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Bay of Plenty rich in bioenergy potential

There's plenty of bioenergy potential in the Bay of Plenty – billions of dollars worth, in fact.

There's plenty of bioenergy potential in the Bay of Plenty – billions of dollars worth, in fact.

The area is expected to bring in more than $4 billion in energy-related developments, according to its energy strategy report released yesterday.

Those include biofuel, geothermal heat, new hydro and wind generation.

The region is a net importer of electricity. The report says, however, that achieving self-sufficiency will provide greater security and value. Renewable energy will also be increasingly important as a selling point to support access to international markets.

The overall aim of the strategy is to create wealth and increase wellbeing by creating 13,000 new jobs by 2030 (expected to increase to 24,000 new jobs by 2040).

There are four main priorities outlined by the report: growth, development, supply and use with particular focus on partnership, increased investment in energy and creating international connections. The strategy also encourages businesses to generate affordable and renewable energy, and conservation on the part of consumers. 

A focus on research and development will be used to develop and manage resources, with Scion (the Crown Research Institute based in Rotarua) working with forestry, wood processing and other biomaterial sectors.

A further focus is to create a secure and affordable supply of energy and embedded energy (what is used in the manufacture of a product), with the aim of embedded energy being 100 percent self-sufficient and renewable.

Bioenergy Association of New Zealand spokesman Jason Cordes said the strategy needed buy-in from the public.

“The release of the region’s energy strategy is a welcomed initiative and will assist the region to become the renewable energy centre of New Zealand," said Cordes.

“We now all need to get behind the strategy and ensure that it is implemented as soon as practically possible so that we all gain from the economic growth and wellbeing that it suggests.”

A key item in the plan is to create a Bay of Plenty Energy Action Group to drive initiatives that will contribute to the goal of the strategy.

Members will be those who can "influence and directly contribute to the areas of resources, supply, use, and growth", actioning them within two to five years.