Principal researchers: Olive Dippie (2015-2016) Warren Fitzgerald (2016-2019)
Supervisors: Dr Janet Stephenson and Dr Michael Jack
The Dunedin Energy Study 2015-2016 was a follow on project from the Otago Baseline Energy Assessment carried out by the Centre for Sustainability in 2015 which took stock of the year 2014. it is a joint research project between the Dunedin City Council (DCC) and the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago. The Dunedin Energy study project takes stock of and analyses energy inputs to the city of Dunedin for the 2015 calendar year and 2016 financial year.
This study is an action under the DCC’s Energy Plan 1.0, which recognises the need to encourage research that will enable monitoring of Dunedin's energy uses and inputs. This study will also help inform and assist with implementing other Energy Plan 1.0's actions, such as the Night City action (improve lighting efficiency) and Cosy Homes action (improving heating of homes).
The study was conducted between December 2016 and February 2017. The data collected was for inputs of consumer energy to Dunedin from 1 January 2015 to 30 June 2016. The findings provide an estimation of the total amount of each fuel type used within the city, with some indication of the main end uses of energy, and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Precise data was not available for some fuel types and where this is the case we
explain the method of estimation and reason for the uncertainty. The project relied heavily on the willingness of many businesses and organisations to supply data. The project partners are extremely grateful to all participating individuals and organisations who dedicated a considerable amount of time to sourcing, compiling and providing relevant data.
Throughout the report, 2015CY refers to calendar year (1 January – 31 December 2015) and 2016FY refers to financial year (1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016).
The follow up 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Dunedin Energy Studies were carried out by Warren Fitzgerald and published in February 2018 and March 2019 respectively. See Publications (below) for a link to those reports.
Results From the 2015-2016 Study
Dunedin residents are still far from efficient with their use of energy, according to the Dunedin Energy Study 2015-2016. The study has found only 37 per cent of energy consumption in the city came from renewable resources, three percentage points lower than the comparable nationwide figure. In Dunedin, 42 per cent of this renewable energy came from wood fuels and the remainder from renewable sources of electricity.
Fourth-year Commerce student Olive Dippie produced the report while on a summer scholarship, supervised by Drs Janet Stephenson and Michael Jack.
Dr Jack says very few, if any, similar studies have been carried out in New Zealand. “The DCC is leading the way here in trying to measure the city’s energy use.”
Ms Dippie says pulling all the data together was a “huge exercise... We are really thankful for the assistance from businesses and government agencies, which all provided pieces of the puzzle.”
The 2015-16 study follows a baseline energy report which took stock of consumption in 2014. Direct comparisons of trends will be possible once the 2016-17 report is published next year. Ongoing annual studies will provide robust data for Dunedin’s Energy Plan. According to the latest study, Dunedin’s total energy use during the financial year ending 30 June 2016 was 13.24 PJ (petajoules). During the same period, that energy released 654 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases – 75 per cent from petrol and diesel, 16 per cent from electricity, 7 per cent from coal and 2 per cent from wood.
Dr Stephenson says the report shows there is room for improvement when it comes to the size of Dunedin’s energy footprint. “Transport fuels account for half of Dunedin’s energy use and three-quarters of Dunedin’s energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions. This is the biggest area for action if we want to improve efficiency, productivity, health and emissions. Moving away from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles, more cycling and walking, e-bikes, better use of public transport – all of these have multiple benefits for users and the wider community.”
Dr Jack says coal use is also a grey area. “Only about 60 households still use coal as their sole heating fuel, but another 4,600 occasionally use it. We now know that about 30 Dunedin schools also use coal for heating, which isn’t ideal because it not only produces high levels of greenhouse gases but also produces particulate emissions that can have serious health impacts. But some schools are converting to modern wood-fuelled boilers, which is excellent news.”
DCC Corporate Policy Advisor Jessie Wu says the key goals of the city’s Energy Plan 1.0 relate to improvements in energy efficiency and adapting to change. “Having an understanding of what is going on currently with Dunedin's energy use is important when it comes to figuring out what has to change.”
The Dunedin Energy Study also helps the DCC meet its Compact of Mayors agreement, signed at the end of 2015, to be part of a global coalition of city leaders tackling climate change.
“Cities are required to produce a community carbon footprint showing the emission sources of the city, and the Dunedin Energy Study provides some of the data for our city's energy use. The compact requires an updated footprint every few years, and so the continuation of the study is important in contributing to our commitment,” Ms Wu says.