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Royal Society Advice on New Zealand Energy Future

For immediate release
Friday 22 October 2006

From the Royal Society of New Zealand

Royal Society Advice on New Zealand Energy Future

The Energy Panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand has released its report "2020: Energy Opportunities", in advance of a presentation and discussion of the report on Monday 2 October in Wellington. The Panel comprises a selection of our best energy experts from academia and business, covering a wide range of experience in energy sources and uses. They consider that the future of our energy sector is perhaps the most important problem currently facing our nation, affecting both our economic growth and our response to climate change.

The government's new energy strategy is in development and the Panel members hope that this report will provide solid and objective technical advice that will help to build a consensus on what this strategy should be.

The report recommends actions and points to opportunities to provide a secure and sustainable energy future for New Zealand. The recommendations are that:

1) New Zealand should move to a low or zero-carbon basis for energy and transportation.

2) Biofuels have the potential to provide both the nation transport fuel and a new rural export industry.

3) Our vehicles will need to be modified to use renewable fuels and a wholesale transformation of transport will be required, including a change of behaviour on the part of the public.

4) Our electricity supply has the ready potential to reach zero carbon emissions and electricity markets could create a better investment balance between supply and demand. Currently an investment in efficiency will make available more electricity than the same investment in generation yet investments in generation continue to outweigh investments in efficiency.

5) Some form of price on greenhouse gas emissions is inevitable and we should prepare ourselves for that price. Organisations and businesses should start quantifying their carbon emissions, begin reducing them and identify the new business opportunities and threats (e.g. food miles) that the drive to reduce carbon emissions will present.

6) A sustained research effort is needed to drive indigenous solutions to our energy problems, such as reducing methane emissions from farm animals, investigating barriers to energy efficiency, growing energy crops for NZ conditions and marine energy technology.

Our energy system will continue to evolve in response to changes in technology, economics and the international response to climate change. We are moving to a carbon-constrained world, where a price will be paid for every emission of greenhouse gases. In that world, New Zealand will be able to use its natural renewable resources to maintain a competitive advantage through low cost renewable energy sources, smarter and more efficient use of the energy we have and by putting some substance behind our clean, green claims to protect our industries from dubious claims such as the "food-miles" debate in Europe.

The report can be read online at


The Panel Members are:

Dr Jim Watson, CNZM, FRSNZ, Chairman of the Energy Panel,
President of the Royal Society of New Zealand (2003 - 2006), Auckland

Sir Ian Axford, FRS, Hon.FRSNZ, Napier

Professor Tom Barnes, FRSNZ, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research),
University of Auckland

Professor John Buckeridge, Head of the School of Civil, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne

Professor Gerry Carrington, FRSNZ, FIPENZ, Head, Department of Physics, University of Otago

Dr Richard Forster, Chief Executive, Lanzatech New Zealand Ltd, Auckland

Dr John Huckerby, Power Projects Limited, Wellington

Associate-Professor Hicham Idriss, Chemistry Department, University of Auckland

George Jones, CRSNZ, Krypton Technology Ltd, Wellington

Dr Susan Krumdieck, Advanced Energy and Material Systems Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury

Dr Ian Maxwell, General Manager Special Projects, Auckland Uniservices Ltd

Dr Mike Packer, Cawthron Institute,
MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Nelson

Dr Jim Salinger, CRSNZ, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Auckland

Professor Caroline Saunders, Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit,
Commerce Division, Lincoln University

Professor Ralph Sims, CRSNZ, Director, Centre for Energy Research,
Massey University

Paul White, GNS Sciences, Wairakei Research Centre, Taupo


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