The West Coast Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report, published today by EECA (Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority), has outlined recommendations to help West Coast industry transition away from a reliance on fossil fuels and thrive in a low-emissions environment.

The recommendations form part of a new report resulting from industry consultation and workshops which were supported by Development West Coast and with input from Westpower, Buller Electricity, Transpower, West Coast process heat users, electricity generators and retailers, West Coast forestry companies and wood processors.

The report’s insights centre on how the region can work collectively – across both the demand side and the supply side of the energy ecosystem, to support the uptake of renewable energy among local industry.

“Locally, process heat is important to meat and dairy manufacturers for food processing and drying milk powder,” said EECA Group Manager Business, Nicki Sutherland.

“Developing an approach that is right for the West Coast, by understanding unique region-specific energy needs, opportunities and barriers – like networks and regional resources, is at the heart of the RETA programme.

“Good decision making and investment that will meet future demand requires sharing information proactively and thinking about the combined impact of decisions across multiple individual sites. Capability building will also be important.”

The report highlights the valuable role local forests and biomass will play as a renewable fuel in the future as a complement to electricity – given up to 60% of the region’s energy needs could be met by biomass sourced locally.

The RETA report builds on the lessons learned from energy efficiency and fuel switching work already underway in the region. The 21 sites across The West Coast covered by RETA collectively use 1,157J of energy, and produce 125kt of emissions each year.

“Much of the tech we need to help reduce carbon emissions from West Coast industry – like high temperature heat pumps, and biomass boilers using wood residues – is proven and available. There will be a lot of opportunity in the supply of biomass too,” said Sutherland.

Sutherland said there will be a number of important co-benefits for the region further to reducing the impact of industry on the climate. But local businesses and the wider region will benefit most if they act now.

“Benefits will be unique to each business, for example we’re seeing a commitment to emissions reduction helps exporting businesses meet rapidly shifting customer and supply chain expectations around reducing climate impact,” said Sutherland.

Development West Coast Chief Executive, Heath Milne said “the RETA report not only supports the West Coast Renewable Energy Strategy but also provides opportunities for investment to support the region going forward.”

While the RETA report concentrates on high energy, process heat users, EECA has wider support and funding to help small to medium businesses who are keen to leave fossil fuels behind.

Read the full West Coast RETA

Find out more about EECA support and co-funding