Trustpower Renewable Energy Award

The Trustpower Renewable Energy Award recognises a project or technology designed to increase the production or use of renewable energy.

Finalists

Winner – Antarctica New Zealand

Unique, Kiwi-designed and built wind turbines generate enough energy to power both New Zealand and America’s Antarctic research stations.

Photo of a wind turbine in Antarctica.
Antarctica New Zealand

Few places can demonstrate the vital need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions like Antarctica can. The fate of the landscape is so obviously and inextricably linked to climate change that using large amounts of fossil fuel to run Scott Base on Ross Island would stand in defiance of the ethos behind the work being done at the Research Station.

Antarctica New Zealand, in partnership with Meridian Energy, commissioned the Ross Island Wind Farm, consisting of three 333 kilowatt turbines erected on Crater Hill above Scott Base. It is the southern-most wind farm in the world and has significantly reduced the amount of diesel required to power the research station and lessened the risks associated with transporting and storing fuel in this fragile region.

The practical and innovative development of renewable energy technology in this tough environment required the highest degree of environmental leadership. Special consideration was paid to the turbines’ construction, and unique steel and concrete foundations had to be developed to ensure the structures could hold fast in permafrost and withstand unforgiving weather conditions.

The installation has a lifespan of 20 years and the electricity being generated is estimated to be saving between $1.3 million and $1.9 million in fuel costs each year.  Since 2011 it has displaced 15.7 million kilowatt-hours of fuel or 3.8 million litres of diesel, to the tune of $8 million in total fuel cost savings including delivery to this remote site.

Antarctica New Zealand shares its wind energy with their colleagues at the United States McMurdo Station, who in 2015 imported 76% of the generated electricity. This New Zealand built and run renewable energy project lowers the combined impact of two countries on Ross Island. Antarctica New Zealand is also advocating wind energy amongst Antarctic Treaty Parties for its further use on the Island.

Judges said:

A bold, inspiring emission-saving project with numerous positive side-effects – particularly the cooperation with another international research station. Overcoming obvious logistical, climatic and geographical difficulties, it sets a high national and international standard of renewable energy generation.

Commended – Laminex New Zealand

Turning wood waste into energy saves thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and landfill every year.

Photo of laminex bricketts.
Laminex New Zealand
Each year, 1,400 tonnes of waste wood is saved from landfill and used for energy generation at Laminex New Zealand, and whatever they can’t use gets passed on as briquettes to fuel other industrial plants’ furnaces and boilers.

Laminex New Zealand, who make particle boards at their Taupo plant, have imported and custom fit a briquetting machine on site, which compresses waste wood and sander dust into pieces of biomass.  The briquettes now fuel their operations and thus solve both an environmental and economic problem.

Enough sander dust was being produced to fill 72 wheelie bins a day and disposing of this had a big impact on the business.  The average price of dumping raw sander dust was around $220,000 each year.

The cost of purchasing, installing and running the briquette machine, when set against the removed outlay on product disposal and economical renewable energy generation, achieves an annual saving of around $200,000 for Laminex New Zealand.

Around a thousand tonnes of briquettes can generate more than 6,000 megawatt-hours of energy as the biomass has a high calorific value. So far it has been companies that have wood-burning furnaces who have collected Laminex New Zealand’s surplus briquettes, but they can also be used to replace coal.

The process has gained national and international attention and Laminex New Zealand is fielding calls from as far away as Cyprus with queries on how they might replicate this New Zealand initiative.

Judges said:

A great way of turning a waste disposal problem into a heat energy solution. A simple and effective
renewable energy project that’s having a dramatic effect on landfill reduction.

Commended – Omarunui Landfill Gas Limited Partnership

Making use of methane to bring power to Hawke’s Bay.

Photo of Omarunui landfill.
Omarunui Landfill Gas Limited

This clever local renewable energy project has dual environmental benefits: removing a potent greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, and using it to generate electricity – thereby reducing the need for greenhouse gas-emitting energy generation that would have been required.

Hastings District Council is working with Pioneer Energy to tap into an abundant, but sometimes overlooked, energy source. They are utilising the methane that would otherwise be just another unpleasant by-product of landfill to generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.

The public/private partnership delivers sustainable environmental and commercial outcomes from the construction of an electricity generator that converts landfill emissions to renewable electricity. By joining forces through a Limited Partnership, Hastings District Council and Pioneer Energy enhance the security of electricity supply to Hawke’s Bay and ensure that the methane gas being produced by the landfill is utilised rather than flared.

The gas-to-energy plant at the Omarunui Landfill was commissioned in 2014 and is capable of providing electricity to around 1,000 homes. The landfill is jointly owned by the Napier City and Hastings District Councils, who sell the methane gas to the Limited Partnership, which generates public funds. The total cost of the project was $1.86 million.

The project delivers sustainable environmental and commercial outcomes which have long-term benefits for all parties including the community.

Judges said:

While not the first landfill gas example in New Zealand, this is a straight-forward example of renewable energy generation. Methane utilisation for electricity production is a win-win for the environment and the process is highly replicable.

Sponsor

Trustpower is a long established and rapidly growing New Zealand energy and telecommunications company, which produces electricity from 38 hydro generation units and two wind farms spread around New Zealand’s north and south islands.

Trustpower generates more than 99% of its own power from these renewable generation facilities, which unlike gas and coal fired generation, don’t emit damaging fossil fuel carbon pollution into the air.

Trustpower, already New Zealand’s fourth largest retailer and fifth largest generator of electricity, was voted the Consumer NZ Energy Retailer of the Year at the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards 2015.

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