Renewable energy surge vindicates ETS, RMA changes - Smith

A surge in the number of new energy generation projects - none of them from fossil fuels - is being trumpeted by the government as an indication both its climate change and resource management changes are working.

A report released this morning shows 1340 megawatts of new generating capacity were approved in the last year.

The average annual new capacity was just over 300mw over the previous decade, and nearly half this was for fossil fuel-related projects, whereas none of the new projects, for 11 new generating plants, were.

Environment and Climate Change Minster Nick Smith released the figures this morning as part of an evaluation of the government's emissions trading scheme.

"The Government’s 2009 Resource Management Act reforms that streamlined the consenting process combined with the pricing incentives of the ETS are driving a boom in the renewables sector," Dr Smith said.

And the report showed the costs of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) had not been as onerous as was feared, he said.

“The report shows 98% of emitters used forestry and other New Zealand units to meet their ETS obligations, with very few using overseas units or the fixed price option.

"This dispels concerns New Zealanders through the ETS would be paying money overseas and the fixed price option would excessively distort the market.

“The report shows actual allocations to trade exposed businesses was 1.76 million tonnes, 25% less than forecast. 

The number of businesses eligible for support was nearly 300 – three times greater than forecast. 

This reflects a large number of smaller businesses, principally export horticulturists, being eligible for support but for relatively small amounts. 

The lower overall levels of allocations reflect a smaller number of big industries meeting the 1% or 2% cost of turnover test for support."

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