Powering Up -  our energy story

Pathway to Low Emissions identified - now the work starts!

The Mid - South Canterbury region is a food processing hub abundant with large-scale manufacturing and processing plants, with some of the largest and most diverse industrial heat users in the South Island in one geographical location.

The Timaru District is the second district to complete a EECA (the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority), Regional Energy Transition Accelerator Report or RETA report, highlighting the region’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels and what the region needs to do to transition to a low emissions economy.

The Mid-South Canterbury Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report, is the result of months of collaboration between Venture Timaru and EECA, with Transpower, Electricity Ashburton, Alpine Energy and Network Waitaki, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, energy generators and retailers and medium to large industrial energy users.

The report’s insights show the potential for many of the region’s decarbonisation projects to be cost neutral in the coming years.

Included in the report is the significant role biomass will play as a renewable fuel into the future, with $75 million (over 15 years) worth of wood residues sitting in Mid-South Canterbury’s forests. RETA shows that up to 40% of the region’s energy needs could be met by biomass as a complement to electricity.

The 33 sites across Mid-South Canterbury covered by RETA collectively use 5,731TJ of energy, and produce 542kt of emissions each year.

The report details various emissions reduction pathways – all of which eliminate more than 90% of these emissions in the region by 2036.

A number of local companies are leading the way, with many already making great strides in reducing their emissions - check out some of these successes HERE

Energy Future of South Canterbury

Alpine Energy CEO Caroline Ovenstone says "the RETA work has highlighted the importance of the scale of change needed in the strongly rural region and the impact it could have on New Zealand achieving its carbon reduction targets".

“The next few decades will be transformational for our region. The reliance on energy infrastructure will increase as transport and industry decarbonise and electrify. A South Canterbury energy strategy will support the region to collectively deliver these energy needs in a resilient and whole-of-region way".

Watch this space for updates.

Energy Strategy update

Bottom line: On 31st January 2024, a steering group met to agree a ‘terms of reference’ to develop the strategy. There was consensus on the need, and approach. The next big focus is on securing funding for resource to do the work

But why a strategy?

Stakeholders are aligned on wanting the region to prosper over the long term.

Energy infrastructure is an essential component of that.

But we don’t have a common view using best available information on how the region’s energy needs could evolve over the next 30-60 years and what that means for our decisions today.

A strategy is a way to tease out what’s important, and not, and a common information set for that future would be helpful for everyone.

For example:

  • How and where do we need to be resilient? And how resilient?
  • Where do we expect our population and businesses to operate given potential futures of the physical and economic environment?
  • Where does energy infrastructure fit into that picture?

Decisions we make today will impact the energy needs in that future.

  • How will our energy be generated in the future & where will this generation be located?
More detail

South Canterbury is unique in its characteristics, including available energy sources, infrastructure and industry, and a diverse local economy which presents both challenges and opportunities. It will change over the coming decades due to how electricity is used, supplied, along with the impact of the evolving physical environment.

All parts of the region are interconnected, so the benefit of a consolidated plan is to guide the decisions of councils and companies using a common framing and information set. This strategy will place our customers’ and communities’ future needs at the centre of our long-term planning.

Following on from a very successful workshop with our key stakeholders in September 2023 (where we established support), late January saw us welcome stakeholders back to Alpine House to work on the draft Terms of Reference.

The group included representatives from Alpine, DETA, the councils, ECAN, Ngai Tahu, TDHL and Venture Timaru. This was a great opportunity to reconnect and have open and honest discussions about how we envisioned this project would run. It was agreed that in the interim Alpine Energy will take the initial sponsorship role with support from a Project Committee made up of stakeholders. We will meet again in late February/early March, with the mayoral forum going to the local marae March/April.

Meeting discussion points to highlight:

  • We are unique as a region with a diverse range of energy needs with different issues pulling in different directions… that is one reason a strategy has value.
  • Globally, not enough is happening quickly enough.
  • We have the opportunity to lead South Canterbury and New Zealand.
  • We all want a sustainable South Canterbury that is a thriving region in 2050 and to leave it better than how we found it.
  • We want to set up future generations for success.
  • The focus is on an energy strategy, not an electricity strategy.
  • It has to be a strategy that resonates but does not reinvent the wheel.
  • The engagement process must capture the diversity in the community, including younger generations.
  • Resilience is a key component.