Forestry owners and biomass suppliers in the Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman region can expect to see increased demand for wood residues as the region moves onto clean energy.

A new report, published today by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows how the forestry sector could play a key role to push more fossil fuels out of the energy system with up to 72% of the region’s energy needs being met by low-carbon fuel source, biomass.

The Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report provides insights and recommendations that aim to improve efficiency and future proof energy investments and make the move more straightforward for local businesses.

“Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman is a forestry-rich region, and the insights show the area is well positioned to use its resources to bring in a clean and clever approach to industrial processing,” said EECA Group Manager Business, Nicki Sutherland.

“There will likely also be enough left over to support nearby regions with biomass – so there is clear commercial opportunity in local forestry. Additionally, it allows electricity suppliers to anticipate future infrastructure needs in the area.

The RETA report builds on the lessons learned from energy efficiency and fuel switching work already underway in the region – particularly in the horticultural and viticultural sectors.

Producers like J.S Ewers, Indevin and Talleys as well as Nelson and Blenheim hospitals and meat processors AFFCO – are all at various stages of lowering their emissions.

“A noteworthy example is Nelson Pine Industries. The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry.”

“These clean energy projects can also support the New Zealand manufacturing sector – creating new local jobs. It is fantastic to see businesses in Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman considering how they can use biomass productively and bring forward a move to renewables,” said Sutherland.

Another business leaning into building a sustainable business model is the Indevin Group, who manage four wineries in the region. General Manager Capital Developments Sandy O’Connell said increasing energy efficiency and lowering emissions ensures the future of the business respects their people and protects the area’s critical resources.

“We are focussing on where we can have the greatest positive impact,” said O’Connell.

“The RETA programme’s focus on energy efficiency and decarbonisation aligns well with Indevin’s environmental and sustainable business goals.”

Demand reduction and heat production efficiency are key parts of the RETA process and enable and help fuel switching decisions, alongside addressing the need for grid resilience to support increased electrification in the region.

Regional Strategy and Investment Manager at Nelson Regional Development Agency, Gareth Power Gordon, said the report demonstrates how locally produced biofuel can play a significant role in managing the switch to clean energy.

“As a region we know we need to move towards a sustainable future,” said Power Gordon.

“Forestry is a strength for the top of the south – we are home to innovative forestry and wood processing companies. This report shows the region is well placed to leverage the transition to renewable energy and support sectors such as horticulture and food production.”

The report had valuable input from the Nelson Regional Development Agency & Economic Development Unit at the Marlborough District Council, Transpower, Nelson Electricity, Network Tasman and Marlborough Lines, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, electricity generators and retailers, and medium to large industrial energy users.

Read the full report:

Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman RETA

Additional information

Process heat is the energy used as heat mainly by the industrial and commercial sectors for industrial processes, manufacturing, and warming spaces. Some process heat emissions can be reduced by redesigning the underlying processes, but decarbonising the remaining heat demand will require switching from fossil fuels to low-emission fuels, such as wood fuels in boilers or electricity in electric boilers or heat pumps.