New Zealand Strategy Pushes Renewables But Lacks Targets

An energy strategy released today by the New Zealand government sets a target to increase renewables by between 19 to 42 percent by 2012, but has been immediately described as ‘gutless’.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, NZ, 2001-10-04 [] “Increasing renewable energy will reduce New Zealand’s dependence on fossil fuels, reduce pollution, provide a more sustainable energy supply and improve the resilience of the economy by diversifying our energy sources,” says the National Energy Efficiency & Conservation Strategy. “New Zealand has a high level of sustainable energy supply due to our hydro-based electricity system, and there are some stand-out examples of wind energy and industrial biomass use,” says energy minister Pete Hodgson. “But the share of consumer energy provided from renewables has declined over the last decade,” he adds. “It is projected to decline further unless we accelerate our adoption of renewable energy technologies.” A specific target for renewables will be set after further consultation when recommendations on detailed targets and measures, and any necessary legislation, will be made to government about the middle of next year, he promised. The low end of the target range for growth in renewables is likely to be met by increased geothermal, biomass, hydro and wind energy providing electricity and industrial process heat. The higher end would require further expansion of renewable sources of process heat and electricity, plus an increase in solar water heating. Mechanisms being evaluated to achieve the renewables target include: tradeable renewable energy requirements for all energy retailers; tradeable fossil fuel use restrictions for all electricity generators and other energy suppliers; tradeable renewable energy requirements for electricity retailers only; support for sectors such as solar hot water and renewable industrial process heat; and voluntary measures such as negotiated industry agreements or green pricing of renewable energy. Setting a target is very complex and many submitters on the draft strategy asked for the opportunity to contribute further, explains Hodgson. The process will tie in with climate change policy development in the next few months and will be informed by better information on energy forecasts, renewable energy opportunities and costs. “This strategy does not provide the certainty necessary for new renewable generation investments that could avert possible further hydro electricity shortages next winter,” says Alistair Wilson, chairman of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association. He says the national energy plan has no “how much” and “by when” renewable energy target. “This lack of leadership by the government, promising big things with yet a further year’s delay, means New Zealand falls further behind other countries which have definite mandatory renewable energy targets in their policy mix,” he says. “It will make achieving New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emission targets even harder.” “The guts of the Strategy have been thrown out,” adds Tony Bittar, chairman of the New Zealand PV Association. “The lower renewable energy target of 25 PJ means a reduction in the proportion of renewable energy being used in New Zealand. This “going backwards” target is completely unacceptable and cannot be called a strategy to promote renewable energy.” “The only mention of helping people to use more solar energy is that more studies will be completed over the next two years,” adds Bittar. “We expected clear leadership and real measures to help the ‘progressive transition’ to a more sustainable energy system for New Zealand.”
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