Our electricity network underpins our country’s prosperity. In the coming years, as we transition to a carbon neutral economy, it will play an increasingly important role.

We must power not only a rapidly increasing number homes and businesses, but also our industry and transportation, and do so with 100% renewable energy.

Over the past 100 years, our centralised network has served us well, transporting energy from monolithic hydro dams and fossil fuel plants around the country on poles and wires.

Once a symbol of strength and success, our expansive and ageing network, now leaves us exposed with an increasing frequency of severe storms.

Security of supply is at risk, as is our ability to meet the increased demand that is forecast. Reliability has decreased in parts, while the costs have increased.

Business, as usual, does not offer solutions to our urgent energy challenges, nor does it deliver on our ambition of better living standards and wellbeing for all New Zealanders.

worker installs solar panels on roof of building with Mt Maunganui in the background

Distributed Energy Resources (DER), such as Solar PV, Batteries, and wind, embedded in mini and micro-grids, and connected by new business models can play a significant role in building a modern energy system by :

 

 

1. Powering New Zealand’s low-carbon economy by,

  • Getting us from 80% to 100% renewable energy before 2035
  • Supporting carbon neutrality by 2050
  • Meeting increased demand to power our transport fleet

 

 

 

2. Improving system resilience and reliability by,

  • Diversifying energy generation to overcome risks associated with increasingly frequent hydro dry years
  • Distributing generation to improve resilience and lower the financial impacts of power outages due to increasingly frequent extreme weather events and from natural disasters
 

 

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3. Improving fairness and equity, lowering energy costs, and reducing energy poverty through:

  • Government policy to ensure equal opportunity for all Kiwis regardless of socio-economic status
  • Levelling and lowering the cost of energy by producing it where it is needed
  • Increasing competition by creating a secondary market where Kiwi households can buy and sell energy for a fair price with their friends and neighbours using the local distribution network
  • Reducing and managing peaks at peak demand times, therefore reducing the investment required in the distribution network
 

 

4. Providing additional benefits of:

  • Job creation
  • Private investment offsetting and government or private generator investment

This brief from the Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand (SEANZ) proposes an alternative approach to our electricity network and its generation, distribution, and retail component parts, which can operate concurrently with the existing network.

Smart energy technologies and business models have created the opportunity to accelerate growth in our economy on the back of resilient, clean, affordable, and reliable energy in a way that benefits everyone.

Smart homes and businesses can be the cornerstone of our sustainable energy network, powering our lives with energy from the sun. We need the leadership to make it happen.


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