Analysing Impacts of Fuel Constraints on Freight Transport and Economy of New Zealand: an Input-Output Analysis
Our society is dependent on enormous amounts of energy, which maintains every aspect of our extraordinary way of living. However, in the past few years, there has been convincing evidence of future fuel constraints due to supply limitations (“Peak Oil”). Various governments have admitted the probability of fuel restrictions in the future and others have also forecasted high likelihoods of increases in fossil fuel prices. The consequences of shortages or large price increases may include major disruptions to essential and vital systems to society (i.e. industrial, health, agriculture, etc.). Freight transport systems are a special case because they are responsible for making available absolutely everything people buy and sell. Nevertheless, there is limited knowledge about the impacts of reduced fuel availability to the economy and freight transport. In this research, an Input-Output analysis is used to model the relationship between future fuel constraint scenarios and economic impacts to New Zealand. The results revealed that if no actions are to be taken to mitigate impacts of fuel constraints, and if they persist for several years, the total impacts would greatly affect the New Zealand economy. Some may argue that there are options to reduce impacts of fuel constraints. Probably the most widespread solution is to enhance the use of alternative and clean energies and reduce fossil fuel exploitation. Even though New Zealand government has been intensively encouraging sustainable research and practice, there is still a long journey to achieve more sustainable freight transport. In order to lead New Zealand towards this path, several mitigation options to reduce fuel consumption of freight transport are investigated. Amongst numerous alternatives, new technologies such as regenerative brake systems, wheel motor technology and the skysail had promising results. Conversely, popular technologies used nowadays and labelled as sustainable (e.g. biodiesel and electrification) did not perform as well as normally expected.