MEDIA RELEASE: Forum for offshore wind, hydrogen export not carbon zero

A two day Offshore Future Energy Forum started today in New Plymouth and is being labelled by local group Climate Justice Taranaki as going “against a carbon zero future, towards an Ara Mate”.

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The event is organised by Venture Taranaki and Ara Ake – the national clean energy development centre that received $27 million in funding to help transition Taranaki after the ban on new offshore oil and gas permits.

Presenters at the forum include developers of new wave and tidal energy but also a controversial offshore wind energy project which will use and add to oil and gas platforms offshore rather than decommissioning all offshore infrastructure as iwi are calling for.

“We have had five marine mammals wash up on our shores just this past month and we know the oceans are in a terrible state from overfishing, pollution, mining and climate change,” said Emily Bailey from Climate Justice Taranaki. “Adding more infrastructure out there will add more hazards for our marine mammals and is a very costly way to generate wind power. Coastal wind turbines, as have been set up in Waverley, are far more productive, easier to install and maintain and don’t impact directly on the ocean.”

“A new project called Power to X announced today at the forum, is touted as using renewable electricity to produce hydrogen gas and make methanol and ammonia – typically used to make pollutants such as fertiliser, plastics and glues. The focus is on creating market demands, especially export markets, so that the industries involved would reap profits.”

“Such agendas go against a carbon zero future and exacerbate our climate, ecological and social crises, an Ara Mate” said Bailey. “Renewable energy technologies nearly all require fossil fuels and other mineral mining to produce and distribute them. We need to understand the whole picture. They are not free of environmental or social impacts. To create new demands for them so that industries could profit is neither moral nor smart. Using renewable electricity to make hydrogen is very inefficient and wasteful when the electricity is better used directly. Using so-called green hydrogen to then make fertilizers to perpetuate export-driven industrial farming and to mass produce ammonia and other products to sell overseas requires hugely over-building our renewable energy capacity. It does nothing to cool the climate or provide communities with affordable and secure energy. It’s greenwash using taxpayer funds for greedy, polluting industries.”

Climate Justice Taranaki are asking the community to question and call-out Venture Taranaki and Ara Ake for supporting projects that do not clearly contribute to our carbon zero future. “In a climate emergency, we should be reducing energy demand and consumption alongside emissions, not increasing them,” concluded Bailey.