MELBOURNE, April 20 (UPI) -- New Zealand is ready to help lead an international movement toward including more geothermal energy in its renewable portfolio, the energy minister said Monday.
New Zealand Energy Minister Simon Bridges delivered the keynote address to delegates gathered in Melbourne, Australia, for the World Geothermal Congress. New Zealand, Bridges said, has contributed roughly 25 percent of the growth in geothermal energy capacity over the past five years.
"We are now the fifth largest geothermal power generator in the world," he said.
The share of electricity generated from renewable resources in New Zealand last year was 79.9 percent, a 5 percent increase from the previous year. The government attributed the rise to the growth in geothermal generation, which more than doubled nationally, in the last decade.
Bridges said the global renewable energy sector is expected to draw $7 trillion in private sector investments by 2030. In the past six years, investments in New Zealand have totaled $1.5 billion.
Relatively flat electricity demand in New Zealand has translated to a "hiatus" in the installation of new geothermal power stations, which means the sector has focused more on building international partnerships.
"New Zealand's broader renewable advantage, our strong legacy of environmentally responsible stewardship of our geothermal resources, the active and successful involvement of indigenous communities and our new and robust health and safety regime, all further position us as valuable international partners," Bridges said.