There is concern about the hit on food businesses if they are forced to stop using gas for cooking, as advised by the Climate Change Commission’s report to the Government.
In its section on how business can contribute to lowering New Zealand’s emissions, the Commission says: “Small businesses such as restaurants, cafés and bars that use fossil gas for cooking will need to move to lower-emissions solutions, such as biogas and electrification.”
Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive Julie White has expressed that if this advice was adopted by the Government, it would have a huge impact on the hospitality industry.
“There would likely be a big cost involved and it would also hit efficiency. There are very few commercial kitchens in the country that don’t run on natural gas, and no alternatives are currently available on a large enough scale or are efficient enough for wide use across hospitality,” she commented.
“Hospitality New Zealand is not against a transition – we want to do our bit to help reduce emissions – but viable alternatives and appropriate transition timeframes need to be supported and invested in to enable a smooth change within reasonable timeframes. Electricity is simply not an efficient heat source for a commercial kitchen operating in a dynamic environment.
White went on to explain that gas has huge advantages – burners respond instantly when ignited and cool quickly when an instant drop in heat is required.
“The cost of having to convert to something else – throwing out the gas hob and buying a new electric one – would be simply too prohibitive for many small businesses. And, as raised already by many other sectors, it seems little consideration has been given to the increased load on the electricity network if a full transition was endorsed.
“If biogas or hydrogen-based fuel forms were to be preferred to natural gas, there would need to be continued investment in the gas network to ensure consistent supply. It’s concerning the commission offers advice like this without attempting to put forward alternatives or considering appropriate transition times.
“There’s absolutely no way an end date of 2025 is a realistic timeframe to fundamentally upend the sector in this way. We look forward to discussing the Commission’s advice with the Government to try to map a way forward that works for everyone.”