Lockdown sees lowest energy consumption levels in seven years

Tuesday 26 April 2022

New data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, analysed by Environmental Health Intelligence New Zealand (EHINZ), shows New Zealand’s total energy consumption in 2020 was the lowest it has been since 2013.

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Last updated: Friday 25 November 2022

The energy consumption levels decreased by 7.4 per cent in comparison to the year before, with COVID-19 restrictions considered the likely cause.

This decrease was most evident in the industrial sector and the domestic transport sector during the second quarter of 2020, likely due to the restrictions on business and travel. Having dominated the energy consumption landscape in New Zealand since 1990, the domestic transport and industrial sectors together contributed to three quarters of the energy consumed in 2020.

Energy consumption in the residential sector was shown to be at its highest since 2009 with COVID-19 lockdown resulting in more people spending time at home. Despite the higher levels, the amount of energy used per capita in this sector has seen a decrease over the years, indicating a presence of higher energy-efficiency designs and more energy sustainable use.

Carolin Haenfling, Senior Intelligence Analyst with EHINZ, says oil remains the most common fuel type used in New Zealand and provided 99.8 per cent of the domestic transport sector’s energy needs in 2020.

“As in previous years, almost all energy in the biggest consuming sector, domestic transport, came from oil. This dependency on fossil fuels produces harmful emissions and greenhouse gases affecting air quality, the climate, and public health.”

The decrease in New Zealand’s total energy consumption levels for 2020 were most noticeable between April and June, with those levels returning to the same as 2019 by the fourth quarter of the year, between October and December.

EHINZ, based within Massey University’s College of Health, is funded by the Ministry of Health to monitor and provide intelligence on the effect of the environment on the health of New Zealanders.

Read the full energy consumption factsheet here.

Carolin Haenfling, Senior Intelligence Analyst with EHINZ.