Powering Aotearoa New Zealand’s future

June 21, 2023

 Z Energy business woman

We use it every day to power our homes and businesses, but electricity isn’t something most of us give a lot of thought to as we go about our lives.

While Z Energy (Z) continues to deliver the fuel their customers need today, electricity is top of mind as the company helps New Zealanders transition towards a low-carbon economy. 

There might not be a silver bullet solution for the world’s climate crisis, but electricity offers “something pretty huge,” says Z’s head of electricity Chris Durno, who believes Aotearoa is on the cusp of huge change in the way we use electricity for a sustainable future.

“In the last 10 years, the debate has shifted from ‘Is electrification going to happen?’ to ‘How fast is it going to occur to support our climate commitments?’” says Chris. “With New Zealand’s access to renewable electricity – which suits batteries in passenger vehicles all the way to heavy vehicles – electricity is going to have a massive role in decarbonising our country. It’s a very exciting time.”

And Chris says Z’s recent increased commitment in Flick Electric (taking its share of the company to 100 per cent) is a clear signal of where the business sees its future. As New Zealand’s largest fuel provider, Z’s core business is the safe and efficient supply of fuel to our transport network. But ultimately Chris says that alongside more niche offerings like hydrocarbons and biofuels, electrification is the key to moving away from fossil fuels.

“At Z, we recognise that we’re right at the heart of the problem, but that also gives us a great opportunity to be at the heart of the solution,” says Chris. “People ask me, ‘Why Z and why Flick? What’s special about that combination?’ We think there’s something unique about what they bring together. One plus one equals something greater than two here.”

He explains that Z and Flick can leverage the capabilities and assets of both companies. 

“That will really help us offer products and services to help our customers transition. Z is a trusted nationwide brand with on-the-ground assets and extensive customer reach. On the Flick side, it’s about digitisation, innovation, technology and customer centricity. We think it’s a great opportunity to participate in this market.”

Chris says the reasons for investing in the innovative electricity company back in 2018 still stand today. Z is committed to helping Flick grow to profitability and scale, while utilising its capabilities to participate in a changing energy world. Flick CEO Pavan Vyas agrees that the partnership is hugely positive. 

“Flick is a highly effective company that happens to be bringing smart energy choices to life. That’s what differentiates us – we can change quickly to provide what customers need. Flick is a trusted brand, deliberately on the side of Kiwi consumers. Working with Z to innovate new solutions around energy products is very important for us.”

While electricity has traditionally flowed in one direction, advancements around battery storage and solar capabilities will see bidirectional electricity flow in the not-too-distant future. This will likely mean customers could produce, store and share energy between vehicles, home and beyond.

“People want electricity that is cheap, accessible and future-proofed. How that will happen is through innovation and evolution,” says Pavan. “Grids won’t go anytime soon, but people want and need renewable sources. We’re determined to help the country transition to a climate-positive future.”

Flick is also working with Z on its EV charging capabilities. With the plan to roll-out smart EV chargers to homes and businesses across the country, the partnership will ensure EV customers have access to the latest innovation, too.

“The exciting thing to me is that it’s the start of a bigger, longer-term project to help New Zealanders transition by bringing exciting products and services to the market,” says Chris. “With that opportunity for bidirectional electrons, there’s a chance to be innovative and help customers access this technology as soon as possible.

“That might seem a bit odd in terms of asking, ‘How would that flow against our existing business?’, but we’re not saying, ‘Let’s use fossil fuels for as long as we can’. We are 100 percent committed to a low-carbon future.”