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Electricity spot the difference: NZ vs Australia

They wear thongs, we wear jandals. We say kia ora, they say gidday. They’re home to a worrying assortment of deadly critters, we’ve got a pudgy, flightless bird. 

We might occupy the same corner of the globe, but there’s no denying that New Zealand and Australia have their differences. These differences permeate just about every nook and cranny of society - including the energy sector. 

In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at some of the ways our electricity production and consumption habits differ from our friends across the ditch. 

Kiwis less power-hungry

There are some big differences in the way New Zealand and Australia consume power. Here in Aotearoa, residential customers consume about one-third of all electricity produced, which works out to be about 9,026 kWh per person. Most residential electricity goes on household appliances such as refrigerators, water heating and space heaters. 

Electricity use is a little higher over the ditch, with figures from the World Bank showing that Australia consumes about 10,059 kWh per capita. This is probably due to expanding sectors such as the mining industry, which is heavily energy dependent. 

Aussies lead the way for solar

Kiwis and Aussies are embracing solar technology as the cost of photovoltaic (PV) systems continues to become more affordable. PV systems harness the sun’s energy to generate electricity, which can lead to cheaper power bills, reduced dependence on the grid and lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

While residential solar in New Zealand is still very much in its infancy, it has become increasingly popular in recent years. There are 25,000 residential connections with solar panels, according to figures from the Electricity Authority. A lack of subsidies for PV systems may account for the slow uptake - especially when compared to Australia.

PV solar is much more common in Australia. Blessed with an abundance of sunshine and some attractive government incentives, PV solar power is a fast-growing industry in Australia. In fact, in 2018 residential solar PV capacity increased by more than 40 percent, according to figures from research firm Green Energy Markets. As of June 2019, there were more than 2.15 million solar PV installations in Australia, which boast a combined capacity of 12,959 MW.

NZ energy cleaner and greener

Renewable energy is a cleaner, more sustainable way of generating electricity. It involves using renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro and converting the energy into electricity via solar panels and turbines. Renewable energy has much less impact on the environment than fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.

In New Zealand, more than 82 percent of our electricity is generated from renewables. Hydro is our main source of renewable energy, followed by geothermal, gas and wind. Fossil fuels account for about 18 percent of our electricity generation, and are primarily used as a backup source and to help meet demand during peak load.

It’s quite a different story across the Tasman. While Australia is slowly moving toward renewable energy, fossil fuels are still the dominant source of electricity generation. Fossil fuels such as black coal, brown coal, gas and oil account for about 81 percent of the country’s electricity generation - a decrease of 3 percent compared with 2017. 

NZ in pole position when it comes to electric vehicles

Electric cars are still something of a rarity on Australasian roads, but they’re gradually becoming more popular as people look for eco-friendly vehicle options. 

There are about 13,000 registered electric cars in New Zealand, according to figures collated by the Ministry of Transport. Nissan is by far the most popular electric vehicle manufacturer, accounting for 8,273 of all light electric vehicles registered between May 2013 and June 2019. Electric vehicles make up 3.67 percent of all light vehicle registrations. 

Aussies seem more hesitant to get on the electric vehicle bandwagon. While electric car sales are increasing (electric car sales grew 67 percent between 2016 and 2017), electric vehicles made up less than 0.3 percent of vehicles sold in 2018. As it stands, Australia has one of the lowest rates of electric car ownership in the OECD. New importation laws that go into effect in December 2019 will likely result in more electric vehicles on Australian roads in the years ahead. 

Cheaper power bills start here

We might have our differences with our friends across the ditch, but when it comes to electricity prices there’s one thing we can all agree on: cheaper power bills are better power bills

With competitive prices and a fantastic local customer support team, Pulse Energy is the number one choice of energy provider in New Zealand. To find out how much you could save on your power bill, give us a call today on 0800 785 733.


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