NZ’S en­ergy ef­fi­ciency cham­pi­ons

The an­nual EECA awards are a trea­sure trove of good ideas to save en­ergy and im­prove the bot­tom line.

Element - - Technology - By Adam Gif­ford

Peo­ple respond to sto­ries far bet­ter than they respond to dry ex­pla­na­tions or the gov­ern­ment telling them to do things. That’s why En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ser­va­tion Agency chief Mike Un­der­hill is so keen on the sto­ries thrown up by EECA’S an­nual awards.

“You can stand up in gov­ern­ment and say ‘this is good’ but it’s more pow­er­ful to say ‘look what Air New Zealand is do­ing, look what Pak ‘n’ Save is do­ing,” he says.

“These peo­ple make a buck, so why are they do­ing this?”

Air New Zealand’s story, which won it this year’s supreme award, is about its big vi­sion to be the world’s most en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able air­line by 2020.

Since 2005 the air­line has re­duced fuel con­sump­tion by 15 per­cent and re­duced an­nual CO2 emis­sions by 142,000 tonnes.

That not only re­flects pos­i­tively on New Zealand’s tourism in­dus­try but gives it a com­pet­i­tive edge.

In­no­va­tions in­cluded retrofitting aero­dy­namic “winglets” to the Boe­ing 767s to im­prove fuel ef­fi­ciency; in­tro­duc­ing ‘just-in-time’ fu­elling to ad­just fuel load to the ex­act on-board pas­sen­ger and cargo weight; and us­ing zonal dry­ers in air­craft to re­duce weight by elim­i­nat­ing con­den­sa­tion.

The dry­ers alone are pre­dicted to save more than 1700 tonnes of fuel and 5000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

The $2 bil­lion Air New Zealand is spend­ing on mod­ernising its fleet means it is get­ting more fuel-ef­fi­cient planes, and it is push­ing the in­dus­try to­wards shorter, more ef­fi­cient in­ter­na­tional routes.

“It’s not just the planes but all its ground ve­hi­cles around the air­port are also on biodiesel,” Un­der­hill says.

That cre­ated the scale for other com­pa­nies work­ing around the airports to also switch to biodiesel.

One of the com­pa­nies mak­ing the fuel, Biodiesel New Zealand, was com­mended for its move into canola pro­duc­tion, which cuts across “food ver­sus fuel” ar­gu­ments.

Farm­ers are con­tracted to grow oil seed as a break crop, which is used to pro­duce canola oil for the food in­dus­try.

The used oil is col­lected and turned into Bio­gold fuel. The 2 mil­lion litres sold last year meant 4000 tonnes less CO2 go­ing into the at­mos­phere than if those cus­tomers had used min­eral diesel.

The farm­ers not only ben­e­fit from grow­ing a use­ful water-ef­fi­cient soil con­di­tioner be­tween other crops, but the pro­tein-rich cake which is a byprod­uct of canola oil pro­duc­tion is fed to live­stock, re­plac­ing im­ported food sources such as palm oil.

Un­der­hill says wood waste also stands out as a re­new­able en­ergy source that is zero rated in car­bon terms.

“Wood biomass is New Zealand’s big en­ergy se­cret. Wood waste can meet half the coun­try’s en­ergy needs, in­clud­ing trans­port fuel. We rely so much on im­ported oil, so the po­ten­tial is enor­mous,” he says.

The re­new­able en­ergy cat­e­gory win­ner, Golden Bay Ce­ment, is grad­u­ally switch­ing the boil­ers at its Whangarei plant from coal to wood, us­ing lo­cally-sourced con­struc­tion and de­mo­li­tion waste.

It now ac­counts for a third of the fuel used, de­liv­er­ing $3 mil­lion a year in sav­ings. Work­ing with pel­let sup­plier Na­ture’s Flame, the New Zealand De­fence Force has built the coun­try’s largest wood-fired boiler at Waiouru Army Base, con­sum­ing up to 27 tonnes of wood pel­lets a day at the height of win­ter and dis­plac­ing a mas­sive 5300 tonnes of coal a year.

“If you want to buy a home heater, you can now buy pel­let burn­ers. A huge amount of the en­ergy we use in New Zealand goes on mak­ing heat. Any­thing we can do to pro­mote re­new­ables has a huge im­pact,” Un­der­hill says.

As for Pak ‘n’ Save, Whanganui su­per­mar­ket owner Gareth Jones re­sponded to a ques­tion from his five-yearold about what he was do­ing to save en­ergy by adding sky­lights to bring in nat­u­ral light, installing light­ing sen­sors and con­trols, and putting dou­ble glazed doors on all fridges and freez­ers.

That cut en­ergy use by 40 per­cent and won Pak ‘n’ Save and de­sign firm Ecosytems the award for the small to medium busi­ness cat­e­gory.

Left: Biodiesel New Zealand were com­mended at the re­cent EECA awards.

Be­low: Air New Zealand aims to be the world’s most sus­tain­able air­line by 2020.

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