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Centre Formed To Address NZ's Energy Needs

Research Centre Formed To Address New Zealand's Energy Needs

A new independent research institute has been formed to address New Zealand's ongoing energy concerns.

The Centre of Excellence in Energy, based within The University of Auckland Business School, will provide national research leadership for the industry, contributing to the nation's sustainable economic development by offering a unique independent forum for the study of energy systems and issues.

The Centre will foster and promote interdisciplinary research into energy-related topics, encouraging collaboration among academia, industry and government, as well as linking with leading energy sector organisations overseas.

Industry leaders, major users, consumer advocates and the Government have welcomed the Centre's formation, made possible through a multi-million donation to the Business School from a New Zealand-based Trust which wishes to remain anonymous [A list of organisations endorsing the Centre is provided at the end of this media release].

Dr John Small, Head of Economics at the Business School and an authority on energy matters, says the Centre will address a real national need.

"The Business School believes that further research and academic excellence is crucial for the energy sector, business and the community, particularly in light of New Zealand's pressing energy needs."

A new Chair in Energy Economics within the Business School has been established to provide academic leadership for the Centre, and an international recruitment search for a suitable candidate will soon begin. Funding for other top-level academic appointments, scholarships and courses aimed to raise public awareness of energy issues will also be provided.

An Advisory Board drawn largely from the energy sector will oversee the Centre's development, and further partnerships with industry players will be sought.

The Centre intends to form research linkages with other national and international centres of excellence in energy.

Dr Small says the Centre will address a wide variety of issues.

These include: electricity market architecture/design; risk assessment including trading and gas exploration/investment activities; pricing optimisation; regulatory issues such as the role of the Electricity Commission; implications for New Zealand of international energy developments; the impact of new technologies; and the viability of alternative fuels, including solar, wind, tidal and hydrogen.

Dr Small says the kinds of questions the Centre will seek to answer include: How much reserve capacity does the electricity sector need? How should the electricity market work? What's the best way to manage our gas reserves? How will/should the Kyoto protocol constraints be reflected in emission taxes for coal? What renewable forms of energy are being developed and what are the price triggers that make each viable? Should Government be involved in making manufacturing more energy efficient?

Although based in the Business School, the Centre will also provide support for research and teaching in The University of Auckland's Science and Engineering Faculties. Business School Dean, Professor Barry Spicer, says the Centre fits well with the Business School's aspirations and goals. "The Business School is determined to become a dynamic forum in which business and economic issues and policies can be researched and taught, for the benefit of the whole country. The Centre's formation, thanks to this very generous donation by the Trust, fits perfectly with this goal."

The Centre's formation is part of the Business School's drive to become genuinely world class - in its research, teaching and facilities. As part of this process, the Business School has so far established three new Chairs, including the Energy Chair. Professor Wendell Dunn was appointed to the Chair in Entrepreneurship in February and the Ernst & Young Chair in Financial Accounting was established in March.

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