Renewable Energy in New Zealand is dependent on Hydroelectric power which contributes to the 57% of electricity generated in the country. New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere, on an island in the south pacific ocean. Its economy is majorly moved by agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and geothermal energy resources.

However, New Zealand is dependent on renewable energy. So their main focus is on 4 different renewable energy resources which are wind power, solar power, geothermal energy, bioenergy and hydroelectric power.

Renewable Energy in New Zealand

About Renewable Energy in New Zealand?

Renewable energy is simply energy generated from natural sources like wind, water, sun, and geothermal sources.

This means that in new Zealand, these sources can not be exhausted when used for energy production. It is self-regenerating.

About 40% of basic energy used in New Zealand is generated from renewable energy sources while 80% of electricity consumed is gotten from hydropower and geothermal power.

Types of renewable energy in New Zealand

There are 5 major forms of renewable energy available in New Zealand. They include:

  1. Hydroelectric power
  2. Solar power
  3. Bioenergy
  4. Geothermal energy
  5. Wind energy

1. Hydroelectric power

Hydroelectric power makes up 11% of the total primary energy used in New Zealand as well as 57% of the total electricity generated in New Zealand.

The first hydroelectric power plant was established in 1885 at Bullendale Otago.

Hydroelectric power has been in use for more than 100 years in New Zealand and has continued to provide the country with more than half of its electricity needs.

New Zealand has based its energy on hydroelectric power production on the south island from where it would transport generated electricity via a transmission grid and high voltage wires to the north island.

New Zealand currently has over 100 hydroelectric power plants in use.

Deterrents of the expansion of hydroelectric power in New Zealand.

The development of hydroelectric power is being deterred mostly by ;

  • Financial costs
  • Geographical factors
  • Systematic factors

Some other factors include;

  • Low storage hydroelectric systems
  • The highest storage of energy during the peak of winter is 34 days.

2. Solar power

The harnessing of solar power in New Zealand only began recently in 2010. This is when solar technologies became relatively cheap and has led to high growth in the use of solar power in the country.

A total of 186.7 MW of photovoltaic on-grid solar power was installed as at the end of 2021. Also, statistics have it that at the end of 2021 about 0.47% of electricity generated in the country was generated through solar.

The use of photovoltaic systems is fast spreading due to the drop in price from the initial amount of NZ$40,000 in 2009 to NZ$8,500 in 2019.

The largest grid-connected solar plant in the country has 5800 solar panels and is estimated to produce 2.1MW. It is owned by the Todd corporation and was commissioned on the 5th day of June 2021.

3. Bioenergy

More than 10% of the energy consumed in New Zealand comes from bioenergy. Forms of this bioenergy include Biodiesel, Bioethanol, and Biomass all of which are generally in wood form.


New Zealand has an abundant supply of Biomass from waste wood which can also be used as fuel.

Biomass is mainly sourced from forest and wood processing residue together with municipal wood waste. These fuel types are sustainable and carbon neutral thereby providing New Zealand with a greener economy and less dependence on fossil fuels.

According to the New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Data, biomass ( wood fuel ) is the cleanest energy consumed for industrial heat processes.

It is projected that by 2050, the biomass supply would be double the biomass that was available in 2017 thereby providing New Zealand with 27% of its energy needs as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15%.

4. Geothermal Power

Geothermal power in New Zealand contributes quite a small fraction yet a significant amount of energy in the country.

It has an installed capacity of over 900MW and provides about 17% of the country’s electricity.

Geothermal power is poised to be New Zealand’s most reliable power source as it is not dependent on the weather compared to other forms of renewable energy. The first geothermal plant in New Zealand was opened in 1958.

5. Wind Energy

Wind energy is basically the use of wind turbines to generate electricity. It is a supporting form of renewable energy to geothermal power for the production of electricity.

This energy source is making an increasingly significant contribution to the energy supply in the country although it still forms less than 1% of the energy produced per year.


With other new sources of renewable energy like ocean waves and current energy being considered, there is going to be a rise in the use of renewable energy sources in the country.

The swells from the ocean are expected to be used for electricity production and scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research have proposed that the west coast of New Zealand would be best suited for small-to-medium scale wave power generation.

Key takeaways

  • New Zealand is dependent on renewable energy sources
  • Hydroelectric power contributes 57% of electricity generated in New Zealand
  • The first hydroelectric power plant in New Zealand was established in 1885 at Bullendale Otago
  • Solar power contributes to 0.47% of electricity generated in New Zealand
  • Bioenergy contributes more than 10% of the energy consumed in New Zealand.