‘Coal and gas out as solar and battery-stored power move in’

Dennis Barnes, the CEO of Contact Energy says change is coming to the way we power our homes and industries, and it is going to happen faster than we think.

It’s “entirely possible” New Zealand’s electricity sector won’t build any more big generating plants of, say 300MW to 400MW capacity, Dennis Barnes, chief executive of Contact Energy tells Newsroom in an interview with Rod Oram.

Barnes also predicted that coal fired generation will soon be a thing of the past and gas will be used in “peaking” plants but not for base load generation.

Instead, he said, the future of electricity lies in technologies such as solar, batteries and greater demand management. Over the next 10-15 years this will shift the system away from large centralised generation and long distance transmission to a more distributed, localised system.

The new government’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions in New Zealand by 2050 will accelerate these trends. Setting carbon reduction targets across the economy will, for example, encourage more industrial users to switch to electricity for the likes of process heat and open-up new opportunities for geothermal.

Meanwhile, the retail sector will remain highly competitive. This will push integrated electricity companies to achieve greater efficiencies in generation and build greater trust and loyalty with customers.

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