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Renewable Energy in New Zealand June 15, 2017

Around 80% of all the electricity generated in New Zealand is from renewable energy sources, mainly hydro and geothermal although there is some wind energy. Around 40% of all the energy consumed in New Zealand comes from renewable resources.

If New Zealand was to convert to 100% renewable energy for electricity and transport, then this would require the replacement of coal fired and oil and gas fired power stations with a renewable alternative and it would require the replacement of all transport with electric vehicles. While this is no mean feat, it is actually plausible in the relatively near future if we take into account some overseas developments that are happening very rapidly.

The coal and gas fired power stations are there primarily to supply peak load and as backup when the available hydropower is restricted after a large scale drought in the South Island for example. Overseas there are new utility scale solar plants coming online at a price point less then the ongoing cost of keeping existing coal and gas fired power stations going, and this is definitely a possibility for New Zealand.

Another trend overseas is the development of large-scale utility battery storage solutions which are used primarily to defer network expansion to cope with larger day to day peaks. Battery storage costs significantly less and is significantly faster to install then the equivalent network upgrade.

How solar power works

Any transition to electric vehicles in New Zealand will require beefing up the electrical network to cope with the increased electricity demand, although the fact that most EV charging will occur overnight means that the electrical network can largely cope with the increased demand. A rapid transition to electric vehicles will  will be inevitable once fully autonomous electric vehicles arrive on your shores,  as these vehicles will be probably 10 times safer on the road then human driven vehicles,  and when operated in a fleet will be probably 10 times cheaper to use as a service then buying and maintaining a new or used vehicle. This technology wave is imminent and could be starting to take hold in New Zealand by the year 2019 or 2020.  Some expert predictions are that  internal combustion engine vehicles will be completely off the road by the Year 2030. At this point New Zealand will probably have 90% of all it’s energy being renewable.

 

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