Transpower report: Opportunity to decarbonise our economy

02 April 2020

Update: following industry announcements in July 2020, we have updated some of our projections under a revised Tiwai Exit scenario. You can find our latest projections in this Whakamana i Te Mauri Hiko four page brochure (August 2020, pdf)

 

Transpower today released a report Whakamana i Te Mauri Hiko – Empowering our Energy Future. It shows how accelerated electrification stands to provide a stronger, more reliable system with much lower reliance on fossil fuel imports at the same time as cutting average household energy costs. Report highlights include:

  • Around 40 new, grid-scale, generation and batteries projects required to 2035;
  • Generation to be around 95% renewable by 2035, moving to 100% by 2050 is achievable;
  • Smart grid made up of millions of smart appliances and smart EV chargers plus many small scale solar photovoltaic and battery systems in 2035, easing the need for more generation and network investment; 
  • Around 1.5 million light electric vehicles on our roads in 2035, near 100% in 2050;
  • Current coal and gas use for process heat to be around 50% electrified by 2035 with significant uptake in low temperature process heat;
  • Average, two car (one an EV in 2035) household sees total energy bill cut by 25%/$1631 in 2035; and,
  • Electrification and renewable generation can provide over 50% of the non-forestry emissions reductions required to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.

“During this turbulent time, we remain committed to ensuring a reliable power supply as we support the country’s pandemic response.  However, we must not also lose sight of the long-term opportunity to decarbonise our economy as we rebuild it.  There is no question that we can effectively and affordably decarbonise our energy system in support of meeting our 2030 Paris Agreement and 2050 net zero-carbon economy goals,” said Transpower Chief Executive Alison Andrew. “Following this rapid decarbonisation path is set to deliver multiple benefits to consumers and the wider economy; slashing costs and emissions compared to our current path.”

Today’s report builds on the original Te Mauri Hiko released in 2018. It forecasts lower electricity demand growth of 70% to 2050, compared to 100% in the 2018 report, due to widespread uptake of energy efficiency measures. The report outlines a changing energy sector driven by clear and large potential for cheaper wind and solar generation and falling battery and electric vehicle prices. Options already exist to switch low and medium grade process heat systems from coal and gas to electricity and biomass.       

Ms Andrew says action is needed now to prepare for a level of investment in new generation and grid upgrades not seen in a generation. Transpower forecasts a step change in electricity demand growth from 2025 due to increasing electrification of transport and process heat.

Delivering this will require clear policy and regulatory settings, and comprehensive delivery and workforce development plans.

 

“New Zealand’s low carbon electricity system provides a world leading platform for decarbonising the wider economy, particularly our currently emission intensive transport and process heat sectors,” said Ms Andrew. “While carbon pricing under a revised ETS will underpin this transformation, complementary polices and enhanced regulatory settings will be needed to lower barriers to investment.”  Now is the time to respond to COVID-19 and ensure our power supply. When this pandemic passes there will be an opportunity to work together to rebuild and deliver our low carbon future.