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Renewable energy answer to sustainable future

Increasing New Zealand’s use of environmentally friendly energy sources is one of the main aims of the draft National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.

The Minister of Energy, Pete Hodgson, launched the draft strategy today. It aims to improve New Zealand’s energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2012 and encourage the use of clean renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass.

“Current predictions show we will use 13% more energy in 2012 than we do now - and our energy use already accounts for over 80% of our CO2 emissions,” Mr Hodgson said. “By 2012, our growing need for energy is set to push up those emission levels by 45% on 1990 levels.

“We need to begin shifting our focus to include cleaner renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass.”

Most of the energy New Zealand uses goes into producing electricity. The proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources such as hydro has dropped from 73 percent in 1990 to 66 percent in 2000.

New Zealand has natural advantages in renewable energies, but has been slow to adopt the technologies. Principally this is because the price of traditional fossil fuel energy sources has not reflected the full cost of supply.

However, wind turbine technologies and solar thermal conversion systems are now being used in New Zealand. Overseas trends indicate other renewable alternatives will be viable in the medium term.

The Draft Strategy proposes incentives for the use of renewables. It also calls for whole system efficiency improvements in the energy supply sector and price signals that encourage consumers to use energy efficiently.

Other proposals include increased use of wood waste, especially as a heat source in industries such as forestry processing.

The draft strategy says New Zealand’s fossil fuel-based transport energy is at increased risk in the next decade of increased price and supply volatility. Biofuel alternatives are likely to remain expensive in the near future, but greater use of alternative fuels such as LPG can provide advantages in the shorter term.

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