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Energy efficiency is the new fuel

Energy efficiency is the new fuel

14 March 2014

Energy efficiency and productivity will be the focus of The Energy Conference 2014 opening in Wellington on Wednesday March 19, revealing how better use of existing energy supplies can save New Zealand producers and the global economy millions of dollars.

The conference is being hosted by the National Energy Research Institute (NERI) and the University of Otago. It includes a wide range of top international energy experts as keynote speakers, the Minister of Energy, Simon Bridges, along with the Labour energy spokesperson David Shearer.

In his opening address Minister Bridges will announce the new Smart Grid Forum aimed at advancing the development of smart electricity networks in New Zealand.

An efficient electricity grid requires an optimum level of electricity generation and network capacity, and achieving this will involve the roll-out of new technologies and intelligent controls, as in a ‘Smart Grid’, which will involve electricity generators, network companies and consumers.

The chief executive of NERI, Paul Atkins, says this year’s conference theme is ‘Going Further with Energy; new initiatives for efficiency and productivity’ and will demonstrate that much more can be done in the areas of energy efficiency and savings.

“We have really only just started to examine these issues, partly because we live in such an energy rich country with a low population. We are far from realising efficiency potential in our transport, industry, our homes, energy transmission, systems optimisation and many other fields,” he says.

Keynote speakers will draw attention to the huge economic and environmental gains to be made from energy efficiency which have been highlighted by the International Energy Agency in a number of recent reports, but which are yet to be fully capitalised on by developed economies.

The IEA’s World Energy Report (2012) concluded that up to 18% of global energy use could be saved by applying and incentivising energy efficiency.

“This shows that energy efficiency is indeed ‘the new fuel’, making our energy supplies go further and avoiding higher costs for the economy and consumers,” says Paul Atkins.

Other international keynote speakers are:

• Dr Malcolm McCulloch, head of the Energy and Power Group at the University of Oxford, who will present on energy efficiency and transport

• John A ‘Skip’ Laitner, a resource economist and former US government advisor who heads Economic and Human Dimensions Research in Tucson, Arizona. He says that the USA could reduce its energy use by up to 50% and still have a robust economy.

• Dr Rob Kool, a policy expert on energy efficiency from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs who has worked on EU energy policy implementation.

• Dr Eric Martinot, an expert on renewables and energy efficiency now with the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Tokyo.

The Director of the University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability, Dr Janet Stephenson, says the University is delighted to be involved with the Energy Conference 2014 and the promotion of the latest thinking on sustainability and efficiency in the New Zealand context.

“Efficiency involves a whole lot more than putting batts in the ceiling. Otago researchers are presenting on topics as varied as youth travel trends, household motivations for installing solar PV, and the efficiency of tidal turbines,” says Dr Stephenson.

The conference will be opened by the Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown, and held at Rydges Hotel Wellington from Wednesday March 19 to Friday March 21.

Full programme and background on keynote speakers can be found at:


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