Plan for gas in Christchurch rebuild

Issue 28 – June 2011

The designers and builders of the Christchurch-of-the-future are being urged to think carefully about what energy resources will be used to power the rebuilt city. The LPG Association says the rebuild of Christchurch is a perfect opportunity to make greater use of gas as a direct energy source, instead of relying so heavily on electricity.

Gas is a strategic energy asset for New Zealand,' says Peter Gilbert, LPG Association Executive Director. 'Using it instead of electricity for water and space heating, and cooking, in homes and small businesses has many advantages, both for consumers and for the country as a whole.' Gilbert says Christchurch already uses reticulated LPG in some parts of the city, and LPG in cylinders is available to all residents. The rebuild is a chance to expand that use throughout the region and to displace what is a sizeable electricity demand.

'Using LPG directly can reduce CO2 emissions when compared to other energy sources; it's energy efficient and it reduces local air quality impacts and particulate emissions which can cause adverse public health impacts,' says Gilbert. 'Nor do LPG appliances need the kind of chimneys that were so prevalent in Canterbury, and which collapsed in the quakes, and this will be a very welcome design feature given what happened to many homes in the region.'

He said the LPG supply network in Christchurch also survived the two earthquakes relatively intact, ensuring some degree of energy security, which is another reason to ensure its use in the rebuild.
Because LPG can be used to displace electricity it can help to alleviate the need to build new electricity generation plants, and it can reduce the load on the national electricity grid.

'Many European countries rely heavily on direct use of LPG and gas for space and water heating and cooking,' says Gilbert. 'We don't have that tradition in New Zealand. But, there is certainly no reason why we can't expand our use of LPG as an end-use energy source in the residential and small business sector. It's a strategic energy asset, we have plenty of it and we need to consider carefully how we factor its use into the energy policy mix. The Christchurch rebuild provides a valuable opportunity to think carefully about how we can use this asset to maximum advantage, for the country and consumers.'

Summarised with permission from Gas New Zealand, May 2011, LPG and Gas Associations of New Zealand.

Published in energy.