Energy in New Zealand

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New Zealand primary energy supply 2014. Source: MBIE Energy in New Zealand 2014[1]

Despite abundant natural resources and a relatively small population, New Zealand is a net importer of energy, in the form of petroleum products. The ratio of non-renewable and renewable energy sources was fairly consistent from 1975 to 2008, with about 70 per cent of primary energy supply coming from hydrocarbon fuels. This ratio decreased to about 60 per cent in 2014.[1] The proportion of non-renewable energy varies annually, depending on water flows into hydro-electricity lakes and demand for energy.[2] In 2014, approximately 60% of primary energy was from non-renewable hydrocarbon fuels and 40% 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 1994 to 2014, the energy intensity of the economy per unit of GDP declined by 24 per cent to 2.67 MJ/$.[1] A contributing factor is the growth of relatively less energy-intensive service industries.[4]

Energy supply[edit]

NZ primary energy supply 2014 (PJ)[1]
Oil Gas Geo-
Hydro Wood Coal Wind Biogas Waste
Solar Biofuel Total
280.1 204.4 200.1 87.6 58.3 55.6 8.0 3.2 0.9 0.4 0.1 898.7
31.2% 22.7% 22.3% 9.7% 6.5% 6.2% 0.9% 0.4% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 100%

Total primary energy is indigenous production, plus imports, less exports and international transport. Energy supply and demand in New Zealand in 2010 is dominated by hydrocarbon fuels, especially oil, most of which is used for transport.[5]


Main article: Mining in New Zealand
New Zealand Coal Production, 1878 - 2014.[1]

Coal is produced from four underground and 21 opencast mines.[6] 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.[7] 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 40% of primary energy is from renewable energy sources. Approximately 80% of electricity comes from renewable energy, primarily hydropower and geothermal power.[1] Studies have shown that it is technically feasible to provide 100% of the electricity demand by renewable power without risking with shortages in energy supply.[8][9]

Energy consumption[edit]

NZ consumer energy by fuel 2014 (PJ)[1]
Coal Oil Gas Renewables Electricity Total
27.1 254.1 84.9 95.6 141.1 602.8

International comparisons[edit]

International consumption of energy
(calendar year 2014)[1]
Oil products
(tonnes per person)
(m³ per person)
(kWh per person)
Mexico 0.60 634 2,496
Turkey 0.30 623 3,259
Portugal 0.60 393 4,974
UK 0.70 1,147 5,578
Germany 0.92 969 7,170
France 0.91 597 7,483
Japan 0.93 1,055 8,065
New Zealand 1.25 1,207 9,802
Australia 1.83 1,727 11,028
USA 1.93 2,384 13,734
Canada 1.86 3,065 17,026
Norway 1.58 1,200 24,621

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 wind energy. The large share of renewable energy sources makes New Zealand one of the most sustainable countries in terms of energy generation. Electricity demand increased by an average of 2.1% per year from 1974 to 2008 and since then has relatively constant overall.[1]

Governmental jurisdiction[edit]

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment 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 c d e f g h i j "Energy in New Zealand". MBIE. August 2015. 
  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. ^ MeD (2012). "Energy balances Ministry of Economic Development". Ministry of Economic Development. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Coal Overview". Crown Minerals, Ministry of Economic Development. 17 December 2008. 
  7. ^ "Petroleum Overview". Crown Minerals, Ministry of Economic Development. 26 June 2008. 
  8. ^ Mason et al., A 100% renewable electricity generation system for New Zealand utilising hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass resources. In: Energy Policy 38, (2010), 3973–3984, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.03.022.
  9. ^ Mason et al, Security of supply, energy spillage control and peaking options within a 100% renewable electricity system for New Zealand. In: Energy Policy 60, (2013),324–333, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2013.05.032.
  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]