NZ energy sector 'could power multi-billion dollar economic boost'

New Zealand’s energy sector could give the economy a multi-billion dollar boost and create tens of thousands of new jobs, according to a report released today.

Almost 30,000 jobs could be created in areas such as the geothermal and bioenergy industries says the report, which is based on scientific modelling carried out by experts in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The analysis shows that the geothermal industry alone could be worth over NZ$4billion to the economy every year.

And a growing bioenergy sector will see New Zealand becoming increasingly less reliant on foreign oil imports, saving the country over NZ$7billion each year by 2035.

The number of people employed directly by the renewable electricity and heating industries will soar, says the report, from under 5,000 in 2010 to over 10,000 in 2030.

And, as these are only the people directly employed, the actual overall employment boost to the country’s economy will be far higher, as suppliers and associated sectors also get a lift.

For example, using New Zealand’s forest crops to create a bioenergy sector would not only save billions of dollars in oil imports, but could also generate 27,000 jobs.

But New Zealand risks missing out if the country does not act soon. The report, called The Future is Here: New Jobs, New Prosperity and a New Clean Economy warns that other countries are also vying to become ‘leaders in this new global clean technology economy’ as a ‘global clean energy race is underway’.

New Zealand has, the report states, ‘the natural resources and people’ to create ‘huge wealth…by creating an economy based on 100% renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport.’

Simon Boxer, head of the energy campaign for Greenpeace, who published the report, said: "Using our Kiwi know-how, and building on our already great clean energy industries, can give us a bright and prosperous future.

"We have the people, the skills and the industry to power our country in a clean and clever way. And now we know that doing this will bring New Zealand tens of thousands of jobs, and inject billions of dollars into the economy.

"Using our clean energy industries to keep our lights on and power our businesses, won’t just keep our air fresh and our water pure. It will also power a fresh wave of jobs and prosperity for our country.

"The only people who could possibly think this is a bad idea are foreign oil barons sitting in places like Texas and Saudi Arabia.

"Let’s not allow other countries to bring their dirty industries here, and threaten our seas and our beaches. Let’s take our clean Kiwi industries to the world and reap all the rewards that will bring."

Just last month, Barack Obama said ‘America cannot resist’ the transition to sustainable energy sources. In his inaugural address, the US President stated that: "We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure - our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks."

The Future is Here: New Jobs, New Prosperity and a New Clean Economy will be launched this evening (Monday 11 February) onboard the new Rainbow Warrior, which is in Wellington for the first time.

Around 75 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity comes from renewable sources, such as hydroelectric and geothermal.

Texan oil company Anadarko are hoping to drill in New Zealand waters by the end of 2013.

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