Doesn't all power just come off the grid?
We are super proud to be New Zealand's first Toitū certified climate positive electricity provider.
It's a big deal for New Zealand and globally as it shows what can be achieved in the energy sector.
But how can we be different, doesn’t all power come from the grid?
For an in-depth discussion on the topic we highly recommend having a listen to Ecotricity CEO, Al Yates, Toitū CEO Teressa Betty and Kathryn Ryan, talk more about this on RNZ.
How can we ensure you are getting our climate positive power?
Let’s wind it back… New Zealand uses hydropower, geothermal power, wind energy, solar power, coal, gas, diesel, and cogeneration to produce its electricity. Electricity is transported throughout New Zealand in the national grid.
The grid, owned by Transpower, connects the generation facilities to the demand centres and distributes electricity to local lines companies or straight to large industrial companies. The distribution of electricity is managed by 29 different electricity distribution businesses, one for each specific geographic region, examples being Vector for Auckland and Orion for Christchurch.
There are 5 main retail companies in NZ that are also the main generators of electricity, meaning they own the facilities that power NZ - these companies are known as ‘Gentailers’. Electricity retailers provide a ‘bundled’ service for most of their customers by buying electricity from the wholesale market (the gentailers), and transmission or distribution services from lines companies. The charge to the customer includes the cost of the electricity supplied plus the charges for transmission and distribution.
A large percentage of energy in New Zealand is produced by hydro dams. However, in peak power usage times of the day (6-9am, 4-9pm) there is such a high demand for power that all sources are being utilised and all retailers will be purchasing power from the ‘dirty’ sources to fill in the gaps.
About 85% of NZ’s electricity generation came from renewable energy sources, but this percentage includes geothermal energy production, which is about 18%. Geothermal is a renewable energy source, but it isn’t necessarily ‘clean’. Geothermal power plants do not burn fuel to generate electricity, but they do release a decent amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. In the twelve months ending February 2023, Geothermal energy generation was responsible for a quarter of NZ’s CO2 emissions from electricity.
So how is Ecotricity different?
We source our electricity from a number of certified generation plants including the Tekapo A & B hydro dams and Tongariro (Rangipo & Tokaanu) power scheme, the Hau Nui, Mount Stuart and Flat Hill Wind Farms and purchase substantial volumes of solar generation from our customers … and this list is growing. We do not, and will never contract energy generated from gas, geothermal, coal, cogen or diesel. All power we contract to supply to the grid comes from wind, solar and hydro.
We are the market leaders in supporting solar energy by purchasing solar-generated electricity from over 60% of our residential and commercial customers who have their own solar generation. We are the first and only power company in the world to achieve climate positive product certification for electricity generated by solar panels on rooftops.
Ecotricity is also directly involved in bringing large scale solar and wind farms into the nations grid.
How are we Toitū climate positive certified?
We are Toitū climate positive certified for both our organisation and product. To meet the Toitū climate positive product certification we had to measure all cradle to grave life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of our selected hydro, wind and solar electricity sites, and organisation, including our whole supply chain. We then manage and reduce in line with science aligned targets as defined by Toitū requirements. We offset the carbon emissions associated with the building, maintenance and eventual decommissioning of the generation assets at a rate of 125% to go beyond neutrality by purchasing carbon credits which support both local and international projects. In addition to offsetting, we also provide an ‘impact contribution’ to projects that help wider society to decarbonise, transition or adapt to climate change. This is done at a cost equivalent to offsetting 75% of carbon footprint.
How can we guarantee that our customers only get our climate positive electricity to their homes and businesses?
The short answer is we can’t measure every electron. As mentioned above, all electricity goes into and out of the national grid.
However, because electricity is an interchangeable commodity throughout New Zealand, we are very accurately able to account for how much energy our customers are using and conversely how much we need to purchase from climate positive certified, renewable resources on a half-hour basis. The net effect therefore is that we are only supplying from certified renewable sources and do not need to tap into ‘dirty’ sources to fill in the gaps.
So, if we can’t guarantee you will receive our climate positive power, why should you join us?
To help save the planet and reverse the impacts from the climate crisis!
It’s more important to focus on the generation side to help get New Zealand’s electricity grid to 100% renewable. Our certification is based on international protocols and United Nations Product Specifications for supplying electricity from renewable sources. The reason it is important to support climate positive certified electricity is so that new renewable electricity is developed, in particular wind and solar, so by choosing Ecotricity you are encouraging more electricity generation through sustainable means. It’s a no brainer!
We're leading the industry by going above and beyond to map out sustainable processes up and down the value chain. As a company we are committed to making New Zealand's electricity grid 100% renewable by actively promoting the development of solar farms, wind farms and residential solar to replace reliance on fossil fuels. Not only does this lower our overall carbon emissions, this will also bring down the cost of electricity.
Watch out for green washing!
Ecotricity is New Zealand's first and only Toitū climate positive certified electricity provider and we have substantial certification to back this up. Don't just take our word for it, have a look at our Toitū Envirocare United Nations based protocol certification ISO 14067 for the electricity we supply and ISO 14064 for Ecotricity as an organisation.
Beware of green washing from other retailers who seek to trick you into thinking they are more environmentally sound by using words and images that give a false impression or are misleading. It’s best to do your homework before signing up to an electricity provider, make sure what they are saying is true.
So, make the switch to New Zealand's climate positive electricity. Join Ecotricity today!