For some time now, New Zealand has been a global renewable energy and energy efficiency leader, with strong and lofty ambitions and robust policies to make these ambitions happen. A new report from the International Energy Agency highlights the many ways in which New Zealand is already a leader, as well as the next steps it needs to take in its heat and transport sectors.
It has been six years since the International Energy Agency (IEA) last presented an in-depth review of New Zealand’s energy policies, and the country has seen “rapid changes” in that time. A series of policy reforms and legislation has “contributed to a more reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy system in New Zealand.” Most impressively, the share of renewable energy in the country’s power mix increased to 80.2% by the end of 2015, and the country is hoping to increase that to 90% by 2025. “Target achievement is likely to rely on a stable contribution with small additions from hydro generation… further expansion in geothermal generation; investment in generation from wind; and perhaps also a continued growth of the residential solar PV market.”
However, a healthy and low-carbon energy sector is not restricted to just the generation of electricity, including also the heat, building, and transport sectors. According to the IEA report, while the country’s renewable energy capacity is impressive, New Zealand’s growing energy needs have outpaced the improvements it made in energy efficiency. Nevertheless, New Zealand has set ambitious goals to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and has introduced strong policies to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road.
New Zealand has exhibited an impressively rapid uptake of electric vehicles, with numbers increasing from around 1,000 at the end of 2015 to around 2,500 at the end of 2016. And though that is a relatively small EV market, the authors of the report note that the country “offers excellent conditions for the further electrification of the car fleet” — specifically, the government’s support for a new Electric Vehicle Programme.
In addition, the IEA report highlights the need to further secure the country’s electricity supply, but unfortunately points to “the country’s large oil and gas resource base” as a potential source of strengthening the country’s security of supply.
“Government policies, including targets and standards, are needed to open up the potential of energy efficiency in industrial heat, buildings and transport,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. “Strong standards and policies will guide technology innovation and growth. New Zealand is a world-class success story for renewables and has excellent opportunities for using even more renewable energy in heat, but also in power supply and for the electrification of transport.”
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