N.Z. strategy sees role for hydro, marine technologies

New Zealand’s new draft energy strategy calls for renewable energy, including hydropower and marine technologies, to be used for as much of the island nation’s new electricity generation as possible.

�New Zealand is in the fortunate position of being able to produce large amounts of low-emissions electricity from renewable resources, such as hydro and wind, which are plentiful and cheap by world standards,� Energy and Climate Change Minister David Parker said in unveiling the strategy December 11.

The multi-faceted strategy calls for efforts to introduce renewable energy sources for power generation and vehicles. Hydropower and innovative marine technologies are among the list of emission-free renewables being promoted.

Hydro supplies 60 percent, can do more

�A particularly important feature of New Zealand’s electricity system is our existing stock of hydro generation, which typically produces 60 percent of our total electricity supply annually,� the draft strategy said.

The document said New Zealand hydropower supplied 23,237 gigawatt-hours in 2005 and that facilities to produce another 5,800 GWh per year could be developed at a cost of less than 9 NZ cents (6 US cents) per kilowatt-hour.

Among planned generation projects, the report listed Trustpower’s proposed 4-MW Deep Stream hydro project on the Waipori River and Meridian Energy’s 16-MW Manapouri Efficiency hydro project.

Research push seen for marine technologies

One key element of the draft strategy is funding for the early deployment of marine-based electricity generation, such as wave or tidal power, worth NZ$8 million (US$5.37 million) over four years.

�A developing technology of significant potential for New Zealand is marine power, the generation of electricity from waves or tidal currents,� the report said. �Various prototypes have been developed overseas. New Zealand has a vast marine energy resource if it can be tapped, and wave and tidal energy have the advantage of being less intermittent than wind.�

The report noted the government has announced establishment of a fund to advance deployment of marine power in New Zealand. It said priority is likely to be given to small-scale development near islands or coastal communities that currently rely on expensive diesel-fueled generation.

Under areas for action, the strategy proposes New Zealand monitor marine technology developments, focusing on international collaboration and networks assessing relevance to New Zealand. It also proposes research and development, demonstration, and market creation for domestic marine energy projects.

The Ministry of Economic Development has begun stakeholder briefings on the draft strategy. It seeks comments by March 30, filed via its Internet site. The draft strategy and comment forms can be obtained at www.med.govt.nz.

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