Energy Minister developing new national energy targets beyond renewable electricity

The country already has a 90% renewable generation target for electricity by 2025.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said he's keen to develop new national targets to improve the country's progress in energy efficiency.

The country already has a 90% renewable generation target for electricity by 2025, 10% above what is currently achieved but electricity makes up only a quarter of New Zealand's total energy demand.

"We need to broaden our renewable energy use beyond electricity and increase its use in the transport and industrial heat sectors," he said. "This is another area I'm considering setting a target."

The targets, due to be implemented by the end of the year, will help businesses with capital investment decisions and help align research and development with government priorities, without comprising the  need to ensure security of supply, he said.

Mr Bridges is also looking to replace the existing New Zealand Energy and Efficiency Strategy next year.

Although the country is making good progress in energy efficiency, it can do more and we also need to improve our energy intensity – the measure of energy used per dollar of gross domestic product, Mr Bridges said.

"Setting an ambitious energy intensity target is one option I'm considering. Improving energy intensity will lead to decreased costs and improve our business competitiveness."

Mr Bridges said New Zealand's greatest potential to reduce carbon lies in the process heat and transport sectors which both have a much larger proportion of non-renewable energy than electricity and are significant emitters.

He pointed to Maori-owned dairy processor Miraka as a good example of an innovative use of process heat. It uses renewable geothermal energy to make milk products and is looking to double production in the next five years.

Another example was Taupo-based wood products processor Tenon, which uses direct-heat geothermal energy to heat nine timber drying kilns and supply eco-certified products to a range of distributors.