High Powered Japanese Great Interest In Local Economy, Rotorua

A visiting delegation of the Chugoku Economic Federation from the Hiroshima region of Japan has shown strong interest in the wood processing, tourism and geothermal industries and presents an important opportunity for Rotorua’s economy, according to Rotorua MP Todd McClay. Mr McClay welcomed the high powered business delegation to New Zealand as Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in a speech in Wellington yesterday. “This visit reflects strong interest in New Zealand from Japanese economic groups in recent years and is very welcome,” said Mr McClay. Delegations from the highly influential Japan Business Federation and Kansai Economic Federation visited New Zealand in 2014. “Japan is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner and fourth largest source of foreign investment. We therefore welcome these visits and the opportunities they present to strengthen trade and investment links.” The delegation has a particular interest in New Zealand’s renewable energy policies and tourism strategies and will be visiting Rotorua, Kawerau and Christchurch. “We are keen to increase the use of renewable energy as a way to deal with climate change and while there is already considerable cooperation between New Zealand and Japan in geothermal energy, we see the scope to do more together as Japan develops its geothermal resource,” says Mr McClay. “A number of the companies represented in the delegation already have long-standing investments in New Zealand and we welcome opportunities to deepen those relationships.”   Find more information...

UnitedFuture Did Not Support Green Party Bill.

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne did not support the Greens Renewable Energy Bill led by energy and resources spokesman Gareth Hughes as he finds it unnecessary. According to Mr Dunne, there’s no need for greens renewable energy bill since over 80 per cent (in 2014) of New Zealand’s electricity is already generated from renewable sources and increasing solar power generation would not make a huge difference environmentally as it would displace other renewable generation such as wind and geothermal. “Consumers already have a choice of retailers, offering competitive buy-back prices for excess solar generation and are New Zealander’s are voting with their wallets for renewable energy alternatives, such as solar, and that is creating an increasingly competitive and growing market. “To claim, as the Greens’ do, that this bill is not a subsidy is typical artifice – by requiring retailers to artificially set a 10-year buy-back rate, increased costs will be ultimately passed through to other electricity consumers. “ “Moreover, all this will occur at a time when consumers are seeing increasing competition in the electricity market leading to flat and decreasing prices.” The majority of New Zealand’s electricity generation is renewable and at 80 per cent in 2014, it is the highest in nearly two decades. “This is likely to increase in future with the closure of fossil-fuelled generation such as in Huntly and Otahuhu with the result that the target of 90 per renewable generation capacity is likely to be achieved by 2025 without the need for the type of Stalinist 5 year plans offered by the Greens.” Mr Dunne said he has no problem with the Green’s worthy objectives...

NZ Opens Diplomatic Mission To ASEAN in Jakarta And Celebrates Business Links.

New Zealand has officially opened its first diplomatic mission to the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) bloc in Jakarta, Trade Minister Tim Groser said Friday. “The opening of a New Zealand Mission is a significant demonstration of our commitment to the region. It comes at an important time. This year marks the 40th anniversary of New Zealand’s formal relationship with ASEAN, and also the year that ASEAN will launch the ASEAN Community,” Tim Groser said who opened the mission. “ASEAN is now home to around 625 million people and has a combined GDP of USD2.4 trillion. Taken as a bloc, ASEAN is now the seventh largest economy in the world and New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner. ASEAN has become a pillar of New Zealand trade.” While in Jakarta, Minister Groser also warmly welcomed the signing of a contract between New Zealand solar power company, Power Technology ASEAN Ltd, and Indonesian conglomerate, Sekar Group. In the contract the parties agree to work together to develop ASEAN’s first environmentally-sustainable shrimp farm in Sumbawa. Powertech ASEAN will provide the design and installation expertise to the Sekar Group. “We have long been involved with Indonesia in the development of Indonesia’s huge renewable energy production in geothermal power, where New Zealand obviously has world-leading technology.” “It is therefore very pleasing that we are now starting to see that smart New Zealand companies in other areas of the renewable energy equation – in this case, solar – can contribute to Indonesia’s low-carbon energy security,” Groser said. Trade Minister Groser’s visit to Indonesia is part of a series of events held in ASEAN...

UAE, New Zealand Partner For Solar Power Boost in Solomon Islands.

UAE and New Zealand inked an agreement for the development of a jointly funded 1 MW solar photovoltaic power plant in the Solomon Islands. Both countries share a common interest in the rapid deployment of renewable energy in developing countries, particularly in the Pacific region, and signed a renewable energy partnership arrangement in January 2014. The 1 MW power plant 600 kW funded by the UAE and 400kW funded by the New Zealand Government through the New Zealand Aid Programme, will be developed by Masdar. It is expected to bring clean, reliable power to the grid in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The power plant will meet 7 per cent of the Solomon Islands’ energy needs and reduce CO2 emissions by over 1,200 tonnes while saving over approximately 450,000 litres of diesel annually. Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, UAE Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) and Director of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed the arrangement in Abu Dhabi last week with Jeremy Clarke-Watson, Ambassador of New Zealand. The solar PV plant is part of the United Arab Emirates Pacific Partnership Fund. This $50 million fund was established in 2013 to develop wind and solar projects to support economic and social development across 11 Pacific island nations with projects being delivered by Masdar and funding provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. Of the projects being delivered under the fund, six have already been delivered or are currently under construction. The first completed project was the 512 kW solar PV installation in Tonga, while others include the first...

Linwood Acquires $18,000 Solar-powered Bus Shelter.

In Christchurch, Ratepayers have stumped up $18,000 for a solar-powered bus shelter that can charge electronic devices. The prototype costs almost $10,000 more than a traditional bus shelter in Christchurch. It has courted criticism on social media where people have questioned whether it will be targeted by vandals like many stops around the city. The Christchurch City Council installed the locally designed and built solar-powered shelter, said to be the first of its kind in New Zealand, in response to a plan highlighting the need to improve the waiting experience for bus passengers. Solar panels installed in the roof of the shelter power lights and USB points where passengers can charge cellphones and tablets. The shelter “will provide an improved covered waiting space for bus passengers”. Council urban design and regeneration unit manager Carolyn Ingles said the bus shelter cost $18,000 with money taken from the transitional city projects suburban centres budget. The budget implements transitional projects to assist with the revitalisation and rebuild of severely earthquake-damaged areas. Accoring to the council, traditional bus shelter in Christchurch can cost up to $8600 to purchase and install. Ingles said perspex would be used on the back of the shelter so it could not be smashed with a hammer. “While vandalism is a possibility, by adding the charging feature we expect that the community will see this as a useful addition to Linwood,” she said. Ingles said the council would review public feedback and use of the shelter before considering building more. “Depending on public feedback, others could be placed in appropriate areas around the city. A decision on whether any...

Green Party Bill: Fair Solar Energy Pricing.

People who have solar panels and sell electricity back into the grid deserve a fair price, Green MP Gareth Hughes says. “Almost every region had different rules, regulations and need for resource consents in order to install.” Power companies held the literal and metaphorical power when it came to setting buy-back rates. The rates had fluctuated from 17 cents to as low as 4 cents, without more than a month’s notice, leaving those signed onto solar energy in a constant state of uncertainty. “I’m not asking for it to subsidized, I’m proposing the Electricity Authority to act as an independent umpire and set a fair and reasonable buy back rate.” Hughes, also the Green Party energy spokesman, had his Electricity Industry (Small-Scale Renewable Distributed Generation) Amendment Bill drawn from the ballot and the issue was set to be voted on around November. The bill was politically passable but solar energy on the whole should not be looked at from a political perspective. “When people are asked why they went solar, it wasn’t about the environment or money back as such; it was about having energy freedom.” According to Hughes, the idea of being more self sufficient and independent was a huge appeal for those going solar, but the use of the renewable energy source was being hampered by varying levels of red tape throughout New Zealand. This was Hughes’ first bill to be pulled from the ballot in his more than five years in Parliament. It had been three years since a Greens bill had been pulled out. Over those past five years power bills have increased by 25...