Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Minister sinks ‘hugely wasteful’ Lake Onslow hydro scheme

The Government has announced it will scrap the $16 billion Lake Onslow pumped hydro scheme, with new Energy Minister, Simeon Brown declaring the project as “hugely wasteful”.

The Ardern/Hipkins Government had backed the battery project to protect against hydroelectricity shortages and help create stability in the energy market. 

On Sunday, Minister Brown (pictured, centre) declared the project sunk, likening support for it as “pouring money down the drain” at a time when New Zealand needs to rein in spending and focus on an economic rebuild.

“After I instructed officials of my expectations on Friday, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment confirmed all work on the scheme has ceased and decommissioning is set to begin,” Mr Brown said.   

“On top of its $16 billion price tag, the Lake Onslow scheme would run into likely issues with consenting and it wouldn’t be delivered for at least another decade.  

“Industry experts warned that if the scheme went ahead it would have a chilling effect on the pipeline of renewable electricity generation New Zealand needs to reach our climate goals,” he said.

To drive investment in renewable energy, he said the Government would instead cut red tape for developers.

“Demand is forecast to increase by two-thirds by 2050 and we need to build enough generating capacity to meet that demand. To do this, we’re going to need to significantly increase the amount of clean energy we generate from solar, wind and geothermal.”

“Our decision to cancel Lake Onslow, and our commitment to make it easier to consent wind, solar and geothermal energy projects, will give industry certainty in the direction the Government is heading and greater confidence to invest in more energy production in New Zealand,” the Minister said.

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