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2060 energy modelling shows path to faster decarbonisation

The release of new modelling on what New Zealand’s energy future could look like by 2060, is an invaluable tool, says the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

EECA’s chief executive Andrew Caseley says the Business Energy Council’s new energy scenarios BEC2060, will help New Zealand make decisions on fuel use and technology switching.

The modelling – which EECA helped fund - shows two different pathways New Zealand could follow, depending on how fast it moves toward decarbonising the economy.

Under BEC2060’s “Kea” scenario New Zealand prioritises actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while under the “Tui” scenario it considers climate change to be one of several competing priorities. The modelling makes assumptions about gross domestic product (GDP), carbon pricing, and fuel sources (see the BEC2060 website here).

Mr Caseley says projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consistently show how urgently greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced.

‘The ongoing evidence about climate change and predictions of increasing impacts compel us to act as fast as we can and the Kea scenario would move New Zealand toward decarbonisation, faster.

‘The modelling shows that in 2035, transport, electricity, industrial and agricultural emissions under the Kea scenario are all about half what they would be under the Tui scenario.’

‘It’s particularly interesting to see the Kea scenario assumes GDP per capita tracks only slightly below that of Tui from 2025-2045, but after 2050 GDP per capita is higher under Kea.’

Mr Caseley says the modelling demonstrates the significant impact carbon pricing could have in determining business decisions to reduce emissions from energy use.

‘Carbon pricing will be a significant motivating factor for businesses to find ways to reduce emissions.’

In the BEC2060 modelling, energy efficiency is achieved primarily through the adoption of efficient technologies, such as LED lights, heat pumps, electric vehicles (EVs) etc.

The modelling also shows technology change will help shift the country from fossil fuels to renewable energy; in transport through the adoption of EVs, and in industry through innovations in the use of electricity, biomass, ultra-violet light or ultrasound technologies in the process heat sector.

Reduced energy demand (conservation of energy) happens through behaviour change e.g. people choosing active or public transport over personal motorised transport or cutting journeys, or the distance travelled.

Mr Caseley says the TIMES-NZ integrated energy systems model used by BEC2060 is a sophisticated tool for analysing options on technology and fuel use, which EECA is now using and further developing.

He says EECA will publish insights and share its findings from the TIMES-NZ model with other government agencies to advance evidence about emerging technology and energy use.

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