Jun 7, 2024
Rewiring Aotearoa
Electric Avenue: June 7

Welcome to the first instalment of our weekly trip down Electric Avenue, where the Rewiring Aotearoa team shares the good, the bad and the ugly (but mostly the good) from the world of electrification.

We're seeing some glimmers of innovation in the electricity sector at the moment and a recent standout was the country’s first second-life battery system. It repurposed 18 old Nissan Leaf batteries that were destined for landfill and turned them into vehicle chargers. They can charge up with electricity during times of lower demand and then slow charge EVs. As Elton John so wisely sang, it’s the circle of life and it moves within Mercer! Tip of the hat to Counties Energy and EECA for pushing ideas like this. It shows the transition to electricity is a much better way to use materials than burning expensive single use fossil fuels. As Rewiring Aotearoa CEO Mike Casey outlined recently, electrification is the efficiency we've always been looking for and fossil fuels are a massive and yet largely invisible form of waste. There is huge potential for re-use and recycling in electrification projects, as seen here, which means we can do more with less.

There are also a few glimmers of innovation from the electricity retailers, which Consumer ranked recently in terms of customer satisfaction (hint: switching energy provider might save you some cash, but switching your energy source will save you more). We’ve seen positive shifts around time-of-use plans and 'free' or cheap use periods, but Octopus Energy has taken it up a notch by offering to pay customers to reduce their usage when electricity supply gets tight. Large users, including Glenbrook Steel Mill and, more recently, Tiwai Aluminium smelter, which signed a 20 year electricity contract with Contact, Meridian and Mercury, are incentivised to reduce use at peak times and ideally reduce the need for fossil fuel generation. So why should individual customers who reduce their usage and together could make a big saving not benefit financially as well? Listen to COO Margaret Cooney explain the thinking on RNZ. 

Speaking of Octopus, it’s one of the biggest energy companies in the UK and its platform Kraken is being used to create homes with zero-energy bills. Say what now? Zero energy bills? Get outta town! That might seem impossible but with the right combination of customer generation, battery storage and smart technology, it’s happening right now - and it’s happening without customers having to do anything. Check out this video to see how it works and what the future could look like in New Zealand if we built better, fixed the finance, saw the opportunity to slash emissions and made things a bit fairer for those who contribute to the energy system.

Our friends in Australia are a long way ahead of New Zealand when it comes to rooftop solar adoption, but we’re pretty close when it comes to reaching the ‘electrification tipping point’, where electric appliances and vehicles are cheaper than their fossil fuel equivalents. Our Electric Homes report outlined that and in Australia, the Government has just edged further ahead by issuing an inaugural $7 billion green bond. “Money raised from the green bond will go towards projects like green hydrogen hubs, community batteries and clean transport, as well as programs to conserve biodiversity, among others.” A good example of turning climate change into an economic opportunity, rather than simply seeing it as a cost - and definitely something New Zealand could be looking to emulate.

And to round out the inaugural edition of Electric Avenue, here's a rather unique take on the hot and toxic guests you inadvertently invite into your home if you’re running a gas hob. There’s plenty of evidence about the respiratory impacts of using fossil gas to cook in the home, and plenty of evidence to show the gas industry has used some dirty marketing tricks to keep you hooked up to that dirty fuel. So if you have the choice, induction is a good one. 

If you've got some good electrification news that you think deserves some attention in Electric Avenue, send it to hello@rewiring.nz.

Read moreDownload the full proposal here

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