New Zealand set to close final coal plants

New Zealand set to close final coal plants
© Thinkstock

New Zealand officials said Thursday that the country will close its final two coal plants amid a transition to more renewable energy. 

The two coal plants are scheduled to shutter by December 2018, UPI reported. The utility company running the plants said coal no longer has a place in the country’s energy sector, given cheap renewable options like wind and geothermal. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"Historically coal has played an important role in ensuring the security of New Zealand's electricity supply, particularly in dry years where our hydro-lake levels are low," New Zealand Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said. 

"But significant market investment in other forms of renewable energy in recent years, particularly in geothermal, means that a coal backstop is becoming less of a requirement.”

New Zealand gets 79.9 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and has more than doubled its geothermal generation over the last 10 years. Officials say they want to generate 90 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

The country has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 ahead of a United Nations climate summit later this year. The country’s total emissions — under 77 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2012 — are a fraction of those from the United States (more than 6,235 megatons), according to the World Resources Institute.

New Zealand’s announcement comes the same week President Obama finalized his Clean Power Plan, which looks to cut carbon emissions from American power plants by 32 percent by 2030. The plan looks to cut into coal’s share of electricity generation in the United States.