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What New Zealand Can Teach the Rest of the World When it Comes to Renewable Energy

This guest post is by Alex Duthie of Find Energy Savings.

With a long standing commitment to the environment, New Zealand (NZ) is a country which has built its reputation on its clean image. It is part of the country’s background and it is built into its future. Tourism relies on the country being untarnished and when people think of Aotearoa (the Maori name for NZ) they think of rolling hills, mountains and clean green energy.

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In the 1980′s NZ made a commitment to not use nuclear energy and this attitude has spread to further commitments to green energy wherever possible. As a country which is surrounded by water and with resources which rival any other country on Earth, NZ is well placed to make green energy a priority.

NZ was one of the first countries in the world to introduce legislation which would ensure sustainability and this has led to a cohesive set of policies aimed at the energy sector, transport, construction and the waste sector.

In NZ one third of all energy comes from a renewable source and by 2025 it is thought that two thirds will be renewable. In particular, the emphasis is on geothermal, wind and biomass energy. Wind in particular is expected to be key. NZ has nine wind farms currently and many more are planned. NZ has already taken advantage of the water in the region and has a number of hydro-electricity plants.

In terms of legislation, NZ has the Resource Management Act and the NZ Energy Strategy which have set out to protect the resources the country has and will consider the environmental impact which all industries have. It is this legislation which allows the country to be innovative and try new things, making use of new technologies from around the world. It also seeks to improve housing stock with insulation and offers incentives for the use of renewable energy.

Finally NZ has recognised that all industries have a part to play when it comes to renewable energy and greenhouse emissions. As such they have included the agriculture industry as part of the emissions trading scheme (aimed at reducing the cost to households from industry emissions). They are the only country to do this.

The rest of world could learn a thing or two from NZ. The country is willing to step out on a limb. From the humble beginnings of avoiding the nuclear power industry, to being happy to be guinea pigs in trying new things, the country has shown that making use of the resources you have is key to providing stability in terms of energy.

Other countries need to be more aware of what resources can be exploited and to make renewable energy a priority rather than just a “nice to have”. As an isolated country, NZ has always needed to rely on itself. It simply is not possible to import huge amounts of fuel, gas or coal and keep prices down. So it became necessary to find alternatives. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say.

Becoming self reliant is something which all other countries could aim for and using natural resources to make the most of renewable energy is clearly something which is working for New Zealand.

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