Coal boilers are to be removed from two of Southland's largest public facilities within the next two years.
Climate Minister James Shaw announced earlier this month all coal boilers would be removed from hospitals and tertiary institutions by the end of 2025, including from the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) and Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (HNZ) Southern. More than $78 million is being invested in 38 projects to decarbonise the state sector, with more than $61 million going towards the health sector.
SIT executive director Daryl Haggerty said in the past couple of years they had dealt with the EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) in relation to decarbonisation and the need to move to a more sustainable heating source.
SIT had been successful in securing significant funding for two projects — replacing coal boilers at the Telford campus with wood chip boilers, which had been completed, and replacing two coal boilers at the Invercargill campus.
SIT will receive $1.32 million to replace them, including $881,000 from its own budget. Mr Haggerty said the Invercargill campus project fell into part of the recent funding announcement, with expected implementation by April 2024.
"[The] EECA have been particularly helpful throughout both projects and it's great we will be able to move away from coal heating within the next 12 months."
HNZ originally owned 26 coal boilers across its public hospital estate, though 15 coal boilers have either already been replaced or have a replacement plan in progress.
The funding announcement will see 11 coal boilers across its hospitals replaced with fossil fuel-free alternatives, plus three coal boilers at the Dunedin Energy Centre.
HNZ building and property general manager David Bainbridge-Zafar said two coal boilers in Southland Hospital would be converted to wood pellet burners within the coming months.
He said the conversions were fairly straightforward, would not present any disruption to the facility's services and were hoped to be completed well ahead of schedule by March 2024.
It is expected all HNZ boiler upgrades would be completed by June 2025, with an expected reduction in carbon emissions of more than 7000 tonnes per year once the final 11 boilers were removed.
The health sector has been one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand's public sector.
All new large-scale health infrastructure investments were required to meet the New Zealand Green Building Council 5-Star Green Star accreditation.