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Mid Canterbury 'already equipped' to decarbonise

Mid Canterbury 'already equipped' to decarbonise
Work is already under way to decommision Ashburton Hospital's coal burner with heat pumps powered by water sourced from beneath the hospital grounds.

Shutting down the district’s coal burners will reduce the same amount of emissions as removing all vehicles in the district, EA Networks boss Roger Sutton says.
The Mid-South Canterbury region’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels, and what it needs to do to transition to a low emissions economy, is outlined in a new report published by the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA).
The Mid-South Canterbury Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report is the result of months of collaboration between Venture Timaru (Timaru district’s economic development agency) and EECA, with EA Networks, Transpower, Alpine Energy, and Network Waitaki, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, energy generators and retailers and medium to large industrial energy users.
Mid Canterbury already had a head start, Sutton said.
“We have a network which, because it was built for the big irrigation loads, is much more ready for customers to decarbonise than many other parts of the country.
“The coal boilers in our region emit more carbon than all the cars and utes combined.
“We are working closely with many of the big boiler owners to help them decarbonise.”
That included Ashburton Hospital and Ashburton College, which are in the process of decommissioning coal boiler systems.
And the transition to clean energy is already underway.
A large solar farm being consented in Lauriston will be able to add power to the grid from the end of next year, while there is an established hydro station at Highbank.
EECA business group manager Nicki Sutherland said the report’s insights show the potential for many of the region’s decarbonisation projects to be cost neutral in the coming years.
“While there will be the need for capital investment, over the longer term, switching to clean and clever tech is frequently not going to cost more than continuing to emit carbon.”
Businesses need to commit now, she said.
“This will mean they will streamline their efforts, and collectively unlock other supply chains, infrastructure and cost efficiencies for the region.”
Included in the report is the significant role biomass will play as a renewable fuel into the future, with $75 million (over 15 years) worth of wood residues sitting in Mid-South Canterbury’s forests.
Up to 40% of the region’s energy needs could be met by biomass as a complement to electricity.
There are 33 sites across Mid-South Canterbury covered by RETA and the report details various emissions reduction pathways which will eliminate more than 90% of emissions in the region by 2036.

  • By Jonathan Leask