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Strong prospects for renewable energy development

Strong prospects for renewable energy development

A new report confirms that New Zealand has significant opportunities for renewable energy development, says Energy Minister Pete Hodgson.

The report by East Harbour Management Services for the Ministry of Economic Development examines the cost and possible quantities of renewable resources for generating electricity or industrial process heat. The resources include hydro and wind power, geothermal energy, bioenergy from sources such as wood waste and landfill gas, and solar energy. The opportunities are examined out to 2025.

The report indicates that by 2012 renewable resources could provide an additional 4,600 gigawatt-hours (GWh) a year of electricity at a cost of less than 6c a kilowatt-hour (kWh). At a cost of up to 8c/kWh about 15,000GWh a year could be available.

The government’s preferred policy target for increasing renewables under the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy is an extra 30 petajoules a year by 2012, which is about 8,300GWh a year. "New Zealand's sustainable energy future requires a balanced portfolio of energy efficiency improvements and a transition to renewable energy sources,” Mr Hodgson said. “This report indicates that our proposed renewable energy target, while challenging, is within reach.”

One of the possibilities that provides a significant amount of the potential renewable resource is Meridian Energy’s Project Aqua. This hydro proposal for the Lower Waitaki has the potential to generate around 3,200GWh a year.

For industrial process heat, the report finds that both geothermal energy and wood waste combustion can compete well with fossil fuels, especially for large high-load plant. This is an area of significant opportunity for the wood processing industry and of high potential for increasing New Zealand’s overall use of renewables. New Zealand currently generates in total about 38,000GWh of electricity a year, with annual demand growth of about 800GWh.

The summary section of the report, with the key facts, is available at: http://www.med.govt.nz/ers/en_stats/renewable-energy/contents.html

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