The plumbing and gasfitting industry is responsible for installing appliances that use a lot of energy for space heating, cooking and water heating. Many commercial plumbers and gasfitters supply gas to industrial processes for example fruit processing, tanneries, meat works and many other industrial processes.
It is going to be a big task to get rid of gas as there are industrial processes, and enormous heating loads commercially and domestically. New Zealand would have to generate a lot more electricity to offset this gas and coal load.
As the world moves towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, the question arises: Is it feasible to eliminate gas from the country’s energy mix? This article explores the complexities associated with reducing gas usage in New Zealand, considering the industrial processes, heating demands, and existing infrastructure. It is going to be a big task to get rid of gas as there are industrial processes, and enormous heating loads commercially and domestically. New Zealand would have to generate a lot more electricity to offset this gas and coal load. It also discusses potential alternatives such as heat pumps, bio gas, pellet burners, and hydrogen, while acknowledging the practical and economic considerations involved.
Coal is easier to get rid of. Gas not so much as it is delivered to the door very efficiently through piping.
Heat pumps have the best of intentions but it is quite difficult to provide heating to institutions like rest homes and hospitals with electricity. The capital cost is also huge and the buildings have been designed from scratch with gas boilers and radiators.
Home owners can install efficient heat pumps, say one in the lounge and one in the hall but what about the bedrooms.
Installing heat pump central heating is expensive. Using oil heaters or similar uses electricity at a rate more than twice as expensive as gas.
Using heat pumps for water heating is a good option but again it takes a while to offset the more expensive water heaters with the cheaper hot water.
Commercially the most likely options are a conversion to pellet burners or bio gas. Bio gas is the decomposition of wood or foliage or food waste which gives off methane and can be put down the same pipe as natural gas. So this is probably the most viable option commercially. The domestic market which does not use much gas will piggy back of the commercial load. The bio gas option also means there is little change to existing infrastructure compared to conversion to electricity.
Bio gas is also a good option because if that wood waste was to break down in the environment it would give off methane which is worse than CO2 for the environment.
Most coal boilers can also be converted to natural gas or bio gas or pellet burners in some way.
The big driver here will be the cost of the energy and the gas infrastructure in New Zealand is huge and already in place.
New Zealand has huge amounts of green waste from forestry and other endeavours which is free to a good home so to speak.
Bio gas is big in other countries that do not have natural gas. Many novel solutions will emerge.
As buildings have their current heating come to the end of its life building owners will convert to cheaper heating solutions. As coal becomes more expensive this will drive conversions. Growing trees is also great for employment and removing CO2 from the atmosphere and it attracts carbon credits. New Zealand needs to plant a lot more trees at every opportunity.
So what about hydrogen?
This is not such a good option unless someone can come up with a cheap way of generating it. Then it can also be put down the gas pipe.
Gas appliance manufacturers are already on board and are making changes to use hydrogen either added to methane or completely.
So if you think gas is going it wont be in our lifetimes. Its a bit hard using an electric barbie at the beach and the Aussies have plenty of LPG.