As the Rainbow Warrior arrives in New Zealand to celebrate the end of oil, we at Greenpeace HQ in Auckland have been forging ahead with the transition to clean energy. Fifty-six new solar panels have been added to our existing rooftop array, powering up our campaign for a safe climate using clean, homegrown electricity.

In April, New Zealand made international headlines when we became one of the first countries in the world to ban new offshore oil and gas exploration permits. Four million square kilometres of ocean is now off limits to the world’s biggest dirty energy companies.

In response, the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior made the journey across  thousands of kilometres of ocean to join New Zealanders in celebrating this huge win for people power over the next six weeks.

However,in some ways, our work has only just started. Unless we also rapidly wean our society off of using dirty energy, oil companies with existing licenses to explore and drill could still have a presence here for decades to come.

To make Aotearoa an oil free nation, we need to eclipse dirty energy by transforming our energy system. We need to shift our trucks, buses, cars and trains to run on clean electricity instead of dirty oil. Our factories and industries will need to be powered by clean energy too, so that we can stop digging up coal or drilling the seafloor for gas. Replacing outdated fuels with more homegrown clean power from the sun, wind, and water sits at the heart of this transition.

Through significant investment in a new clean and smart electricity system for New Zealand, we could make dirty energy obsolete quite quickly.

We’re not waiting around. This year, we added 14.75kW of solar power to our existing 5kW system at Greenpeace New Zealand, bringing our homegrown power generation to nearly 20kW. We’ve got 50 more solar panels on the roof, generating clean electricity from the free rays of the sun every day.

On average, we’ll produce a third of our electricity needs. But in the midday summer sun, we’ll make enough power to cover our own needs and then some. We’ll be able to send some of that clean electricity back to the grid to power our neighbours’ homes, the kindy next door, or the pub down the road.

And we’ll prevent 50 tonnes of carbon from polluting our precious atmosphere.

Recent analysis in New Zealand confirms that not only can we shift to an energy system increasingly powered by clean energy, but that doing so will also mean more affordable power for households, and will place more control in the hands of regular people, instead of big energy companies.

The reality of climate change means we can no longer rely on dirty, outdated fuels like oil, gas, and coal to power our society. But by closing the door on these old sources of energy, we will open the pathway to redesigning our energy system in exciting new ways that benefit us all.


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