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72% of region’s energy needs through biomass

5 December 2023
Forestry owners and biomass suppliers in the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions of NZ can expect to see increased demand for wood residues as the region moves onto clean energy.

A new report, published by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows how the forestry sector could play a key role to push more fossil fuels out of the energy system with up to 72% of the region’s energy needs being met by low-carbon fuel source, biomass.

The Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) report provides insights and recommendations that aim to improve efficiency and future proof energy investments and make the move more straightforward for local businesses.

“Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman is a forestry-rich region, and the insights show the area is well positioned to use its resources to bring in a clean and clever approach to industrial processing,” said EECA Group Manager Business, Nicki Sutherland.“There will likely also be enough left over to support nearby regions with biomass – so there is clear commercial opportunity in local forestry. Additionally, it allows electricity suppliers to anticipate future infrastructure needs in the area.

The RETA report builds on the lessons learned from energy efficiency and fuel switching work already underway in the region – particularly in the horticultural and viticultural sectors.Producers like J.S Ewers, Indevin and Talleys as well as Nelson and Blenheim hospitals and meat processors AFFCO – are all at various stages of lowering their emissions.

“A noteworthy example is Nelson Pine Industries. The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry.”

“These clean energy projects can also support the New Zealand manufacturing sector – creating new local jobs. It is fantastic to see businesses in Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman considering how they can use biomass productively and bring forward a move to renewables,” said Sutherland.

The report had valuable input from the Nelson Regional Development Agency & Economic Development Unit at the Marlborough District Council, Transpower, Nelson Electricity, Network Tasman and Marlborough Lines, local biomass suppliers and forest owners, electricity generators and retailers, and medium to large industrial energy users.

Some producers in the top of the south had already begun lowering their emissions by switching to using biomass instead of fossil fuels, such as Nelson Pine Industries. “The wood processing plant successfully transitioned from coal to biomass and has managed to reduce their energy use by 50%. This highlights their commitment to sustainable practices and is a positive example for others in the industry,” Sutherland said.

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Copies of the full 160-page report can be viewed here

Note: To again capitalise on the huge momentum already seen in the regions with forest companies organising the extraction of waste from both skid sites and forest cutovers to meet the ever-increasing demand for biomass, the tenth Residues2Revenues 2024 event is being planned for next year. Mark the dates 30–31 July 2024, Rotorua, New Zealand into your diaries for next year.

Source: EECA

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