Not-so-modest proposals for Tiwai

News & events

Not-so-modest proposals for Tiwai

10 December, 2019

A truly ambitious solution would keep jobs in Southland, delivering on the promise of the Zero Carbon Act to make NZ all but carbon neutral by 2050, writes Nicola Gaston in a post co-authored with Sally Brooker, Justin Hodgkiss and David Williams of The MacDiarmid Institute.

GettyImages 1077825444 e1575792881929

Tiwai Point is in the news, again. Jeanette Fitzsimons, former co-leader of the Green Party and energy analyst, recently suggested her modest proposal for the future of the smelter: keep some of the aluminium smelting going, but release some of the extra no-emissions Manapouri hydro power on to the electricity market.

The lack of transmission lines capable of hooking the hydro power from Manapouri into the national grid is a sticking point, but one that the government is now signaling it is prepared to address by bringing forward $100 million of line upgrades. That’s still about $500 million short of the total cost of the infrastructure that would be needed to get most of that power (transmission losses are substantial) north of Cook Strait, but it’s a start.

On the other hand, there is a real human consequence to any changes to the current scenario at Tiwai: the smelter is a major employer, and the prospective costs to families must be a major disincentive to any change to the status quo. So can NZ Inc perhaps come up with a slightly less modest proposal – a truly ambitious one, even – that would keep, or even grow jobs in Southland and deliver on the promise of the Zero Carbon Act to make NZ all but carbon neutral by 2050?

Read the full article on The Spinoff.