2023 winners announced

31 Aug 2023

The winners of the 2023 New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards were solarZero, Fonterra, Ecogas, Unison Networks and Transpower, Top Energy, Ecotricity, The Lines Company, Contact Energy, and Northpower.

The 13th annual awards, held at Te Pae in Christchurch last night, saw a record turnout of almost 700 guests celebrating the skill and innovation within the sector.

Matthew Cleland, head of wind and solar at Contact Energy, was recognised in the Young Energy Professional of the Year award for work including the firm’s partnership with Lightsourcebp to co-develop grid scale solar, the creation of carbon forestry partnership Drylandcarbon, and numerous high-volume hedge agreements with other electricity generators.

As his entry noted, “Matthew is viewed as an empathetic, motivated, and intelligent leader by his colleagues, peers, and external partners”.

Development of new technologies or their application featured in several of the awards.

The Innovation in Energy prize went to solarZero for a world first – using large numbers of distributed batteries to provide ancillary service support to the wholesale market. 

Fonterra’s partnership with PolyJoule to produce the world’s first industrial organic battery was the winner of the Large Energy User Initiative of the Year. The 500 kW 10 kWh PolyJoule power cell battery energy storage system uses electrically conductive polymers rather than lithium-ion and can be manufactured anywhere in the world, including in New Zealand.

Carbon, outcomes

Among many strong entries, Ecogas came out on top for the Low Carbon Future Award, with its state-of-the-art organics processing facility at Reporoa. It is the first of its kind in New Zealand, processing up to 75,000 tonnes of food waste each year. 

Unison Networks and Transpower won the Network Initiative of the Year title for the creative solutions they found in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle to get the power back on for Hawke’s Bay homes and businesses.  

Top Energy was the winner for the Outcomes Award by using the cashflow from its expanded Ngawha geothermal plant to lower distribution charges for its Far North consumers. The judges say Top deserves real credit for identifying consumer’s need for affordable electricity and doing something about it.

The Energy Retailer of the Year title went to Ecotricity. The firm, which offers carbon positive certification for its power and is aiming to be an industry voice for electric vehicles was also the fastest growing retail brand in the past year.

The Lines Company won the Community Initiative of the Year title, for its work with post-settlement agency Te Nehenehenui Trust, Ecotricity and the marae community to provide equitable, community-based renewable energy solutions.

Contact Energy took out the Well-being Award. Its “Growing your whānau policy” offers flexibility and choice for staff starting or extending their families to design a support system that works for them.

Northpower was awarded the Social Procurement Award for its efforts with local firms, including drilling contractor North Drill and the Developers Institute, to build the local workforce and develop hard to access skills for the benefit of the region.


The winners:

Innovation in Energy Award – sponsored by Ara Ake

solarZero – Power system stability services from distributed batteries

Large Energy User Initiative of the Year – sponsored by EECA

Fonterra – UPS application using world-first industrial organic battery

Low Carbon Future Award – sponsored by Energy Resources Aotearoa

Ecogas – Closing the food and energy loop through anaerobic digestion

Network Initiative of the Year – sponsored by Utilities Disputes

Unison Networks and Transpower – Cyclone Gabrielle power restoration: collaborating through a crisis

Outcomes Award – sponsored by Electricity Authority

Top Energy – Affordable electricity for those in energy poverty

Energy Retailer of the Year – sponsored by EDMI


Community Initiative of the Year – sponsored by Eagle Technology

The Lines Company – TLC enables community-based renewable energy solutions for iwi

Well-being Award – sponsored by nib

Contact – Growing your whānau policy

Social Procurement Award – sponsored by BlueFloat Energy

Northpower – Fuelling economic growth for Northland

Young Energy Professional of the Year – sponsored by Phoenix Metalman Recycling

Matthew Cleland, Contact

The awards were further supported by Energy Academy, Young Energy Professionals Network, ERANZ, GasNZ, New Zealand Wind Energy Association, CEP, MEUG, and EEA.

Other sponsors included VIP function sponsor ABB, After-party sponsor Anderson Lloyd, and table display sponsor Gentrack.