Energy use

Describes changes in New Zealand's energy use over time. Emissions from the energy sector contribute to climate change and affect air quality, which has negative impacts on public health.

Oil is the predominant type of fuel consumed in New Zealand

1 petajoule (PJ) contains enough energy in regular petrol to drive 30,000 cars for a year [1].

In 2017, New Zealand consumed almost 591 PJ of total energy (Table 1 and Figure 1). This is an increase of 1.4% per year between 1990 and 2017.

The consumption of oil as a fuel type increased the most (mean change of 2.0% per year) between 1990 and 2017, whereas the consumption of oil declined by an average of 0.7% per year.

Table 1: Total energy consumed (PJ), by fuel type, 1990 and 2017
Oil has remained the predominant type of fuel consumed in New Zealand since 1990 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Total energy consumption (PJ), by fuel type, 1990-2017

Domestic transport sector was the biggest consumer of energy in 2017

Fuel types are providing energy, which is consumed across five sectors: the domestic transport, industrial, residential, commercial and public services, and the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector.

From 1990 to 2017, the domestic transport and industrial sectors were the main energy consumers in New Zealand (Figure 2). Together, these two sectors contribute to three quarters of the total energy consumption in New Zealand. Domestic transport was the biggest consumer of energy since 2013, when it overtook the industrial sector.

Figure 2: Total energy consumption (PJ), by sector, 1990-2017

The largest increase in energy consumption between 1990 and 2017 was in the domestic transport sector (mean change of 2.2% per year), the smallest increase was seen in the residential sector (mean change of 0.5% per year) (Figure 2 and Table 2).

Table 2: Total energy consumed, by sector, 1990 and 2017

Oil was the major type of fuel consumed in the domestic transport (99.9%) as well as the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector (54.6%) in 2017 (Figure 3). Electricity was the major type of fuel consumed in the commercial and public services (63.7%) as well as the residential sector (68.7%).

Oil is the major fuel type in the domestic transport sector

Almost all energy in the biggest consuming sector, the domestic transport sector, comes from burning the fossil fuel oil (eg, diesel or petrol for motor vehicles). This dependency on oil produces harmful emissions and greenhouse gases affecting air quality, the climate and public health.

Figure 3: Total energy consumption (%), by sector and fuel type, 2017

Information about the data

Total energy consumed, by fuel type and sector

Source: Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment. Energy in New Zealand

Definition: Total energy (in petajoules, PJ) consumed in New Zealand, by sector (i.e agriculture, forestry and fishing; industrial; commercial and public services; domestic transport; residential) and by fuel type (i.e. oil, electricity, gas, renewables, coal). Energy consumed includes all energy used by final consumers. It does not include energy used for transformation, or non-energy use (use of fuels to produce non-energy products).


  1. Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. 2018. Energy in New Zealand 2018. URL:  (accessed 16 April 2019).

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Carolin Haenfling

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