Speech to the Asia Pacific Energy Leaders’ Summit

Tēnā koutou katoa.

It is a pleasure to be here.

I would like to express a warm welcome to my fellow Ministers who have joined us today from the Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

Can I especially acknowledge:

Prime Minister Henry Puna (Cook Islands)

Minister Ruateki Tekaiara (Kiribati Minister of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy)

Christoph Frei, Secretary-General, World Energy Council, UK;

Hon David Caygill, BEC and Summit Chair

Opposition MPs

I would also like to thank the Business NZ Energy Council and the World Energy Council for bringing us together over the next few days to talk about some of the key challenges and opportunities the energy sector is facing.

As Energy and Resources Minister and the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation I am excited to see business,  government and academia from throughout the Asia Pacific coming together to discuss some of the key trends, issues and opportunities for our shared energy future.

It is only through collaboration with government, business, academia, communities and our international partners that we will be able to achieve this Government’s vision of building a prosperous, sustainable and inclusive economy. 

The trends of decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation that you will discuss at this conference will all be driving forces in the change that is coming and the change that we want to achieve.

As a Government, we are excited by the possibilities that come from a clean energy future and a transition away from fossil fuels in our energy system.

We stand for a just transition towards a low carbon economy that creates jobs and supports higher living standards.

We’ve already set ourselves some ambitious targets in these areas.

Reaching net zero carbon as a country by 2050. Achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2035 (in a normal hydrological year of course).

We are very lucky in this country that we start from a very high base.

We are blessed in this country.

From our mountains to our volcanic plateaus springs not only natural beauty but an abundance of renewable energy that is the envy of many other countries.

Our electricity system already has over 80 per cent of our energy generated from wind, hydro and geothermal.

As the IEA recently noted in its review of New Zealand’s energy policies, we and our unique resource base are a success story for the development of renewable energy.

Alongside this we have much to be proud of in terms of the security of our energy supply.

In the World Energy Council’s latest “Energy Trilemma” Index, New Zealand ranked 8th in the world based on our ability to provide energy via three measures – energy security, energy equity (accessibility and affordability) and environmental sustainability.

So we are well placed to begin the transition towards a low carbon energy future.

And this Government is taking steps to begin that transition now.

Firstly, we are backing innovative new technologies that can help us decarbonise our energy system.

In this year’s budget, we invested $1 billion in a new research and development tax incentive.

We know that achieving the change we want to see will require new thinking, new ways of doing things and new solutions to old problems.

That’s why our tax incentive gives businesses back 15% of every dollar they spend on innovation.

Alongside this we are investing in new energy projects in our regions through our Provincial Growth Fund and the Green Investment Fund.

And we are partnering with countries right here in the Asia-Pacific region to help push new forms of energy.

Take hydrogen for example.

Last week I signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister on the development of hydrogen technology. The Memorandum, which is the first of its kind with Japan in the world, signals New Zealand’s interest in working with Japan on developing hydrogen.

This is an emerging energy source that we see huge potential in for New Zealand.

Green hydrogen could play an important role in New Zealand’s energy future by supporting electricity generation during dry weather. Obviously it also has transport applications, for instance by enabling the conversion of New Zealand’s heavy vehicle fleet away from fossil fuel reliance and there’s also potential uses in shipping and rail.

We also see an economic and export opportunity for the country. Thanks to our abundant renewable energy, New Zealand can produce some of the cleanest green hydrogen in the world, and receive a premium for it in international markets. That’s a strategic advantage our Government wants to make the most of.

Alongside this action from the Government, we are also seeing New Zealand companies invest more in renewables. Just recently we saw the commissioning of a new 100 megawatt wind farm in the Taranaki region.

We are also taking action to ensure that our electricity markets are well structured to take advantage of emerging technologies.

Emerging technologies are enabling new business models for both industry incumbents and new industry players while helping to reduce emissions.

There are opportunities to empower consumers, giving them greater choice where they get their electricity from, how they use it, manage it and pay for it.

That’s why the Government electricity pricing review has been tasked with examining our current market arrangements and ensuring they are fit to deal with the changes that will be wrought be technology.

We want to make sure we are well placed to reap the benefits of change.

Technologies such as heat pumps, smart metering and intelligent energy management systems (e.g. smart appliances and devices) make it easier for businesses and individuals to manage and use electricity more efficiently. This review will allow us to also look at crucial role demand side management will play in the transition to a low emission energy system.

To my mind, this is one of the most exciting periods in New Zealand’s energy sector in some time.

So today’s conference is especially well timed.

I want to challenge you to use this opportunity. I challenge you to think about our energy future, how the trends of digitalisation, decarbonisation and decentralisation will impact our regulatory environment, our business and most importantly our wellbeing.

I’d like to conclude my remarks today by introducing a video from someone who was unable to attend today but who was very keen to be here: Our Prime Minister the right honourable Jacinda Ardern.