WELLINGTON, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Three quarters of the electricity used in New Zealand last year was generated by renewable sources, the highest level in 12 years, Acting Minister of Energy and Resources Hekia Parata said Wednesday.
In the quarter to March, renewable sources accounted for 79 percent of total electricity generation, she said.
She attributed the high level of renewable energy to new wind and geothermal projects, as well as good rainfalls in lakes that store water for hydroelectric generators.
"Wind generation has increased by more than 25 percent since 2006," said Parata.
"Geothermal electricity generation in 2010 increased by 21 percent compared to the previous year, and steady progress is being made to develop electricity supplies powered by bioenergy, solar energy and marine energy."
She said the country was "well on the way to achieving its target of 90 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. "
Although the development of renewable energy was progressing, New Zealand would still need to continue using fossil fuels to provide certainty of supply and additional supply at peak times for the foreseeable future, she said.
"Our fossil fuel sector continues to be crucial in supplying our energy needs and makes a valuable contribution to our economy, " said Parata.
She insisted the New Zealand government was taking a "balanced approach to building a sustainable energy and resources future." "We are focused on renewables, the exploration of our natural resources, energy efficiency and the pricing of carbon as we manage our environmental responsibilities and economic opportunities."
Last month the government released figures showing that in 2005, wind accounted for 1.5 percent of the country's electricity generation, but last year it was up to 3.7 percent, and in the quarter to March this year it accounted for 4.2 percent of electricity generation.
This year, Contact Energy's proposed Hauauru ma raki wind farm development on the North Island's west coast became the largest to be approved in New Zealand and is expected to generate up to 504 megawatts of power from 168 turbines, enough energy to power around 170,000 homes.
However, earlier this month, the only wind turbine manufacturer in Australasia, New Zealand-based Windflow Technology Ltd., announced it was moving production offshore because the wind turbine market in New Zealand had "stalled" against a backdrop of lower electricity demand and long consenting times.
This year's Fraser Institute Global Petroleum Survey of about 500 oil firms ranked the country fifth best for investment in oil and gas exploration.
New Zealand ranked behind only the United States, the Netherlands, Hungary and Canada in the survey, which focuses on barriers to investment in oil and gas exploration and production around the world.