taking a strategic approach to efficient use of energy

Brian Cox


Brian has over 30 years’ experience in identifying, investigating and developing commercial capital investment projects in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Brian’s career was initially in a number of government infrastructure related policy departments before becoming Development Manager for the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand where he was responsible for the investigation of new electricity power station opportunities and recommendation of the company’s capital investment programme to the Board.

Since 1999 he has been a principal of East Harbour Energy www.eastharbour.co.nz - advisors on strategies and commercialisation of renewable energy opportunities with a specific focus on biomass and geothermal energy.

East Harbour Energy are advisers to World Bank, APEC, NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, international aid programmes.

Throughout his career Brian has worked with a range of people and organisations including:

  • Government Ministers
  • Government departments, regional and local Government
  • Electricity generating, transmission, and network companies
  • Industry associations including energy efficiency, bioenergy and solar industries
  • Manufacturers and industrial energy users

His experience has been split equally across public policy, commercial development of energy projects, and leading energy based industry associations. Currently his main focus is on providing executive assistance to the Bioenergy Association.

In 2011 he was a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow and in 2016 he was a finalist in the New Zealand Energy Leadership Award, and a finalist Sustainability Champion.

Bioenergy experience

Brian has been involved with the bioenergy sector since 1996 throughout which he has investigated, developed and implemented wood fueled heat plant projects; provided advisory reports to government entities; and for the last eighteen years has been the Executive Officer of the Bioenergy Association www.bioenergy.org.nz

In 2010 he led the development of the New Zealand Bioenergy Strategy which has been recognised within the New Zealand Government’s Energy Strategy. He is now working on implementation of the Bioenergy Strategy and assisting association members secure the economic benefits of the emerging bioeconomy. He works closely with all participants in the bioenergy sector, including fuel suppliers, equipment suppliers, investors and policy makers.

He is currently working on assessing the potential for greater use of biomass energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Brian is the principal author of a number of the Bioenergy Association’s best practice Technical Guides; represents the sector on several solid biofuel Standards Committees; hosts a monthly webinar programme; hosts workshops and conferences; undertakes advocacy on behalf of the sector; facilitates the three Interest Groups the association activities are based around – waste-to-energy/biogas, combustion of solid biomass, and liquid biofuels.

He is a regular speaker at conferences and commentator on the biomass energy sector, and works closely with members on a confidential basis to assist them grow their bioenergy related business.

Separate from Bioenergy Association activities he undertakes consultancy work - project managing commercial feasibility studies and advising on strategic and commercial business opportunities.

Bioenergy Association

The Bioenergy Association is a member based NGO sector organisation representing all commercial, research and academic parties with interests in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific, involved with solid biomass combustion, biogas and fertilizer from waste, and liquid biofuels. In particular it works with forestry and land owners to identify opportunities for them to obtain revenue from biomass. The association also works with municipalities to identify opportunities for producing revenue from liquid and solid waste via bioenergy.

Bioenergy is about the creation of economic growth, employment and environmental benefits from the use of biomass and other organic matter by using clean technologies.

Bioenergy Association (BANZ) assists members grow their business through the following services:

Advocacy: BANZ represents the sector to central and local governments to ensure that there is a sound investment environment for bioenergy investments.

Education and professional best practice. BANZ hosts a number of webinars, workshops and conferences to bring the most up-to-date information and experiences to members. It also prepares and publishes technical guides and other publications to assist members provide a first class service to their clients. It runs training courses and manages wood energy and biogas accreditation schemes.

Public outreadh. BANZ is the voice of bioenergy to the public, the media, and policy makers. We assist those interested in bioenergy how the use of appropriately trained and experienced people and equipment will allow them to successfully manage risks so as to have successful projects.

The Bioenergy Association provides a confidential mentoring service for its members.

The Bioenergy Association operational activities are organized through three Technical Interest Groups (Solid Biomass Energy, Biogas, Waste-to-energy/Liquid Biofuels and Co-products). All members of the Bioenergy Association are able to participate in Interest Group Activities. The Interest Groups identify areas where action is required and develop work plans to address those areas.


Brian manages the bioenergy sector websites:

The websites are portals to all New Zealand, Australian and Pacific related information on the relevant topic.

Churchilll Fellowship

Brian received a 2011 Winston Churchill Fellowship to visit Canada and Europe to study initiatives that are being undertaken in those countries that have advanced their wood to energy and fuel cropping economic development activities so that they are now well established.

Under the fellowship Brian specifically addressed:

  1. The opportunity for partnering of New Zealand natural resources with international investment to achieve economic growth and wellbeing from bioenergy. (New Zealand has large areas of plantation forestry and land available for additional planting. While New Zealand has the lignocellulosic resource available it lacks the technologies and investors for the production of advanced biofuels).
  2. The policies and methods being taken within parts of Canadian and Europe that are assisting with the achievement of economic growth and wellbeing from bioenergy. (Over the next two decades as petroleum based fuels become more expensive due to reduced availability there is the opportunity to move more towards the ‘bioeconomy’ with replacement of petroleum based products with bio-based products including biofuel. Adoption of renewable energy also has beneficial climate change effects and keeps finite sources of fossil fuel available for future high value uses).
  3. What time scale do policy makers see for a transition to a bioeconomy and what initiatives do they see most assisting this? (NZ has been taking a “leave it to the market approach” whereas Europe appears to be taking a targeted approach to force change. The market approach may appear to provide lowest cost energy for business but fails to address the securing of wider economic benefits from employment etc. What policies can be adopted which could be a blend of these two approaches?)

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