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NZ’s Energy System Performs Well But Requires More Security Focus

New Zealand has once again scored well in the global energy ranking that compares how a country balances energy security, equity, and sustainability - the energy trilemma.

Each year the World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma Index ranks countries on how well they achieve the energy ‘trilemma’. The trilemma uses historical data to assess past energy policy performance to help explore what policies work best, in which contexts.

This year New Zealand ranks 9th out of 127 countries. New Zealand has consistently ranked in the top 10 countries for its Energy Trilemma score and has consistently been the best-performing country in the Asia Pacific region.

Although countries like Canada have more storage and countries like Switzerland and Sweden are highly sustainable, New Zealand has done a good job of balancing all three dimensions.

"The New Zealand energy system continues to be sustainable and relatively low-carbon," said BusinessNZ Energy Council Executive Director Tina Schirr. "Our sustainability performance has improved over the last 10 years thanks to our ongoing development of wind and geothermal energy sources.

"One worrying result in the Trilemma Index is that New Zealand’s energy security has declined notably. This is largely because of an increasing dependence on energy imports and lower storage of local oil. This trend is likely to continue following changes in operation of NZ Refining.

"New Zealand’s equity score - which includes our performance in providing affordable, wide access to energy - has been stable, although the ‘affordability of electricity for residents’ measure has declined over the last decade.

"Interestingly, MBIE data shows real residential electricity prices increased between 2009 and 2015 but have since then reduced. From 2017, industrial electricity prices have generally increased - something to keep in mind as we encourage further electrification to meet decarbonisation targets.

"One way to increase security and affordability is to ensure a diverse energy mix, which we explore in New Zealand Energy Scenarios - TIMES-NZ 2.0. Future solutions could look quite different from how we produce and store energy today. Distributed systems are one way to diversify the mix with the potential to provide flexibility as well as decentralised storage."

Ms Schirr said this year’s Index result show New Zealand continued to achieve strongly overall but raised the question of what could be done better to improve New Zealand’s energy security in future.

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