La Nouvelle Zélande risque des coupures de courant et envisage des fermetures d'usines.
RésuméNew Zealand Risks Power Shortages, Prompting Factory Cutbacks
March 2 (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand, whose electricity prices tripled in six years, risks a third power shortage since 2000 that may cut production from factories including an aluminum smelter run by Rio Tinto Group, executives said.
Comalco Ltd., a Rio Tinto unit, may deepen the 3 percent production cut in November at the Tiwai Point smelter after a meeting next week with power supplier Meridian Energy Ltd., Comalco New Zealand Managing Director Tom Campbell said. The smelter is the nation's biggest electricity user, more than 60 percent supplied from hydro-power dams.
Comalco and Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world's biggest dairy exporter, are among businesses that may pay higher power prices. Economic growth has increased demand as a natural gas shortage delayed construction of new generators. Prices also surged last week after the nation's hydro lake levels fell to less than 75 percent of their average for February.
``There is a significant risk of a crisis this winter,'' Campbell said in a phone interview today. The government ``should start an energy savings campaign for 5 to 10 percent of demand right away and Comalco would need to be part of that.''
Comalco is the world's eighth-largest aluminum producer, according to the company's Web site. Tiwai Point, 21 percent owned by Sumitomo Chemical Co., produces about 350,000 metric tons of the metal a year, making it Comalco's second-largest smelter.
Gas, Coal Plants
Gas and coal-fired plants, including Genesis Power Ltd.'s 1000-megawatt Huntly power plant, are running close to capacity and have little scope to cover for low lake levels or plant breakdowns. Power prices surged to a three-year high in December when lake levels were low and Contact Energy Ltd. shut its gas- fired 380-megawatt Otahuhu plant for scheduled maintenance.
``You will have a real crisis on your hands'' if any of Huntly's four generators fail during the next six months, Genesis Power Chairman Brian Corban told lawmakers in Wellington today. ``Huntly cannot keep on bailing out New Zealand. It's a 20-year-old plant and we're running absolutely flat out.''
New Zealand's power prices have tripled to an average NZ$101.63 a megawatt-hour this year from NZ$36.32 in 2000, based on an index maintained by market operator Marketplace Co.
The country's largest lakes, run by government-owned Meridian Energy on the country's South Island, are lower than the same time in 1992 when a prolonged drought drained the dams, shutting factories, causing isolated blackouts and widespread cuts to water heating.
`Hydrology Is Concerning'
``The hydrology right now is certainly concerning,'' Meridian Chief Executive Keith Turner told lawmakers in Wellington today. ``The forecasts are not particularly optimistic.''
Power prices at Benmore, where Meridian's largest dams are, averaged NZ$108 a megawatt-hour last month, 68 percent higher than a year earlier, according to Marketplace Co. data.
Electricity cost NZ$101.53 a megawatt-hour at 3 p.m. in Auckland, the nation's most populous city. Prices averaged $78.47 there last year.
New Zealand ran public conservation programs in 2001 and 2003 after dry weather and a lack of gas and coal caused power prices to spiral. In 2003, the government spent NZ$150 million building a 155-megawatt diesel-fired generator specifically to run when lake levels were low.
Still, that plant won't run unless prices reach NZ$200 a megawatt-hour, or until lake levels reach a threshold calculated by the county's Electricity Commission. At the current rate of decline, the lakes won't reach the so-called minzone until April.
`Hit the Minzone'
``By the time you hit the minzone, it's too late,'' Comalco's Campbell said. ``They should start Whirinaki now.''
Comalco's plant, which usually uses about 600 megawatts of power, shut 20 of its 670 furnaces in November, eliminating 20 megawatts of power the company bought at spot wholesale prices.
The company has a hedged contract to buy 35 megawatts of power from Meridian Energy, which asked for next week's meeting, Campbell said. Dropping that supply could cut the smelter's output by 50 furnaces, or about 65 tons of aluminum a day.
Trimming production now would pay off if it helps prevent deeper cuts later, he said.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Gavin Evans in Wellington at email@example.com
Last Updated: March 1, 2006 23:23 EST
Le prix de l'électricité a triplé en 3 ans, déjà 3 coupures depuis 2000. Réduction de production envisagée dans une usine d'aluminium, le plus gros consommateur du pays.
La croissance économique a accru la demande, mais 60% de l'électricité vient des barrages dont les niveaux sont bas, les projets de nouvelles centrales à gaz sont reportés cause pénurie de gaz.
C'est actuellement l'été en NZ, il faut une campagne d'économies d'énergie de 5 à 10% pour passer l'hiver.
Les centrales à gaz et à charbon tournent à pleine capacité et ne pourront pas compenser le bas niveau des barrages.
Les niveaux des lacs sont plus bas qu'en 1992, année où une sécheresse prolongée avait engendré des fermetures d'usines et des coupures localisées (mais généralisées pour la production d'eau chaude).
Autre sujet d'inquiétude : le vieillissement des centrales augmente les risques de pannes.
Le cas de la NZ est intéressant, du fait de son isolement sa production électrique doit se faire avec des ressources disponibles sur place. Le nucléaire n'est pas en odeur de sainteté la bas, et il est peu envisageable vu le nombre et la répartition de la population. L'importation de gaz par méthanier sera t'elle envisagée ?