Nov 21 2017 - An Energy Research Strategy for New Zealand released this week by the National Energy Research Institute (NERI) is an important step toward securing a sustainable future for the country’s energy needs, says Victoria University of Wellington Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Kate McGrath. NERI is a consortium of research providers and other stakeholders in the energy sector, including Victoria, and works to stimulate, promote, coordinate and support high quality energy research and education in New Zealand.
Its strategy, launched at Victoria Business School by the Hon Dr Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources and of Research, Science and Innovation, was developed in association with over 150 energy stakeholders in research organisations, businesses, industry associations and government agencies, with the aim of providing a framework to develop more detailed research programmes.
“The actions set out in the strategy are all within New Zealand’s grasp, given the necessary commitment and backing,” says Professor McGrath.
“Victoria is proud to be a research member of NERI and myself to be one of its trustees. Academics from across the University, including our computer scientists, Robinson Research Institute, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and School of Architecture and Design, are conducting ground-breaking research to transform how the country’s energy is produced and used. This strategy gives them, other researchers around the country and those commissioning and funding research an important framework.”
The strategy highlights long-distance transport, both domestic and international, as one of the biggest medium-term issues facing New Zealand’s energy sector, noting that about half the country’s energy is used servicing transport needs and that long-distance transport uses the biggest share of that.
Given our physical isolation and distances to markets, long-distance transport is critical for trade and travel, says the strategy. But because it is fossil fuel intensive, it faces significant risks, with few simple alternative such as the electric vehicles available for short-distance transport.
Food and tourism export earnings are particularly vulnerable, says the strategy, with fossil fuels featuring large in their production and delivery.
However, says the strategy, there are opportunities to manage this risk.
Dr Nick Long, Director of the Robinson Research Institute, explores these and other opportunities in an article for the Newsroom website.
The Robinson Research Institute’s own research includes collaborating with international partners to develop the technology for long-range hybrid-electric aircraft and that for rapid electric vehicle charging.
Alongside transport, other key focus areas in the Energy Research Strategy are in industrial processing, electricity generation and distribution, and the residential sector.
Affordable and clean energy is the seventh of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.
Victoria was earlier this year the first New Zealand university to sign up to a new international initiative known as the University Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.
‘Enhancing the resilience and sustainability of our natural heritage and capital’ is one of Victoria’s areas of academic distinctiveness.
| A Victoria University release || November 17, 2017 |||