Energy in New Zealand

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New Zealand primary energy supply 2010. Source: Ministry of Economic Development Energy Data File 2011, New Zealand. Note that transformation losses are not accounted for in this chart; in the case of geothermal energy for example, transformation losses for the supply of electricity amount to 85.5%.[1]

Despite a comparatively small population and abundant natural resources, New Zealand is a net importer of energy, in the form of petroleum products. The ratio of non-renewable and renewable energy sources has been fairly consistent from 1995 to 2005, with about 70 per cent of primary energy supply coming from hydrocarbon fuels and about 30 per cent coming from renewable sources. The proportion of non-renewable energy varies annually, depending on water flows into hydro-electricity lakes and demand for energy.[2] In 2010, approximately 62% of primary energy was from non-renewable hydrocarbon fuels and 38% was from renewable sources.[1] In 2007 energy consumption per capita was 120 gigajoules. Per capita energy consumption had increased 8 per cent since 1998. New Zealand uses more energy per capita than 17 of 30 OECD countries.[3] New Zealand is one of 13 OECD countries that does not operate nuclear power stations.

From 1995 to 2009, the energy intensity of the economy per unit of GDP declined by 23 percent. A contributing factor is the growth of relatively less energy-intensive service industries.[4]

Energy supply[edit]

NZ primary energy supply 2010 (PJ)[5]
Oil Gas Geo-
Hydro Wood Coal Wind Biogas Waste
Solar Biofuel Total
275.5 173.47 152.57 88.97 59.1 58 5.88 3.18 1.32 0.36 0.18 816.54
33.50% 21.24% 18.69% 10.90% 7.24% 7.10% 0.72% 0.39% 0.16% 0.04% 0.02% 100.00%

Total primary energy is indigenous production, plus imports, less exports and international transport.[6] Energy supply and demand in New Zealand in 2010 is dominated by hydrocarbon fuels, especially oil, most of which is used for transport.[7]


Main article: Mining in New Zealand
New Zealand's coal consumption 1970–2009. Source: New Zealand Government Ministry of Economic Development Energy Data File 2009, New Zealand[6]

Coal is produced from four underground and 21 opencast mines.[8] Over 80% of New Zealand's coal reserves are contained in Southland lignite deposits. Most coal production is by Solid Energy, a government owned corporation.

Oil and gas[edit]

Oil and gas is produced from 21 petroleum licenses / permits, all in the Taranaki basin.[9] The most important fields are Kapuni, Maui, Pohokura and Kupe. Exploration for oil and gas reserves includes the Great South Basin and offshore areas near Canterbury and Gisborne.

Renewable energy[edit]

Approximately 35% of primary energy is from renewable energy sources.[6] Approximately 70% of electricity comes from renewable energy, primarily hydropower and geothermal power. This is expected to increase over the next 20 years, with wind energy making up much of that increase.

Energy consumption[edit]

NZ consumer energy by fuel 2009 (PJ)[6]
Coal Oil Gas Renewables Electricity Total
18.4 252.0 57.9 61.0 140.0 529.3

International comparisons[edit]

International consumption of energy
(calendar year 2008)
Oil products
(tonnes per person)
(m3 per person)
(kWh per person)
Mexico 1.17 580 2,326
Turkey 0.45 494 2,599
Portugal 1.70 475 5,165
UK 1.90 1,693 6,576
Germany 1.87 1,144 7,446
France 1.82 759 8,196
New Zealand 2.04 981 10,200
Australia 2.49 1,531 12,570
Japan 2.31 806 8,533
Norway 4.41 1,545 27,682
Canada 3.88 3,014 17,998
USA 4.29 2,208 14,355

In terms of energy intensity, New Zealand is just a little lower than the global average.

Electrical energy[edit]

Electrical energy in New Zealand is mainly derived from renewable energy sources such as from hydropower, geothermal power and increasingly wind energy. The large share of renewable energy sources makes New Zealand one of the most sustainable countries in terms of energy generation. However, electricity demand is also still growing, by an average of 2.1% per year since 1974 and 0.2% over 2004–2009.[6]

Governmental jurisdiction[edit]

The Ministry of Economic Development is responsible for economic issues surrounding energy use and the Ministry for the Environment addresses the environmental impact of energy use in New Zealand. Exploration and production of fossil fuels comes under Crown Minerals, a division of the Ministry of Economic Development. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority is responsible for preparing a statutory national energy efficiency and conservation strategy for approval by the administering Minister.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b MeD (2011). "New Zealand Energy Data File 2011". Ministry of Economic Development. ISSN 1177-6684. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  2. ^ MfE (December 2007). "Chapter 5 Energy Current pressures and trends". Environment New Zealand 2007. ME 847. Wellington, N.Z: Ministry for the Environment. ISBN 978-0-478-30191-5. 
  3. ^ MfE (July 2009). "Environmental Report Card Energy Supply and Demand". INFO 421. Ministry for the Environment. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Key Findings on New Zealand's Progress Using a Sustainable Development Approach". Statistics New Zealand. 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Sheet B Energy balances Table B.2". New Zealand Energy Data File 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Energy Data File 2010". Ministry of Economic Development. July 2010. 
  7. ^ MeD (2012). "Energy balances Ministry of Economic Development". Ministry of Economic Development. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Coal Overview". Crown Minerals, Ministry of Economic Development. 17 December 2008. 
  9. ^ "Petroleum Overview". Crown Minerals, Ministry of Economic Development. 26 June 2008. 
  10. ^ "Section 13. Preparation of draft strategy". Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000 No 14. New Zealand government. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]