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National environmental indicators

See chapter 1, ‘Environmental reporting’ for more information on the core national environmental indicators and how they are used.

There are four national environmental indicators for energy. They are:

  • total consumer energy demand

  • total primary energy supply

  • consumer energy demand compared to gross domestic product

  • electricity generation.

Total consumer energy demand

This indicator measures the total amount of energy consumed in New Zealand, by fuel type and by sector.

Total primary energy supply

This indicator measures the total amount of energy available for use in New Zealand. It includes energy as it is first obtained from natural sources. This means that coal is accounted for as it is mined, domestic oil and natural gas as they are extracted from wells, imported oil and oil products as they are imported, and hydro as it is used for electricity generation.

The indicator accounts for imports and exports, and allows for changes in energy stocks between months, quarters, or years. By convention, fuels used for international transport are excluded from total primary energy supply.

Consumer energy demand compared to gross domestic product

This indicator measures the progress New Zealand is making towards separating (‘decoupling’) energy demand from economic growth. It compares economic growth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) with consumer energy demand and aims to indicate the economy’s reliance on energy resources (that is, the extent to which GDP and energy demand are decoupled).

Decoupling can be either ‘relative’ or ‘absolute’. Absolute decoupling is said to occur when energy demand is stable or decreasing while GDP is growing. Decoupling is said to be relative when energy demand is increasing, but at a lesser rate than GDP (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2002).

The ideal trend is for the economy to grow while demand for energy decreases (absolute decoupling) or at least grows at a slower rate or remains constant (relative decoupling), indicating economic prosperity at a reduced cost to the environment.

Electricity generation

This indicator measures electricity generation by fuel type and the relative efficiency of each fuel type. Relative efficiency is determined by comparing the total amount of each fuel type available for electricity generation with the net amount of electricity it generates.

Government action on energy

New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050

The New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050, Powering our Future: Towards a sustainable low emissions energy system, was released in October 2007. The strategy provides long-term direction for energy policy and promotes the development of an energy system that supports economic growth in an environmentally responsible way (Ministry of Economic Development, 2007).

New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority was established as a Crown entity in 2000 and, with the Ministry for the Environment, developed the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (NEECS). The strategy set out the Government’s policies on energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable energy. It also set national targets relating to both energy efficiency and the level of energy supply for renewable energy sources.

In October 2007, the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, Making it Happen: Action plan to maximise energy efficiency and renewable energy was released to replace the NEECS. It will help achieve the objectives of the New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050. It includes measures to reduce electricity demand; address energy use in transport, buildings, and industry; and promote greater consideration of sustainable energy in the development of land, settlements, and energy production (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, 2007).

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000 is the legislative basis in New Zealand for promoting energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy. The Act established the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority as a stand-alone Crown entity with a role to promote energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy across all sectors of the economy.

The Act provides for the preparation of regulations for product energy efficiency standards and labelling, as well as disclosing information to compile statistics on energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy.