New Zealand

Index rank 08

Balance Score


Energy Sustainability Index Rankings and Balance Score

 2011  2012  2013  Trend Score
Energy Performance  11  11  11   
Energy Security  20  19  15  A
Energy Equity  15  18  26  A
Environmental Sustainability  40  36  37  B
Contextual Performance  5  5  6   
Political Strength  7  4  1   
Societal Strength  2  4  3   
Economic Strength  21  27  33   
Overall Rank  9  7  8  AAB
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Fossil Fuel Reserves

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Key Metrics

Industrial sector (% of GDP) 24.6
TPEP / TPEC  (net energy importer) 0.88
Emission intensity (kg CO2 per USD) 0.28
Energy affordability (USD per kWh) 0.25
GDP / capita (PPP, USD); GDP Group 28,667 (II)
Energy intensity (million BTU per USD) 0.17
CO2 emissions (metric tons CO2 per capita) 6.93
Population Access to Electricity (%) 100.0
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Index Commentary

One of the ‘Pack Leaders’, New Zealand exhibits strong, well-balanced performance on all three facets of the energy trilemma. Energy security remains the country’s strongest dimension. Increasing domestic energy production and the energy consumption growth rate being outpaced by economic growth for yet another year help New Zealand improve its total energy production to consumption ratio. Although a net energy importer, the country produces most (88%) of its own energy and continues to diversify its electricity fuel mix, which consists of a healthy and robust combination of fossil fuels, hydropower, and other renewables. Increasing gasoline and electricity prices cause New Zealand’s energy equity ranking to drop. However, the perceived quality of the electricity services provided increases. New Zealand’s environmental footprint is small; nevertheless environmental sustainability remains the country’s most challenging dimension. Indicators are essentially flat, with a small reduction in the already low CO2 emissions released from electricity generation. Contextual performance stays extremely strong, with the world’s most robust political systems and a high degree of societal strength.

Trends and Outlook

New Zealand is well-positioned in the Index. It could yet see further improvements due to its progressively improving macroeconomic position, and its strong potential to increase renewable energy sources in electricity and heat generation, thereby lowering CO2 emissions and improving environmental sustainability performance without the need for subsidies. The aggressive pursuit of upstream exploration opportunities could further enhance energy security.

The New Zealand Energy Strategy (NZES) and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy set the government’s overarching energy policy framework. Its four priorities (diverse resource development, environmental responsibility, efficient use of energy, and secure and affordable energy) should contribute to improvements in New Zealand’s performance across all three energy dimensions. The NZES contains the aspirational goal to increase the amount of renewable electricity from 70% to 90% by 2025, facilitated by the emissions trading scheme (ETS), market mechanisms and grid investment, while not compromising security of supply or competitiveness.

Trends to be watched are: 1) the implications of flat energy demand on future competition and investment, especially in the electricity market 2) the extent to which recent significant seismic events in both main islands impact energy policy, especially the approach to resilience of critical energy infrastructure and the associated costs; 3) whether the more aggressive pursuit of petroleum exploration opportunities proves successful; 4) the integration of intermittent renewables, and ultimately distributed generation, especially in the form of residential PV; 5) the growing involvement of the demand-side via participation in the electricity market and the more aggressive promotion of demand-side measures including energy efficiency; 6) the breakdown of bipartisan political support for reliance on market mechanisms to efficiently allocate resources and deliver competitive outcomes insofar as climate goals and energy policy.