Volatile Oil Prices Accelerates New Zealand’s Renewables Development

National Economy

New Zealand is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,300 miles southwest of Australia. New Zealand has a population of approximately 4.93  million people[1].

In 2022, New Zealand’s economy was ranked 50th in the world in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The country’s economy is dependent on export[3] of concentrated milk, sheep meat, goat meat, frozen beef, rough wood, butter, casein, and honey.

Environmental Policies

In 2006, New Zealand implemented the New Zealand Energy Strategy which set the goal of generating 90% of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

In 2016, New Zealand signed the Paris Climate Agreement[4]committing to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

Power Generation Capabilities

In 2020, 100% of the people in New Zealand had access to electricity[5]. In 2021, utilities used renewable energy (80.8 %), natural gas (14.1 %)coal (3.9 %),  and oil (1.2 %) to generate electricity in New Zealand[6]. Hydropower, geothermal, and wind are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in New Zealand.

Recent renewable energy projects in New Zealand include:

  • 600 MW Green Hydrogen Project – New Zealand company, Meridian Energy and Australian company Woodside Energy are continuing work on the Southern Green Hydrogen project on the southwestern region of the South Island of New Zealand.
  • 400 MW Solar Project – New Zealand company, Todd Generation is continuing work on the Taupō solar project at a site approximately 200 miles northeast of the nation’s capital, Wellington. The project will be built in three stages. The Taupō solar project is forecast to be completed and commissioned in 2027.
  • 168 MW Geothermal Project – New Zealand utility, Contact Energy is continuing work on the Tauhara geothermal project at a site approximately 175 miles northeast of Wellington. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 100 MW Energy Storage Project – French energy storage company, Saft is continuing work on the Ruakaka battery energy storage system (BESS) at a site approximately 300 miles north of The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
  • 24 MW Hydropower Project – British company, Hydro Developments is continuing work on the Ngakawau Hydro project which is located on the Ngakawau River in the northern section of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.


New Zealand imports crude oil and refined petroleum for power generation, heating, and transportation. In 2020, the nation spent U.S. $1.4 Billion for crude oil and U.S. $1.34 Billion for refined petroleum, imports.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to place economic sanctions on Russian imports and exports. As a result, the crude oil and natural gas prices increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

New Zealand has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including hydropower, offshore wind, onshore wind, geothermal, solar, and biomass. Volatile oil prices is accelerating New Zealand’s development of new renewable energy projects.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”




Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a wide range of energy topics.

[1] New Zealand Population (2023) – World Population Review, March 16, 2023

[2] Gross Domestic Product By Country 2022 – Worldometer

[3] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – New Zealand

[4] Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[5] World Bank, Access To Electricity (% Population) – New Zealand

[6] Our World In Data, New Zealand: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

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