Source: Powering Change
The 2023 election results are in, and New Zealand will welcome a new Minister of Energy and Resources to govern our broad and dynamic energy sector.
We all depend on access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to do what we do. Our energy sector is not only vital for powering our homes and industries, but also plays a pivotal role in shaping our environmental and economic future. The sector thrives when good policy enables us to get on with the job.
Below are four suggestions from the BusinessNZ Energy Council (BEC) for the incoming Minister to jump start their term and re-energise innovation and investment in the energy sector.
- Speed up consenting
The current resource management regime is simply not fit for purpose.
Previous attempts to simplify the Act have only made it more cumbersome. Instead, the next Minister should take the opportunity to push for a new process – one with environmental protections, which also encourages energy investment.
An unprecedented number of renewable energy projects need to be built across New Zealand in the near future if we’re to meet our emissions targets. Replacing the current system – rather than retooling this legacy regime – will unlock New Zealand’s innovation and enable us to get on with reducing our carbon footprint.
- Attract investment and skilled Labour to Aotearoa, New Zealand
The number of renewable energy projects needed to meet our emissions targets is unprecedented – and so is our current labour shortage. New Zealand needs workers across all sectors and at all levels, including those required to bring these renewable energy projects to life. There are ways of attracting offshore talent to New Zealand’s shores, but we can also foster an interest at home through our own education system. We can show young Kiwis and future energy leaders that a rewarding career in renewable energy is possible without leaving the country.
New Zealand is rich in natural resource, making it an ideal place for foreign investment into renewable energy. We need to ensure that the world knows we are once again open for business, and the next Minister, together with business, should promote our energy sector on the world stage, to show that we can be a hub for renewable energy projects.
- Increase resilience – but beware the cost
In this era of increasing climate-related challenges, the incoming Minister must focus on creating a resilient energy infrastructure capable of withstanding shocks and disruptions. We’re going to need more efforts to increase energy system resilience, such as upgrades to fortify energy grids, enhanced cybersecurity measures and diversified energy sources. A resilient energy system not only safeguards against disruptions but also promotes confidence among investors, stakeholders and the public.
As we transition toward a more sustainable system, energy security needs to remain a core consideration – but so does affordability. To achieve both, the private and public sector needs to be aligned on more of the big issues. The incoming Minister will have a large role to play in improving resilience across our energy system. We are ready to work together on a co-ordinated approach to explore the infrastructure needed, manage ongoing maintenance and critically, decide how, and when it will be funded.
- Restore confidence in the Emissions Trading Scheme
The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a vital tool to manage the effects of climate change. The ETS must be allowed to do its job and successfully reduce carbon emissions across industry, energy and transport. However, the ETS is only successful if there’s public trust in the system and compliance across the above sectors. Recently the ETS has been diminished through debate over whether it should focus on reductions, removals or adaptations. Constant setting changes, frequent amendments and reviews have damaged peoples’ confidence in the ETS and harmed investment in decarbonisation.
The above areas of focus are a challenge, but while working with our previous Minister Megan Woods, our sector has made progress. Energy consumption per person has decreased by 18 percent, Aotearoa’s energy emissions have decreased by three percent, and our renewable electricity share has grown by six percent. Here’s to working closely with the next Minister for Energy and Resources to continue this progress and further unlock this diverse sector’s potential for the good of all Aotearoa.