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Each week NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert provides you with in-depth news, analysis and opinion on NZ’s energy and environmental sectors.

Once a week, read authoritative news and analysis on everything from water allocation policy to renewable energy production, from deep-sea oil and gas prospecting to the emissions trading scheme and new green technologies.

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TOP 11 ISSUES For Energy and Environment In 2017

NZ faces huge choices and opportunities in its energy, environmental management, agricultural and resources sectors, which will have a major impact on your business and life during the next few years.

Climate Change –Globally the attention is what happens in the post-Kyoto world and the move to implement the Paris Agreement. In the medium term much of the focus will be on the impact of the Trump presidency. However with or without the US much of the world is moving towards lower carbon economies with different levels of success, cost and disruption. In NZ the emphasis is on the ETS, which has gained some teeth with removal of ‘hot air units’ and subsidies being phased out. A review this year could add more bite, but the election will cause uncertainty over the direction. NZ will have to rely on forestry offsets and international carbon trading to meet its Paris Agreement commitments on current policy settings. This will all cause further uncertainty, new technology is offering potential solutions, but the treatment of animal emissions remains a difficult issue

Water – Abundant water remains one of NZ’s greatest blessings, but despite this there is pressure on supplies, arguments over ownership and questions over quality. The Government’s attempts to ramp up storage and irrigation have had mixed success. Freshwater quality remains a very hot political topic with the Govt trying to balance economic priorities with improving standards. Water may be a simple substance but the policy is complex and the politics difficult. So far there has been little progress in reforming water allocation, which is a political minefield to navigate.

Oil & Gas – NZ remains highly prospective and under explored, especially offshore. However a new wave of exploration activity both onshore and offshore has run smack into a glut of global oil and slack prices. Efforts to attract new investors to NZ have had limited success and there is still vocal opposition to any oil and gas exploration and exploitation. The retail oil sector is also facing pressure to rationalise and ongoing public pressure about margins. The Govt says it wants to ensure the market remains competitive, this could result in regulatory changes to access to refined oil from Marsden Point.

Oceans – Exclusive Economic Zone legislation is still bedding in and will be reviewed, with some urging greater protection and others concerned no seabed mining project has managed to get over the regulatory hurdles. The Environmental Protection Authority will come under scrutiny in this area and others. There are also pushes for more unified ocean policy and legislation to reform outdated marine reserves law will throw a focus on this contentious area. The Govt wants to get legislation passed setting up a marine reserve around the Kermadecs..

The Future Of Coal – King Coal may not quite be dead, but it is certainly ailing. Global over supply has many predicting a price slump will last for years. Despite intense pressure from environmentalists to stop coal burning, it remains a major source of energy in NZ and around the world. The Govt wants to make more efficient industrial heating a priority which could result in more moves away from coal..

Electricity Generation - The Government’s electricity reforms have boosted retail competition creating a swathe of new retailers. Electricity demand has barely moved in the last five years and questions over the future of major electricity users with the rise of geothermal power has brought forward the closure of high cost thermal plant. New technology is creating uncertainty for both generators and distributors with some fearing expensive assets being stranded, however others feel a lack of investment will put security of supply at risk, while driving prices back up again. The Electricity Authority’s reform of pricing methodologies and the treatment of new technologies will be a continuing policy and political Faultline.

Renewable Energy – The Government’s goal is 90% electricity generation from renewable sources. This is looking achievable with wind and geothermal energy making up the largest increments of recently commissioned new generation, while gas and coal is driven out of the market. Solar photovoltaic technology and battery costs are falling, making it an increasingly realistic option for small-scale electricity generation. This will bring both opportunities and threats for the entire sector.

RMA Reform – After years in gestation the latest round of RMA reform will be a centrepiece for political debate in election year. The balancing act between economic development and environmental sustainability is always a difficult one, but housing issues have made it one of the most important political issues in election year. There is also a growing belief that the RMA should be split into separate planning and environment law, it may sound appealing, but it will not be as simple as some people imagine. Critics are watching closely, and so will NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert.

Energy Efficiency – Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly essential for businesses, and the nationwide roll-out of smart meters holds the prospect of major changes in both retail electricity offerings and the capacity for consumers to manage their energy use. Find out about new technologies to cut your energy bills and discover what other organisations are doing to slash consumption and improve efficiency.

Bio-Fuels – Bio-fuels have largely been forgotten in recent years, but many still argue they are a way forward in reducing emissions and loosening the economy’s reliance on oil. Lanzatech is one of the NZ companies at the forefront of efforts to find new technologies to produce lower carbon fuels. Others such as Z Energy are also keen to improve their ‘green’ image with the greater use of biofuels. NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert will keep tabs on these developments.

Science & Innovation – Finding solutions to our future energy and environmental issues will depend on products, services and industries which may not even exist yet. Initiatives to research agricultural greenhouse gas emission reductions are important both to NZ’s growth rates and its defence of its environmentally clean image.

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Government departments, local authorities, regional councils, shareholders, accountants, investors, bankers, insurers, legal advisors, exporters and manufacturers are all affected by a broad based market shift towards sustainability.

NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert is written and edited in a clear, concise style and focuses specifically on the situations confronting you every day. Advertising is not accepted. Editors have no allegiance to any political party or other outside lobby groups. Their duty is solely to you, the client.

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29 November 2017

  • This Week … The Govt’s initial energy policy priorities will be the Retail Pricing Review for Electricity, a review of fuel pricing, Winter Power Payments, and insulation and heat source grants. Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods says the Govt wants “to help maximise the energy and resources sector’s contribution to our economic and social wellbeing, and help drive more sustainable energy use for the future.”
  • Several companies waiting for the global oil price to recover from the lows it plumbed in the last couple of years have been moving toward gearing up for drilling again in the next couple of years. But the question is whether opposition from lobby groups like Greenpeace or from the Green Party will scupper further efforts to unlock the untapped resources in permits both onshore and offshore.
  • The allocation of NZ Units in the ETS ended up costing $295m in 2016/2017, less than the $470m earlier estimated, but up from $163m. The update shows the appropriation to compensate those in the ETS, mainly export-exposed heavy industries, who receive free NZUs and others given breaks from full exposure to their emissions.
  • And The Electricity Authority says regulatory changes averted power restrictions during the last winter. Authority chief executive Carl Hansen says the sector “effectively managed yet another dry winter, further demonstrating vast improvements.”

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