NZ slips but maintains high ranking in global energy index

You are here:

NZ slips but maintains high ranking in global energy index

18 Sep 2019 | Matt Ritchie

New Zealand has slipped two places in this year’s Energy Trilemma Index, which rates countries on how they achieve a balance of security, sustainability, and equity in their energy systems.

But, at 10th out of 128 countries, New Zealand remained the highest-ranked non-European nation.

Performance on energy security, equity, and sustainability are ranked against a baseline of 100 set at the year 2000. A slight improvement in equity this year could not offset a fall of 2 percentage points in terms of security, and a 0.7 fall on sustainability.

However, New Zealand achieved a top quartile ranking in every top line priority area, making the country one of 10 to achieve a ‘AAA’ rating.

Energy security factors of New Zealand’s import dependence, diversity of electricity generation, and energy storage all fell back in 2018, according to the World Energy Council.

BusinessNZ Energy Council chair David Caygill says consistently strong performance in the annual index is testament to a well-functioning energy market, strong policies and active efforts in the energy transition.

“Recent fluctuations in the security dimensions represent minor reduction in fossil fuel stocks, and slight upturn in import dependence since the late 2000s.”


New Zealand’s overall score of 79.4 saw it ranked behind top-rated Switzerland on 85.8, Sweden on 85.2, Denmark (84.7), United Kingdom (81.5), Finland (81.1), France (80.8), Austria (80.7), Luxembourg (80.4), and equal with Germany.

The World Energy Council’s report highlights New Zealand’s highly renewable electricity generation mix, and the Government’s “ambitious decarbonisation goals that are embedded in a commitment to a just transition”.

The report singles out the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which establishes a 30-year plan for addressing climate change, including formalising a target of net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

The Bill aims for a 10 per cent reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, and provisional reductions ranging from 24 per cent to 47 per cent by 2050.

An independent Climate Change Commission will be established under the legislation, tasked with setting five-yearly emissions reduction targets, advising governments, and reviewing the methane reduction target in 2024.

The electricity price review, due for release soon, resource strategy, and hydrogen green paper are also singled out in the report.


Australia is the next-highest ranked nation in the Asia region, coming in at 28th with a score of 74.7.

The country achieves an ‘A’ ranking for equity, and ‘B’ for sustainability and security.

Japan is the third-ranked Asia region nation, at 31st overall with a score of 73.8. Hong Kong and South Korea round out the Asia region top five, at 34th and 37th overall, respectively.

Nepal is the lowest-ranked Asia region nation, with its Trilemma score of 44.3 seeing it come in at 117th overall.

World Energy Council says the Asia region rankings reflect regional diversity, with nine countries ranking in the top half of the index and only New Zealand in the top 10.

The report notes “significant progress” in energy equity across the region, but ongoing struggles with security due to heavy reliance on imports.

This also has implications for sustainability, as demand growth exceeds the availability of renewables.

“Many countries are developing energy plans that include a focus on renewables,” the report says. “Yet challenges remain including outdated infrastructure; a lack of coordinated national energy policies; limited regional integration; trade patterns; an unbalanced distribution of resources and an uncertain global economic situation.”

Read BusinessNZ Energy Council executive director John Carnegie’s column on the latest World Energy Trilemma Index here.