Media release: Government ignores own experts to push 100% renewables

Media Release
11 September, 2020

Wellington, 11 September 2020 – The Government’s commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 goes against the advice of its own independent experts, says the New Zealand Initiative.

In April 2019, the Government’s Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC) found the 100% renewables policy will:

  • raise the price of electricity by 14% for households and 39% for industry
  • effectively raise emissions by preventing greater emissions reductions elsewhere
  • hit low-income households hardest, and
  • make blackouts up to 100 times more likely.

“In short, the Government’s own experts found 100% renewables is expensive, regressive, lowers energy security, and harms the environment,” says Matt Burgess, a consultant to the New Zealand Initiative and author of Switched On!, a review of the 100% renewables policy.

“Lose-lose policies like 100% renewables should be dropped. Instead, the Government has doubled down on its commitment to the policy,” says Mr Burgess.

New Zealand’s electricity system generates 84% of electricity from renewables, the third-highest share in the world. Renewables are expected to generate 95% of New Zealand’s electricity by 2035 under current policy settings.

Since electricity is already green, New Zealand’s main pathway to lower emissions is expected to be electrification – the transition of transport, agriculture and industrial heating processes from fossil fuels to electricity.

“What makes the 100% renewables policy so counterproductive is that higher electricity prices will prevent far greater emissions reductions via electrification.”

“As the ICCC said, you can have 100% renewables, or electrification, but not both. Yesterday, the Government announced it is doing both.”

“What is the point of appointing expert committees if their advice is to be contradicted?”

Analysis by the ICCC showed pumped hydro and battery storage are expensive ways to cut emissions.

“Far from preventing power price increases, the Onslow scheme risks adding to pressure on power prices.”

Read more:
Matt Burgess' report Switched On! Achieving a green, affordable and reliable energy future is available here.


Matt Burgess is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact him directly on 021 488 268.

Linda Heerink, Communications Officer
P: 04 494 9104 / 021 172 8036

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