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New Zealand: Energywise Awards Highlight Innovation
Craig Neilson, 14 Nov 07
Article Photo

It's important to applaud the people who are first to the future. In Auckland, New Zealand, the 2007 EECA Energywise Awards took place earlier this month to do just that.

The EECA Energywise Awards are an energy industry event judged in ten sponsored categories by a mixed panel of external judges and EECA staff. Categories include clean energy, transport, manufacturing, and sustainable energy. Let's check out some of the notable winners from this year's awards.

Residential

The big winner in this category was the NZ reality television series WA$TED, which took out the residential category as well as the competition's supreme prize. This prime-time series met "ordinary kiwis" and gave their lifestyle an eco-efficiency make-over, saving them cash and shrinking their resource footprint. The second series is currently in production; Spain, Denmark and the United States have begun to create their own versions.

Renewable Energy

Contact Energy and wood products company Tenon took the award here for a heating project that supplies Tenon's nine wood drying kilns with direct geo-thermal heat. The central North Island's highly volcanic Waikato region enjoys both high geothermal activity and excellent conditions for growing pine. The combination of the two has lead to a net reduction of around 27,900 tonnes of CO2 emissions in its first year of operation.

Highly commended in this category was the QEII swimming pool complex in Christchurch for its alternative heating system. The energy source? Methane gas from the Burwood Landfill.

The wins translate each year to savings of more than $1 million in energy costs, $900,000 in operating costs and 40,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and to 12.83 gigawatt hours of non-renewable energy displaced. The energy cost per visitor has dropped from $1 to 40 cents.

Also commended in the category was another landfill gas project, the Nelson Hospital heating system. The hospital previously burned around 2500 tonnes of coal each year.

Product Innovation

The Windflow 500 featured in this category with a 500 kilowatt two-bladed wind turbine designed to meet the highest international certification (IEC-WT01 Class 1A). The Windflow 500 has a hub height of 30 metres and when installed at a site averaging 8.5 metres/second wind speed, one unit will generate enough electricity to power 200 average New Zealand households. Five turbines installed in Palmerson North achieved 97 percent availability in their first eight months.

The turbine is almost entirely 'Made in New Zealand,' thus representing significant local economic benefits as well.

Also featuring in this category was a domestic hydro turbine by Eco Innovation, and a phase Change building material being developed at Auckland University. Innovation galore!

Transport

NZ dairy farming giant Fonterra featured in this category for an ambitious "road to rail" project. The firm has signed a 20-year agreement with Toll NZ to make rail the primary mode of transporting dairy products from the Waikato region.

Dairy farming faces a raft of challenges in reducing its total emissions, so a genuine commitment to transport eco-efficiency is a welcome move.

Commercial/Services

Notable here was the Te Papa Museum building. Heralded when it was built in 1998 as an energy efficient building, Te Papa has continued to innovate and made substantial savings in the process.

Public Sector

Waitakere City Council, Palmerston North City Council and Watercare Services Ltd. all featured in the public sector, as they did through the rest of the award categories. The Waitakere City Council's accomplishments include a range of energy efficiency projects; also, it has recently celebrated the joint milestones of $1 million and 5 million kilowatt hours of energy savings since the programme began in 2001/02.


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We're in touch with a few of the award participants and will feature selected entries over the coming weeks. For more details about the award-winning and commended entries, as well as a full list of entrants, see the EECA Energywise Awards news page.


Image credit:
Te Papa exterior thanks to Flickr/superciliousness.

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