New Zealand achievements in electricity

A high level of renewable electricity generation

New Zealand is the third OECD country with the highest share of renewable electricity generation, behind Iceland (73% hydro and 27% geothermal) and Norway (96% hydro and 2% wind).

Low cost supply to rural areas

In 1925, Lloyd Mandeno came up with a low cost solution for distributing electricity to sparsely populated rural areas. His system, using a single power line, became known as SWER (Single Wire Earth Return).

The usual supply method used current cycling through two separate power lines. Mandeno did away with the cost of a second line and used the earth wiring within a single line for the current’s return.

Mandeno's genius gained international recognition and SWER systems now deliver electricity to low-volume users in many parts of the world.

Electric fences

With greater access to electricity in rural areas, farmers were always on the lookout for inventive ways to apply the technology. In the 1930s, Waikato farmer Bill Gallagher developed a battery energiser to electrify fences. The device found a ready market among farmers for managing their stock’s access to pasture.

From this, Gallagher developed a mains-powered unit in the 1960s that became an international success.

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