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NZ takes positive steps as it looks to be global leader for renewable and smart energy

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New Zealand is well on route to reaching the target of 90% renewable energy share by 2025. Compared to other countries around the world, we are a leader in renewables, but more needs to be done to cut down heavy emissions from greenhouse gases. That’s why our country recently released a new energy efficiency and conservative strategy, which has set out a plan of action for the government’s promotion of renewable energy. Read on and find out why we’re one step ahead with renewable energy. 

The main reason why New Zealand has one of the highest rates of renewable energy use in the world, is because of our country’s carefully implemented policies. A series of reforms to New Zealand’s energy policies has seen the country become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The recent strategy that was announced by New Zealand and Resources Minister Judith Collins, works as a companion to the current policies already in place, like the Electronic Vehicle Programme and the Energy Innovation Bill. Through the strategy, the public sector, businesses and individuals are being encouraged to uphold clean, renewable energy as best they can for the benefit of all New Zealanders. There is a focus on cost-effective energy saving, as well as making sure that we are reducing emissions from transport, electricity and what’s known as process heat – which is steam or hot water generated from big boilers, that’s used to heat up schools or public buildings. 

New Zealand has experienced great changes as a result of our reforms. By the end of 2015, the renewable energy share increased to 80%. So, we are ahead of most countries and are well on our way to reaching that important 90% goal. The development of the EV Programme has helped achieve these results, which is a policy for the uptake of electric vehicles. The number of EVs on the road has risen to 2,500, from 1,000 at the end of 2015. While the EV market is relatively small, the government has set clear proposals in the EV programme. Some of these proposals include more investment and promotion of low emission vehicles in New Zealand, as well ensuring there is enough funding and support for the use of EVs on roads. The project caters for all vehicles, including electronic bicycles, trucks and buses.

Even though we have developed the EV programme, the transport sector as a whole is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. While more people are trying to uphold a cleaner lifestyle, it could be some time before EVs become the norm. This is largely due to the fact that these cars are extremely expensive and there’s the issue of their batteries and range. The distance an EV will travel before its empty, is usually a lot smaller than a petrol car. So, this causes problems in terms of how we incentivise the public to make the switch, when they know that traditional cars can travel greater distances.

At present, transport represents one of our biggest challenges. 99% of all energy sourced to our transport is non-renewable, opening our island up to some serious environmental risks. But there are a number of Smart Transport options that exist, that could help reduce emissions. These include office spaces for local businesses to use as ‘hubs’, so they don’t have to make the commute into town. There are also ride share services, which could help to significantly reduce carbon emissions, as there would be less cars on the road.

While our renewable energy rate is certainly a great achievement, we still need to work hard to complete the overall picture. Across all sectors, there is a focus on ensuring businesses reduce their carbon footprint, by helping to optimise their energy systems for the benefit of the environment. The Energy Efficiency and Conversation Authority have been at the forefront of promoting information about how to keep your home energy efficient. The EECA are responsible for encouraging energy efficiency and they’re always working to overcome the challenges they face.

So far, we have shown we have the means to drastically reduce non-renewable energy. With technology advancing, this is likely to become easier, and we already have smart metering devices to help give consumers more control over their energy consumption. There is now a greater desire for decentralised energy systems, which harness energy close to where it will be used, rather than at a national plant. These systems produce less emissions, are more efficient and are cheaper. So, as new technologies arise in the energy sector, New Zealand can expect to see great opportunities for an even more energy efficient environment in the future.

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