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National Energy Research Institute sparks into lif

National Energy Research Institute sparks into life

Rising oil prices and the winter blast make next week's launch of a national research centre for the study of New Zealand's future energy needs very timely.

The National Energy Research Centre (NERI), hosted by the University of Otago, will be launched on Monday. Its role is to address fundamental questions about New Zealand's future energy supplies over coming decades and examine ways to curb carbon emissions.

The Centre is the result of more than two years of networking between New Zealand universities and other research organisations* and it has government backing, through a $1.5m establishment grant from the Tertiary Education Commission.

NERI convenor Professor Gerry Carrington says energy underpins all aspects of life in New Zealand. "Secure, sustainable energy is vital to our future, but piecing that future together over the next 10-20 years is like having a jigsaw with many pieces missing. We have excellent researchers throughout New Zealand, but the research is fragmented and disconnected. NERI can help put the pieces together and fill in the gaps.

"Good research does not happen in a vacuum. You have got to have people with the right knowledge and skills to do the research. You have got to be able to communicate really well with the public and the energy industry. And you also need people in the workforce with the skills to take on new ways of doing things. For example, there is no point having a new technology if no one can set it up and maintain it in the real world."

Professor Carrington says NERI will have a strong outward focus. "We are not just talking about getting the research happening, but developing strong links to industry and really getting out there among schools, tertiary institutes, iwi and communities."


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