Energy efficiency key action to meet renewable energy goals

Nationwide uptake of energy efficient technology, such as LED lighting and heat pumps, could significantly reduce the cost of meeting New Zealand’s ambitious renewable electricity goals, according to new modelling.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has investigated the role energy efficiency can play in supporting the government’s ambition towards 100% renewable electricity by 2035*. 

This ‘Energy Efficiency First: The Electricity Story’ modelling supports work led by the Interim Climate Change Commission (ICCC) on that scenario.

EECA’s modelling finds widespread uptake of energy efficient technology in factories, businesses and homes would mean a lot less new renewable generation would need to be built, to supply New Zealand with very high levels of renewable electricity. This would require less capital investment and reduce national electricity costs.

EECA’s Chief Executive Andrew Caseley says the usual mind set is to build more renewable generation, but investment in energy efficient technology is often overlooked.

‘Energy efficient technology is a key solution hiding in plain sight. Mass uptake of these technologies would lead to significant electricity demand reduction and savings in factories, buildings and houses, so they would effectively play the same role as new renewable capacity.’

The study shows the savings from system wide uptake of modern technologies like LEDs, heat pumps, energy efficient water heating and electric motors could provide the system with the equivalent of 4,000 GWh of extra capacity, before any new renewable generation would be required.

Mr Caseley says while there are costs to large-scale introduction of energy efficient technology, it is still cheaper ** than building new geothermal, wind or other renewable generation.   

‘The other benefit of course is that consumers will need to spend less on electricity as a result of that investment.’

Mr Caseley says ‘overlooking the impact of energy efficiency creates a risk that we might build more generation than needed. This could result in higher than necessary costs, along with other impacts***’.

‘It’s time electricity efficiency receives the priority that it deserves’.

‘There’s no doubt that energy efficient technology can reduce electricity emissions, along with consumer and system costs. It is absolutely critical that everyone involved in planning and investing in any part of the electricity system understands the potential role of energy efficient technologies in our electricity system.’

* In a normal hydrological year
** For the first 4,000 GWh (See Page 3 graphic, or Figure 6, Page 16 of the Overview Report).
*** For example extra investment in transmission lines, changes to pricing, security costs and risks.

Energy Efficiency First – The Electricity Story (links below)

Media enquiries:

Liz Banas, Strategic Communications Advisor, EECA

Phone: 027 5970988

Email: liz.banas@eeca.govt.nz