Azwood Energy production team member Dave Hastie. Photo: Evan Barnes.

Nelson business with a sustainable plan


As more companies try to adapt their businesses for a more sustainable future, Sara Hollyman meets one local company at the forefront of cleaner energy production.

A Nelson-based business is powering ahead with its mission for a resourceful, low-emission energy future.

Azwood Energy uses forestry bi-products and residues to repurpose into low-emission, renewable wood energy and the company’s spokesperson Jonathan McKeown says though many “smart organisations” are making the move towards more sustainable fuel sources there are still many more to follow.

The Nelson City Council has 23 active consents for coal boilers to operate in Nelson, despite recently voting on announcing a state of climate emergency.

Azwood Energy works alongside organisations to help them plot a path to transition to lower emissions economies and lower emissions energy systems, helping these organisation to future-proof cost of production or heating over the next 20 to 50 years. He said Azwood Energy hopes to work with council to improve knowledge around this renewable energy resource.

Jonathan says that a lot of the reason we still see fossil fuel burners is that they were installed before people considered the long-term impact of GHG emission and says he would expect to see more sustainable installations as those burners come to the end of their lifecycle, while some organisations can look into fuel switching with current energy systems.

“The worst thing we could see is new installations going to fossil fuel and coal especially, but we are seeing large organisations making a commitment to move away from it, and we need to acknowledge and celebrate those commitments.”

He says wood energy emits around 98 per cent less emissions than fossil fuels like coal.

“It’s a really cool circular economy because we provide a service for forestry companies where we are taking these residues that would otherwise not have a home and removing them, which helps to clean up the environment and reduce pressures of erosion and removes fuel for forest fires as well.”

Jonathan says New Zealand is on a path to moving away from burning fossil fuels and it will happen eventually.

“Especially in the South Island and Nelson where we have this huge local energy resource out in the hills that can be going to waste, whereas it could be used as an energy source.

Jonathan says the conversation about business sustainability has changed over the last few years.

“Initially we were having discussions with organisations about being sustainable by using low-emission fuels, now organisations are very aware of the targets that are in place and where the potential price of carbon is going, so the conversation has moved on from why these things need to occur to what’s the best way to implement them.”

“As the market grows, we have the resource and methodology to see more conversions to lower emission wood fuel,” says Jonathan.