Ministers pour $35m into community projects while $30m goes into hydro electricity (but in that case it’s to see if there is a case to invest more)

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Ministers visited Hawke’s Bay and Northland at the weekend to announce distributions totalling $35 million (or “up to $35m”, to be more precise).

A great chunk of that total was a sum “up to $32 million” approved in principle for the Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre to be built (although the press statement didn’t say where) in Hastings.  It will house a deep-water Olympic pool and a smaller ‘learn to swim’ and water safety education pool.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson made much of the provincial importance of the project, saying improved recreational water facilities were much-needed by residents of Hawke’s Bay.

“The health and wellbeing of the wider region, from Wairoa to Waipukurau, is … important. The new Aquatic Centre will be used by swimming clubs, a water polo club and the Royston Hospital Health & Fitness Gym at the EIT Institute. The Hawke’s Bay DHB will also use it for exercise and therapy such as aquarobics courses.”

Wearing his “Infrastructure” ministerial hat, Shane Jones announced the government’s investment of $3m into community infrastructure in Mangawhai and Kaiwaka.

Kaipara District Council will receive $2.4 million towards the construction of an 8km shared pathway in Mangawhai; Kaipara District Council will receive $750,000 to build two footbridges to provide safer access to the town centre.

And Jones (no doubt) will hope this helps pave the pathway to his being elected MP for Northland in September.

But it was Energy & Resources Minister Megan Woods who made the announcement with the greatest implications for the nation’s wellbeing.

The key word was “investigating” rather than “investing” – the government is investigating options to ‘green the grid’ as part of a new, transformative infrastructure plan for renewable energy to:

  • enable widespread electrification of transport and industry;
  • create thousands of jobs; and
  • deliver more affordable power for New Zealanders.

Money comes into considerations nevertheless – $30m of it.

A $30m investigation?  Really?

Apparently yes.  The government will fund a close examination of a key recommendation by the Interim Climate Change Committee; hydro schemes which pump water to manage peak demand, dry hydrological years, and the intermittency of renewable energy sources such as wind.

If a business case stacks up, pumped hydro would be a game changer for securing sustainable, cheaper, low-emissions electricity for the long term, Woods said.

“This would be transformative for our energy system, and we would no longer be reliant on fossil fuels for meeting our electricity demand.”

Pumped hydro moves water to an upper reservoir when there is surplus renewable energy generation and demand for electricity is low. It is released back down to a hydro power station to generate electricity when demand is high.

It works like a battery, Woods explained. The stored energy in the water is released when it is used in the hydroelectric dam.

Pumped hydro would also open up opportunities to electrify sectors across the economy, such as transport and industrial heat, as a lower electricity price would make it more competitive than fossil fuels.

Woods mentioned the potential of a project such as Lake Onslow. It would be the single biggest infrastructure project since the 1980’s.

The $30m allocated will pay for the detailed development of a business case for a solution to address New Zealand’s dry year storage problem.  This analysis will mostly focus on a pumped hydro storage project at Lake Onslow in Central Otago, but will also include the assessment of smaller potential pumped storage options in the North Island, as well as other alternative technologies.

A national direction under the Resource Management Act on renewable electricity to accelerate generation will also be established, with $2m of funding.

No sum was mentioned in his press statement, when Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today launched Opportunity Grows Here, a website and marketing campaign to attract 10,000 New Zealanders into food and fibre jobs.

But he did refer readers to a Budget 2020 provision of $19.3m to help attract and train recently unemployed New Zealanders and grow the primary sector workforce by 10,000 people.

The website showcases the primary industries and the diverse range of jobs and careers available to people, who are directed to where they can find out more about careers, training and jobs.

Anyone interested in a primary sector career can discover more at opportunitygrowshere.nz

Release

27 JULY 2020

Primary sector jobs for kiwis gets a boost

A new campaign launched today will attract people to vital food and fibre sector jobs, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Hon Damien O’Connor

Agriculture

Release

26 JULY 2020

Olympic pool at Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre

An Olympic-sized pool will be the centrepiece of a regional aquatic centre in Hawke’s Bay which has won government support through a new infrastructure fund.

Hon Grant Robertson Hon Stuart Nash

Small Business

Sport and Recreation

Release

26 JULY 2020

100% renewable electricity grid explored with pumped storage ‘battery’

The Government is taking a significant step toward its goal for 100% renewable electricity generation in a move that could be a game changer for consumers and the creation of a low-emissions economy, Energy & Resources Minister Megan Woods said.

Hon Dr Megan Woods

Energy and Resources

Release

25 JULY 2020

Boost for Mangawhai and Kaiwaka community infrastructure

The Government is investing $3 million into community infrastructure in Mangawhai and Kaiwaka, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has announced.

Hon Shane Jones

 

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