Flick Electric CompanyThe Blog

NZ's carbon-zero future: what's power got to do with it?

Last month’s 1500-page Global Assessment report from the UN made for some difficult reading. It highlighted the horrific and ‘unprecedented’ impact that humans are inflicting upon our planet and confirmed what many of us already knew: that global warming, forced along by mankind, is increasing the threat of decline - and worse, extinction - of thousands of species of animals, plants and insects throughout the world.

The report’s authors say the answer lies in ‘transformative changes’ so that environmental and biodiversity considerations are at the forefront of each and every part of our planning, decision-making, and legislation. We couldn’t agree more!

Given the urgency of the report and its findings, it’s timely - and super encouraging - that last month, on Wednesday, May 8, the Government announced its Zero Carbon Bill (full name: Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill - phew!). The Bill makes no bones about climate change and its very real impacts here in NZ, and puts into legislation the Government’s commitment towards a carbon-free future.

As electricity providers, we’re acutely aware that the Zero Carbon Bill has a significant connection to the electricity industry and the current Electricity Pricing Review (EPR). With the review nearing its end and a climate change clock that’s ticking, now’s the time to make changes to the industry as a whole, so that we can ensure we’re doing our part in the push for a carbon-free economy and we’re well prepared for a future that’s likely to rely upon electricity more and more.

How exactly does the Electricity Price Review relate to the Zero Carbon Bill?

The two tie in very closely when it comes to NZ’s future and building our resilience to climate change. How so? Well, at the same time as energy consumers move towards innovative technologies that allow them to generate and sell their own renewable energy back to the national grid (amongst other awesome, renewable-lovin’ technologies!), they’re also likely to be relying more on electricity in their day-to-day lives. As fossil fuels and gas are phased out over time, electricity, along with other new fuels, is likely to be in high demand and this will be particularly true for NZ’s vehicle fleet as the Government looks to encourage more and more Kiwis to switch from diesel and petrol vehicles to EVs.

The EPR options paper, released in February this year, outlines a number of changes that will be necessary in order to meet NZ’s carbon zero goals (there’s even a section in the paper named ‘Preparing for a low-carbon future!’ - wahoo!). These include better market regulation, ensuring power is affordable for both residential and commercial users, ensuring security of supply and encouraging industry innovation.

The Government will have a large role to play in ensuring that our electricity market, our infrastructure and our communities are sufficiently prepared and able to cope with the challenges of a more electrified economy.

So what’s Flick’s role in all of this?

If you’ve been following our Electricity Price Review journey on the blog, you’ll know that we’ve joined independent retailers, Electric Kiwi, Vocus, Pulse Energy and Ecotricity in numerous submissions to the Electricity Price Review to put forward our collective view that NZ’s wholesale electricity market requires much more regulation.

Here at Flick, we know that the move to a carbon zero economy can only begin to happen when our electricity market is functioning as it should - that means a stable, secure supply of power and fair power pricing. Without either of these, it’s unlikely that our carbon goals can realistically be met.

But, aside from pushing for the EPR changes to be actioned, we’re also taking small but significant steps to make sure that, as a company, we’re doing our bit to tackle carbon emissions and help inform our customers at the same time. Last year we joined the Climate Leaders Coalition and Statement to formalise our commitment as a business to making changes and supporting legislation that will help NZ reach our climate change goals. We’ve also created a carbon-counting tool, CHOICE, to help Kiwis understand the impact of their electricity use on carbon emissions. We’re carboNZero certified, and we encourage our customers to off-set their carbon emissions by donating to Trees That Count.

What can I do to help?

Now, more than ever, it’s about individuals (like you!) being a part of the wider global movement to tackle climate change. The Government’s goals are ambitious, but they’re also necessary if we hope to have any real impact on our carbon emissions and the effects of climate change on the world around us. That means that each and every one of us has a responsibility to do our bit by educating ourselves, becoming aware of our individual carbon footprints, and making lifestyle changes that reduce our impact.

It’s a critical time for climate change and, now, that translates to one thing: less talk, more action. Here are some tips and tools to get you started:

  • Use the CHOICE app alerts on your mobile to keep an eye on the carbon emissions being created by our electricity generation. Switch the times of the day you use your power to those when renewables are doing all the hard yakka, and energy in the grid is nice and clean. The best bit? You don’t even need to be a Flick customer to use CHOICE!

  • Check out FutureFit, a carbon footprint calculator and progress tracker that lets you see the carbon emissions your home is generating and measure the impact of the changes you make.

  • Plant some trees! Deforestation has had a big impact on Mother Earth and one way to help is by restoring native bush in our corner of the world, either in your own backyard or through a charity like Trees That Count or Million Meters.

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle, or buy things that are built to last (like your Great Grandma’s 500-year-old oak china cabinet). Consume less, especially when it comes to things like fast fashion.

What about Flick’s partnership with Z?

Although Kiwis mostly associate Z Energy with petrol or diesel (and some blimmin’ good pies), the name of their game is supplying energy - any sort of energy - to keep NZ’s transportation moving. That means they’re not limited to supplying fossil fuels, and in fact, are in an awesome position to lead the way when it comes to future fuels.

So what’s the future of fuel and transportation? One option is biofuel, and Z Energy has invested lots in its ZBioD plant which they hope will allow them to turn tallow into biofuel and supply the B2B sector. Another option is automated vehicle sharing, which Z is looking into for residential customers.

Like us, Z is a member of the Climate Leaders Coalition, and they also invest in forestry as an interim way to sequester carbon emissions. It’s a work in progress (as it is for us all), but Z knows that the future of energy is going to look very different to what we see currently, and they’re embracing these sector disruptions as an opportunity to progress towards our climate change goals.

What next?

The final report for the EPR was delivered at the end of May, and we expect to hear the Government’s plans and decisions based on this report in the next month or so. We’re ever hopeful that it’ll lead to a fairer and future-proofed electricity market that can handle the challenges of a carbon-free NZ. We’ll keep you posted!