased with the 632,200 tonnes brought into the country the highest quarterly figure on record. Elsewhere, geothermal generation fell by 5% after an outage at the Kawerau power station in June while 652GWh came from wind generation – a record for a June quarter.

“Nationally, demand for electricity rose by 6% on the same quarter in 2020, bouncing back to pre-COVID-19 levels seen in June 2019.

“The price of regular petrol rose 6% from the first quarter of the year and is now 16% higher than a year earlier as the hike in international crude prices flows through to the pump,” said Griffiths.

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