Venture Southland to partner with EECA on renewable energy hub

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will work with Venture Southland to lower energy-related carbon emissions in Southland, improve air quality and provide local employment and business opportunities.

The formal partnership was announced today by EECA Mike Underhill and Venture Southland group manager enterprise and strategic projects Stephen Canny.

"Our two organisations will work closely together over the next three years to develop a regional renewable heat hub, which will enable businesses and organisations to make use of renewable wood energy, sourced locally," Mike Underhill said.

The hub was announced in May by the Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges, with Government committing funding of $1.5 million over the three year life of the project, which aims to switch large users of fossil fuels such as coal to wood energy.

"Venture Southland is an ideal partner because it has close links to business and all sectors of the Southland community, and is a leader in regional energy planning.

"EECA has worked closely with Venture Southland in the past on a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects."

Mike Underhill said Venture Southland would provide the local knowledge necessary for the project to be a success.

"EECA wants the Southland community to own and drive this project so that local know-how and resources can ensure its continued success long after the project's formal completion in 2017."

Venture Southland's Stephen Canny welcomed the opportunity to increase the use of renewable energy in the area.

"Southland is an ideal place to set up a hub because it has forestry and wood processing which generates 300,000 tonne a year of potential wood fuel. There is demand for heat from commercial premises such as schools, offices, rest homes, hospitals, and industrial processes such as meat works, other factories and dairy processing.

"Southland has a sustainable business strategy and a regional energy strategy that places a high priority on renewables and energy efficiency."

The partnership would tie in well with the region's strong processing and manufacturing base and with work relating to dairy sector efficiency, he said.

"We look forward to working with our local stakeholders to make this renewable hub a success."