A $5.5 billion investment in smart grid technology could save New Zealand $23 billion during the next 20 years, a report into green growth says.
The figures are based on a study of the benefits of the technology done in the United States. The grids are seen as essential in the move towards low carbon technology here.
A report by the University of Auckland Business School and consultancy Vivid Economics says smart grids will help give New Zealand an energy advantage.
The smart grid is a digital network that unites generators, distributors and customers and allows two-way communication between the utility and its customers.
Among domestic consumers smart meters would receive and transmit information and manage the load in response to price changes.
Benefits would include smoothing the load profile over the day, a more reliable system that could respond automatically to grid conditions and correct for the likes of major outages.
The report commissioned by lobby group Pure Advantage says "considerable" smart grid experience exists inside Transpower. New Zealand's reliance on renewable energy made solar grids attractive here.
Substantial wind and wave energy resources and the decreasing cost of solar power meant renewable generation would grow but as the sources were intermittent they were hard to manage using existing infrastructure. The report cited New Zealand's small size and short decision-making lines as reasons why this country could lead the way.