EnergyScape is a tool to help people understand and visualise the flow of energy in New Zealand.


There is information available on all kinds of energy use and production across New Zealand, but this data is hard to bring together in a way which is useful in planning businesses or government energy policy. People need to have an idea of how behaviour might change and which technologies are likely to flourish, depending upon how the future pans out. This information needs to be brought together in an easy to use model. For more detail on this project, you may like to read:


NIWA was commissioned by FoRST to develop a system for linking these databases together into a easy to use model.

What is EnergyScape?

EnergyScape is a new tool to help people understand and visualise the flow of energy in New Zealand. It will make information about energy systems more accessible to scientists, businesses and policy makers, thereby making it easier for people to undertake long-term planning of New Zealand's energy future.

The EnergyScape project explores what New Zealand’s energy systems might look like in 2030 and 2050. It's almost impossible to account for what future technology could change – fusion, nanotechnology etc. What we can do right now, however, is test out current and emerging technologies in near future scenarios, such as 2-seater electric vehicles, thin film photovoltaic cells, fuels from forests, pedestrianised cities, smart electricity metering and so on.

The EnergyScape platform, brings together a massive amount of data on production, distribution and conversion of energy (see ‘new asset database’ and consumption of electricity, petroleum, gas etc (see ‘new demand database’) into a tool which connects the different systems to each other and visualises the result (the LEAP models). The software allows people to create new scenarios and plug them together to create different visualisations of how New Zealand's energy landscape might develop in the future.

In EnergyScape everything which is part of an energy system (generation, demand, transmission and distribution) is split it up into blocks and given a name, a price, timescale, risk level, greenhouse gas emission profile and energy capacity (averaged over a year). These can be linked together and the software accounts for the cost and energy lost in conversion. People can then use the tool to visualise how energy flows though the economy, and where potential problems and opportunities might lie in the future.

Blocks or assets can be set with a certain "switch-on" time, and infrastructure can be set to need upgrading after a certain number of years (like a power station being decommissioned). It's a fully functioning simulation suite!

Why has NIWA built this?

EnergyScape was a project commissioned by FRST, to demonstrate an integrated way of exploring New Zealand's energy future and enable greater collaboration between energy researchers.

How does it work?

The project created two databases - one about energy supply, distribution and conversion (NZ Energy Asset Database) and another about energy consumption (NZ Energy Demand Database). NIWA also build a series of software tools connect these databases to an energy visualisation programme (LEAP) which was built by the Stockholm Environment Institute (you can download a trail version of this programme or contact them to purchase a full licence). 

The EnergyScape platform links everything together so that you can create visual representations of different kinds of energy resources, distribution systems and consumption centres, plug them together and run "simulations" of any future New Zealand energy environment.

Who can use it?

The EnergyScape platform consists of several tools that can be used separately, but must be combined to run “simulations” of the future. A demonstration version of the LEAP visualisation programme is free to download, the NZ Energy Asset Database is open for public reviewed and update, and the full version of the LEAP program is available to selected energy modellers (please contact NIWA for details).


The EnergyScape (parent) project produced a large number of deliverables, so it was necessary to cluster these into the following categories:

The reports and presentations generated by the "hydrogen options” and "bioenergy options” sub-projects can be found here.


These are some links to other strategies that may be of interest.

Sydney energy strategy - of particular value is the presentation by Allan Jones

Saul Griffith - a way of quantifying the magnititude of energy transformation required.

Fuel alternatives developing in New Zealand.

External people involved: 
Rilke de Vos
Page last updated: 
25 November 2013
Energy Flows in the New Zealand Economy


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Audited on 24 February 2022